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Alexa bracket mounting options for back-heavy camera


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#1 brooksrobinson

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Posted 17 December 2011 - 04:55 AM

I own Matthias’ Alexa bracket and have been very pleased with it. I also own XCS dovetail plates which are extremely solid and robust. My potential issue is using an Alexa that is back-heavy – as in using the Codex and/or transmitter and/or on-board battery mounted at the back of the body, coupled with a prime lens up front.

I haven’t had a problem yet, but I was recently on a job with the Alexa that utilized very small old primes (can’t remember which ones), with a Boxx Meridian mounted at the back. I attached my XCS plate to the camera using a 3/8” screw in the most forward position on my plate, which still left several inches of the plate extending out in front of the camera, without the ability to move it back where I really wanted it (to help with the camera being back-heavy). I still had balancing wiggle room, but just barely. If I’d added anything to the back of the camera I would have been out of luck.

Since I am pleased with the rigid performance of my XCS plates, I’m wondering if anyone out there makes a light/rigid bracket for the Alexa that extends farther back so that I can move my dovetail plate back on the body if need be. Ideally, this would be something I could use in conjunction with my XCS dovetail plates. I know there has been some discussion about Alexa brackets/plates from MKV and Baerbell recently but I don’t know much about them. It would be great if someone could give a rundown of what is currently available and why one system might be favorable over the other.

Thank you in advance for any advice.

Brooks Robinson
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#2 Bela Trutz

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Posted 17 December 2011 - 12:15 PM

Hey Brooks,

There is a plate out there that is being made by Sal, he used to be the machinist at Ottos. This plate would solve your concern. I have the same set up as you as far as the XCS plates.
Last year i did a movie with the Alexa and there we had the Codex back mounted and also an HD transmitter. I had to use a plate that was made in house from Ottos and that gave me a flat surface all across the bottom of the camera, so i could just find my balance point. This plate that Sal is making is similar to that except that this plate also has the same dimensions as our steadicam plates, so you don't have to use your plate at all if you choose, or you can screw your XCS plate at the bottom of it if you choose, there are the right size holes all across the plate. This plate can serve you as a steadicam plate or as a bottom of a camera.
The plate is not cheap, it costs about 500 dollars, the machining behind it is very clever though. I will post a few pictures you can see it. If you are interested send me an email and i will give you Sal's contact information, best,

Bela

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#3 RonBaldwin

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Posted 17 December 2011 - 12:33 PM

I filed the side of a few of my plates down to gain an extra inch forward...ran into a similar problem flying the alexa with light primes and a boxx/hc90 on the rear. But that combo is only about 4 lbs vs the codex, which I think is almost 6.
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#4 Jens Piotrowski SOC

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Posted 17 December 2011 - 01:00 PM

Mike Skipp makes 12" XCS style dovetail plate, but it does not have the side to side adjustment.....
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#5 RonBaldwin

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Posted 17 December 2011 - 05:48 PM

Mike Skipp makes 12" XCS style dovetail plate, but it does not have the side to side adjustment.....


I guess they are the normal "tall" ones -- if he made the low pro ones I know Greg used to make I'd love one of those (does Greg still make them?)
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#6 Jens Piotrowski SOC

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Posted 17 December 2011 - 08:16 PM

Mike Skipp makes 12" XCS style dovetail plate, but it does not have the side to side adjustment.....


I guess they are the normal "tall" ones -- if he made the low pro ones I know Greg used to make I'd love one of those (does Greg still make them?)



yes, they are normal tall ones with rod mounting holes, BTW PRO makes a 12" version of their standard plate as well....

I've been using a Panavised Alexa lately and they have a PRO style plate with integrated "Matthias" style adapter plate combined that has two mounting points (front and rear)
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#7 Robert Starling SOC

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Posted 18 December 2011 - 11:36 AM

I've been using a Panavised Alexa lately and they have a PRO style plate with integrated "Matthias" style adapter plate combined that has two mounting points (front and rear)


Hey Jens,

Do you have any photos of this plate?

Thanks!

Robert
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#8 James Baldanza SOC

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Posted 18 December 2011 - 11:43 AM


I've been using a Panavised Alexa lately and they have a PRO style plate with integrated "Matthias" style adapter plate combined that has two mounting points (front and rear)


Hey Jens,

Do you have any photos of this plate?

Thanks!

Robert


I'm interested as well, thanks.
James
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#9 RonBaldwin

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Posted 18 December 2011 - 01:19 PM

I have the xlong pro plate and the holes are inexplicably in the same place as the shorter plates (!!??). The sexy alexa brackets were sold out when I needed one so I made my own ($1.95 at Industrial Metal Supply +1 hr at my drill press) so maybe I will make a longer one incase this problem ever occurs. I will also check out Skiipp's and/or Greg's site for the plate.
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#10 Jens Piotrowski SOC

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Posted 18 December 2011 - 06:56 PM

"I have the xlong pro plate and the holes are inexplicably in the same place as the shorter plates (!!??)"

the xl plate was made for front heavy cameras......f900 with panavision zoom.......
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#11 RonBaldwin

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Posted 19 December 2011 - 02:25 AM

"I have the xlong pro plate and the holes are inexplicably in the same place as the shorter plates (!!??)"

the xl plate was made for front heavy cameras......f900 with panavision zoom.......


