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Dealing with Cables


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#1 Stephen Murphy

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Posted 08 October 2004 - 02:22 AM

Hi guys,

I justed started dayplaying on a HD show (F-900) where the DP is adamant that he be tethered to the camera at all times, so im looking for some advice on how best to deal with cables.
Ive got three cables coming out of the back of the camera, into a single loom and back to the monitor. The copperhead/fibre optic system isnt an option unfortunately so i just have to deal with this the best i can. At the moment ive got it running down my arm and off the back of my vest. Any tips?
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#2 Charles Papert

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Posted 08 October 2004 - 02:28 AM

Umm...gardening shears?

If you can't get away with simply cutting the cables, you could always just threaten the DP with them.

(p.s. Stephen, I've always wanted to ask--you aren't a monk, by any chance? Between what appears to be the hooded robe, the clean-shaven head, beautific smile and bucolic surroundings...seriously, it's a good look. Obviously better than mine, as evidenced by my hiding behind a cartoon avatar!)
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#3 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 08 October 2004 - 04:53 AM

Recently I've started holding the cables in my hand along with the gimbal, and I stuff them in the back of my vest as a strain relief. I used to just let them hang behind the camera, but I've found that holding them in my gimbal hand keeps them from swinging around as much. It seems like a hinderance at first, but once the shot begins I forget they're there. This particular solution probably won't work for everybody, but I've got fairly big hands, and its worked pretty well so far. Give it a try.
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#4 RobinThwaites

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Posted 08 October 2004 - 05:41 AM

Hi Stephen

Do they need component HD out? If you can get away with fitting a Miranda (small and neat) or Evertz (big and heavy) down converter you can revert to thin single coax. What are you using for your monitoring signal? If your sled is DA'd you could split s coax off from there or transmit.

Failing that they could use the Sony SDI output back (CA-901) for the F-900 and get a nice clean SDI signal though a single (although thicker) BNC.

Good luck
Robin Thwaites
OpTex
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#5 David Allen Grove

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Posted 08 October 2004 - 11:27 AM

I think someone with great artistic ability should draw a cartoon depicting a Steadicam operator who has just tangled himself up in all the HD cables and is in the middle of a fall with a horrified look on his/her face.

$100 in monopoly money to the first person who sends me this cartoon! I'll put it on the steadicam guild web site! :lol:

Charles, I like the shears comment. funny. I always mimic cutting the cables with my index and naughty finger anytime they connect me to those darn cables!

When I worked on "About your house" a few years back I was always tethered to 2 audio cables, a BNC and return audio cable. 81 days of steadicam like this. Just hated it but got used to it... sort of.
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#6 David Allen Grove

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Posted 08 October 2004 - 11:40 AM

(p.s. Stephen, I've always wanted to ask--you aren't a monk, by any chance? Between what appears to be the hooded robe, the clean-shaven head, beautific smile and bucolic surroundings...seriously, it's a good look. Obviously better than mine, as evidenced by my hiding behind a cartoon avatar!)

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Stephen is the president of the Irish branch of the Steadicam Guild. All members of the Irish branch have to shave their heads and wear robes. Strange, I thought this was well known.

The LA branch of the guild will be adopting this look very soon so, everyone in the LA guild must shave their heads and buy robes before the next guild meeting!
Yes, even the girls! You don't have to do this but we will single you out from the crowd and ask you WHY you don't want to do this as we shine a really bright light on you!

What??? We're not a cult!! really. :lol:
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#7 Stephen Murphy

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Posted 08 October 2004 - 12:34 PM

Thanks guys:) Just finished my first day on this show (which might be my last as well !). FYI We had the Evertz downconvertor on the back of the camera, out of which came an HD-SDI cable, an analogue composite cable and the sony camera control cable. The DP wanted to move from room to room and inside and outside without lighting to the same stop: he prefered to ride the iris. Hence, two of those for the DP and the third for video assist playback (dont ask). They all became one THICK loom. I left a length hang of the back of the camera, which was then cable tied in loops to the top, middle and bottom (socket block) of the arm. I clamped a small gaffer clamp to my pants and looped some more slack cable onto it, and this worked "reasonably" well. The DP and Director were very happy, but i think personally it was some of the worst work ive ever done. Dealing with a badly organised camera crew didnt help and cable bashers who didnt know how to bash cable didnt make my day any easier. Thank God its over:)!

