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Shooting in the cold


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#1 Kevin Mastman

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Posted 19 November 2008 - 10:15 PM

Hello,

I am 1sting on a short film with the SR3 this weekend. Its going to be very cold outside (we are shooting outside). I was wondering if you could first of all give me advice on preparations that need to be taken to protect the camera and the film from the elements. And second of all, give me some creative solutions you have figured out to stay warm but still be able to move around and function as an AC.

Thanks a lot.

Kevin Mastman
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#2 timHealy

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Posted 19 November 2008 - 10:35 PM

Hello,

I am 1sting on a short film with the SR3 this weekend. Its going to be very cold outside (we are shooting outside). I was wondering if you could first of all give me advice on preparations that need to be taken to protect the camera and the film from the elements. And second of all, give me some creative solutions you have figured out to stay warm but still be able to move around and function as an AC.

Thanks a lot.

Kevin Mastman



As I recall the SR one and two (and probably the 3)was only rated down to 5 degrees fahrenheit but even so there is a need to keep batteries warm and under your coat with a battery cable coming down your sleeve or under your jacket if there is no electric to keep things warm.

best

Tim
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#3 Steve McBride

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Posted 19 November 2008 - 10:44 PM

Batteries loose power faster when they're cold. Put them in a jacket pocket (winter jacket, big and puffy) and throw some hand warmers in with it. The hand warmers will keep the batteries warm and you can put your hands in your pockets also and use the hand warmers to... well, to keep your hands warm.

Make sure you have good gloves that are easy to take on and off because you'll want to wear them when you're not doing much, but I would definitely go barehanded when doing your actual job (since precision is needed).

Oh... Get some pairs of wool socks :P .
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#4 David Regan

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Posted 19 November 2008 - 10:56 PM

If you are using a fluid head, warm it up for your DP when you get to set in the morning, get it loose so it's not sticking from the cold.

If I'm outside in cold with the camera, I like to run it without film for a few hundred feet, get everything running nicely.

If you happen to come inside for any reason to shoot something watch for condensation that will build up quickly on the lens/filters.

If you have your heated eye cup cable, hooking that up is a nice thing for your DP

Watch for snow (if applicable where you are) getting on lenses/filters

And yeah, as said, keep your hands warm, it can be tough to load a mag with numb fingers, I've been there, it's not fun.

Good Luck!
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#5 Kevin Mastman

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Posted 19 November 2008 - 11:17 PM

Thank you for the advice. I've heard that film gets brittle in the cold. Is there any risk of it breaking? How would I avoid this?
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#6 Chris Keth

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Posted 19 November 2008 - 11:54 PM

Thank you for the advice. I've heard that film gets brittle in the cold. Is there any risk of it breaking? How would I avoid this?


Yeah, it gets more brittle. It has to get really, really cold before it's really at risk of breaking under normal conditions.

Tell your rental house that you'll be shooting in very cold conditions. They can advise you about special prep things that need to be done. In VERY cold conditions, cameras are cleaned of all lubrication and left dry because the lubrication gets so thick. For cold but not that cold, the rental house may want to prep your camera with a cold-weather lubricant.

I heartily recommend Glacier Gloves. They're neoprene and a couple of the fingers flip back so you can have bare fingers. The neoprene is very warm and won't shed fibers into the camera body or lens cavity while you're working. They also have very good grip and, except for those convertible fingers are waterproof.

Wear thicker socks than you think you'll need. Standing around so much really lets heat get absorbed out the soles of your feet.

The battery issue is a tricky one. When it's really cold, here's what I do. I put the battery (this is assuming a block battery. The same principle works for a smaller battery too, though) in a bucket that's insulated with something. Newspaper works great. Then put a couple of those hand warmers in there and cover it up. I can usually keep battery life up around normal like that and it still gives you a handle to carry the battery with. If you want to, a battery belt worn under your coat works pretty well, too. I hate wearing battery belts, though, and try to avoid it when I can.

I usually don't use a bulb blower but sometimes it'll get cold enough that canned air won't have enough pressure anymore.

Make sure your equipment is either kept in a cold location as long as you're shooting in the cold or that it has enough time to acclimate to the temperature in the cases when you bring it inside at night. It's a huge pain when all of your stuff gets condensation on it and you have to dry it all out.

