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Steadicam Viewfinder


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#1 WillArnot

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Posted 05 February 2005 - 10:39 AM

Hi folks.

Hollywood seems to be obsessed with musicals these days. I will be the operator on yet another one. Chris Columbus is directing 'Rent', and out of 140 page script there are only 10 pages of dialogue, the rest is all song and dance. Enter Steadicam.

Here is the question. I want to put my Sony PC-5 handicam on a Steadicam JR to use for blocking out these long dance numbers. The key will be to transmit video too. I haven't looked at my PC-5 in a while so I don't know how easy it will be to pull a signal out of the camcorder while it is in filming mode. I seem to remember a combo mini-jack 2.5mm that has video and audio channels on it, but I have a feeling this output only works in playback mode. I don't know if there is an S-video output as well. Being a video dumb ass, is the S-video a better way to pull a video out signal?? While in filming mode??

Next issue: video transmission. I am thinking simplest is to power Modulus with a seperate battery pack just piggy backed together. A Proformer will be overkill and too heavy... what battery to use?? The PC-5 is super light and small so I'm hoping to have it and the Modulus and the external battery for Modulus all mounted on one plate on top of a Steadicam JR.

Anyone have much experience with the S-cam JR's ?? I believe there is the original S-cam JR, and now also one that is a slightly beefier version being the Digital version.

I have a system worked out to match the film lenses to what the video cam will see, I just need to figure out the signal out issue and find a good small battery for the Modulus.

I am currently away from home and don't have my PC-5 with me. I was hoping for a jump start on ideas before I get back when I might figure some more of this out for myself. Thanks for your suggestions.

Will
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#2 charlesneufeld

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Posted 05 February 2005 - 03:37 PM

Hey Will,

1) That combo jack will work all the time in all modes( at least on my TRV-xxx)... I have a adaptor to take the video (Standard sony/non-oem cable with the 4 pos) and mated it to BNC for my sled. loped off the RCA and soldered a BNC to that bad boy, removed the Audio RCA's obviously. Works great.

2) This may be and Idea. Instead of putting a BNC on the video cable put a lemo on the sony cable and piggy back a power input cable (2 wire) and put whatever battery mate you want on there. I dont have the 3000 so I dont know the current drain, but I would imagine you could use a small 12v gel cell setup???? mount the cell on the lower end on the JR and wire up to the cam plate??? Ahh I dont know...coffee has not kicked in yet :P


Hope this get you thinking???

~C
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#3 Benjamin Treplin

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Posted 05 February 2005 - 05:49 PM

Hey Will
maybe this is a solution:
You can get your needed 12V out of two small Li-Ions used on Sony DCR Camcorders.
http://www.transvide...df/DV Backs.pdf

Hope this helps
Best
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#4 Mitch Gross

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Posted 05 February 2005 - 10:51 PM

With a camera that small I think it would be complicated and a big draw to pull power from its batteries. I'd suggest a little visit to Radio Shack. Get a prewired box to hold 8 AA batteries and fill it with rechargeable cells. These and their chargers are available from consumer el;ectronic stores for very little money and it will mean the maximum run time for the least weight and least wiring difficulty and least expense. Velcro the battery pack and Modulus to one another and stick them behind your little camcorder and they should still be able to balance just fine on your Steadicam JR.

I had one of the very first JRs way back when. It used a kinda green screen LCD that wasn't much but worked okay for back in the day. It was later replaced with a color screen that I understand didn't really perform that much better. There is also a version available that has no screen at all, instead relying on the flip-out LCDs on most camcorders these days. You should look at the current generation of screens to see if they function well enough for you as the placement on the rig is much better than the flip-out LCD, unless you don't mind ALWAYS being goofy-foot.
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#5 Mikko Wilson

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Posted 06 February 2005 - 06:18 AM

You also have the issue tha tyou need ot get a signal to both the Monitor and the modulus.. And the JR dones't have a D/A in it.

S-video is higher quality (slightly) as it carries brightness and color separatly, however to combine them you need a little circuit to make the composite so that you can connect them to anything.

..or you wire the s-video's brightness channel (which is just a B/W video signal) to you monitor and operate with a B/W monitor while sending the color signal from you composite ouput the the Modulus in the ways outlined above..

I have yet to ever come across a camera that didn't always send out Composite and S-video when it's in any mode.

Good luck!

- Mikko
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#6 JamieSilverstein

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Posted 06 February 2005 - 09:00 AM

Will;
More importantly, have a great time on the show! You are the envy of us all. A nicer director cannot be found, and to do a musical will be tons of fun. Finally, why dont you try modifying a one of the lens mountable viewfinders from Arri or Panavision to fit on the JR. Wouldn't that be a more accurate tool for video village to work from?
Once again Congrats dude. Here is to a busy and prosperous year. For one and all
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#7 thomas-english

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Posted 06 February 2005 - 11:01 PM

the signal from small cameras (pd150 downwards) is often not very strong and difficult to split (low picture quality and cut outs on signal detecting monitors or transmitters).

U can buy small s-vhs (s video) to RCA (phono) transformer, they are very small and cheap. This would give u 2 strong phono (turn to BNC) signals out from the camera, one to send to your monitor and one to your TX. One phono from your "jack" and one from your s - video connector.

This is something I have done many times underwater as the stupid amphibico monitors have a cut out on them so if u try to send a picture to the director and try and monitor it its a nightmare.

