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Re: The BFD and the VFX


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#1 JimBartell

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Posted 03 May 2014 - 05:23 PM

It has come to my attention that Howard Smith has stated that among the many things he has invented is the  "focus system (VFX - that became the Bartech)".  It's the last part I have a problem with since:

 

1. I never met Howard until the BFD was in production.

2. I never heard of the VFX until the BFD was in production.

 

The first time I met Howard was at ShowBiz Expo in 2000 or 2001, and we had started shipping BFD's in 1999.  He did state that he had developed a system like mine but his business partner Ben Fisher, later of UnitCine fame, looted the company and bankrupted it.  He also used words to the effect that all my sales rightly belonged to him since he had a similar product earlier.  Once we started shipping BFD's one of my customers told me about the VFX but I didn't see one until 2001.

 

In fact the product I was inspired by was the Chrosziel Fox, which was a good product but very expensive.  I thought I could do the same thing for less money and I was correct.  2300+ units later we are still shipping 20+ a month.

 

I am afraid the only place the VFX "became" the BFD is in Howard's imagination.

 

Just setting the record straight.

 

Jim Bartell, Owner

BarTech Engineering


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#2 William Demeritt

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Posted 03 May 2014 - 06:37 PM

5084.jpg

 

It's OK, Jim. At least you still own your company. 


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#3 Jens Piotrowski SOC

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Posted 03 May 2014 - 06:42 PM

and I almost believed Howard.... :D

 

congrats on your ongoing success and great customer service!


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#4 Eric Fletcher S.O.C.

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Posted 04 May 2014 - 03:40 AM

Jim I remember when your were finishing up the BarTech one of my motors was used, that's my claim to your fame and that's where it ends.

CONGRATS on building a kickass product for 15+ years and continuing to deliver product

And screw Howard and his lies
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#5 RonBaldwin

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Posted 04 May 2014 - 08:13 AM

Wow...2300!!! Congrats buddy :-) . I got one in '99 or early 2000...conned into selling it a few years ago. I loved having it for super LW gigs and as a backup and wish I still had it. Hope to see ya in a month at cinegear and/or post-nautiness. This time please call a doctor after 4 hrs
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#6 Michael Stumpf

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Posted 04 May 2014 - 09:01 AM

I met Jim in January 2000 and he was just beginning to ship the BFD. I had unit number -1 (negative one as he called it) for a few months while Jim caught up to the order. My production BFD's were serial number 70 and 71.
I can't remember who I sold them too and would be curious as to who has them now.

Congrats on all the sales and continued sales old friend.  Sorry to hear about this new PITA development, but it does not surprise me in the least.
 


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#7 William Demeritt

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Posted 04 May 2014 - 01:24 PM

Here's Howard's response: 

 

 

 

Howard J Smith What BS is this now? You obviously have no work....
I've been too busy to come on here. 
I don't know what this is about and don't really care. But Jim said to me himself that he repaired one of my VFX focus units from Doggicam in 1997 ish and that have him the idea / inspiration for the Bartech that's all. And I have the upmost respect for Jim. 

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#8 Alec Jarnagin SOC

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Posted 04 May 2014 - 03:58 PM

Betta tested the BFD in NYC in 1999.  Ordered it and received S/N 22 (only because I let an earlier number go to someone in more need since I had a perfectly "functioning" Seitz at the time).  It was a fabulous unit then and still is.  

 

Howard who?

 

And yes, I AM a moderator... and on THIS one, I DO have an opinion.


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#9 Eric Fletcher S.O.C.

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Posted 04 May 2014 - 10:01 PM

For those reading the Facebook threads and not understanding some of the discontinuity of replies, well it's because Howard has deleted his Facebook profile.  

 

waiting to see what he does here.


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#10 William Demeritt

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Posted 04 May 2014 - 10:38 PM

Howard has deleted his Facebook profile.  

 

Are you sure he didn't have to give it up along with MK-V? 


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#11 Alan Rencher

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Posted 05 May 2014 - 12:08 AM

 

Are you sure he didn't have to give it up along with MK-V? 

 

I think he bankrupted it and started a new one.


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#12 Eric Fletcher S.O.C.

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Posted 05 May 2014 - 12:13 AM

 

I think he bankrupted it and started a new one.

 

 

Pretty Much


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#13 Afton Grant

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Posted 05 May 2014 - 06:41 AM

He didn't delete his profile.  He changed his name to Howard Vader - presumably for May the 4th day.  


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#14 JimBartell

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Posted 05 May 2014 - 09:22 AM

"But Jim said to me himself that he repaired one of my VFX focus units from Doggicam in 1997 ish and that have him the idea / inspiration for the Bartech that's all."

 

I am afraid neither that event or conversation ever happened.  Howard may be rembering that I told him I sold some BFD's to Doggicam after their VFX unit broke and there was no place to get it repaired since Howard's company had gone out of business, but that was in 2001, not 1997.  The only time I ever saw a VFX in person was when I delivered the BFD's to Doggicam in 2001 and they showed me their broken one.  In 1997 I was still working at Cinema Products as an employee for the first half of the year and as a consultant for most of the rest.  I certainly wasn't repairing off-brand follow focus units.

 

I am afraid Howard has done a little selective memory editing to alter "Jim sold BFD's in 2001 to one of my customers when the product I made broke and couldn't be repaired" to "Jim fixed my product in 1997 and it inspired the BFD".

 

Here is a picture of the product I was inspired by, the Chrosziel Fox:

IMG_0216.jpg

But I wouldn't say the Fox "became" the BFD any more than I would say the RED One "became" the ARRI Alexa.  They're simply different versions of the same idea.  I was "inspired" by the knowledge that there were lots of WRC-4/Seitz owners who would like a better unit but didn't want to spend $5000 for the Fox or $20,000 for a Preston.

 

Jim Bartell


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#15 Alan Rencher

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Posted 05 May 2014 - 11:11 AM

The Bartech is far superior to the Fox in my opinion. Maybe that's why the BFD is still around, and the Fox units can't even be repaired anymore!


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