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Aaton A-Minima


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#1 John OBrien

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Posted 30 January 2008 - 04:41 PM

I'm a film student and our college provides access to the Aaton A-minima (2.32 software) with a Nikkon mount (and lenses). This will be the first time I will work with film and am excited. I've read over the manual a couple times and have practiced loading the camera, but has anyone had any issues with it in the field?

I only ask because I would hate to form a crew of folk to help make my first student film and to have some type of technical difficulties with no solution in sight.

Any info on the camera would be appreciated as well. I want to be fully engrossed in all details of the camera so I can maximize the potential of my film.
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#2 Stephen Williams

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Posted 30 January 2008 - 04:47 PM

I'm a film student and our college provides access to the Aaton A-minima (2.32 software) with a Nikkon mount (and lenses). This will be the first time I will work with film and am excited. I've read over the manual a couple times and have practiced loading the camera, but has anyone had any issues with it in the field?

I only ask because I would hate to form a crew of folk to help make my first student film and to have some type of technical difficulties with no solution in sight.

Any info on the camera would be appreciated as well. I want to be fully engrossed in all details of the camera so I can maximize the potential of my film.


Hi,

Assuming the camera has been serviced recently and checked at prep time I don't think you will have any problems.

Stephen
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#3 Saul Rodgar

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Posted 30 January 2008 - 05:03 PM

I'm a film student and our college provides access to the Aaton A-minima (2.32 software) with a Nikkon mount (and lenses). This will be the first time I will work with film and am excited. I've read over the manual a couple times and have practiced loading the camera, but has anyone had any issues with it in the field?

I only ask because I would hate to form a crew of folk to help make my first student film and to have some type of technical difficulties with no solution in sight.

Any info on the camera would be appreciated as well. I want to be fully engrossed in all details of the camera so I can maximize the potential of my film.


Aside from being akward to hand hold, loud and a pain to load, the camera is great, like all Aatons are. Never had any problems with it. The only issue I had, was the digital footage counter. It was a minor annoyance, but it wouldn't automatically reset back to 200 ft after the mag was reloaded. So it had to be done manually, which was annoying. Wish they had "analog" footage counters like most other older cameras . . .
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#4 Annie Wengenroth

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Posted 30 January 2008 - 10:58 PM

Honestly, unless you put in a good solid couple of days of "practice" on this camera, I would stay away from it. I was a B-camera 1st with this camera on a feature and almost lost my freakin mind. Yes, it IS a pain to load. You CAN get fast with it if you work with it enough, but if you're new to it, consider the extra 3-5 minutes it might take you to have camera ready. Think about the number of times that you'll end up reloading it...considering the size of the mags, maybe 5-10? Then add up those minutes and imagine spending 15-50 minutes doing something else way less frustrating.

...I'm just saying. It's the only camera that I've cursed at apart from the Panaflex 16, and I think we've all had our turns on that one...
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#5 Chris Keth

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Posted 30 January 2008 - 11:10 PM

Honestly, unless you put in a good solid couple of days of "practice" on this camera, I would stay away from it. I was a B-camera 1st with this camera on a feature and almost lost my freakin mind. Yes, it IS a pain to load. You CAN get fast with it if you work with it enough, but if you're new to it, consider the extra 3-5 minutes it might take you to have camera ready. Think about the number of times that you'll end up reloading it...considering the size of the mags, maybe 5-10? Then add up those minutes and imagine spending 15-50 minutes doing something else way less frustrating.

...I'm just saying. It's the only camera that I've cursed at apart from the Panaflex 16, and I think we've all had our turns on that one...


I've never had my hands on an Elaine. I've shot a lot with an a-minima though. It's a bit of a pain. I actually started to use an orangewood stick to help me thread it because my fingers don't really fit down in there very well.
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#6 John OBrien

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Posted 31 January 2008 - 12:31 AM

Honestly, unless you put in a good solid couple of days of "practice" on this camera, I would stay away from it. I was a B-camera 1st with this camera on a feature and almost lost my freakin mind. Yes, it IS a pain to load. You CAN get fast with it if you work with it enough, but if you're new to it, consider the extra 3-5 minutes it might take you to have camera ready. Think about the number of times that you'll end up reloading it...considering the size of the mags, maybe 5-10? Then add up those minutes and imagine spending 15-50 minutes doing something else way less frustrating.

...I'm just saying. It's the only camera that I've cursed at apart from the Panaflex 16, and I think we've all had our turns on that one...



I here you as it being a pain to load, I am getting use to it. My other option is an Arriflex S, the downsides of which that there are the limited lens options my school can provide for the camera, it shoots on 16mm and not Super which is a format I want for the project, and it's ancient. It does however have the huge upside of having 400 mag capability to the Aaton's 200.

