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Romania Documentary


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#1 Brian Wells

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Posted 14 July 2005 - 06:39 AM

I have recently secured a position as camera operator on a documentary missions trip to Romania for this August. I am a young guy in my twenties and view this as the opportunity of a lifetime and is among the highest points of my career so far.

My equipment package will be based around a DVX100a, matte box, filters, and a good tripod. Probably we'll be doing interviews for which I will have a simple collapsable reflector kit which can fit in my Cinebag easily, along with various microphones, 4x4 filters, warmcards, an insert slate, and a color chart. While this isn't the ideal package for top quality pictures, it is what I'll have available to me, and is approaching the limits of what I can personally carry and keep track for several weeks.

I am writing to hear your thoughts of things I would probably forget, or otherwise not even think about, taking with me. Outside of the obvious need for a power converter to charge my batteries, what other ancillary tools come to mind for a "middle of nowhere" doc shoot?

Will I need to observe any special considerations (i.e.- shutter speed) when shooting 24p in a country with 50 cycle electricity? For some reason, I thought I would experience flicker, but perhaps that isn't an issue with practical fixtures anywhere on Earth, regardless of shutter speed. I had intended to operate at 1/48th most of the time.. Should I go 1/50th instead?

There are so many things to think about and I need a good sounding board right now.

Thanks!
Brian Wells
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#2 Richard Boddington

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Posted 14 July 2005 - 10:08 AM

Why does shutter speed mean any thing if you're using a NTSC camera on the battery?

Are you refering to the cycle of the lights and how that would affect the shoot?

Also, keep a close eye on all your gear, theft if the biggest problem for any film shoot in Romania. The internet is full of stories about film crews being robbed blind there, the Romanians have a special knack for this.

It's a dirt poor country and there are a lot of desperate people there.

R,
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#3 Ckulakov

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Posted 14 July 2005 - 11:40 AM

Dear Brian,

My mom is from Moldova(country right next to Romania) and my dad is from Russia. I moved to the U.S. just 5 years ago. I visit Romania and Molodova often. And I will tell you its not the U.S. unless you are staying in the capital with a very nice hotel. You wont be able to buy anything american for the price you can buy it here in the US.

If you are shooting out in the country you wont be able to charge or power anything unless you have someone who has some power (most likly not) so have lots of batteries and charge them with every chance you get.

Also go with someone who has been to Romania and knows how to speak both Romanian and English. Because the customs are not the most honest people in the world and they will make up things just to scam you, so having someone experianced will help.

Dont show your cameras and expensive American things because they will know you have money and try to scam you. (other clues are back packs, shorts, baseball caps, other sports attire)

Take extension cords, and converters.

Take losts of batteries for you camera.

Take a flashlight

Take at least one small, sturdy (sturdy is important) stand, 6 feet high for your reflectors

Take clamps.

Take gaffers tape

Take ND filters.

Take lens hoods

Take some small tools like screw drivers, pliers, and some other tools just incase something brakes.

Dont (do not) take anything that you wont need but will make you look like you have lots of pro equipment.


I dont mean to scare you because it will be allot of fun even though you will run into allot of problems. Just take someone experianced and that knows the people and you will be fine.

Good Luck.

Edited by Ckulakov, 14 July 2005 - 11:43 AM.

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#4 oscar jimenez

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Posted 14 July 2005 - 04:43 PM

Hi, that's a great trip. consider for microphones tons of batteries ( senhezier and lectrosonics kill them very fast ) and for the field mixer if you are using one. I would take at least 10 25 ft and two 100 ft stingers, AC converters ( some spare ones too ) and if you are going middle of nowhere, there are small 650 W quiet geenies that run up to 20 Amps, you can re charge your batts on one of them and not worry about power for batt charge. Rope is useful, some clamps ( metal clamps ) gaffer, masking tape, dutc tape ( sticks better in damp - humid condition )
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#5 Matt Pacini

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Posted 14 July 2005 - 04:57 PM

This brings up a good question:

What can you possibly do when you're getting scammed by a customs agent in a foreign country, or any other official trying to scam you?
Just say no?
It would seem to me, you're basically screwed, right? Because they could arrest you, take all your stuff, etc., couldn't they?
Do you suggest carrying bribe money?
Should these guys pack their gear in beat-up old suitcases instead of flight cases?

David Mullen, what did you do when you filmed in Russia? Did you have any problems like this?

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#6 Ckulakov

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Posted 14 July 2005 - 06:13 PM

Yes bribe money is a good idea. Also if you are traveling with someone who knows the rules he knows what to say and when. Usually no more than 20 dollars is needed.