The other thing is the quality of all these consumer cables and connectors is fairly low... intended for occasional christmas, easter and bedroom use... so get one of these svideo transformers anyway just incase your jack one packs up.. and get a spare jack cable..

can t u just run your modulus from a 4-pin xlr and standard video battery? extra weight and all that...

what system are you using to gage lenses? ive seen a few.. ps techniks make one.

thomas
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#8 Matias Mesa

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Posted 06 February 2005 - 11:05 PM

I have my P+S Technik Video Viewfinder for sale if you want, Comes with a Sony IP55 Micro DV camera, and I can throw in a tiny Coherent Tranmitter that will work woth a 9V batterie for like 6hs. Thed camera has an analog aoutput for the monitor and a split for the Transmitter, I think is the best otion you can have. i used it a lot for shooting Elephant and I have no use for it now. Its the best tool for rehersing or blocking long shots. Greatest luck on the musical, I would love to shoot one som e day.

Matias Mesa
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#9 thomas-english

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Posted 06 February 2005 - 11:07 PM

http://www.hometech....v.html#MC-CSVC1
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#10 Charles Papert

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Posted 07 February 2005 - 03:46 AM

Will, might you be better off making a vidstick type arrangement? Chop off the bottom of a cheap/lightweight tripod and stick a battery plate on it (can't remember which rig you are flying); mount the modulus down there somewhere and power off the battery. If you have a 12v adaptor for your camera you can run off that battery also. You can simply use the onboard LCD for framing.

As a pogocam-type deal, it will obviously not be quite as steady as a JR, but probably less tiring to finagle in the long run.
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#11 Mikko Wilson

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Posted 07 February 2005 - 05:18 AM

Tomas's link is slightly overkill I think.. you dont' need a 2-way adapter for this application. -Though those things are hela usefull :)

If one feels like a trip down to radio shack and wants to solder away, then there's a simple schematic for a circuit one can build here: http://www.hut.fi/Mi...deo2cvideo.html

You can even just use that diagram as a guide for which pins to connect (without any circuit) to a BNC connector from an s-video connector if a B&W signal is enough for your monitor.
- That's by far the simplest solution: Just grab a composite (RCA or BNC) video cable and an S-video cable and chop them and strip the the conductors (the composite cable will be one coax, the s-video will contain 2 coaxes.) Plug the s-video cable into your camera and the composite into a monitor (like the JR) then just twist the ground conductors together and then touch the core of one of the coaxes from the s-video cable to the composite core. If you get a picture youre done! -if you don't, try the other core from the s-video cable. one you have a picture, all you need is a spot of solder and some electrical tape. - or put a clean RCA/BNC connector on the s-video cable.

Good luck and have fun!

- Mikko
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#12 thomas-english

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Posted 07 February 2005 - 07:03 AM

sorry miko, i was refering to the 9 dollar s video to phono converter at the top of the page. i reckon you can pick up versions anywhere including probably radio shack (or Tandy's as we used to call it!).
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#13 thomas-english

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Posted 07 February 2005 - 07:08 AM

although this may be a better one.. i mean these things are found everywere and theres loads of differnent ones all cheap as chips. computer shops often sell them too.

http://shop.store.ya...ocorcavico.html
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#14 WillArnot

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Posted 07 February 2005 - 10:14 AM

Thank you all for your valuable input. I am embarrased to say I have a vid-stick but was thinking it just wasn't smooth enough or easy enough to use w/ an external monitor for the long type of choreographed dance moves I anticipate. Being too heavy for a S-cam JR (my vid stick uses the real film lenses) I was stuck in the mental rut going the camcorder route instead.

With your guys' help I have come full circle. Howard, Jamie, Charles, and Alec helped nudge me out of the rut. Howard has a sweet little sled called the Genesis ( http://www.mk-v.com/...ESIS_SLED.htm ) which he suggested using instead of the JR, for good reason as pointed out by Alec that with the JR one tends to do moves that are beyond the range of the normal steadicam, and thus things are quite different when it comes time to roll film. In addition to the fact that ones arm does get tired using that thing.

So. I will strip down my back up sled which is a Pro Lite, put an LCD on with one ProFormer battery and then mount my Vid stick. Check out the Vid stick. http://homepage.mac....hotoAlbum2.html
The only thing left is mounting the vidstick to a plate. No big deal, a trip to the wood shop to fashion a base to attach to the handle of the vidstick and then to a baseplate; when closed up the handle is horizontal under the length of the finder, like a regular Kish finder. Unfortunately there are no handy 3/16 holes on the handle, since the handle is a battery.

I am hoping to bring the whole sled in at somewhere between 10 and 14lbs, which I am hoping will be the mac daddy of Steadi-Finders. This way when they say "can you just put it on for this rehearsal" I can say "but of course" with a smile all day long. Sure it is a touch more gear than the video, JR route, but I think the most accurate since I will fly the exact lens with the exact ground glass, and be able to immediately work out the moves with my partner (the sled).

Does anyone know the absolute minimum weight the Master arm can be set for? I was hoping to use the old paper-weight/back up arm for the finder rig. Will it go that light?? Otherwise I suppose it could mean pulling 2 springs out of my Pro arm, but that will probably get old very quickly.

Again thank you all for your excellent ideas. The information will be very pertinent to another application, and is as always on this forum a great resource.

Best,
Will
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#15 Mikko Wilson

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Posted 07 February 2005 - 10:19 AM

Tomas, My bad.. and yeah, those little things are a dime (or make that 10p for us UK folk) a dozen. - I have a couple floating around in my little emergency adapter kit. :)

Funny, both those links that you sent claim to convert both ways passivly... funny how sales people can be mistaken... you can *never* passivly (without external power) slip a composit signal to s-video. or component! heeh, oops on their part.
But yeah, both those will do S-video to composite which is what Will need's. Good find.

Haha, yes, Tandy for us.. and Radio Shack for the US :rolleyes:


- Mikko
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