Charles,
Ive never looked at the photo quite that way before but its an interesting take on it:) Its actually one of the only photos i have of me smiling: i tend to look grumpy and extremely serious everytime a camera is pointed in my direction. Truth be told my girlfriend wouldnt let me post anything else: she thinks i look lovely in the photo :P
Davids explanation is way cooler :D
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#8 mattmarek

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Posted 08 October 2004 - 01:25 PM

...and a lovely smile it is steve :-) i think i have a good one of you from back at the workshop. i'll dig around.

re: the cables. these dp's that need the hd image drive me nuts! it's usually the lower end shows that i end up doing it on, because they are just not confident about the image. for any shot with a degree of dificulty, i just voice my concern of the 'suckiness' of the shot to the director and about 90% of the time, i get my way and the cable is chopped :) when i do go with the lump of cable, i just give it a nice loop over my chest and tether a bit a caribeener on my vest, this way the cable wrangler can have some room for error. still a pain though when you get into panning. anything in DJ and i refuse. not worth it.

re: the cartoon drawing. i'll get on that one david. (it won't be from me though. cool?)
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#9 Brad Hruboska

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Posted 08 October 2004 - 03:40 PM

Well for the SDI option what I did was have a 10 foot lightweight BNC cable made up which has very little influence on the rig, you also hav a breakaway point to unhook when you dock. You could make a bundle of lightweight BNC lines to take some of the resistance away when you work, ( from the cable , not the DOP)...If you were very industrios you could make a lemo hookup with six or eight connectors and make a breakaway in the bundle to be able to alk away.....I too have suffered through the dreaded tether, In my case it was due to early feedback problems with the evertz and unavaialbility of the miranda.....all ancient history now.......
Hardwire is just something you have to deal with with a smile and don't complain too biterly about it or they will find wonderful new uses for the dolly....
just my two cents...

B)
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#10 Brad Hruboska

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Posted 08 October 2004 - 03:43 PM

ps.
doing stop pulls is easily accomplished with a second bartech or relatiely ancient seitz, available cheap, and iris rings dont need monster torque.....at least in vidoe lenses....
for the gonzo system there is of course the FX preston wireless everything! Awesome expensive, etc.......
:wacko:
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#11 Daniel Stilling DFF

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Posted 08 October 2004 - 04:47 PM

I'm on the last week of a 4 week HD feature in Philly, and I've had to deal with the cable pain as well.

In the past I've convinced DP's to have an HDSDI cable hooked on for rehersals, to then be happy with the downconverted transmited signal for the takes. But not on this one.
On top of that he wanted the sound cables as well.

IMO, I can see the video cable, even though it should be enough with HD signal for rehersals, but I can live with 1 thin cable.
But sound?? The time you save in post to not have to sync it is not worth the diminished Steadicam capabilities.
Besides the fact that we roll at the same time as the 2nd unit, and they're very close and noisy, there are planes and trains allways sounding, so the sound will have to be redone anyway.
And the added cable wrangler doesn't help with sound either, especially when he is in the way of the spotter and the boom guy and the AC...

Call me old fashioned, but I'm all for NO CABLES. The gain you have with the cables is not worth the Pain they cause.

DanielAttached File  Copy_of_IMG_2757.JPG   197.27KB   421 downloads
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#12 Stephen Murphy

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Posted 08 October 2004 - 06:25 PM

""Well for the SDI option what I did was have a 10 foot lightweight BNC cable made up which has very little influence on the rig, you also hav a breakaway point to unhook when you dock""

That was my first thought too, but i was told the lightweight bnc (50 ohm) doesnt give a true HD picture: it needs to be at least 75 ohm cable. This was quickly followed by a statement along the lines of "the guy i use in the uk doesnt have a problem with the setup why do you?" (translation: i want my guy to come over but production wont let me)
We're using an Arri LCS for Focus and Iris pulls, and the Sony control cable is for the DP to play with the Camera menus: although i really cant see the advantage or need to doing that during the shot. If i could convince him to loose that cable then all id really have to deal with would be a single bnc for HDSDI. No joy.

Ah well.
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#13 Kareem La Vaullee

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Posted 08 October 2004 - 07:34 PM

"the guy i use in the uk doesnt have a problem with the setup why do you?"


On one of my first Music Video shooting, about 10 years ago, I received the same sentence in the face when I said to the DoP that the Ring-Lite wasn't Steadicam friendly at all, he said : "I used this very same ring-lite with a Steadicam Operator in Germany and it wasn't a problem for him"
I said, ok, I like challenges !

I had to completely rebuild my CP 3A sled, put the J-Box and remote focus receiver/amp in the back of the camera and added a lot of weight with them, whatever I could find to put there, the ring-lite's back was touching the front of my balance plate, everything on both top and bottom as far back as possible, and the rig was still heavily going forward...
The rig weighted a ton, my gold arm's springs set to their max and I still had to lift something like 5 or 7 kilos to help it not let the full extended rig touch the floor...

