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Pulling Focus (and an update)


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#1 Hans Roth

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Posted 12 July 2011 - 01:32 PM

Hello all,

It's been a while since I last was on the forums, but in that time I've been busy doing some hands on training, and taking a regular camera operators workshop to learn the ins and outs of your basic shot framing, work on a set, etc. Not to mention hanging around some shows as an assistant to learn the way things work in the industry.

Now I feel I'm finally ready to enter the big game. I did some market research, and am quite confident that I can get a loan to help with my initial expenses, I've found an assistant to go in with me, and even a few potential clients lined up.

My main focus, as it's what I love and what can be found in my area, is live television work. Obviously I'm not thinking about trying to start out with the big shows, but there are a lot of music show ideas in my area that need a demo made (non-live but in the style of live), and I'm hoping that after that one will get picked up by a small station and I can work my way up. The wages are much better than I was hoping for the beginning of my career.

I've read a lot of posts here recently and have some good idea about what I need to buy for my first real rig. But I'm still unsure about focus pulling. My soon to be assistant is not a qualifies focus puller, just an assistant that comes with the package, helps carry the stuff, helps building the rig, switching batteries, spotting, etc.

The way I learned the steadi was with a gimble mounted focus zoom remote, which I plan to buy. The operators who trained me never worked with focus pullers, they just had assistants and did it all themselves. This is what I'd be most comfortable with, since it keeps my company small, I don't require the show to supply one, and a $1000 focus system for the gimble ends up a little cheaper than a full remote system.

My question is will it fly? Not the steadi, I mean the idea. Will shows and producers be okay with this? I'm not sure if people already have focus pullers hired for the show early on, forcing me into using one. Not that I'm against having one, but I wouldnt have the equipment.

Any advice from somebody in the television industry is welcome.
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#2 Hans Roth

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Posted 12 July 2011 - 02:08 PM

Another quick question. Currently the rig I'm considering is listed below:

Vest: Walter Klassen backmount vest + bag
Arm: Luna Arm + bag
Sled: MK-V deluxe topstage, V3 j and d boxes, 2 section 2" centerpost, 2" deluxe gimble, Genesis 2" monitor arm, Transvideo HD SDL monitor, Evolution base.

The thing is that I'm not made of money, and once I add in all the other accessories, things are looking expensive. On the other hand, I'd rather get the paying out of the way now rather than end up having to re-upgrade soon after.

Could I downgrade the 2" to 1.5" and still be able to do your standard television work? I'm not exactly sure how this would change the weight capacity, etc, or if it would even save money (I'm assuming so?). Also could somebody voice their opinion about the V2 j and d boxes vs V3. Is it worth the extra cost? How about the topstage? Could a standard topstage compare to the deluxe?

Thanks!
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#3 Hans Roth

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Posted 12 July 2011 - 02:48 PM

I'm moving the second post to the more appropriate section of the forum for sled discussion. Unfortunatley I can't edit my post, so I'll wait for an admin to kindly delete it :)

I'm still happy to hear answers on the first post, of course!

Cheers
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#4 Rob Vuona SOC

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Posted 12 July 2011 - 08:41 PM

Hans,
What market are you planning on entering and where?

Your up coming assistant isn't just going to jump in on a live TV show without having some history with the crew. Live TV or like live TV requires your assistant to, most importantly, keep you safe while coiling your fiber and triax , maybe he's already doing that but you didn't mention that.
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#5 Janice Arthur

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Posted 12 July 2011 - 08:51 PM

Hans;

Take a workshop. Take a breath. You're about six steps ahead of your knowledge.

Keep gathering info, keep looking and in about 6 months you'll be about ready.

As my mom used to say, "You've got money burning a hole in your pocket."

I wish you good luck but you need learn a lot more before buying.

JA
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#6 Osvaldo Silvera SOC

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Posted 13 July 2011 - 02:27 AM

Hans,
The Vest and the Arm you have chosen will serve you well in anything you do, whether live or not, But the sled you can get used and a 1.5" has worked well for Live TV shows for over 25 years, a 1.5" post and a 2" post and those in between are a matter of preferance, some say the 2" post is more rigid, and at the same time many many many very well respected operators use the 1.5", so it's a personal preferance, DEFINITELY take a course, where you can play with several different sleds.

