Jump to content


Baraka - What was the equipment list?


  • Please log in to reply
41 replies to this topic

#1 kalkarman

kalkarman
  • Guests

Posted 23 June 2008 - 10:33 AM

If you were to shoot a Baraka style movie, copying the production & cinematography approach, what would your camera equipment list be? Or to be more precise:

1) What do you think the camera equipment list was back in the early 90's when Fricke made Baraka? I know he rigged alot himself, but let's try to list it in specifics.

2) What would an updated list look like for 2008? Doing the same stuff: timelapse, motion control / dolly etc. 16 years later, do we have better / lighter gear to do the same stuff for such a location intense production?


Many Thanks,

Kal
  • 0

#2 Alessandro Machi

Alessandro Machi
  • Sustaining Members
  • 3318 posts
  • Other
  • California

Posted 23 June 2008 - 10:42 AM

If you were to shoot a Baraka style movie, copying the production & cinematography approach, what would your camera equipment list be? Or to be more precise:

1) What do you think the camera equipment list was back in the early 90's when Fricke made Baraka? I know he rigged alot himself, but let's try to list it in specifics.

2) What would an updated list look like for 2008? Doing the same stuff: timelapse, motion control / dolly etc. 16 years later, do we have better / lighter gear to do the same stuff for such a location intense production?


Many Thanks,

Kal


I brought up this type of topic a year or two ago and was hammered by the "elite" on this forum. I suppose they felt threatened that lighter, less expensive film gear might create more film productions that used less crew and that could be bad for unions.

It is this mindset which afflicts the film industry, which won't dare attempt to make a film camera for under 15 grand that has the features you speak of because it may actually affect the overall budgets of bigger films.

I think there definitely is a catch-22 going on with film. Film is still king in terms of it's flexibility with dealing with all the different video formats that keep getting invented, but the reluctance to push for lower cost film cameras for beginners just alienates the younger crowd from really understanding why they should consider shooting film.

It's sort of like Hillary Clinton is film, Barack Obama is digital video, eventually the Baracks win, and win before their time.

Dave Mullen has pointed out that it is probably impossible to make such a motion picture film camera at a lower price point and get the actual movement precise enough. But clearly such a camera would fill a much needed niche for the upcoming filmmaker that wants something more than the lower cost film cameras that offer very little in the "Baraka" style of filmmaking.

Orientable viewfinders and huge flexibility in exposure times and filming rates are a no brainer in this day and age, especially for the filmmaker that might want to be frugal on the amount of film they purchase and incorporate more time-lapse and single frame time-lapse effects into their productions.

I thing the coolest design would be interchangeable panels that enhance the cameras basic features. In my opinion the key is getting the camera as light as possible so that the power requirements are minimized beyond even the Anton bauer batteries in terms of lightness and cost.

This then creates a chain reaction in which all the accompanying gear is generally lighter and more portable, and in theory could reduce film crew size by a small portion, especially B-crews.
  • 0

#3 Michael Lehnert

Michael Lehnert
  • Sustaining Members
  • 1086 posts
  • Other
  • London, UK / Basel, CH

Posted 23 June 2008 - 05:53 PM

Very interesting points, Alex, and from a S16 and S8 perspective, clearly rational. How many even young videographers do we get on the S8 forum who say they want to do film and want a cheap camera - while they also say that their video equipment cost them well above $12-15k. Either they are all silver-spooned, or have a great summer job, or kind credit manager - no matter what, they splash out that sort of money for gear that WILL become obsolete eventually.

I hence very much agree that a less expensive but fully-featured film camera would be in demand. The Ikonoskop A-Cam SP-16 shows this, although it is a bit too bare-skinned for me, feature-wise.

