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Wireless focus/Production Involvemnet

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#1 Ari Robbins

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Posted 13 September 2009 - 05:51 PM

Hey All,
I had a question about dealing with focus devices/rentals and dealing with production on contracts provided with such equipment.

I recently had the 1st AC decide at prep that he didn't feel that my Benz 5000 was adequate for the job. I had suggested that it might be this way before prep and suggested we rent a Preston multi-channel, which we would need anyway for the show due to other shots for the B Cam. Per the DP.
The PM asked me if it was needed, and if my package included a focus device. I said yes, but the multi-channel is for a more roundabout use of the B cam and she should converse with the DP. She axed the Preston and upon the prep, and now needing the Preston, that this should come out of my rental.
I explained the situation in total, stating what the difference, perceived problem, and solution should be, as well as being generous about taking the cost out to subrent a bartech(single channel) while mine was being serviced.
The end result is we have the Preston, and 1 Bartech, as well as my semi-working Benz, for a 2 Cam show. The 1st AC agrees we should have the Preston till we are in the studio, and that after that we can make do with the Bartech and the Benz.

My question involves whether somebody has had a situation like this occur, and how they worked it. I know we are assumed to have focus, but are we expected to have a three channel all the time. Also, shouldn't any piece that B cam needs be a production rental not part of ours, either which way we utilize them. I'm wondering if she is just trying to push the new guy for a penny, or if I did something incorrect and should alter my cost for it. We are 1 week in, and I've already had contracts locked. I'm wondering if having the 1st AC agree to mine for the rest of the show will get her off my back, but I fear she will ask for a rental cut due to the preston for the first 2 weeks. This is my first big show so I"m trying to play my cards well but don't want to be doing something irregular.
Thank you

Ari Robbins
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#2 James Puli

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Posted 13 September 2009 - 06:34 PM

I had a similar one on an add last week. Production realised that my Steadicam kit included a BFD, they decided that instead of hiring another one for work on the crane, that they would take the BFD off the Steadicam and use it on the crane as well, to save themselfs some moeny. Even though I had a 2nd BFD in the truck on standby, they still made a point of using the "included" kit, rather then paying the extra $200 for a seporate one.

Gotta love the penny pinching out there these days hey!
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#3 Jens Piotrowski SOC

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Posted 13 September 2009 - 06:41 PM

my preston is part of my steadicam, so it only works when my steadicam works, unless it's an emergency.

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#4 Alec Jarnagin SOC

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Posted 13 September 2009 - 10:25 PM

"my preston is part of my steadicam, so it only works when my steadicam works, unless it's an emergency."

Ditto. What happens when they suddenly want the Steadicam and crane to work at the same time?
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#5 Charles Papert

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Posted 14 September 2009 - 12:00 AM

As every production tightens around us and our rates and rentals continue to slide, it's more important than ever to stick to proper definitions of what is included in a Steadicam package and what is a la carte.

It has long been standard that the Preston that comes with the Steadicam is not part of the regular camera package. A few years ago I started working out a separate rental rate for it on top of my Steadicam rate, which allows it to be used as needed to whichever camera it is assigned. To keep the AC's happy, I have gone to lengths to ensure that this doesn't present a hardship for them, having cables made as needed, having the pieces to convert the motors from PAM to Preston bracketry if required, having enough motors to avoid having to break apart the Steadicam setup to mount onto a zoom etc. But this all has to be defined ahead of time. Production should not be able to demand that the Steadicam Preston replace another Preston requested in prep. I've had this come up a few times and after explaining "how it is", I haven't been challenged further.

As to whether a 3 channel system is required for all operators, it depends on what level you are. Unless you are shooting exclusively 1/3" cameras, wireless focus is a must; iris control is more important than ever due to HD so I would say that is pretty damn close to mandatory. Wireless control of zoom is a bit more exotic but I often have the baby Optimos on both film and HD gigs, and I like to be able to offer the possibility of adjusting focal length if needed. If you ever hope to get a separate rental on your system, 3 channels are a must for crane work.
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