For live work you mentioned a gimbal mounted focus system for $1000..... I think you may have forgotten the $2000+ motor and the $2000+ focus control system in that addition. Only a FEW broadcast lenses have the internal focus motor that you can just plug into underneath. I've only come across them a few times. Most of the time you won't have that option, which means you'll need a gimbal mounted focus control which plugs into the receiver box, and the motor plugs into that. Lot's more than $1,000.

Also for the assistant, Hey if you pull your own focus like most of us in Live work do, No one is going to force you to have someone else focus for you. But if someone is providing a focus puller for me on a live show, PERFECT!, let them do it, if they mess up during reheasal, then you can take back control. Good luck, and read read, and ask ask questions. Have fun...
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#7 Eric Fletcher S.O.C.

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Posted 13 July 2011 - 02:51 AM

a 1.5" post and a 2" post and those in between are a matter of preferance, some say the 2" post is more rigid, and at the same time many many many very well respected operators use the 1.5", so it's a personal preferance,.



Ozzie, point of physics. A 2" dia post will always be stiffer than a 1.5" post (Twice as stiff actually)
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#8 Hans Roth

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Posted 13 July 2011 - 03:00 AM

Thanks, I'm glad to get some feedback.

I did indeed forget to mention that my assistant was previously a cable puller on a number of shows, and they've done spotting for steadicam ops before (not to mention we're both still training hard). Thanks for checking though, always nice to know people have your best interest in mind!

Janice, I have taken a workshop, but while I learned a lot about Steadicam, I didn't learn how to make myself less decisive :P I know I was happy with both 1.5" and 2", though I did all my post-workshop training with a 2" post, but that matter is really down to cost. If I'm going to cut in an area, I'd like to cut in one that won't reduce my capabilities.

Thanks, I'm very glad to hear that the equipment will work for me. I'm definatley going to be looking into the used market, especially since operators take such good care of things.

When I say $1000, I was only talking about the controller, but it seems like I could get a system from Bartech, complete without the motor, for a little over $1500 including cables and the steadicam modification (though I'll have to try the ZC-9 to see if I like it), then there's just the motor.

Should I still invest into a BFD then, incase there's the chance to have a focus puller? It looks like an amazing deal considering what I've heard about lifetime and accuracy, but I don't want to throw money at something that I don't need.

Cheers!
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#9 Eric Fletcher S.O.C.

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Posted 13 July 2011 - 03:07 AM

Hans, what workshop did you take and what market are you located in?
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#10 Mark Schlicher

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Posted 13 July 2011 - 09:34 AM

When I say $1000, I was only talking about the controller, but it seems like I could get a system from Bartech, complete without the motor, for a little over $1500 including cables and the steadicam modification (though I'll have to try the ZC-9 to see if I like it), then there's just the motor.



Not sure I follow your logic or calculations. Here are the main options:

Zoe or Libec controller, (zoom-only). You add a Bartech (analog) focus receiver, motor, brackets, and Bartech hardwire focus control, and cables. OR

G-zoom with appropriate cables. Add Bartech (analog) focus receiver, motor, brackets. OR

Stanton gimble-mounted controller with focus motor. (used) No longer available new from Stanton.

CP J7 zoom controller with the focus controller option (used). Add Bartech analog focus receiver, motor, brackets.


All of these setups use the zoom servo in the lens. Only the G-zoom and J7 can access internal focus servos present on some lenses. All others require the Bartech receiver and a motor. If you build a setup around a Gzoom or J7, you should also have a Bartech receiver and motor anyway, to handle non-servo lenses you may encounter, as Ozzie pointed out.

Any way you slice it you are at $2100 for a minimum setup (plus motor) including a Bartech receiver ($1300), a Gzoom ($900). Or substitute a Libec or Zoe controller ($500 or so) plus the Bartech focus controller box ($200).

Notice that this is a Bartech receiver only. A setup with a complete BFD unit including transmitter is another $800.

You should also budget a few hundred more for brackets, rod mounts, and cables.
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