Just a thought: based on what David said, and your riposte, I would like to throw in another perspective... I am not entirely sure to what extend camera pricing in this industry is related to economies of scale. All current cameras sold, including the Aaton A-Minima, are sold in low three-digit numbers at best, and their prices are all well beyond the $20K mark. Even Arri essentially works in low-(wo)manpower/highly-skilled workshop set-ups, which is bound to be extravagantly expensive. Not to mention Aaton or Panavision. I personally don't believe that the mechanical component and fine-work could not be maintained in mass-production. Despite the bad reputation, both Super 8 cameras provide excellent opto- and camera-mechanical quality, and Japanese photo-manufacturers have destroyed the small-workship/high-premium German photocamera industry within a decade with their by far not inferior products. In fact, I would choose a Canon over a Leica from those years any day.
And the electrical and electronic components found in cine-cameras are frankly laughably generic and hence not expensive bespoke parts - in fact, the matrix display technology found in the 416 is ludicrous. $3 digital watches have better dot matrix displays than Munich's finest.

So if you were to use these Japanese manufacturing approaches while maintaining high quality finishes, and all those in economies of scale only a fragment the size of what was once the Super 8 market (which, incidentally, was never as big as the consumer/prosumer camcorder market of the 1990s!), I am quite sure that building a fully-featured cine-camera below $15k is achievable when rightly marketed (Red proves this ad nauseam) and sold in sufficient quantities as a result.

The issue that hinders that really is just capital to start out with. There just isn't enough money around for entrepreneurs to venture into this. And the head-start capital until a break-even many years in the future is possible, is just too prohibitive for set out with this company idea...

So that is in my opinion the issue why we don't have a $9999 Aaton 16 kit. But I don't share the idea that it is both quality and quantity-wise not doable. It is. I would love to prove the industry wrong if I had a willing investor. The plans for it are in my drawer, together with a tech brief for a S16 and S8 camera B)
  • 0

#4 Nate Downes

Nate Downes
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1638 posts
  • Florida, USA

Posted 24 June 2008 - 12:14 PM

Very interesting points, Alex, and from a S16 and S8 perspective, clearly rational. How many even young videographers do we get on the S8 forum who say they want to do film and want a cheap camera - while they also say that their video equipment cost them well above $12-15k. Either they are all silver-spooned, or have a great summer job, or kind credit manager - no matter what, they splash out that sort of money for gear that WILL become obsolete eventually.

I hence very much agree that a less expensive but fully-featured film camera would be in demand. The Ikonoskop A-Cam SP-16 shows this, although it is a bit too bare-skinned for me, feature-wise.

Just a thought: based on what David said, and your riposte, I would like to throw in another perspective... I am not entirely sure to what extend camera pricing in this industry is related to economies of scale. All current cameras sold, including the Aaton A-Minima, are sold in low three-digit numbers at best, and their prices are all well beyond the $20K mark. Even Arri essentially works in low-(wo)manpower/highly-skilled workshop set-ups, which is bound to be extravagantly expensive. Not to mention Aaton or Panavision. I personally don't believe that the mechanical component and fine-work could not be maintained in mass-production. Despite the bad reputation, both Super 8 cameras provide excellent opto- and camera-mechanical quality, and Japanese photo-manufacturers have destroyed the small-workship/high-premium German photocamera industry within a decade with their by far not inferior products. In fact, I would choose a Canon over a Leica from those years any day.
And the electrical and electronic components found in cine-cameras are frankly laughably generic and hence not expensive bespoke parts - in fact, the matrix display technology found in the 416 is ludicrous. $3 digital watches have better dot matrix displays than Munich's finest.

So if you were to use these Japanese manufacturing approaches while maintaining high quality finishes, and all those in economies of scale only a fragment the size of what was once the Super 8 market (which, incidentally, was never as big as the consumer/prosumer camcorder market of the 1990s!), I am quite sure that building a fully-featured cine-camera below $15k is achievable when rightly marketed (Red proves this ad nauseam) and sold in sufficient quantities as a result.

The issue that hinders that really is just capital to start out with. There just isn't enough money around for entrepreneurs to venture into this. And the head-start capital until a break-even many years in the future is possible, is just too prohibitive for set out with this company idea...

