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#1 Mike Thorn

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Posted 24 April 2009 - 04:16 PM

I'm 1sting my third RED feature starting next week. Pretty straightforward drama script. Probably the most complicated thing we'll do is some steadicam on set and some matchmove in post.

I found out last night that the budget stretched like a pizza crust and the hole ended up in the camera department. So, we'll be using Nikon primes with the RED Nikon mount. I pushed for a set of Zeiss Ultras or Supers but apparently it was just too expensive. Fortunately we got an Arri mattebox and FF - we almost ended up with the RedRock clip-on, which would have been too time-consuming for this shoot.

Any advice or pitfalls to watch out for?

I personally own and love my Nikon D70, so I'm familiar with Nikon's zoom glass, but I'm a little dubious of what it's going to look like on RED (don't tell the producer!). Anybody know of any examples of RED footage shot with Nikon primes?
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#2 Jamie Metzger

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Posted 24 April 2009 - 11:14 PM

Ugh.
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#3 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 25 April 2009 - 03:18 AM

How the hell do they expect you to pull focus on steadicam with Nikon lenses that don't have gears or witness marks?! I would inform them right away that this will not be possible before they get any further into pre-pro. Does production even realize that they need to rent a wireless follow focus and wireless video assist to do steadicam? You could potentially argue for super speeds or zeiss standards just for the steadicam days.

Beyond that, all I will say is that Nikkors+Red can look very sharp and lovely, WHEN IT'S IN FOCUS. Without reliable witness marks on the lens, you have to focus by eye (monitor). That ain't gonna happen on steadicam shots...
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#4 Mike Thorn

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Posted 25 April 2009 - 08:18 AM

Oh, I already asked for a wireless, but they decided that there wouldn't be enough movement in the steadicam to make it worth the thousand bucks. :) Guess we'll see. The first four days are super-light, so that will be the time to shake down the rig and order a remote if they change their minds.

But that's not the best part... I suggested several competent steadicam ops I know, both local and out of state, but they decided that there wan't enough money for that either (did I mention the budget got cut?), so I'll be doing that too. I'm not an op, but I've assisted steadicam several times, so I'm the best they're going to get for the money. Ha.

Good thing I love a challenge. Too bad I cut my rate for this job! :D
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#5 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 25 April 2009 - 05:36 PM

Good thing I love a challenge. Too bad I cut my rate for this job! :D

Jeez, these guys are ridiculous. You already know who they're going to be pointing their finger at when it all hits the fan, don't you? Good luck, that's all I can say...
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#6 Mike Thorn

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Posted 25 April 2009 - 09:20 PM

Well, I have records of my advice to the producer and DP, if that happens, so I'm not real worried about that.

My biggest concern is not being able to deliver the goods. I hate doing half-baked work and calling it good just for the sake of a few dollars.

Either spend the money and do it right or don't do it at all. Go big or stay home, so they say.
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#7 Dan Diaconu M

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Posted 25 April 2009 - 11:34 PM

Go big or stay home, so they say.


So.... you start a thread only to let us know you're staying home? :blink:
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#8 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 26 April 2009 - 01:57 AM

So.... you start a thread only to let us know you're staying home? :blink:

No, he's going for it.
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#9 Chris Pickle

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Posted 27 April 2009 - 06:35 PM

I'm 1sting my third RED feature starting next week. Pretty straightforward drama script. Probably the most complicated thing we'll do is some steadicam on set and some matchmove in post.

I found out last night that the budget stretched like a pizza crust and the hole ended up in the camera department. So, we'll be using Nikon primes with the RED Nikon mount. I pushed for a set of Zeiss Ultras or Supers but apparently it was just too expensive. Fortunately we got an Arri mattebox and FF - we almost ended up with the RedRock clip-on, which would have been too time-consuming for this shoot.

Any advice or pitfalls to watch out for?

I personally own and love my Nikon D70, so I'm familiar with Nikon's zoom glass, but I'm a little dubious of what it's going to look like on RED (don't tell the producer!). Anybody know of any examples of RED footage shot with Nikon primes?


Recently shot 2 features with Red / Nikon. Mostly 35 / 50 / 85 ... some 135 & 17-35. Footage looked great, especially 35, 50, 85. Focus was tricky but we managed. Dp / Operator pulled his own focus from LCD, but he's a machine and shoots this way 5 days a week. I must say how surprised I was in how well it worked. When I hear eveyone worried about this approach, I'm not sure what they mean. Yeah, it was tough, but the Nikons were faster then a set of ZFs or Standards.