It is not that common in Russia since there are lots of american tourists flying instead of using a train.

Usually if you are going on a train you will be stopped on every border along the way like in the Ukraine, Moldova, and Russia.
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#7 Brian Wells

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Posted 14 July 2005 - 06:38 PM

Richard - Yes, I suppose those same principals in the US apply abroad. I would only experience potential flicker with magnetic ballast HMI, fluorescent, or shooting a CRT monitor, right?

Ckulakov - Thank you for your first hand knowledge of the area. Power is a definite concern. I have mentioned the fact that I do need power, and nothing has come up so far to indicate there will not be, however, knowing it could be a potential problem I will press the topic a little more with the organizers of the trip. We are shooting in Bucharest for 3-4 days, then the town of Voronet (SW of Suceava) for the rest of the shoot, which is about 10 days.

Customs and theft in general do concern me as this is my personal camera equipment. I'm pending on an equipment rider from an entertainment insurer and will have everything on a policy before I leave the U.S. I can't afford to lose my gear to thieves. Barter money is a good idea.

I wonder if my UHF Lectro kits will be permissible in Europe? I understand there are different frequencies for the different parts of the world, and while this isn't directly related to cinematography, I wondered if anyone had any insight into this.

Oscar - Thanks for the list. I will probably not be taking a field mixer and my mics can be phantom powered from the camera (except the radio mics, of course). I can't decide if it makes sense to take a couple of lights or not. If I did, it wouldn't be much. Maybe a 2x4 Kino and an Arri 300W or something. Then, of course, there's the power issues and stands...

Speaking of stands. I like the idea of getting a good stand to hold reflectors. (what I wouldn't give for real shiny boards, silks, and C-stands!) yet portability is of the highest concern. What are your thoughts on this kit?
Posted Image
http://www.rostronic...prod=BKASPBLS32

I thought maybe I'd pick up a couple of those Portabrace "hollow shop bags" which can be packed away flat and then filled with water.

Posted Image
http://www.portabrac...l_C.php?id=1769

Any thoughts on this?

Thanks again for everything!
Brian Wells
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#8 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 15 July 2005 - 04:06 AM

Hi,

> I wonder if my UHF Lectro kits will be permissible in Europe?

In theory probably no; in practice I doubt anyone'll notice. Check they're not in the same region as anything really important or sensitive (Military or emergency services comms, airfield RF services, etc) where you're going, but I wouldn't hold my breath for problems.

Phil
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#9 Laurent Andrieux

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Posted 15 July 2005 - 08:03 AM

Hi,

I shot a Super 16 90 mn fiction tv film in Romania 13 years ago, so I don't know if it changed a lot since, but this is my 2 cents :

Be 100 % sure to be 100 % clean with customs concerning everything you bring there. That means you gotta have a list of every single item checked by the custom when you leave US - in Europe we have ATA carnets.

Show this to any custom you pass thru, so that you can pass it back on the way back.

We crossed europe with the truck and had problems at the custom because of people wrecking it so we couldn't leave... We made it.

There usually are no problems with the customs themselves if you are clean.

Mind that there are nealy no road signs in the country. You defenetly need a romanian driver.

Mind to always stay in the big international hotels wherever you go.

Mind that the ffod looks fine - especially in august ! - and don't eat meat that doens't look fine.

Don't forget to take basic medecines with you because they are none there

If you have a problem with camera systems, go to the TV studios in bucarest, they are very nice people, though very "slow"...

Ask for Radu and send my regards.
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#10 Bob Hayes

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Posted 08 October 2006 - 09:09 PM

Two things. First 50 cycles is a problem when shooting 24p or 60i with regards to fluorescents of which there will be many. You can sometimes adjust the syncro scan so it will fix the problem but be prepared to see it and fix it.

With regards to customs create a chart that has all your gear, country of origin, serial numbers, and cost. I create a separate list with out the cost on the list to prevent it?s use as a shopping list. I also take digital color photos of all my gear and cases. I organize the photos by what cases the gear ships in. I then make multiple copies. It is great documentation that you had the gear and it helps finding lost or stolen equipment.
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#11 Brian Wells

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Posted 08 October 2006 - 09:41 PM

Two things...


Hi Bob-

I returned from this trip one year ago, but you are correct! 50 cycle fluorescents (w/ mag ballasts) were a problem in Romania(in 24P). Although, the problem was a small one as the flicker was easily mitigated using the syncro scan shutter method you suggested. I also made sure to take pictures and make lists of all of my gear before the trip. I am happy to report the trip went very well and all of my equipment (except for a slightly damaged head) came back in great condition. Thanks for your concern and reply. Sincerely,
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