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Carrying your own remote focus - is it needed?


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#1 Tom Wills

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Posted 06 April 2016 - 08:32 PM

Hello friends!

 

I've been thinking a lot lately about follow focus systems. All but 3 jobs I've been on since last October have carried their own follow focus systems. Sometimes they belong to the assistants, but I've been seeing more and more that the standard camera package nowadays comes with a Preston, at least on the jobs I am working. So my Preston FIZ-1 package has sat dutifully in its case, gathering dust.

 

It's made me wonder - in this age of focus pullers using monitors more and more, and remote head and moving camera work being the norm, are wireless focus packages now just a standard part of the camera package? Should I be carrying my own? I wonder if it would be different were I on longer term jobs, versus day playing as I am now.

 

More than advice on how to deal with my situation, however, I'd like to get the feedback of you all on whether or not you are finding your own focus systems working on set, or whether you're leaving it in the case more. Is this a general industry trend, or are wireless focus systems still something that is demanded of any Steadicam operator?

 

Looking forward to your thoughts!


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#2 David M. Aronson

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Posted 06 April 2016 - 08:55 PM

Bought a Bartech after needing one 3 weeks in a row, it's sat pretty much untouched for almost 2 years now. Though I know the second I sell it I'll need one urgently. Nice to have as a backup.


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#3 Blaine Baker

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Posted 06 April 2016 - 09:09 PM

I keep showing up on jobs where the assistant brings their own (and I think all of us owner operators understand the importance of getting that day rate+rental, so all the more power to assistants bringing their own gear) or production adds it to the camera package they rent for the whole show. All in all, I think it's still worth it to keep a single channel with ya, and if something fails, you're still safe.
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#4 korey robinson

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Posted 06 April 2016 - 09:37 PM

Just about every job these days has a Preston but I always bring my trusty Bartechs just in case. What are you going to do if something happens to the Preston?

Those who live by technology will die by technology. 


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#5 Fisher

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Posted 06 April 2016 - 11:59 PM

I have never used my bartech after 3 years... happy to give the assistants the remote rentals.


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#6 Osvaldo Silvera SOC

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Posted 07 April 2016 - 12:20 AM

I have used My Bartechs on 99% of my jobs since I bought the Focus and Iris units from Jim when they first came out.  Wouldn't leave home without them, and on Live shows I still use the Bartech system, unless I'm solo without an assistant that I'm used to then I pull out the Stanton system.

 Still don't have a full Preston after 19 years in the vest. I've been putting one together piece by piece the last couple of years, it's almost complete, lol


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#7 Peter Kadar

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Posted 07 April 2016 - 01:33 AM

Thank you for this post Tom! Would be also very interesting to hear from operators working in Europe. What is your experience? Production trends regarding focus package, Europe vs. USA, Canada and Australia …
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#8 Alec Jarnagin SOC

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Posted 07 April 2016 - 10:07 AM

Still think you need them.  On most jobs, I have an additional body for the Steadicam so we leave that body stripped down on the sled and use my MDR-3 that lives on the sled and my motors and cables.  Then we use the A Camera (or B if I'm the B op) hand unit.  As a result, my hand unit does not get that much use but is the backup.  This way, the only thing we move from the A Camera to the Steadicam body is the Teradek (or whatever we are using) and the Cinetape.  Very fast.


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#9 Janice Arthur

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Posted 07 April 2016 - 10:38 AM

I'd go with Alec, best to have one.

My concerns;

1) Can "their" system hang off the camera and not make my setup crazy (crazier)?
2) if their MDR has to sit on my rig do I have the bracket for it and is it easy to attach?
3). In a situation where it won't sit on the camera and it's suddenly on my system do I have a power cable to power it off my rig, rental units usually don't. So now do I have to have lots of different power cables for the various systems I might encounter?

4). At some point in your career the stress moment (pucker moment) is just not worth that and I'd rather have my own system if none of that other stuff works for me in the time they give me to set up and walk on. This especially applies to the day player, who isn't there in the set up and knows all the exact details and may be on the bubble to gain their confidence.

5) can you conjole the AC who is worried about his/her butt to make changes for you? Seldom do I find they will. They are looking out for their own interests and if it takes time to reconfigure from you and it makes them appear slower then they will opt for themselves.
Sorry just an observation, not a slam.

I've talked to many ops over the years who don't have a system and want to rent one for an upcoming job and I ask about powering it off the rig and of course rental houses never have cable and then question of powering FF off camera and they may or may not know or have to ask. Now logically they should buy the $200 cable and have it shipped in overnight but that kills their day rate for a one day job and it shows up at 10:30 am; they're four letter word, screwed. All considerations not many want to pay for. It's also a fire drill the day before and it kills/impairs whether they can just say yes to a job that calls. Can you work tomorrow? XYZ info, perfect, I've got all the stuff, where do you need me?

My motto for decades, "if FF isn't working neither am i". Buy a system of some sort when your shoots start getting important on your career path.

Janice
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#10 brett.mayfield

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Posted 07 April 2016 - 12:57 PM

For a while they were part of camera packages. then several years ago it became an absolute necessity for us to provide and we were required to have our own wireless and follow focus systems. now there are so many cheap versions and they are in all the camera packages and im getting dogged by rental houses for putting mine on the job and snagging their rentals. i own two full FIZ systems and im gunna keep bringing em. but if you are finding that the AC pretty much always has a system, then just bringing a single channel may be the best option. i cant imagine not having one in my kit though.

 

brett.


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#11 Janice Arthur

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Posted 07 April 2016 - 01:20 PM

Hi all;

Brett and the others are correct it used to be the norm to have a system.

Now it's about the dexterity to work with whatever you're presented with.

Yes now lots of options exist and as brett and others have said they just want
It all to seemlessly work with whomever is getting the rental.

Now it's about the dexerity to deal with those options and important point DONT SLOW DOWN PRODUCTION while you do it.

So hence the topic each as trying figure out what they should/must buy to make
production happy.
Janice
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#12 Lars Erik

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Posted 07 April 2016 - 04:43 PM

Here in Europe I would imagine it's the same. At least in my country Norway. Can't even remember the last gig where the production company didn't have a wireless focus system. Usually here it's the ARRI WFU-3. Don't see Preston that often here anymore. Perhaps because that almost everything is shot on ARRI Alexa/Amira system.

 

I think a lot of it might be because the focus puller sits a lot more at the video village maybe.

 

What really sucks it that production companies also rent a wireless video from the camera rental, meaning getting money on my wireless system is more difficult...


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#13 brett.mayfield

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Posted 07 April 2016 - 05:15 PM

I am finding that I can get my gear on commercials and always music videos, but less so on TV and features. however I have worked with two vendors to consign my gear through them for the productions that i am shooting and doing a 70/30 split, like a usual consignment relationship. they are usually receptive since they can continue to get their gear on commercial gigs and shorter productions that offer better rates than the 2-day and even 1-day weeks that have become so popular. talk to the rental house. but when completing with the AC I'll basically never win.

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