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Low mode with a bloody BL4!


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#1 LaytonBurton

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Posted 03 January 2005 - 05:43 PM

Hey all, long time no ask. I've been offered a feature that will be shot on a BL4, the DP would like to do a lot of low mode. I am very afraid! The last time I tried low mode with "The Beast" I didn't succeed because my Sushi table wouldn't fit over the video assist that was that was coming out of the top of the camera body. What video assist will help me, or what can I do. Layton.
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#2 BJMcDonnell SOC

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Posted 03 January 2005 - 07:22 PM

Hey Layton,


I would say hire a great hot chick massage therapist.

BJ McDonnell
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#3 Howard J Smith

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Posted 03 January 2005 - 09:27 PM

Hi Layton

How are you? happy new year!

Well I would say no to this - 10-15 years ago when I had to do this, it was because no other cameras were availble, but now you can have a Moviecam SL and have a wonderful time - I am sure if it down to money (and it will be) and there is a lot of steadicam involved then it make much more money sense for them to get you a lighter camera.

If you tell them you 'can' use the BL4 - But you will need many more breaks and rest time between takes and as the camera is so heavy you will not be able to work as long and as a result (you being tired/injured) the shots will be not as good.

I have this several times in my career and now I just say no to the BL4 on steadicam - and 9 time out of 10 when you explain to them they get you the SL.

If you have to use the camera - then get them to strip all the optical off the top and go with a 100% video tap - but it is still S**t.
Also with the coax mags, it is just awful.

I remember my worst day with this package strapped to me, was in Saudi at mid day - so hot - no water allowed and my crew were hiding from the heat (they were local). No docking stand near by - Never again!!! (that was after running up the sand dunes with it)

Look after your slef NO 1 - and stand up to them and insist on a lighter camera. Take it from me, you will get very tired and you will hurt your slef - they won't thank you for it and you could spend the rest of you life with this injury - (take it from me).

Some times it is best to walk away.

Hope this helps

Howard "No more BL4's" Smith
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#4 Alec Jarnagin SOC

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Posted 04 January 2005 - 12:07 AM

Layton,

I second what Howard said. I confess that last year I was on a film with that beast. It had been years since I'd seen one, but in this case the production company owned a BL-4 and a 4s with all the AKS and I really wanted to work with the DP. Having just flow back into town, I did not find out about the camera situation until a day or two before the shoot (they had mostly been talking with my agent, which is why I was caught unaware). Upon finding out that the shots were walk and talks, I said what the heck (I knew the Key Grip, so I knew hard mounting to a Western would be an easy thing to achieve if needed.) So, rather than canceling the gig and missing the opportunity to work with the DP, I thought I'd get there and see what I could do to alter the situation for future days. As I grew the DP's ear, I found that he had fought like hell to get a Compact throughout pre-production, but no luck. Eventually, the DP came to me and asked about low-mode. I dug out (and dusted off) my Sushi table to discover that it didn't fit because of the video tap, so I showed the DP this (I had already warned him that this might be the case earlier in the day - I had also warned the PM on the phone before the job of this). He groaned, nodded and walked away to return a few moments later with the PM. We showed him the problem, then the two walkd away to have a little conversation. Two hours later, we had a Moviecam SL. By the days end, they had added a bunch more days for me and kept the SL. By weeks end, they swapped the A camera out for a Compact too. On this one, I gambled and won.
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#5 Brett Manyluk

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Posted 10 January 2005 - 09:20 PM

Hey Layton,

Obviously no one has ever heard of the infamous "Saskatchewan camera" before ;) ... Good luck getting more money, I know how it goes here in the praires. If you have to, maybe look into one of the old CP Low Mode cages, they may have rods long enough. But, I don't recommend flying this spinecrusher low mode if you absolutely don't have to.

Good luck either way. It's well into the minus 30's for the next few weeks.

Brett Manyluk

(I'm the Edmonton guy BTW. Heard lots of good things about you, but never had the chance to meet)
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#6 jasondittmer

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Posted 28 October 2005 - 01:10 AM

Dear fellow Operators
I have the good fortune of Flying a BL-4 this weekend.
I Have heard from my crony BJ that this camera is a beast, particularly in Low Mode.

I am shooting kids 4'10 and the DP wants to be at eye level. I am 6'3

Any suggestions as to how I can get this camera down low w/o going to low mode?