So that is in my opinion the issue why we don't have a $9999 Aaton 16 kit. But I don't share the idea that it is both quality and quantity-wise not doable. It is. I would love to prove the industry wrong if I had a willing investor. The plans for it are in my drawer, together with a tech brief for a S16 and S8 camera B)

you know I have a design for an inexpensive no-frills S8 camera sitting here.
  • 0

#5 Joe Taylor

Joe Taylor
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 397 posts
  • Other

Posted 24 June 2008 - 05:18 PM

There is a pretty decent making of vid that comes with the DVD of Baraka. Considering that Ron Fricke designed and even built his own 70mm for this film, I would not be surprised if he is not using that same camera to his follow up that is also being photographed in 70mm. Since he is using such specialized, industrial strength equipment, his equipment may not be a much different from his Baraka days back in the early 90's. I imagine this time, however, his crew will be outfitted with every electronic communication and GPS device available. Their hardware will be likely be much the same.

I shot my film, "Dead Lonesome," with a 30 year old Arri IIC with a Norris Intervelometer that I bought back in 1998 and still use it to this day.
  • 0

#6 John Holland

John Holland
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 2248 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • London England

Posted 25 June 2008 - 06:13 AM

I think you will find it was shot using 65mm Todd-AO cameras and lenses .
  • 0

#7 kalkarman

kalkarman
  • Guests

Posted 25 June 2008 - 06:52 AM

I think you will find it was shot using 65mm Todd-AO cameras and lenses .



And the Motion Control system? I'm amazed they could get a beast like that where they did. Any idea of make and model of the moco? And what would be a better, lighter option for today?

Thanks to everyone who replied.

Cheers,

Kal
  • 0

#8 John Holland

John Holland
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 2248 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • London England

Posted 25 June 2008 - 10:49 AM

I am sure that was a home made job by Fricke but still must have used the Todd-AO camera . Remember this was not a sound shoot so they would have used the Todd-AO AP-65 which is small and for hand holding weighs about 30 pounds.
  • 0

#9 Tom Lowe

Tom Lowe
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1211 posts
  • Director
  • somewhere worshipping Terrence Malick

Posted 25 June 2008 - 09:38 PM

I believe that this guy, Lee Parker, had a lot to do with the design of Fricke's stepper-motor moco system built for his timelapses and other shots:

http://www.mocoman.com/Features.html

In terms of updating the "Baraka" equipment for the digital age, I am currently researching and considering embarking on just such a project. Right now I belive that 65mm film timelapses could be roughly matched by shooting on the new 21mp Canon 1Ds Mark III. Motion could be accomplished on a much lighter 3-axis stepper rig than Fricke's. If I move forward with the project, I will be spending the next 14 months shooting timelapses all over the American West on the 1Ds Mark III.

Live action is a different story. No current digital cinema camera can do justice to that type of shooting. Perhaps RED's EPIC 5K will come closer. One of these days a 65mm-size (or APS or Vista Vision) sensor will be built on a digital cinema camera that can shoot 6K or 8K, and then you can talk about matching 65mm film. We are only a couple years away from that, I think.
  • 0

#10 Paul Bruening

Paul Bruening

    (deceased)

  • Sustaining Members
  • 2858 posts
  • Producer
  • Oxford, Mississippi

Posted 25 June 2008 - 10:04 PM

Hey Tom,

I think you've got a viable project and look forward to seeing your results. On the other hand, some of what made Baraka mind blowing was the slow-mo. Will you stay in time lapse? I think you can undercrank the whole thing and look great. I think the 1Ds will shoot bursts at 5fps but I don't know what its limit per burst is when tethered to a hard drive. I was just curious a little about what you had in your head on this.

On the resolution issue, RAW files store in such a way that they break into somewhat larger resolution images and are considered accurate at those higher resolutions. It has something to do with the math that takes the three layers and converts them up. You can definitely get a true 16 bit TIFFs out of those RAW files. I'm guessing that a 5.5K RAW might reach up into a 6.7 to 7.0 wide, 16 bit TIFF. They might get as big as 300 Mbs per frame though. You'll need a lot of SATAIIs for that.
  • 0

#11 Joe Taylor

Joe Taylor
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 397 posts
  • Other

Posted 25 June 2008 - 10:17 PM

In terms of updating the "Baraka" equipment for the digital age, I am currently researching and considering embarking on just such a project. Right now I belive that 65mm film timelapses could be roughly matched by shooting on the new 21mp Canon 1Ds Mark III. Motion could be accomplished on a much lighter 3-axis stepper rig than Fricke's. If I move forward with the project, I will be spending the next 14 months shooting timelapses all over the American West on the 1Ds Mark III.


