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Thanks Greg Bubb and Peter Hoare

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#1 brooksrobinson


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Posted 10 January 2011 - 12:59 AM

I just wanted to say thank you to Greg Bubb and Peter Hoare for making a couple of products that kept me from looking foolish on a recent shoot. I was doing second unit on a film and everything was pretty standard – Panavision XL with G series anamorphics. I showed up at the truck one morning about a week into it and the camera assistants had grins on their faces that stretched side to side. They happily explained that I needed to fly the Vista Vision for some tracking POV shot through palm trees. Vista Vision? Really? I suppose this was another reminder of why it is a good idea to bring all of your gear to every shoot…regardless of what is planned – I ended up using stuff I never would have thought to bring otherwise.

I don’t know much about V.V., but the motor was a Cinematography Electronics 2C high speed base, and was very side heavy. The lenses were tiny, and the mattebox required rods and a baseplate to fly. That’s where Greg and Peter come in.

I busted out one of Greg’s (new?) side to side adjusting dovetail plates that allow much more flexibility side to side than the standard plates do, all while maintaining rigidity. I would never have been able to balance the camera without them.

Next up was the mattebox, which was designed to mount on standard Arri 15mm rods. Despite the weight of the camera (not very heavy), I didn’t want to add the weight of the baseplate, since the POV would require running through the sand. I pulled out the 15mm rod adapter I bought from Peter (he also sells 19mm rods) that work with my XCS dovetail plates. The rods allowed enough flexibility (up and down as well as side to side) to get the mattebox to line up properly with the lens, so I could forego the Arri baseplate.

I also needed to have my friends in the audio department build a (4 pin XLR to 4 pin XLR) jumper cable from the camera (24V 4 pin XLR needed to run 24fps) to my Moviecam 24V cable (which I haven't used in about two years...told you it is good to bring all your gear to every shoot), since the 4 XLR pins weren’t wired the same.

As soon as the camera was up, balanced, and ready to go, we got word that the shot would be pushed to later in the day (and eventually cancelled altogether), and we should go back to the XL. I wasn’t too disappointed, as I really wasn’t very excited about the shift of weight as the film rolled horizontally from one side to the other, but it would have been rewarding to fly it after all the work we put into getting it going.

It is nice to have gear in the AKS case that will save your ass…even if you don’t use it on every job. Thanks to both Greg and Peter for making great gear that helped get me through another one.

Brooks Robinson
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#2 Charles Papert

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Posted 10 January 2011 - 04:32 PM

Good post Brooks! I've long felt that one of the separating factors between levels of Steadicam operators is the ability to roll with the punches when something like this comes up. Having common sense and being able to think on your feet is the most important factor as you can often Macguyver (or perhaps Macgruber) your way through issues and end up with a functional setup held together with mounds of camera tape and hope; however having a kit with lots of tinkertoys, aka brackets and widgets and connective pieces, is the other part of that equation and generally ends up in a secure setup that is less likely to fail mid-shot. The Hoare rod adaptor is a perfect example of that--how many operators have suffered having to fly the whole RED baseplate just to support the mattebox, adding needless pounds and exposing yourself to the potential of the tiedown slipping on that not-brilliant design. While production may be accepting that you don't have what you need and can wait for you to have it brought in, it's obviously that much better to be a hero and be able to rig the thing up with nary a speed bump.

More often than not I find myself shlepping my "ooooh box" (as Janice once called it) out on shooting gigs, especially with the DSLR's where everything is a made up this kind of junk. It's the one with all of the brackets and cables, many of them still Steadicam-centric but you never know what might pop up. I have a feeling something like this will stick with me for years to come as I can't depend on the AC's to have that level of widgetry. Now remembering once having to get three motors crammed next to each other on a broadcast lens which required double dogbones on top of dogbones. The result looked like the Abu Ghraib pigpile photo artistically rendered in 15mm rods. (too soon?)

I recently cursed myself because I went out to shoot a "simple" interview and found the tiedown screw was too long for the camera and instantly visualized my case at home with everything from shorter screws to washers. With a sinking feeling I rummaged through the light kits hoping for salvation and found it in a skinny plate with a hole in the center that worked perfectly as a spacer, but that was just pure luck!

If there is a lesson to be learned from this, and there is, it's to the newer operators who I think may be less likely to amass a treasured collection of bits 'n pieces than we were back in the wild and wooly days of Seitz reversing motor bracketry and low mode that always required inverting the camera, with the resultant discovery at the last minute that things no longer fit properly. My MO became: whenever I could picture an easy solution that would have required one little part that I didn't own, I'd make a physical note to self and make sure to get it for next time. The "if I only had a" eventually becomes a "cool, I've got that" and you can sail through any weirdness that a camera can throw at you. As previously noted, I've had to do more of this than ever before with the DSLR's and I imagine more to come with each new fold in technology.

Components like Greg and Peter's are great, and those who specialize in the tinkertoy stuff like Jerry Hill and Tom Gleason are gold mines for this sort of thing. Zacuto and Redrock now make a lot of handy little bits and pieces too. I love the 90 degree 15mm turnarounds that both make, especially Redrock's which come in an inexpensive pack of three and include a stubby solid rod with 1/4"-20 thread and screw, great mounting point for accessories. With these and a handful of different length rods you can build an ad-hoc cage or bridge between rods to keep things stiff.

Long live the "ooooh box"! Huzzahs!
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#3 Peter Hoare

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Posted 10 January 2011 - 06:49 PM

Hi Brooks,

Glad the XCS plate helped you out, the original design was from Rick Lewis, and the first one was made by Brian Busby, but I took over making them after Brian made Ricks one.

How do you like the titanium? ;-)

Thanks a lot,

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