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How fast can you go to low mode?


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#1 Janice Arthur

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Posted 26 August 2014 - 08:41 AM

Hi all;

I always tried to perfect going to low-mode; either by conventional mode of actually flipping the camera or by 'poor-man's' low mode and just flipping rig with camera upside down and it was never perfect.

The best, most seamless was a TV movie and the ACs were great help and it would get done in 1.5 min and I'd be putting on the vest.

I'd love to see what people have thought of to make it both seamless and fast.

I get the flip it mode but you still have to reset the gimbal and LCDs are never in the right spot when I just flip the rig and that readjusting always was a pain and took more time than I wanted. The results were always iffy on viewing the monitor too when I got the vest and arm on and in the spot where the shot was to take place.

Please post videos and lets see.

Thanks.

Janice
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#2 Frederic Sturm

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Posted 26 August 2014 - 09:01 AM

Hi Janice,

 

pretty much like your experience about readjusting the monitor being a pain, the thing that bothered me most about going to low-mode was having to unscrew and re-mount the monitor (I have a Zephyr rig). If you do "poor-man's" low mode, which I guess is used very often now because it's really easy to flip the image, that was the only thing that took a lot of time, and it never got the monitor in a comfortable position either.

 

To solve that, I invented a CG-tilting monitor Yoke for the Zephyr, Scout and Pilot base rods, that also has the ability to tilt on the rod and flip right over for low mode. No re-mounting anything, and since it turns the monitor upside down, no need to even flip the image on it. It can be completely flipped for looking at it from above, or brought out in front of the rig or any comfortable position in between. Then it can also be tilted on its own axis without affecting balance, which is an essential feature of bigger rigs, and one I've always missed on the smaller ones. There are some images showing different low-mode flip options here: http://www.steadicam...showtopic=20074 and also in Jamies terrific Flickr gallery showing it with a Pilot: https://www.flickr.c...57645642636192/ (please don't take this as ill-minded advertising, it's just that Janice asked for what we thought of to make the transition seamless.)

 

Now all that needs to be done is move the gimbal and rebalance the rig, with pre-marked balance I can regularly do it in 1-2 Minutes I guess.


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#3 Janice Arthur

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Posted 26 August 2014 - 09:45 AM

Frederic

Thanks that's exactly what I'd like to fig out.

Ill look in detail later

Peace!!

Janice
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#4 Alan Rencher

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Posted 26 August 2014 - 10:19 AM

I can go to low mode in about a minute as well. In this modern world we live in, I see no need to flip the camera. I have a zephyr, but I don't unscrew the monitor. I just tilt it so the screen is facing me, then extend the monitor post to assist for the CG change. I do think Frederic's yoke would be a great addition, though.
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#5 Eric Fletcher S.O.C.

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Posted 26 August 2014 - 11:09 AM

SR3, Pro sled TB-6 monitor. It was less than 20 seconds. AD called "Lock it up" and then "rolling" I was back for "marker". That setup was ideal and why I like short posts you never needed to move the gimbal. Flip the camera flip the monitor throw on a Low mode bracket and you were good to go
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#6 Lars Erik

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Posted 26 August 2014 - 11:38 AM

Same here. Just flip the rig. When the DP asks me, and I inform them on time used on both regular low-mode and just shoot upside down, they always say shoot upside down. Time is an issue, so as little time wasted on set, the happier producer/director/DP!


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#7 Charles Papert

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Posted 26 August 2014 - 12:16 PM

Poor man's is fine as long as the camera in question has an image flip mode (and the AC's know how to activate it quickly), or there is a workflow via DIT etc to convert the image for monitors. Otherwise, unless the director's monitors are on yokes that allow for quick inversion, or have quickly accessible internal image flip, it's not so cute for everyone who is watching.


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#8 Victor Lazaro

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Posted 26 August 2014 - 12:30 PM

I've had discussions about wether we had the time to switch to low mod or not taking more time than just doing it.


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#9 Lars Erik

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Posted 26 August 2014 - 12:48 PM

Poor man's is fine as long as the camera in question has an image flip mode (and the AC's know how to activate it quickly), or there is a workflow via DIT etc to convert the image for monitors. Otherwise, unless the director's monitors are on yokes that allow for quick inversion, or have quickly accessible internal image flip, it's not so cute for everyone who is watching.

