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#1 Jamie McIntyre

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Posted 02 December 2009 - 08:44 AM

Good day,

I've been doing a little research into the the cables I will need for all the different cameras/FF and transmitters and it's just like wow! I'm trying to feel it out a little and do a bit of research for how many cables I need at this stage. For example, the only sled to cam power cables I own at the moment are RED and Panavision. Would anyone here recommend getting a list of every possible cable I would need for the next 10 years and buying it so I don't have to turn down a job if someone asks 'Hey Jamie, we have a job in two days on the 435, can you do it?'? If I didn't have the cam power cable it would be a bit of a bitch doing that job, would it not?- Hey, yeah that's a pretty unrealistic for me at this stage but it MIGHT happen.

I have a nice contact over here in the UK who is offering to make me a bunch of cables - Sled to arri, aaton, movicam, PV, run stop cables etc.

I'm thinking of building a basic list of camera power cables and maybe handing him a list to make them for me. Does the 235,435,535 etc use the same cable? I've only ever worked with the 435 so please excuse my ignorance asking that question. Anyway, if someone wouldn't mind telling me what they think would be good to have a as a basic cable package it would be much appreciated.

Cheers
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#2 Iain Baird

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Posted 02 December 2009 - 10:15 AM

Your title says it all, you should have CABLES GALORE!!

Every cable you can anticipate needing, you should have! And when you are done collecting them all, get doubles for backups.
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#3 Mike McGowan SOC

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Posted 02 December 2009 - 10:32 AM

cant live without 2 x arri (yes 235,435, 535, sr3 are all the same), 2 x panavision (both the old style and the new style), 2 x 4pin xlr (and maybe a third with reversed polarity), 2 x red (you can get away with one as you can power the sled off the on board battery), at least one 3 pin 24v xlr (for some movie cam and random other cameras).

then id get 2 of each of your wireless video and wireless focus cables and about 4 - 6 BnC cables in a few lengths.

another tip would be to carry a nice small back pack with you. when all else fails, you can put the block battery in your back pack and power the camera that way.

obviously you can start with just one of each but for the amount your getting paid, you should really have at least 2 of all the main cables... i looked the other day and realized i had 4 arri cables (not even sure how i ended up with that many?)...
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#4 Matt Petrosky

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Posted 02 December 2009 - 12:33 PM

Part of what the steadicam rentals and hourly rates are paying for is a person with specialized knowledge and specialized tools that he/she knows intimately. You will spend thousands and thousands of dollars on cables and connectors and you should know at least the basics as far as voltage, amperage, and polarity are concerned. It's not to say that you need to become a cable-making expert, although that can only save your bacon and help you out in a jam, but you are responsible for interfacing with a lot of cameras and accessories and the less time spent on-set worrying about that aspect of steadicaming (word?), the better.

Most of the cables we have are pretty specific to our sleds and gear and are not to be found in that exact configuration working elsewhere in the world, another operator with a similar setup being the exception. And for as much of a pain as this can be at times it is also one of the things that keeps us and our gear unique, and specialities command a higher premium.

And what the other guys said.

-Matt
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#5 Jamie McIntyre

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Posted 02 December 2009 - 12:34 PM

Every cable you can anticipate needing, you should have! And when you are done collecting them all, get doubles for backups.



cant live without 2 x arri (yes 235,435, 535, sr3 are all the same), 2 x panavision (both the old style and the new style), 2 x 4pin xlr (and maybe a third with reversed polarity), 2 x red (you can get away with one as you can power the sled off the on board battery), at least one 3 pin 24v xlr (for some movie cam and random other cameras).

then id get 2 of each of your wireless video and wireless focus cables and about 4 - 6 BnC cables in a few lengths.

another tip would be to carry a nice small back pack with you. when all else fails, you can put the block battery in your back pack and power the camera that way.

obviously you can start with just one of each but for the amount your getting paid, you should really have at least 2 of all the main cables... i looked the other day and realized i had 4 arri cables (not even sure how i ended up with that many?)...


