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Alexa Mini - nuts and bolts issues

steadicam alexa alexa mini camera assisting

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#1 Patrick Lavalley

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Posted 10 July 2015 - 08:42 PM

Hello all,

 

 

A little back story: I just completed the first week of shooting on a 1 hour episodic television show. Our usual setup is 3 Alexa classics; "A" camera, "B" camera, and a "C" camera/steadicam. Our steadicam body has always been dedicated to that rig, and unless one of the other cameras breaks, we never really press it into service in any other capacity. This is nice, since it allows us to leave the rig mostly configured for the purpose of steadicam, and it can be built really quickly.

 

About a week prior to prep, we found out that "they" wanted to use an Alexa mini as our "C" body this year, to be used on steadicam, and also to be converted for special use when required- handheld inside of cars, hood mounts, etc....

 

We were all a bit thrown off by this, since we've been using the other cameras for 4 previous seasons, and we know the setup very well. Production didn't give us any additional time to prep (we get 2 days to prep for 22 eight day episodes), and we left the rental house with an Alexa mini that really didn't work for our intended purpose. Some of our issues included the lack of a run/stop cable for preston, lack of camera control without the eyepiece attached, awkward position of the media access door which is blocked by the Arri rod-mounted anton bauer plate (BAP-1), and that the camera weighed too little overall for our steadicam operators liking.

 

I think a lot of advantage comes from the use of the integrated Arri 3 channel handset/MDR, however it wasn't available at the time of prep, and I am not sure they will pay for an additional remote unit, when there are already two other Preston FI+Z's on the show.

 

How are some of you handling the Alexa mini? It seems to me that it lacks a lot of the built-in functionality and ergonomics that are so nice with the other cameras in the line. Has anyone configured it for a studio camera or steadicam body with good success? Thanks in advance for any info.

 

 


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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 10 July 2015 - 09:31 PM

It seems the rigging issues would be similar if you used a Red Epic, wouldn't it?
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#3 Patrick Lavalley

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Posted 11 July 2015 - 01:05 PM

Hey David,

 

Yes, absolutely similar, and I know that in time just as with the Red Epic, solutions will be found to all of the various issues. I think the issue we ran into was lack of time, and lack of available accessories. Also, we found out that without the eyepiece attached, and without the Arri 3 channel handset, we had limited control over the menus. The Wi-Fi functionality through IOS devices was sketchy at best. Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but near as I could tell I only had control over ISO, shutter speed, frame rate, and internal ND's with the function buttons on the camera body. Thats certainly enough to take care of most things, but it would be nice to be able to control everything.

 

We'll likely bring it back on at some point once the rental house gets in some cables and different bracketry. For instance, if someone designed a bracket that could swing away or somehow expose the media door and then be swung back into position, that would be a big time saver I think. 

 

I think in the end it will be a really useful camera, and it does present some unique advantages such as the built in MDR, ND's, and of course it's compact size and minimal weight. I am sure I am not alone as an AC though, in the dislike for tons of external accessories clamped, velcro'd or otherwise "stuck on" and cabled up to make something work that would otherwise be really clean and compact. 


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#4 JD Hartman

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Posted 11 July 2015 - 02:44 PM

Hey David,

We'll likely bring it back on at some point once the rental house gets in some cables and different bracketry. For instance, if someone designed a bracket that could swing away or somehow expose the media door and then be swung back into position, that would be a big time saver I think. 

Hate to state the obvious, you being familiar with the problem, why not sketch something out (the bracket) with rough dimensions with functionality described and have someone fabricate it?  I'm sure a small biz like Willy's Widgets would be interested and might even jump at the chance to have a product like that in their line..


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#5 Patrick Lavalley

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Posted 11 July 2015 - 03:39 PM

Great suggestion, and one we've been discussing. We've actually got a talented machinist up here in Portland (http://www.pocketgrip.com) that could do the work, I'll just need to do a little brainstorming. This is one of those instances where a purpose-made item will be much nicer than a bolted together unit from various brackets. I'll be working with our steadicam operator on the design most likely. It's got to be somewhat light, as well as have very little play. The other option is to just draw index marks on the rods and physically remove the plate each time, but that prospect seems pretty cumbersome, and if it isn't put back exactly in the right place it could affect the balance of the rig.


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#6 JD Hartman

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Posted 11 July 2015 - 04:29 PM

At those prices, I'd be giving Willy a call.  The Pocket Grip,..... big time fugly.


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#7 Patrick Lavalley

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Posted 11 July 2015 - 06:41 PM

Will do. Thanks for the tip!


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#8 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 14 July 2015 - 10:56 AM

Saw this:

http://www.fdtimes.c...onproducts-aks/


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#9 Patrick Lavalley

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Posted 15 July 2015 - 01:37 AM

Thank you David! That's really interesting, particularly the power distro modules. 

 

A question for you too- are you a fan of the internal ND's?


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#10 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 15 July 2015 - 01:42 AM

Sure, in theory, I haven't used a camera that had them since the F900 years ago... haven't used the Alexa Mini yet nor the Sony F55.


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#11 Patrick Lavalley

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Posted 17 July 2015 - 03:13 PM

Wooden Camera also has a really good looking power plate:

 

http://woodencamera....Gold-Mount.html


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Visual Products

The Slider

Aerial Filmworks

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Tai Audio

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Willys Widgets

Pro 8mm

Zylight

Technodolly

Glidecam

Abel Cine