Do any of you have any tips as to how to make this camera a little more steadi -friendly?
Thanks in advance,

Jason D
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#7 Stephen Murphy

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Posted 28 October 2005 - 04:03 AM

If you can work hardmounted to a western dolly or a fischer/peewee then you might be able to avoid low mode altogether. If at all possible though i think you should put a lot of effort in to convincing production that they need a proper steadicam body. the bl4 is a camera i refuse point blank to fly - it is not designed for steadicam. be careful.
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#8 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 28 October 2005 - 06:11 AM

Boy, I just wouldn't do it. The BL4 is a beast in regular mode. I've never flown it in low mode and wouldn't. It's hard on the gear and the body. I came very close to blowing out my knee (for the second time) while flying the BL4. It's time the BL4 was put to rest for steadicam, but if you have to do it, don't do it in low mode. There's just no reason these days.
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#9 sebastian matthias

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Posted 28 October 2005 - 07:24 AM

I´m sorry for you! ;)
I had to fly a BL4 once and my back was still killing me 2 days later.
If the director really wants low-mode the only possibility is going very low with a long extension j-bracket.(so it´s not a real low mode,but should be low enough to film children) that´s exactly what they wanted from me when i had to fly this iron-pig of a camera. since you want to keep your rig short to get low enough you actually will have to put more weight at the battery-end of your rig ! Oooooouch ! Makes it even harder.

when i had to do that shoot, my beautiful baerbel-arm (wich is designed for loads up to 37 kg!) was allmost coming to it´s limits!

be also prepared to have some little weights(clamps ) on hand, because the ols video-assist is so bulky and havy,that it is really hard to get that beast balanced.

all the best for your shoot!good luck!


sebastian
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#10 BJMcDonnell SOC

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Posted 28 October 2005 - 10:50 AM

I did a full 5 week feature and three of the weeks I flew the BL4. It really sucks! I have to add here that I never flew the camera in low mode. I made it a point to the DP that low mode was a no go deal with that camera. I finally convinced production to get me a moviecam compact. The funny thing was after a week of flying the camera I got use to it. I don't prefer this camera obviously, but the shots came out nice. Jason, eat your wheaties. I hope you don't have to do any running shots. Use a doorway or western dolly.


BJ McDonnell
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#11 jasondittmer

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Posted 29 October 2005 - 12:57 AM

Thanks guys.
Low mode is a no go.
I put it up in prep today.
It is a beast. And Hi/Low mode is an option. The good news is that because the camera is so heavy, it isn't that hard to get it down to about 4'10"
Thanks for all you input.

Your brother in sore backhood,

Jason D
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#12 Rhys Duncan

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Posted 04 November 2005 - 05:19 PM

a BL4 is a beast , but hey some would say that about steadicam , as it is sometimes they appear from time to time be it budget or whatever , and i have flown them on several occassions , yes they are heavy but i have found that they sit rather well on my rig , and can be surprisingly stable. low mode is a problem but i have a bracket , if there is other options great but if not do what you have to, today especially there are so many better cameras user friendly to steadicam , built in splits , low mode brackets etc that will make these cameras redundant , but dont discount the old workhorse , i still fly my trusty 3a
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#13 RonBaldwin

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Posted 05 November 2005 - 01:22 PM

I had to fly one for a tv series years ago. I remember putting a BL-3 optical block on it (saves about 3 lbs) and using an eyepiece tap. Flew nice as long as it wasn't turned on! Co-ax mags suck and with longer shots you end up fighting the side/side. I weighed it once and with one camera plate (no low mode),400 ft film, focus motor/bracket, lw matte box, and eyepeice tap -- it was 33 lbs without a lens. Same as the Panavision G2 with the "light weight" conversion kit.

Ron B
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#14 BJMcDonnell SOC

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Posted 05 November 2005 - 05:08 PM

Here is a pic with the BL4. I never have posted a pic so I hope it works.

BJ McDonnell

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#15 Edgar Colon

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Posted 05 November 2005 - 06:37 PM

I did a very very (of course!) low budget feature with that animal and strongly suggest you,,,try to change that camera pckg!!
Had the nightmare of the so call "sushi table" and had to fly low mode.
Almost impossible to balance, got cramps in my hips
Oh men,,, a steadicam op worse nightmare

Good Luck

Edgar
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