Hey Tom! God luck with your project. I've been working on a similar film shot on 35mm for the past seven years. That beauty of it-- it's so addictive you can never get enough and the only you're hurting is your pocket book. I suffered Death Valley in 125 degree heat that made my camera hot to the touch and it cooked my film. Nearly froze in Animas Forks-- and it was worth it. I'm leaving for Yuma and then Mexico in a week and I expect to cook and can't wait.
  • 0

#12 Tom Lowe

Tom Lowe
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1211 posts
  • Director
  • somewhere worshipping Terrence Malick

Posted 25 June 2008 - 11:21 PM

Hey Tom,

I think you've got a viable project and look forward to seeing your results. On the other hand, some of what made Baraka mind blowing was the slow-mo. Will you stay in time lapse? I think you can undercrank the whole thing and look great. I think the 1Ds will shoot bursts at 5fps but I don't know what its limit per burst is when tethered to a hard drive. I was just curious a little about what you had in your head on this.

On the resolution issue, RAW files store in such a way that they break into somewhat larger resolution images and are considered accurate at those higher resolutions. It has something to do with the math that takes the three layers and converts them up. You can definitely get a true 16 bit TIFFs out of those RAW files. I'm guessing that a 5.5K RAW might reach up into a 6.7 to 7.0 wide, 16 bit TIFF. They might get as big as 300 Mbs per frame though. You'll need a lot of SATAIIs for that.


Well my initial goal would be to shoot 45 minutes of timelapse and see where I am at next fall. I will probably put some of the shots up at my Getty stock footage account to help with money. By fall of 2009, I could cut an all-timelapse 45-minute feature similar to Chronos, and try to show it to the IMAX people (longshot I know!), or sell it to Discovery HD, PBS, HDNet, etc.

Or, if the live-action technology has caught up (with a 5- or 6K camera) by next fall, I might think about adding 45 minutes of Baraka-style live action footage and editing a full-length non-narrative in the tradition of Baraka and Kooyanisqatsi.

It would be a massive undertaking for me, so I am thinking long and hard about it.
  • 0

#13 Michael Lehnert

Michael Lehnert
  • Sustaining Members
  • 1086 posts
  • Other
  • London, UK / Basel, CH

Posted 27 June 2008 - 06:39 AM

you know I have a design for an inexpensive no-frills S8 camera sitting here.


Hi Nate, sorry for coming back to you with such delay...

Hey, that sounds cool. I suppose you won't go into details here in the forums out of fear of copycats... - guess your design would be along the lines of the Ikonoskop concept, wouldn't it?
  • 0

#14 Nate Downes

Nate Downes
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1638 posts
  • Florida, USA

Posted 27 June 2008 - 08:21 AM

Hi Nate, sorry for coming back to you with such delay...

Hey, that sounds cool. I suppose you won't go into details here in the forums out of fear of copycats... - guess your design would be along the lines of the Ikonoskop concept, wouldn't it?

Hey, if someone wants to copy me go right on ahead, I was once I built one going to just post the plans and the info to build it anyways.

And no, it's for the S8 cartridge, not DS8. Nothing fancy, C-mount lens on the front, mirrored shutter. I have almost all of the design done save the motor for it.
  • 0

#15 Michael Lehnert

Michael Lehnert
  • Sustaining Members
  • 1086 posts
  • Other
  • London, UK / Basel, CH

Posted 27 June 2008 - 08:50 AM

Nothing fancy?!?

That's too modest, Nate, as that would be only the third design that used mirror shutter in a camera for the Super 8 format: the Beaulieus, of course; than the prototype Aaton that JPB shelved a while ago (currently doing research on that in GR); and of course your design!

Actually, that sounds really interesting. We are already going way off-topic with this thread, but I would love to hear more. I think I'll start a S8 thread about all this later next week in the S8 subforum when I am back in London. Hope you find time to post there B) .

