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Master rig re-make


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#1 RobVanGelder

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Posted 21 July 2009 - 01:34 AM

My Steadicam Master has always been a bit of a Franken-rig, the top-stage is from an EFP/3a, the level is the old electronics box from the 3a, with a LED display, all connections on the top are also custom made in Holland.

I was not so happy with the whole form factor for a long time, there are much better balanced rigs out now.
So when I fell after my last shooting (while walking back to base-camp - in the darkness) and broke the connection in the lower sled to the post, I decided to redo the whole base unit.

I took the electronics (frame generator and some other power supply boards) and designed a new base around that. I also use the 24 volt to 12 volt converter that I already had on the Master. This converter powers every 12 volt accessory when shooting with 24 volt cameras,
The camera (12 or 24 volt) is always directly connected to the Battery.
The system can also switch to 12 volt only, bypassing the downconverter. There is a voltage LCD.

In the picture you can see the nNovia HDD recorder that I mounted behind the LCD. It records the SD signal and has a little remote control on the back of the sled.

The metal workshop did a real good job on this, all parts fit exactly. I used the original screen extension with some redesigning of the construction, because it is basically a strong piece. With the additional 45 degrees angle block I can now position the tilt-head leaning inwards, which is sometimes useful when shooting low mode.

The battery support can slide on the 15 mm bars (that I already had on the Master) and the batteries can also mount behind and upwards the Sled.
However, with the current monitor/recorder I have a dynamic balance in the showed position.

All in all, I am very happy with the outcome, the rig feels really stiff and in perfect balance. The batteries are in a good place, for me, although the base is not completely flat in this configuration. But I can still support the sled on the front part on an apple-box!

Now if only there were jobs waiting for me in Thailand..... that would make my day complete! :(

Hereby some pictures (Erwin, please post them for me, thanks)
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#2 RobVanGelder

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Posted 24 July 2009 - 04:26 AM

Anybody interested in the pictures can PM me, I cannot upload them - as sustaining member....
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#3 JobScholtze

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Posted 24 July 2009 - 10:47 AM

Here you go

Attached Files


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#4 RonBaldwin

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Posted 24 July 2009 - 11:49 AM

Rob, that is really cool! Don't see too many guys doing their own thing anymore.

I love the idea of mounting the monitor to the sled, but I never did it myself because of viewing issues while in low-mode (I hate losing my peripheral vision of what's in front of me by looking up while in low-mode).

nicely done!

rb
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#5 Charles King

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Posted 24 July 2009 - 12:21 PM

Glad people still customize their rigs

Edited by Charles King, 24 July 2009 - 12:30 PM.

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#6 Charles Papert

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Posted 24 July 2009 - 01:34 PM

Rob, I have picked up a nNovia A2D also, I hope you don't mind me asking a couple questions about that. The "4 button remote" that you are using, if I understand correctly it does not have the feature of allowing you to cycle between clips in a bin, just advance from bin to bin, is that right? So if you wanted to watch previous takes, you have to go to the front panel of the unit itself to access that button (I think it's the menu button...?) which is not replicated on the remote?

Also wondering if you have changed out the hard drive to a solid state unit to save weight/power issues.

Works pretty well otherwise, though, right?
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#7 RobVanGelder

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Posted 25 July 2009 - 11:41 AM

Hi Charles, do you have the manual from the nNovia? I can send it to you.
Yes, the interface is not completely as I would like it, but the quality is top (for SD), it is lightweight and I don't see a need yet for making it lighter by changing the HDD.
One issue with it is that it will jump from the last clip to the first, in a bin. Then you have to shuttle all the way forward to the end again.
There is however a "loop last clip" option, that works when you switch from record to playback. it does not work when from stop/standby to playback.

The remote is a bit finnicky, byt still useable.
I have asked the company if they could make an update so it can record HD-SDI, but they say that that will take a complete new board and design inside.... not sure about that, though.