Awesome! I'm going to make a nice long list and just get them all ASAP.

Cheers
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#6 Matt Petrosky

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Posted 02 December 2009 - 01:05 PM

Jamie, I should have mentioned that you can get a lot of the pin-out information from several good reference books that are in print. And if you were a camera assistant you probably already have them, or perhaps have an AC friend who does.

Doug Hart's The Camera Assistant
Jon Fauer's various Arri books

Doug's book, written from the perspective of a prepared camera assistant, is really easy to read and has a great section on the various battery and camera power schemes that are out there. It's a good starting place to get a better understanding of this non-standardized system.

Your sled manufacturer will have the specs for your sled, as will the other manufacturers for the various other pieces of equipment that you own. It sounds like you have a tech friend who can make these cables for you, which is fine, but at the end of the day it is your gear and you are responsible for understanding the workings of it. And when something blows up or breaks on set, you are gonna be the person explaining what you need over the phone and spearheading the troubleshooting party for your gear. It's just good to know your equipment.

Also you will find that various cable needs will appear down the road. For example I found myself on a feature with a DP who liked to have a small LitePanel just over the mattebox on the steadicam. The LitePanel itself isn't terribly heavy, but it's batteries are. So initially I would tape the battery to the bottom of my sled and run the power cable up to the LitePanel. Of course this is cumbersome and takes time and therefore not ideal. I was out of town on that job, but after I got back to LA I went to LitePanel, purchased a few power cables from them and got the spec sheet on voltage and polarity. I then made up a couple of cables that allow me to power the LitePanel directly from my sled. Charles has a great thread talking about this sort of thing for the whole new wave of DSLR cameras.

How I Learned to Stop Worrying...

Hope this helps,
Matt
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#7 Janice Arthur

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Posted 02 December 2009 - 02:23 PM

Jamie;

I stand in just about complete disagreement with this buy all those cables now advise.

I've had thousands of dollars of cables over the years and lately they have dwindled to just a few.

I carry fewer cables now than I ever have.

1) Get the cables as you need them. Your market will tell you what you need and when.

2) Make due with one for a while until you have several jobs with that camera. (just be really careful with the one you've got.)

3) Figure out what cameras are really in your market; as you've said its just a few.

4) With rates being pushed down, you might not have a cable for a job but if you're making them a deal it may not be worth it to have the cable "just in case". No one can afford to do that these days.

5) Why buy the cables now as the year winds down and you, in theory have no jobs, at least wait til the real jobs pick up.

6) Do you have friends nearby that you could borrow or rent a cable from in a pinch?

7) You don't need any camera cables for transmitters. I've had them in the past and I run them off of the Steadicam exclusively; that alone will save you thousands.

8) Make your list and pull it out every-once-in-a-while and look at it.

9) Camera run cables, nice but in a pinch you can live without them. If you get a job and you decide you need it order it and tell the ACs it'll be there the second day. Tell them you broke your last one and they'll never know you didn't have it.

10) Save yourself thousands by pacing yourself, I've bought tens of thousand of dollars in gear over the years that I never used in my world.

11) Panavision is a good example, used to have lots of those camera cables, can't remember when I last did a Panavision film job. Probably been at least seven years.

12) P-taps and 4 pin XLRs are good fill in cables for lots of uses these days, buy a couple of them and wait to see on the rest.

Fed-ex and the vast availability of gear has changed everything.
Good luck.

JA
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#8 thomas-english

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Posted 02 December 2009 - 04:45 PM

Definitely get 4 or 5 sled to 4 pin XLR 12v cables at different lenghs. You will always use them.

Get lots of different lengths of BNC. They often die and it is a nightmare when you are having to use a 5m BNC cable to got from the camera to the sled

Get lots of super skinny 2m or 3m BNC cables for when your transmitter dies on you or there is some real demand for a hard wired HD feed for a DIT or SRdeck.