Cheers,
-Michael
  • 0

#16 Matt Butler

Matt Butler
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 93 posts
  • Other
  • Sydney,Australia

Posted 30 June 2008 - 03:14 AM

Getting back on topic, do you fellow posters, especially Tom and Joe, have multi axes timelapse systems ( eg. Pan, Tilt, Track) ?
Can they run in real-time as well?

Would you mind posting a photo of your rig(s) .... and what software do you use to control them?

The rig featured on the MOCOMAN link appeared to have a friction style track drive.

I use what I call my "landscape-dolly" : a real simple bicycle chain driven, wooden platform dolly with a built on euro-mount and tripod
leg retainers. Originally it was built for one-pass time lapse work but the guys who built it over engineered it and it does a great job for multi-pass work if needed!

I can attach a photo of it in action later if any one is interested.
  • 0

#17 Tom Lowe

Tom Lowe
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1211 posts
  • Director
  • somewhere worshipping Terrence Malick

Posted 30 June 2008 - 10:48 AM

Matt, I just have one axis of motion now (Mumford stepper panning head), but will be building a two-axis system this winter - pan & dolly.

That MOCOMAN guy, Lee Parker, is currently building a smaller version of his Pirouette made spefically for DSLRs. I'm hoping I can buy one from him. :)
  • 0

#18 Paul Bruening

Paul Bruening

    (deceased)

  • Sustaining Members
  • 2858 posts
  • Producer
  • Oxford, Mississippi

Posted 30 June 2008 - 01:19 PM

I've got one of the moco, gear heads that was used to shoot Star Wars or, at least, that's what Ken Stone told me when I bought it from him. It has steppers to drive the two axis. It's as big and heavy as any old school geared head. I don't have drivers for the steppers and don't know if it works.

Aren't there motored heads for the web stream part of this industry? I thought those guys could set up a studio and have only one guy sitting at a computer running the whole show.
  • 0

#19 Matt Butler

Matt Butler
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 93 posts
  • Other
  • Sydney,Australia

Posted 01 July 2008 - 03:34 AM

I guess we are limited by the current weight of even "light-weight" 35mm/65mm cameras. Once you start putting on all the accesories necessary to get the shot, the weight factor goes up and therefore you need a solid camera support system to achieve this.

For those capturing timelapse with digital SLRS, I expect we will see a new range of light weight motorised pan/tilt/track systems?????.... if the market for them is there.
These lightweight rigs may already be here.... please let me know.

My "landscape dolly" sometimes gets used on TVC's etc. and can cope with a serious amount camera weight mounted on it. It runs on traditional Elemack track and was configured to run in nasty weather.
In that regard the camera support technology hasn't really changed that much since BARAKA. That crew appeared to use a custom powered platform type dolly running on regular narrow-gauge track, driven by a custom computer program.

Attached Images

  • Landscape_Dolly_1.jpg

  • 0

#20 LeeFordParker

LeeFordParker
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 13 posts
  • Cinematographer

Posted 07 July 2008 - 12:08 PM

I'm Lee Parker, designer and builder of the MocoMan motion control system. I'm quite flattered someone has actually heard of MocoMan. Thanks to Tom for noting it. I have several credits on BARAKA, but wasn't really involved with the production. I was working for Todd-AO and helped to make it possible for them to have a mirror reflexed AP65 for a year. They also used a special computer program I created for editing 70mm with video. This was 1992 and no such thing as an AVID. I just wrote a computer program that translates any timecode number sequence into any film keycode list. Baraka used it to be able to edit with an off-line linear video editing system, then cut the 70mm work print to conform to the video soundtrack. According to Dave Barrett, the 70mm post supervisor, the program was only off 1 frame in the whole feature - an that was due to a bad telecine.

The MocoMan motion control system, the Pirouette head, dolly and track were designed to handle 100lb IMAX cameras in real time. The dolly - even with the friction drive - will move 500lbs (camera, head, tripod, batteries and operator) in real time. The first - and only - IMAX feature it was used on was SACRED PLANET. SACRED opened for 2 weeks and was shut down by HARRY POTTER, which didn't even get a whiff of an IMAX camera Fedx'd to them. Since IMAX production dropped dramatically, except for 3D. And despite the artistic success of CHRONOS in IMAX, no one has ever put the money to do something like it. Even SACRED PLANET is a pseudo-documentary cop out.