I must have a different xl plate then...I think the holes are all in the same spots, it is thicker though
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#12 Matt Petrosky

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Posted 19 December 2011 - 12:04 PM

Brooks, the plate that Bela has from Sal seems like it would do the trick for you... but here's another option:

I flew the Alexa with the Codex off the back for a film this summer and I had great success with Baer-Bel's Sony V-Lock Plate. It requires the Alexa to be configured with the Arriflex WA-1 Wedge Adapter (apparently all Alexa bodies ship with one in addition to the BPA-1 Bridge Plate Adapter). In conjunction with the Baer-Bel V-Lock Plate, this setup provided a very-rigid two-point mounting solution. Here is a link to Able Cine Tech's website showing the different Alexa mounting configurations.

Attached File  WA-1.jpg   30.12KB   293 downloads

In the photo I was using an older version of the Baer-Bel V-Lock Plate and it required me to mount one of my PRO plates to it in order to get the camera far enough forward. Baer-Bel now makes the plate with a significantly longer steadicam dovetail machined in, which would have eliminated the need for me to use the PRO plate as I could have just directly put the Baer-Bel plate into my D-Box. Like Sal's plate, the Baer-Bel plate* is rather expensive, but the Alexa is here to stay (thank goodness!), and this stuff seems way less ridiculous then some of the other camera brackets and plates that have come up over the years... cost of doing business. Speaking of doing business, I should mention that Markus (owns/runs Baer-Bel) has been easy to deal with (is in Germany) and has been honest and prompt with communication and shipping. I think Jens has actually spoken with him via phone, my communication was all via email and texts.

Attached File  MAP Alexa Codex2.jpg   78.76KB   380 downloads

New Baer-Bel plate in foreground, has longer steadicam dovetail machined into sides, basically eliminating need for mounting to normal steadicam plates (this photo was taken before I switched the hardware from the old plate onto the new one):
Attached File  Cam-Tec V-Lock Plate2.jpg   69.07KB   303 downloads

I can't stress enough how much of a difference it makes mounting the Alexa at two points, fore and aft. Even using an XCS plate, the camera was a total spring board when it was only mounted at the front point, it's just too much weight off-set to the back, and no support in the front because the mounting point is actually forward of the D-Box.

Mounting the Alexa in a rigid manner to the steadicam poses two main problems to the operator. One, the BPA-1 has mounting holes that are significantly off-set from the camera CG because it's made for Arri bridge plates. Sal's plate and some other single-point mounting options that people that made solve this by providing screw holes that are off-set accordingly. The second major problem is eliminating the spring-board effect of only having a sigle mounting point with a back-heavy camera. Both Sal's plate and the Baer-Bel V-Lock option solve this, also giving the operator a wide range of fore-aft adjustment. Using the WA-1 and the Baer-Bel also eliminates the side-to-side offset problem that the BPA-1 creates.

Hope this is of some help/use to someone. Brooks, if you wanna check out the Baer-Bel plate I'm happy to offer it up if I'm not using it.

Bela, can you please PM me Sal's info, I think his plate would be a another option worth having in the kit.

Ron, you should not be drinking Scotch while trying to figure out these mounting plates... send any unconsumed scotch this way.

Thanks, Matt

*on Baer-Bel's website select "Online Shop" on the left, then "Dovetails" in the middle of the page that loads, the Sony V-Lock Plate should be at the top of the list
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#13 Jens Piotrowski SOC

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Posted 19 December 2011 - 12:31 PM

"I have the xlong pro plate and the holes are inexplicably in the same place as the shorter plates (!!??)"

the xl plate was made for front heavy cameras......f900 with panavision zoom.......


I must have a different xl plate then...I think the holes are all in the same spots, it is thicker though



you are right the holes are unfortunately in the same spot, allowing only to move the weight backwards, not good....

pictures
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#14 Richard James Lewis

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Posted 19 December 2011 - 02:35 PM

I use the attached sony style plate with the WA-1 adaptor. You can mount your XCS plates etc all along the length of it and put the camera wherever you need it.
I know Arri Media supply an "Alexa Steadicam Plate" which looks similar, but slots directly into the channel on the base of the camera, meaning the WA-1 isn't needed. I don't know if they are selling these separately yet however, but as long as I get the WA-1 when I ask for it on the camera lists, or the other plate when the camera comes from Arri, then I'm covered.
Rick.

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#15 Jens Piotrowski SOC

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Posted 19 December 2011 - 10:43 PM

Here's the link to Sal's website and contact info:

http://www.cinematicprecision.com/


price for the plate is $475
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