I'm considering simply renting some extra mags, and preloading them before the shoot. Is this advisable?

I know it would cut down some of the time and I could load them in a safe enviornment. But what would be the proper way to store them while not in use?
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#7 Chris Keth

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Posted 31 January 2008 - 12:38 AM

I here you as it being a pain to load, I am getting use to it. My other option is an Arriflex S, the downsides of which that there are the limited lens options my school can provide for the camera, it shoots on 16mm and not Super which is a format I want for the project, and it's ancient. It does however have the huge upside of having 400 mag capability to the Aaton's 200.

I'm considering simply renting some extra mags, and preloading them before the shoot. Is this advisable?

I know it would cut down some of the time and I could load them in a safe enviornment. But what would be the proper way to store them while not in use?


Extra mags aren't a bad idea at all. I'd just load them and put them in a cooler (no ice or cold packs or anything) or a spare case for some protection and temperature stability. Make sure you tape the mags well. The mechanism that keeps the doors closed isn't that sturdy and, even when latched, the doors can be pulled open if you try or catch it on something.
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#8 A. Whitehouse

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Posted 31 January 2008 - 12:58 AM

Hi John,

The camera is a pleasure to use (I really enjoyed hand holding it...) but the issues Ive encountered have generally been involved with the loading and threading rather than the cameras operation. Ive used it on projects where I'm in the field on my own having to load and shoot and everyone is waiting for me while I'm sitting cursing as I try and loop the figure eight. There are quite a few posts on this site about it so it might be worth doing a search.
Off the top of my head the only two disconcerting things are that the mount is meant to move around like it does and it has a weird double tap rolling feature which I found to be a pain in the ass ( I think this is different with the newer software revisions?). But otherwise its a fun camera for the right job and produces a very nice image. Nice intervalometer aswell.
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#9 A. Whitehouse

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Posted 31 January 2008 - 01:05 AM

Oh and the camera has this odd magazine system where you label a mag internally (A,B,C etc.) and then tell the camera which mag you've loaded. It will store the footage countings appropriately. If they have it get the powerbase as it allows for higher frame rates and a range of accessories to be attached. Pretty good split too.
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#10 John Brawley

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Posted 31 January 2008 - 01:09 AM

Oh and the camera has this odd magazine system where you label a mag internally (A,B,C etc.) and then tell the camera which mag you've loaded. It will store the footage countings appropriately. If they have it get the powerbase as it allows for higher frame rates and a range of accessories to be attached. Pretty good split too.



Plus the image stability is amongst the best ive seen on a 16mm camera....

jb
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#11 Saul Rodgar

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Posted 31 January 2008 - 03:13 AM

I here you as it being a pain to load, I am getting use to it. My other option is an Arriflex S, the downsides of which that there are the limited lens options my school can provide for the camera, it shoots on 16mm and not Super which is a format I want for the project, and it's ancient. It does however have the huge upside of having 400 mag capability to the Aaton's 200.

I'm considering simply renting some extra mags, and preloading them before the shoot. Is this advisable?

I know it would cut down some of the time and I could load them in a safe enviornment. But what would be the proper way to store them while not in use?


Regular 16 is not ancient necessarily. If you ever wanted to come out with a print of your film, you would have a HUGELY easier time with regular 16 than super 16. For super 16 material, you would have to reduce and therefore letterbox your 1:1.66 footage, squeeze it for anamorphic projection or just crop it at the side(s) since most (if not all) 16 mm projectors are 4x3. I have only heard rumors of a 1:1.66-gated Eiki, never seen it. Modifying a 16mm projector is a whole new ball game. I am not saying is impossible, just a royal pain. Besides, you would have to modify ALL the projectors your film plays on, so bye-bye festival screenings of your print. AND there would be no sound on your print because the part of the film that the sound stripe goes on normally would now be occupied by part of the picture on super 16! So you could squeeze your film for anamorphic projection, but that would be equally painful for the right lenses are VERY hard to come by for 1.33 to 1.66 anamorphic un-squeeze on 16mm. Plus there would be some image degradation.

Some of the comments, like Annie's, are more from the point of view of a camera assistant on a feature, whereas you wouldn't have to get the camera ready as fast as possible or else the first would be screaming at you and the assistant directors would be writing your name on the poop list pad; that should give you perspective. HOWEVER, see below:

Multiple mags are cool, but you have to keep track of all of them, and their status (shot, not shot, half full) since they are very tricky to read for THEY DON'T HAVE ANALOG FOOTAGE COUNTERS on them, you have to load them to know how much film is left on them: big pain. AND you can only do it with up to three mags . . .