I've been doing digital timelapse since 2002 and it works great. The Nikon Coolpix has a beautiful lens set that goes from full frame fisheye to @250mm. I also have a Canon set up to use the Nikon lens set from my Mitchell GC, and my partner in England has two Nikons and two Canon D1s. A lot of people are using Mumford's single axis system. A lot more people are simulating the pans and tilts in AFTER EFFECTS by shooting wide and cropping the full frame still image to 1080 resolution.

But my motion control system is the real deal. It handles 8 channels of moving motors, 1 channel of a camera motor. Yes, I was also trying to build a 35 lb 1570 camera (http://www.iXL1570.com) - until the RED was announced. It uses a special carbon fiber pull down claw so it will be capable of 60fps, and have all the motor/electronic functions of an Arri 535 (fixed mirror/shutter, sorry) - it will do ramps.

So will the motion contro system. The whole system uses interchangable servo motor drivers(so that if you have a failure in the field you can swap drivers with a less used axis until a new driver can be fedx'd to you). The drivers are intelligent, so the computer that drives them is a handhelp palmtop computer. With a bit of work, I could get an iPod to run the system.

With interchangable motor drivers, the old notion of a moco system consisting of PAN TILT DOLLY etc goes out the window - the motors can drive any servo motor up to 10A x 24v continous. You could put a motor on a car wheel geared down to move it super slow, a motor on the steering wheel an you could turn a car or ATV into a moco system for a WOW car commercial.

The motor drivers interface seemlessly with the PRESTON CINEMA lens control system for IRIS FOCUS ZOOM control. Yes, most of the time I drive the dolly with a friction wheel - even though I have a toothed belt drive system as well. I chose this because the MocoMan system was designed to be operated by a single person. I have designed the system so that I can set up an entire dolly shot in 5 minutes by myself. The track is specially made to support a 500lb load with only 1mm of deflection in the center of a 2M span.

Yes I'm working on a PAN/TILT for RED and down that will weight no more than 6 lbs - and like all my stuff - it will run 5x real time, for repeating moves in any time scale. The principal market will eventually be RED or S16 remote head for Jimmy Jibs and the like. I'm working on the PAN/TILT handle electronics at the moment

Why? Because no IMAX movie ever has the proper budget to have a proper crew. All the shots I did for SACRED PLANET were done with a 3 person crew in US and 7 person crew in Thailand (where a driver makes $50 a day).

CHRONOS, BARAKA, KOYANSQUATSI are all labors of love. You have to be a bit mad like me to put your life work into a labor of love. Maybe there'll be money in it some day. But it isn't what drives me. What drives me is what one of the guys above said - the beauty of being in the moment capturing time. I've been in Death Valley when it was so hot in the sun it melted solder connection and shorted my drive motor. In Thailand at sat on a hill in the moon shadow of a buddha with two soldiers armed with AK-47s standing guard. In Monument Valley I watched the Moon pass through a sandstone formation called Eye of The Wind. I sat on the hood of my car in the dark and listened to Neal Young as the Comet HALE-BOPP passed before the lens of Ron Fricke's 1st self-made IMAX camera.

Everyone has stories like these, I'm sure. I don't think you can be a real cinematographer without the passion for the experience as much as the image. But timelapse motion control is a lonely calling, and one only a few can make a living in.

So, my hats off to all you filmmakers struggling to find your movies. Let me know if I can help.

Here's what I doing currently:

http://www.PMWcreative.org
  • 1


Opal

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

rebotnix Technologies

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Visual Products

Wooden Camera

Ritter Battery

Paralinx LLC

FJS International, LLC

Willys Widgets

The Slider

Metropolis Post

Glidecam

CineLab

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Technodolly

Abel Cine

Rig Wheels Passport

Aerial Filmworks

CineTape

Tai Audio

Abel Cine

Tai Audio

CineTape

Metropolis Post

Opal

Paralinx LLC

Visual Products

Wooden Camera

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Glidecam

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

rebotnix Technologies

FJS International, LLC

Technodolly

CineLab

Aerial Filmworks

Ritter Battery

Rig Wheels Passport

The Slider

Willys Widgets