Obviously the biggest issue is the short focus turn radius... but

For anything low budget, I'd just go this route. The LCD was remarkably accurate.

Chris
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#10 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 27 April 2009 - 07:16 PM

When I hear eveyone worried about this approach, I'm not sure what they mean. Yeah, it was tough, but the Nikons were faster then a set of ZFs or Standards.

The original post was from a 1st AC's perspective, not from the DP's, and we were talking specifically about pulling focus on steadicam shots. Our job is to make sure the image is sharp. That's what we get paid for. If the image is soft, we lose our jobs. If you are a DP pulling your own focus, and your producers will accept some blown takes due to soft shots then that's fine. That has nothing to do with us.

Look, I've done plenty of jobs pulling from the barrel with Nikkors. But it's worse than stupid to combine that with steadicam. Doesn't make any sense.

As far as Nikkor lenses being faster, I don't see what that has to do with what we're discussing.

Obviously the biggest issue is the short focus turn radius...

That's not correct. The biggest issue is not the short throw of the lens barrels, it is the lack of calibrated witness marks and collimation of the lens which ensures the accuracy of those marks, as well as the lack of focus gears. You can only focus "the old fashioned way" when working with steadicam, by judging distance from the focal plane to the subject and using a wireless follow focus device. Nikkor lenses only work when you focus from a monitor. If you have your Nikkors fitted with 0.8 pitch gears, it may be possible to do this sitting at the big monitor if you have an HD wireless video system like the WEVI but you won't have that luxury on a no-budget shoot.

Edited by Satsuki Murashige, 27 April 2009 - 07:20 PM.

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#11 Chris Pickle

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Posted 27 April 2009 - 08:00 PM

The original post was from a 1st AC's perspective, not from the DP's, and we were talking specifically about pulling focus on steadicam shots. Our job is to make sure the image is sharp. That's what we get paid for. If the image is soft, we lose our jobs. If you are a DP pulling your own focus, and your producers will accept some blown takes due to soft shots then that's fine. That has nothing to do with us.

Look, I've done plenty of jobs pulling from the barrel with Nikkors. But it's worse than stupid to combine that with steadicam. Doesn't make any sense.

As far as Nikkor lenses being faster, I don't see what that has to do with what we're discussing.


That's not correct. The biggest issue is not the short throw of the lens barrels, it is the lack of calibrated witness marks and collimation of the lens which ensures the accuracy of those marks, as well as the lack of focus gears. You can only focus "the old fashioned way" when working with steadicam, by judging distance from the focal plane to the subject and using a wireless follow focus device. Nikkor lenses only work when you focus from a monitor. If you have your Nikkors fitted with 0.8 pitch gears, it may be possible to do this sitting at the big monitor if you have an HD wireless video system like the WEVI but you won't have that luxury on a no-budget shoot.


I wasn't talking to you. If you read my post, you'd see I was responding to the OP's first post. (which I quoted!) I was simply giving my two cents on shooting Red & Nikon, which is what the OP was asking for.

All my comments were to my experiences--like, lens speed, focus, my thoughts on pros & cons... etc. My comment about folks complaining about this setup wasn't directed at you, nor anyone in particular... I hear the Nikon lens lament often enough to comment on it without talking about you.

These were MY EXPERIENCES.

Do you think everyone who posts in this thread must make posts that are relevant to yours? Or are we allowed to comment / respond to the OP?
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#12 Mike Thorn

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Posted 28 April 2009 - 12:19 PM

Whoa, guys...chill. It's cool. I appreciate the input from both of you. Anecdotal advice is just as relevant, to me, as factual evidence.

There's plenty of work to go around. We don't need to bicker over it like kings of little provinces, scared to death that one little slip will cost us our careers.

I'm on location now, posting from my smartphone. I'm supposed to get the camera package within an hour. Here goes nothing! :)

By the way, the steadicam unit is the straight-from-india Magic Arm 6000. It's a beef little rig, supposedly capable to 50+ lbs. We'll see. Has an unusual mounting plate, it seems, but they greatly improved the balance fine-tuning mechanism. No more allen keys!
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#13 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 29 April 2009 - 03:08 AM

I wasn't talking to you. If you read my post...