I must say I did not use it yet on a shoot, as there is hardly any shoot with steadicam here..... luckily I have my managers-work at this rental company here, otherwise I would be in bad shape!

Oh well, still training 3 times a week in the fitness for that "big job" that will come to Thailand....... :P
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#8 Charles Papert

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Posted 25 July 2009 - 01:45 PM

Hi Rob, I have downloaded the A2D2 manual--the model I have is the older A2D which is virtually the same.

SSD vs hard drive makes the unit more impervious to shock and g-forces like whip pans, useful for our needs. It also trims some weight, runs cooler and draws less power.

nNovia has been bought out by a company call Datavideo, they have their US office near LA and I have been talking to them a bit about a product that would be ideal for us. It's on the drawing boards right now but I plan to keep on them and hopefully we will have our killer recorder within a year or two (HD-SDI, small, light, simple controls etc).
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#9 Sanjay Sami

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Posted 30 July 2009 - 09:07 AM

[
SSD vs hard drive makes the unit more impervious to shock and g-forces like whip pans, useful for our needs. It also trims some weight, runs cooler and draws less power.

[/quote]

Hi Charles, I had a question, my work is all film cameras (mostly sync - panavision platinum or arricam ST or Arri 535) I wanted to have a recorder on board to record video assist. Given that the output is not very high quality, what would you recommend as a simple, foolproof (or as close as possible) system ? Price is not too much of an issue.

Thank you

Sanjay Sami
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#10 Charles Papert

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Posted 30 July 2009 - 11:27 AM

The perfect animal doesn't exist at the moment (in my mind). Many love their Archos, I don't like the menu system and workarounds required. We all have different preferences on what we like for this sort of thing (like everything Steadicam). For example, FFV makes a unit that seems great out of the box, the Mini DVR Pro (several thousand $$) but I've heard that requires some aftermarket tweaking, maybe Alec can chip in on that.
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#11 Alec Jarnagin SOC

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Posted 30 July 2009 - 09:28 PM

FFV deck is great now that I've:

Put a DC to DC converter into my sled to get rid of noise issues (PRO 2 which is should be clean!).

Put a VDA in the sled to keep proper video levels

Had a start/stop box made for it

Total cost: $3K (?)..... Boy, I'm glad standard def video is on the way out so I can do this all over again!
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#12 RobVanGelder

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Posted 06 December 2009 - 09:33 AM

i am still trying out how to work with the nNovia. Main problem for me is to NOT FORGET to start the recording. Though it has a GPI input, I doubt this is trustworthy: you stil need to put it in record-pause mode, I think.

The last shootings, I used it as a permanent recorder. Usually, there is a video assist system/person anyway, so my recorder is mostly for backup and my own convenience.
I decided that once I am wearing the rig,I start the recording and record all the time, until I put the rig down. This gives me more security that I did record that good take, and also the rehearsal, (which are sometimes better and might be used for my showreel later on....)

With a 8,5 hours recording time I do not mind so much about running out of disc space. At the end of the day I can download selected takes to my laptop quickly. With the trim function of Quicktime this has become so easy to save those takes for later use. And I rather use takes with framelines that show real usage and originality (MY work) than desperately trying to get finished copies with cut-down takes from production houses and clients.

Already I have some material that I would never have otherwise. It might not be in the most pristine quality, but that is not always needed for my purpose.
Last week I was doing a shot in a Marine ship (interceptor-type), simulating a red-alert situation and with 4 persons at near running speed following and in Don Juan through a narrow pathway down in the hull, leading to the control room, with all kinds of piping, instruments, tubes, valves and boxes sticking out left and right.
And let's not forget the 1 foot high plates/doorsteps on the floor that prevent flooding, every 10 meters.
Video transmitter is nearly impossible in a metal ship and with so much going on and to watch out for I would normally always forget to switch on the recorder but now I have some very nice footage available! :D

http://www.youtube.c...e=youtube_gdata

http://www.youtube.c...e=youtube_gdata
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