Oh, by the way, did i told you that the Ring-Lite was a big disc of wood and metal with a diameter of 1,50 meter and 17 (yes, seventeen !) big fluorescent tubes on it ?
Yes it's not a joke, and the cable to power this "thing" was thick as hell, it logically weighed a ton, the simple view of the transport case for it (think Panaflex 2000 foots magazines' boxes) made me say "are you kidding, really ?"

I managed to do the most of the shots on a doorway dolly, hard-mounted, but it was a pain anyway, having to lift the arm so that the Electronic Module didn't rest on the Dolly was a torture, it was a rainy and windy day so it acted like a sail and I wasn't able to see what was going on in front on me, except by looking in the monitor of course !

At the end of that Steadicam only day of that one day only Music Video shooting the DoP told me I did a very good job and said that the ring-lite he used with the german operator was in fact smaller, I said "you mean a lot smaller" he confessed and said yes, a lot... I wanted to kill him but my arms were hurting too much and went on strike, now that DoP is a very good friend of mine and I am his favorite Steadicam Op (and he works all around the world) so that's an happy ending for this time but now when I hear : "the guy i use to work with doesnt have a problem with the setup why do you ?"
well, I am a bit skeptical...

Kareem La Vaullée.
Camera Operator, Steadicam Owner / Operator & Remote Camera Systems Specialist.
Mobile : +33 6 60 20 16 14
http://homepage.mac.com/klavaullee
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0479130/
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#14 RobVanGelder

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Posted 08 October 2004 - 10:09 PM

I agree with the basic statement from Kareem that you need to do whatever is possible to keep your DP happy, even if it means that you suffer and that it could not be your best-ever operating.
I think that a coöperative attitude to demands that are very hight or may be too much will help you in the end more than complaining before you try.
And that could pay off more in the future than complaning and getting a reputation that you are "fussy to deal with".

I like this statement from Brado:
--Hardwire is just something you have to deal with with a smile and don't complain too bitterly about it or they will find wonderful new uses for the dolly....

It´s very true, they will compromise the shot and use a less flexible camera-platform than Steadicam if they feel they need all the bells and wistles.

So Daniel, if you say:
--But sound?? The time you save in post to not have to sync it is not worth the diminished Steadicam capabilities.
and
--Call me old fashioned, but I'm all for NO CABLES. The gain you have with the cables is not worth the Pain they cause.

They can easily and rightfully reply: Oh yeah? Who is paying that syncing? Who is paying YOU?

A DP will agree that if something really doesn´t work with all the extra stuff hanging on the camera, something has to change.
It gives us the responsibility to address the problem in a way so that everybody can be happy and therefore we have to be inventive, renew our thoughts and be "political", than you end up with a set that works for all.
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#15 Eric Fletcher S.O.C.

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Posted 09 October 2004 - 02:24 AM

Interesting reading,

A few thoughts from someone that has flow too many HD jobs.

1) Get yourself a 6 foot super thin, super flexible BNC cable. DO NOT believe a DIT or Engineer that tells you that it will not work. It does, I do it all the time.

2) Unless your on a live switched show there is NO reason to fly a Genlock/Tri-level sync in-fact it is SAFER not to. If your using Genlock/tri-level Sync and for some reason the connector looses continuity you get a lovely green flash-frame as error correction freaks out.

3) Iris pulls are best done with a Scorpio/Preston/Bartech. Their resolution is about 100 times greater then the Iris control on the RMB-150/750.

4) If production wants you to carry sound tell them to get you wireless. The mixer is usually recording to DAT/Nagra or the Diva anyway and that's going to be MUCH better audio then if it were to be recorded in camera. If production wants you to do it so they can sync easier remind them of this ONE SIMPLE Truism: "Is it better to pay 3 people in post overtime or 50+ People on set overtime, You have nothing BUT time in post..." That comment has NEVER failed me yet.

5) If you run a remote iris then there is really no reason to run the camera control cable if they really want camera control then run a fiber

6) There is no reason to run a Y-signal back to the rack. If the dit wants to see menus then he can get off his chair, walk over to the camera with a viewfinder and do his work there.

7) If they REALLY have to have Audio, HD-SDI, Downconvert back, HD Y-Channel (For the Menus) Camera Painting and shading, Iris control, tally etc etc then it's really a Fiber Situation and Believe me if you run the Telecast Copperhead (Which I did the field testing on) you will have ZERO Problem running the fiber. I did some pretty complex shots with Fiber and it's just fine.

Telling production that you will not run a cable is a great way to get them to use more dollys and not invite you back....
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