If you're like me, sometimes you'll blow a little fleck of dust off of a lens with your mouth rather than canned air. It's quick and kind of habit. Don't do that in the cold, the lens will fog up. It sounds obvious but you don't think about a lot of your working habits.

Many things with lubrication will have to be "warmed up". The fluid head will, as will lenses focus rings sometimes. They can get really tight when it gets cold and if you're doing anything with a preston, they can get to tight the motor can't turn the ring. In that case you just need to turn the ring manually back and forth and spread out and warm up the lubricant.
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#7 Kevin Mastman

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Posted 20 November 2008 - 12:11 AM

Thanks Chris. Thats great advise. Those gloves look awesome. I sacrificed a pair of setwear gloves and cut off the thumb and index finger tips for that same purpose. It would be good to be able to put those back on at will... :)
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#8 Gus Sacks

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Posted 20 November 2008 - 01:17 AM

Yeah, just to second... be careful of condensation in the lens with temperature changes. Even the lens case (something that an AC of mine did once - put it back in the van for a short period of time...). It happens, but it's best not to have to wait to change a lens.
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#9 Chris Keth

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Posted 20 November 2008 - 01:19 AM

Thanks Chris. Thats great advise. Those gloves look awesome. I sacrificed a pair of setwear gloves and cut off the thumb and index finger tips for that same purpose. It would be good to be able to put those back on at will... :)


Yeah, those gloves are killer. They're actually quite thin for being so warm. You can do a lot of things with the fingertips left on.
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#10 Tom Hepburn

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Posted 21 November 2008 - 10:40 AM

Living in Chicago I'm going to happen upon the same situation. In fact it's 20 degrees at the moment.

Can I just ask what the protocol is to avoid condensation on your lenses? AND would the same protocol apply to your camera/magazines?

For example would you slowly reduce the temperature over a 1/2 hour or so going from outside, to in the car, to inside? Or would it be best to keep the lenses outside, but sheltered in a case?

Thanks,
Tom
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#11 Serge Teulon

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Posted 21 November 2008 - 11:01 AM

I recommend handheld batteries. You can fit a sock (or2) over them when they are on. You will have to cut a whole where it clicks on the back of the mag.
Whilst doing that you can keep a couple of extras in your pockets. Where it should be warm and snug.

Defo on the previously mentioned sock thing!
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#12 Serge Teulon

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Posted 21 November 2008 - 11:08 AM

Tom, a sheltered case should help but when you have such a huge difference of temperature between outside and inside there really is nothing you can do to speed up the adaptation. Well, maybe apart from going over the lenses with a hairdryer when you go indoors. Don't put the hairdryer too close though!

Great gloves!

Edited by Serge Teulon, 21 November 2008 - 11:09 AM.

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#13 Rory Hanrahan

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Posted 21 November 2008 - 11:15 AM

I think just trying to get the lens case in with as much lead time as possible is key. Doing a step-by-step warm up may be OK if you've got the time, but you'll still have a temperature difference in the end anyway.

My process, learned thru too many East Coast and New England winter shoots is to bring the case in with as much lead time as possible; find a SAFE PLACE for it, where the loader is (if they're not in the truck) for instance; open the case, remove the caps from all of the lenses, turn the butt caps upside down in the case cavities, CAREFULLY place the lenses at a 45* angles so that they sit securely WITHOUT any chance of the rear elements touching anything! This will stop the lens caps from retaining cold on the lenses.

Part 2: Keep a small hair dryer in your cold-weather kit (I have a kit bundle for every circumstance -- I'm like Batman). Using the dryer on low heat/low blow, carefully warm the lenses to an acceptable level (without blowing very hot air directly on the glass or housing -- you're just trying to bring the immediate temperature up). If you have time, you may want to hit the case with some warm air as well. In addendum, let the juicers know that you're going to be using a hair dryer! Especially if they're on house power! These things suck up way too much power?

I'm sure some AC's here will react violently to the potentially unsafe practice I've outlined above, specifically lens placement in the case, so I'll leave this warning: if it seems unsafe, impractical or stupid, don't do it! I've done this 100 times, I've seen much better AC's than myself do it, I wouldn't do it if I didn't have the safe space to do it (think: free of all crew except for you), and neither should you.