It helps if you, or if you have an assistant, mark all your mags and keep track of them, shooting all of the film on them and then putting them away to avoid confusion. But if you are on your own keeping tabs on, say, 8 mags vs 2 while shooting and minding the (PLENTY) rest of the shite we have to keep track of, it may be not worth it . . . Usually, when I am alone, just having two mags is the best way to work. If I have to take a break to load every while, well so be it. AND, various mags can be tricky to move swiftly, you would have to haul them in a big heavy case which is how they usually store.
I really think for a small operation they are not worth the extra pain.

Simplicity being king in this type/ level of film making. Unless you have an army of pro helpers . . .

All in all, the A-minima a great camera, though. And yes, the image stability is ROCK SOLID! 'Nuff said.

Edited by saulie rodgar, 31 January 2008 - 03:16 AM.

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#12 Mark Dunn

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Posted 31 January 2008 - 04:41 AM

I'd echo that. You CAN shoot widescreen in 16mm- just mask the viewfinder (carefully) and have the black borders printed on from a C-roll. As Saulie said, if you even MIGHT need a print, ever, you've had it with Super-16. It's not a projection format. It was devised for blowing up to 35mm. But if you're going to video, fair enough. But you're stuck with that.
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#13 John OBrien

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Posted 31 January 2008 - 02:14 PM

Regular 16 is not ancient necessarily. If you ever wanted to come out with a print of your film, you would have a HUGELY easier time with regular 16 than super 16. For super 16 material, you would have to reduce and therefore letterbox your 1:1.66 footage, squeeze it for anamorphic projection or just crop it at the side(s) since most (if not all) 16 mm projectors are 4x3. I have only heard rumors of a 1:1.66-gated Eiki, never seen it. Modifying a 16mm projector is a whole new ball game. I am not saying is impossible, just a royal pain. Besides, you would have to modify ALL the projectors your film plays on, so bye-bye festival screenings of your print. AND there would be no sound on your print because the part of the film that the sound stripe goes on normally would now be occupied by part of the picture on super 16! So you could squeeze your film for anamorphic projection, but that would be equally painful for the right lenses are VERY hard to come by for 1.33 to 1.66 anamorphic un-squeeze on 16mm. Plus there would be some image degradation.

Some of the comments, like Annie's, are more from the point of view of a camera assistant on a feature, whereas you wouldn't have to get the camera ready as fast as possible or else the first would be screaming at you and the assistant directors would be writing your name on the poop list pad; that should give you perspective. HOWEVER, see below:

Multiple mags are cool, but you have to keep track of all of them, and their status (shot, not shot, half full) since they are very tricky to read for THEY DON'T HAVE ANALOG FOOTAGE COUNTERS on them, you have to load them to know how much film is left on them: big pain. AND you can only do it with up to three mags . . .

It helps if you, or if you have an assistant, mark all your mags and keep track of them, shooting all of the film on them and then putting them away to avoid confusion. But if you are on your own keeping tabs on, say, 8 mags vs 2 while shooting and minding the (PLENTY) rest of the shite we have to keep track of, it may be not worth it . . . Usually, when I am alone, just having two mags is the best way to work. If I have to take a break to load every while, well so be it. AND, various mags can be tricky to move swiftly, you would have to haul them in a big heavy case which is how they usually store.
I really think for a small operation they are not worth the extra pain.

Simplicity being king in this type/ level of film making. Unless you have an army of pro helpers . . .

All in all, the A-minima a great camera, though. And yes, the image stability is ROCK SOLID! 'Nuff said.


Wow, I had no idea that it would be such a pain to make into a print. That alone may change my decision for the project as the teacher requires a print to be submitted at years end. I'm wondering if he even knows of the situation with the Super 16?

If he does know, then I'm guessing he's expecting us to blow it up to 35. But at what cost? I know I can afford a telecine, but do I need a digital intermediate to blow it up to 35? How much grander a cost will a 35 print be as opposed to a 16?

I'm guessing at least twice as much, considering I will need at least twice as much print.

If anyone has any info on the blowup rate, maybe some links, I could present some 411 to my professor.
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#14 A. Whitehouse

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Posted 31 January 2008 - 05:35 PM

It seems a little archaic to me to require a 16mm print for assessment and if he means 35mm then it's either a very rich class or he's got very high expectations. There are very real advantages to shooting s16 on the Aaton over R16 on the Arri S.
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#15 Tim Carroll

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Posted 31 January 2008 - 06:06 PM

It seems a little archaic to me to require a 16mm print for assessment and if he means 35mm then it's either a very rich class or he's got very high expectations. There are very real advantages to shooting s16 on the Aaton over R16 on the Arri S.