What?! Come on Charles. That's the most rewarding moment. Always great fun to see the director and DP sit on their chairs and turning their upper body, desperately trying to see the image correctly! :-)


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#10 William Demeritt

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Posted 26 August 2014 - 02:41 PM

Poor man's is fine as long as the camera in question has an image flip mode (and the AC's know how to activate it quickly), or there is a workflow via DIT etc to convert the image for monitors. Otherwise, unless the director's monitors are on yokes that allow for quick inversion, or have quickly accessible internal image flip, it's not so cute for everyone who is watching.

 

I have the grips install a pair of PanaGravityBoots to some truss over video village, so if they don't have image flip in camera, or image flip from DIT, or a 180 degree VESA mount on the monitors... then they get to hang upside down and think about maaaaaaybe renting stuff that doesn't come from Craigslist or their son's friend who owns a camera. 


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#11 William Demeritt

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Posted 26 August 2014 - 02:53 PM

OK, I'll play the devil's advocate for a brief moment and ask "Why do we NEED to know how fast you can go to low mode?" 

 

Anyone who's worn a rig for longer than a few gigs knows exactly what it takes to get into low mode... and if you don't, then you need to learn (or do a few hip-hop music videos... all day low mode... booty booty booty). 

 

However, if we're on top of things, we should be standing next to the DP and Director and overhear the tell-tale signs of a low mode shot coming... and once confirmation happens, we're walking to our rig (or radio to the assistant) to flip to low mode. If low mode is a "well, maaaaaybe low mode, but how long will it take?" is the mood, I generally determine the DP's hopes for low mode (as quickly as possible) and answer: "Cool, low mode coming up, 60 seconds." 

 

Anyway, I just think the proud race of low mode speed does us the disservice of hustling hard without planning or thinking. When they determine a change in lighting, the calls start going out and things happen quickly. Perhaps a lighting change is postponed as "unnecessary". However, we don't see the juicers saying "I can get a Kino on a beaver board in there in 90 seconds". The gaffer may offer it, but things happen in other departments "as quickly as they can". What is necessary is done as quickly, and safely, as possible.

 

We obviously shouldn't drag our feet, and if our low mode swap takes 15 minutes, then we're doing something wrong. Everyone moves "as quickly as possible", but why do we let ourselves get thrown under the bus because "2 minutes to swap to low mode" is somehow an eternity and intolerable. Looks could go in and do touch-ups in the amount of time we need for low mode (if you can find where they're sleeping). Lighting would appreciate that 2 minutes. Everyone would. 

 

Fast, safe, cheap, right. Pick 3. 

 

I'm all for speedy swap to low mode, and everyone should have a low mode swap speed they're proud of. However, I just caution against the "I can do low mode in 30 seconds ALL THE TIME" attitude, even if you have it down to that speed. Just my opinion. Suck it, Baldwin.


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#12 Janice Arthur

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Posted 26 August 2014 - 03:27 PM

William;

 

Its always been said that speed to low-mode was essential and operators had to have a plan to do it efficiently.

 

I've had periods of great success going quickly and periods where it was miserable every time it seemed like.

 

Lately these LCDs and maybe you can move the monitor or not and maybe it was daylight viewable or not made low-mode even worse.

 

Now as I get less patient with crap to do in a day and longer lenses the two don't work well together so I thought I'd see if I could figure out how to make my planning better.

 

I always wondered why with my set ups even with the easy flip monitor brackets I still had to physically move the monitor arm to get an optimal position and that always made me crazy as the directors etc start tapping their feet.

 

I see opportunities with the newbies to figure out stuff and maybe just have fun discussing the subject.

 

I also see that now with even shorter time between shots its important to have a plan.

 

Its always been my little dream to have a flexible arm holding the monitor so that you could just twist it to the right position while wearing the rig but so far monitors have weighed too much; maybe now that could be a new product?

 

I'm always trying to save a 'favor' from the AD when it does take longer than I promised for some reason so the 15 min switches are rare.

 

Lastly I'm trying to buy an LCD monitor and monitor arm and I'm wondering what my choices are.