Get a D-Tap to BNC

Get a D-Tap splitter

Get a sled to sony little power pin (like on a decimator downconverter). This is for downconverter, lightpanel or anything else with that stupid consumer sony connector.

Whatever Batteries you use get a battery plate with a 4pin XLR female out lead.

Get a 4pin XLR male to cigarette lighter socket and a car charger for your mobile phone. So you can charge your phone off block batteries or your steadicam batteries.
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#9 Sean Jensen

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Posted 02 December 2009 - 05:07 PM

Jamie,

I will agree with Janice.

I came from a smaller market and just couldn't justify spending all that money on cables I might not even use. I have a pile of cables I only used once but were purchased only when I needed them. With HD becoming more and more prevalent, why spend money on cables for older film cameras that you might never see. I only purchase as I need and I still have around $10K in cables. I've never used Aaton cameras and so I don't own any cables for them. For all the ops in the big markets or who do day playing, having everything might be a necessity, but think about your market. Be prepared for the cameras in your area but consider waiting until there is actual need for the others.

Janice gives great advice. She's been doing this longer than most (that's meant to be a compliment, Janice).

If you have a pile of money you aren't using right now, then why not? If you don't, personally, I'd wait until I need them.

I have very few back-ups for my cables. I just maintain my gear. If you see an assistant being a little rough with your stuff, remind them that it is your personal gear. I told an assistant once that if he didn't treat my Preston a little better then he wouldn't be using it off the Steadicam anymore. This was after cautioning him several times.

Just my 2 cents

Sean
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#10 Jason Torbitt

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Posted 02 December 2009 - 05:09 PM

Get a 4pin XLR male to cigarette lighter socket and a car charger for your mobile phone. So you can charge your phone off block batteries or your steadicam batteries.


Didn't think of that one...great work. Top drawer idea! (all the more important with the iPhone and its useless battery life)
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#11 Lukas Franz

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Posted 02 December 2009 - 05:13 PM

Definitely get 4 or 5 sled to 4 pin XLR 12v cables at different lenghs. You will always use them.

Get a sled to sony little power pin (like on a decimator downconverter). This is for downconverter, lightpanel or anything else with that stupid consumer sony connector.



Attention with those "stupid consumer sony connectors". Actually it is not all the time the same connector. There are different sizes of it and most notably there is different polarity. Even Sony uses different types of these connectors.

Cheers.
Lukas
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#12 Kris Torch Wilson

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Posted 02 December 2009 - 05:18 PM

A fiber jumper is a must if you will be doing any TV / Broadcast stuff. Not something you will find on a shelf and fragile enough that I certainly wouldn't lend out to someone I didn't personally know. About $600 for a 5 foot jumper. Also triax to coax adapters are still widely used.

Kris
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#13 Robert Starling SOC

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Posted 02 December 2009 - 05:20 PM

If you haven't started already, wait till you start buying motor and camera run/start, plus accessory cables and backups for a Preston!

Two birthday's ago I spent pretty much the entire weekend building basic cables that at least I could do, not the specialty ones... Happy Birthday to me! :angry:

Robert
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#14 Jason Torbitt

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Posted 03 December 2009 - 04:13 AM

Definitely get 4 or 5 sled to 4 pin XLR 12v cables at different lenghs. You will always use them.

Get a sled to sony little power pin (like on a decimator downconverter). This is for downconverter, lightpanel or anything else with that stupid consumer sony connector.



Attention with those "stupid consumer sony connectors". Actually it is not all the time the same connector. There are different sizes of it and most notably there is different polarity. Even Sony uses different types of these connectors.


Most notably, the usual size (2.1mm) has reverse polarity from usual on PAG battery plates. Take care not to fry anything...
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#15 thomas-english

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Posted 03 December 2009 - 05:41 AM

Ignore what I said about "D-Tap to BNC". That cable is not a good idea. I meant D-Tap to 4 pin XLR.

Yeah, the stupid sony connector. Get it centre positive but as Jason says; keep an eye on the polarity.

Get an account with VDC cables

Make friends with Marell electronics.
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