But if you do decide to go with the Arri S, shooting 16:9 is very doable even though it is a regular 16 camera.

Posted Image

Shooting 16:9 with an Arriflex 16S

Best,
-Tim
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#16 John OBrien

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Posted 31 January 2008 - 07:19 PM

But if you do decide to go with the Arri S, shooting 16:9 is very doable even though it is a regular 16 camera.

Posted Image

Shooting 16:9 with an Arriflex 16S

Best,
-Tim


Wow, that is really cool. I'll be sure and share that with my classmates and professor, I think this puts the Arri S into contention for the project.
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#17 A. Whitehouse

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Posted 01 February 2008 - 12:19 AM

But if you do decide to go with the Arri S, shooting 16:9 is very doable even though it is a regular 16 camera.

Shooting 16:9 with an Arriflex 16S

Best,
-Tim


Hi Tim,
I totally agree shooting 16:9 is doable with a R16 camera, I've shot thousands of feet of R16 cropped on SR2s but given the option of an A-Minima with a Nikon lens set then R16 would definetly not be my first choice. The ability to neg match and print an optical 16mm print does not out weigh the benefits of shooting S16 on the Aaton.
16mm prints are not standard projection formats at festivals, period. Some festivals still offer it as an option but if I had to choose between screening of digi-beta or 16mm then I would go digi every time. I mean the sound is terrible on 16mm prints and thats if they can project it. At some point your neg is going to get telecined unless your cutting on a steenbeck and if so then your matched neg will need to be so that you have a video file you can author a dvd with and submit to festivals. If you add up the costs of going to optical 16mm print then its a total blowout.
The A-Minima is a great camera and you have access to one for free, take advantage of that. I think Tim would agree that while you can produce good results on R16, its out weighed by the benefits of shooting S16 in most cases, though I don't want to put words in his mouth.
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#18 A. Whitehouse

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Posted 01 February 2008 - 12:30 AM

Double post whoops...

Edited by A. Whitehouse, 01 February 2008 - 12:31 AM.

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#19 Saul Rodgar

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Posted 01 February 2008 - 01:27 AM

Hi Tim,
I totally agree shooting 16:9 is doable with a R16 camera, I've shot thousands of feet of R16 cropped on SR2s but given the option of an A-Minima with a Nikon lens set then R16 would definetly not be my first choice. The ability to neg match and print an optical 16mm print does not out weigh the benefits of shooting S16 on the Aaton.
16mm prints are not standard projection formats at festivals, period. Some festivals still offer it as an option but if I had to choose between screening of digi-beta or 16mm then I would go digi every time. I mean the sound is terrible on 16mm prints and thats if they can project it. At some point your neg is going to get telecined unless your cutting on a steenbeck and if so then your matched neg will need to be so that you have a video file you can author a dvd with and submit to festivals. If you add up the costs of going to optical 16mm print then its a total blowout.
The A-Minima is a great camera and you have access to one for free, take advantage of that. I think Tim would agree that while you can produce good results on R16, its out weighed by the benefits of shooting S16 in most cases, though I don't want to put words in his mouth.


I agree mostly. I just prefer watching movies on film over digibeta, though. But 16mm sound does get a little iffy often, especially at the lower budget end of things and with complicated mixes. Although there is someone I know whou can do a pretty kick ass job with magnetic sound striping . . . So it's not impossible to get a good sounding 16mm print, and pretty affordable, using this person I know.

It is easier to go from Super 16 to digital through a good telecine, and edit and screen DVD's of that. Later, a 35mm blow up can be done AFTER people have liked the video version and decided to pour money on the the 35mm print, should it ever come to that . . .

The A-Minima is a great camera and while loud for a modern camera, it is whisper quiet compared to an Arri S (also a good camera), so it certainly would make more sense to have sync sound capabilities unless you are doing a silent piece . . . And it is better to blow up from Super 16 than regular 16, less grain/ better resolution for one thing . . .

Unless you really have to turn in a print of your film, I would also shoot S16 to begin with.
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#20 Mark Dunn

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Posted 01 February 2008 - 06:08 AM

Being a film fan with a Steenbeck next to my computer I'm biased, but if a print is required then you can't shoot Super-16 in any case. It would be silly to shoot S-16 then make an optical 16mm. print.
I'd disagree about 16mm. sound. It's as good as any reel-to-reel mono recording. The running speed is very nearly 7 1/2 ips, after all. If you could stay on mag film and show on a double-band projector, even better. But I don't know if festivals can still do that.
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