 

 

 

Janice


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#13 Twojay Dhillon

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Posted 26 August 2014 - 05:53 PM

Okay, apparently I am not Speedy Gonzales. However, I impressed the poop out of the last few DoP's I've worked with... With an Alexa -- going into poor man's low-mode -- on a PRO III with a TB-6, it took me 2 and a half minutes flat. That is with a 4.5 to 5 second drop time and putting a wrap-grip onto the post.

 

I always tell DoP's (and my AC's) that the flip will take 6 minutes

 

I'd rather under-promise and over-deliver.


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#14 Charles Papert

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Posted 26 August 2014 - 08:52 PM

I think probably the most important thing to impart on the newer gang is that the changeover to low mode should be rehearsed ahead of time. In other words, do it at the prep to learn if there are any weird kinks--cables don't reach, motors hit the stage etc. If you are bold/dumb enough not to go to prep, do it when there is downtime on set. The last thing you want to do is hold everyone up while you solve problems on set. Poor man's low mode is much easier in this regard.

 

My old quote with safety margin was 8 minutes, knowing I could do it in less. The best part was then watching a 5 minute debate over whether there was time to do it or not.

 

For jobs when there are going to be multiple flips, it's often helps to get the AC onboard. If you can delegate out the responsibilities and have four hands working at once, it can all happen like lightning. My personal record, like Eric's, was on an SR3 with a legit flip to low mode--the sixth time we did it in a day, we clocked it at 45 seconds and were mighty proud. Not much worse with the LWII--if I remember correctly, the "meatball" had near-perfect weight distribution so it basically rotated in place, assuming you knew how to mount your plates properly (the lost art!)

 

Probably a good time to bring up the old chestnut of "is it really low mode, or just low high mode?" Until you know for sure that the director and/or DP have a miraculous sense of all the heights a Steadicam can achieve via brackets and armposts can achieve, it's best to ask what the shot and intended lens height will be. Example from the wayback machine:

"Papert, go to low mode".

"What's the shot?"

"Start on their feet, tilt up to their face".

"Are you OK with looking up their nose?"

"No, it should end up at their eye height".

Slipped on J-bracket, boomed and tilted down--lens two foot above ground, perfectly acceptable shot of feet. And then boomed all the way up, back to eye height. No low mode needed.

 

I hate to admit it but as a boss even I have mistakenly called for low mode when it wasn't necessary, and I felt like an effin' traitor. One time it happened with an A-list op who helped me out on a short I shot 15 yrs ago--he was a reasonably good sport about it.


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#15 Brian Freesh

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Posted 26 August 2014 - 11:19 PM

Most of the things I might have said have been said. Which is good, cause I'm long-winded.

 

Poor man's is so fast these days I sometimes do it on the arm if I don't need the low mode bracket. Even if not on the arm I'm usually ready before the monitor is flipped. I recently did this on a shoot where I saw an opportunity to  get a railing in the foreground of a shot.  I sold them on it in regular mode during rehearsal and they loved it, but I felt I couldn't easily get low enough to be worth the effort (short boom range with a post adapter that adds 1.5" of height).  After rehearsal they were ready to go and excitedly told me to get the railing.  I was already halfway to low mode by then, and the monitor was flipped right as we started to roll, never took the rig off the arm.

 

Regarding the build and LCDs: My sled is Pro 3 everything with the cam-jam monitor bracket and yoke, cintronic gen 2. But most yoke/LCD combos would do just as well for a quick lowmode flip. I fly the monitor above the monitor rods in standard mode, which means for poor man's low mode all i have to do is tilt the monitor, no yoke adjustment.  If I have to go very low then there's a bit more of an adjustment, but adds negligible time.

 

I have a low mode wrap grip, and I love it, but for quick and dirty I don't use it.  Or I use it on take 2 (you know, after the rolling rehearsal).

 

When I get talked into music videos and we're shooting performance stuff I fly a longer sled so the gimbal is lower (making it higher, and the camera lower, when upside-down) and can flip to low mode during a take.

 

In narrative I prefer to do it "right" (not sure what that means anymore) and have the camera rightside up in low mode. Prep is vital to a quick turnover, and my times align more with Charles and Twojay, but as Will said there will be time to do it in those situations.


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