Clearly, I did read your post since I was responding to the points you made in it. I didn't realize you were not "talking to me," so if I offended you by responding to your statements, then I apologize. It was not my intent to offend you. I see now how my response could be seen as being dismissive of your experience. That's not what I was going for, so again, I apologize.

If you're interested, I was responding in particular to this statement you made: When I hear everyone worried about this approach, I'm not sure what they mean. I assumed you would want to know the answer, so I gave it. Hopefully, that was helpful to someone reading this thread, if not to you.

Do you think everyone who posts in this thread must make posts that are relevant to yours?

"Must?" No, of course not. I do think that's the whole point of a discussion though, isn't it? To agree with/contradict/amplify/clarify someone else's statement in order to expand everyone's knowledge of the topic at hand? That was my sole intent in responding to your post. You are also welcome to respond to my comments for the same purpose, if you so choose.

Or are we allowed to comment / respond to the OP?

Of course. Am I allowed to respond to the ideas expressed in your comments for the sake of discussion?

*Sorry to derail your thread, Mike. It won't happen again (at least by me).

Edited by Satsuki Murashige, 29 April 2009 - 03:10 AM.

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#14 Andy_Alderslade

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Posted 29 April 2009 - 03:35 AM

By the way, the steadicam unit is the straight-from-india Magic Arm 6000. It's a beef little rig, supposedly capable to 50+ lbs. We'll see. Has an unusual mounting plate, it seems, but they greatly improved the balance fine-tuning mechanism. No more allen keys!


Blimey! They really are cutting it thin - why don't they just rent a Steadicam Flyer, you can use them with a stripped down Red, and they're not an expensive rig to buy or rent...

Do they have an operator?

Edited by Andy_Alderslade, 29 April 2009 - 03:35 AM.

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#15 Chris Pickle

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Posted 29 April 2009 - 02:19 PM

.......... Am I allowed to respond to the ideas expressed in your comments for the sake of discussion? ........


You not only responded to my comments, you essentially told me they were not relevant to discussion. At least, I suppose, not your part of it. I don't dig harsh, and sometimes these boards, in my view, can be a bit knee-jerk.

........ If you are a DP pulling your own focus, and your producers will accept some blown takes due to soft shots then that's fine. That has nothing to do with us.

...... But it's worse than stupid to combine that with steadicam. Doesn't make any sense.

........ I don't see what that has to do with what we're discussing.

That's not correct. ...........


Sorry if I came to the discussion late... and it had evolved beyond general feedback on Red & Nikon to Red & steadicam & nikon & pulling focus. I did however have a small amount of insight into the general idea of Red & Nikon and I apologize if my comment on taking issue with other folks issues with Nikon seemed harsh to you.

Yes, my experience doesn't include Stedicam, so I can't speak to that. The two features we just completed with Nikons. We were lower budget, but the footage looks fantastic. On a tight budget, I wouldn't break the bank with expensive rentals if I had access to fast Nikons. When I hear of folks going to the ZF line, I'm surprised, since there is no image benefit and I can't imagine that a smoother focus barrel (that is still short) would factor. And as I mentioned, going to Standard Speeds, well, on low budget, I would have missed all those stops.

On the other hand, it would be great to have a fast set of quality PL glass. Hopefully Red has solved the issue for the budget minded.

It's all good.

Chris
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#16 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 29 April 2009 - 02:22 PM

I think Mike mentioned earlier that production asked him to operate because there was no budget for a steadicam op.
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#17 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 29 April 2009 - 02:26 PM

It's all good.

Ok, glad we're cool.
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#18 Morgan Lowndes

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Posted 29 April 2009 - 04:39 PM

hi chaps

if the steadicam shots look poop and some of the tripod/handheld shots are soft, then surely the blame should land squarely on the shoulders of the DoP, being the Head of the camera dept...?


cheers
morgs
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#19 Mike Thorn

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Posted 30 April 2009 - 10:06 PM

Day 2 down. So far so good. No steadicam in sight. Love the look, hate the short throw. Shooting interiors at 2.8 too. Fun. -Mike
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#20 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 01 May 2009 - 01:38 AM

Day 2 down. So far so good. No steadicam in sight. Love the look, hate the short throw. Shooting interiors at 2.8 too. Fun. -Mike

Good to hear Mike. Is there a data manager on set who is checking focus for you in Redcine as well as looking for clip errors?
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