I've also used the "DeFogger" lens fluid that FilmTools sells (Ultra Clarity brand?), and found it to be complete crap. It leaves a visible residue that I had to immediately Panchro off. I wouldn't waste my time with this junk.
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#14 Johnathan Holmes

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Posted 24 November 2008 - 09:37 PM

We recently shot in the cold and had a cooler bag with a couple electric heating pads set up for our batteries. It seemed to keep them warm enough to last reasonably long, but they still died very quickly. As well, to prevent the F-900 eyepiece from fogging (or any eyepiece without a heater), we strapped a few hand warmers to it with rubber bands. The hand warmers don't work so well when exposed to the cold, they're better in enclosed spaces, but it seemed to be fine on the eyepiece.

And get yourself a Canada Goose parka - you'll find yourself laughing at all the other North Face bums freezing their asses off.
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#15 Kevin Mastman

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Posted 25 November 2008 - 01:41 AM

We shot the film last Saturday and Sunday and it went mostly without troubles, except that we were miserable out in the 20 degree weather for 11 hours a day. We had access to an apartment that we kept the batteries charging in until needed. The onboards died very quickly but the second day we used a brick and it lasted the entire shoot despite the cold.

Thanks for all your advice

Kevin
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#16 Rory Hanrahan

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Posted 25 November 2008 - 01:10 PM

We recently shot in the cold and had a cooler bag with a couple electric heating pads set up for our batteries.


I usually keep a small rolling cooler, but the bag seems a bit more portable?

we strapped a few hand warmers to [the viewfinder] with rubber bands.


That's a great idea. But hopefully I won't find myself on enough EXT/cold weather shoots this year to try it!
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#17 Annie Wengenroth

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Posted 26 November 2008 - 12:49 AM

I have been known to place a short eyepiece in my pants to warm it up. My hands were full, my armpits were already occupied by 1) a mag and 2) an eyepiece leveler, and I did not have a 2nd AC. I suppose these things happen.

...I hate winter exteriors... all the people I talk to who are like, What Are You Talking About, This Is GREAT have at least 20 pounds on me and expensive North Face winter gear to boot, so what do they know. Just don't laugh at me for jumping up and down next to the camera all day (I take breaks while rolling) and we'll be good. Another good trick is to stand on an apple box because you'd be surprised- once you're off the ground, the cold doesn't seep in as much. You can dance on the apple box or make a speech if you want. You can also purchase 4-5 pairs of pants in ascending sizes which you can then wear on top of each other, similar in concept to those Russian toy dolls that stack up? Just remember that going to the bathroom will be awkward.

And please remember, it's not a fashion show. I got these really stupid-looking MC Hammer/mad old skool style snowboarding pants which I wouldn't dare wear on the mountain, but I wear on set all the time. Maybe someday I will wear them to a checkout too.
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#18 Annie Wengenroth

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Posted 26 November 2008 - 09:40 PM

These are the best pants for winter exteriors. :-D
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#19 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 27 November 2008 - 12:10 AM

Annie, you have a facebook. . .so passe! (I might just friend request you now. . .)
The hand warmers trick works pretty well, as mentioned before. I also have made a warm blanket for the onboards. It's thinsulate material from leftover gloves i've had over the years, stitched together to hold a battery as well as some warmers. Keeps an SR3 onboard running for a bit, and even, if you use a well positioned finger, can attach to the back of the camera.
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#20 Jim Hyslop

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Posted 27 November 2008 - 11:34 PM

I have been known to place a short eyepiece in my pants to warm it up. My hands were full, my armpits were already occupied by 1) a mag and 2) an eyepiece leveler, and I did not have a 2nd AC. I suppose these things happen.


I'm a bit confused - were you trying to keep the mag warm? I thought it was best to try to keep mags, lenses, etc. at the same temperature as the camera. I just 2nded a shoot this weekend and I kept insisting on NOT being given any space heaters, warm rooms, etc. The temperature was about -6 C (about 20 F). Was I being a martyr for nothing?

Edited by Jim Hyslop, 27 November 2008 - 11:35 PM.

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