Jump to content


Preston F/X box

  • Please log in to reply
1 reply to this topic

#1 RonBaldwin


    Advanced Member

  • Sustaining Members
  • 2351 posts
  • Los Angeles

Posted 15 February 2004 - 03:59 AM

ok, fess up all you folks with the MDR-2 and the F/X box...tell me the good and the bad. Is it cool? Does it work? Do you need a degree in astrophysics to program it? Has it boned you on any particular camera? Will it work even when the operator's blood alchohol level excedes .1?

I gotta know

Ron B
  • 0

#2 Anthony Hardwick

Anthony Hardwick

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 145 posts
  • Pasadena, CA

Posted 15 February 2004 - 12:40 PM

Charles Papert has one, so he could answer with more authority. I did borrow it for a day of testing with my Preston FIZ/MDR2 prior to starting a movie (many many thanks Chas). We had hoped to rent his box for use on this movie, and wanted to test some speed ramps of action basketball sequences. We were primarily interested in the many speed ramping possibilities with a panavized 435. My one day evaluation is that it is indeed very easy to use. I was given a 5 minute demo at Preston, and then I was off to the test shoot. I found the unit to be pretty intuitive overall. There is a comprehensive manual that covers everything in detail, and I did refer to it once or twice the first time we set it up. All in all the box works like a charm. The only glitch I noticed was that some of the preprogrammed lens data was incorrect. Specifically, some of the Primos had slightly incorrect min. & max. aperature data programmed into the unit. This is a minor thing to reprogram though, so it's not a big deal.

The FX box worked flawlessly during the test shoot, and did exactly what it was supposed to do. In the end though, the DP decided that the resultant ramps were too slow for what they wanted. Bear in mind that this is NOT the fault of the FX box. The FX box will ramp the camera as fast as the camera is capable of being ramped. The limitation comes from the camera's electronic circuitry and what it has been programmed to be able to do by the manufacturer. For our picture, they chose to do the speed ramps in post. Oh well.

One other point to bear in mind: Let's say that you are programming a speed ramp... let's say that the initial speed will be 24 fps, and you will ramp the camera to 48 fps, and exposure will be kept constant by automatic shutter angle compensation (in this case the initial shutter angle will start at 90 degrees, and at the end of the ramp it will be 180 degrees). You can also do part or all of the correction with an aperature pull, but for the purposes of this example, I'm keeping it simple. Anyway, after you program the starting and ending frame rates, the box will calculate the fastest possible ramp it can perform with the parameters you have entered (i.e., camera used, initial and final speeds, shutter angle changes, etc). The important thing to remember is that the time it shows is not real time, but rather screen time. So in this example if the box says that the speed ramp will occur in 2.4 seconds (an arbitrary number I chose for this example), that means that when watching the end result projected or played back the ramp will elapse in 2.4 seconds. It may take only 1.4 seconds of real time to execute the ramp while shooting however.

As for cool factor, it rates a 9 out of 10. It's wireless (or strong black magic), and you can practically control the weather with the thing (brings pinky to mouth - bwahahahahahaha).

You don't really need a degree in astrophysics to use the unit, although I was a brain surgeon prior to entering the film business.

And blood alcohol content? Well let's just say that some things just wouldn't be safe to operate WITHOUT a little alcohol in the system (bumper cars and table saws come to mind ).

I hope this helps some. Perhaps Charles can chime in with other detailed info if he has a moment.
  • 0

GPI Pro Systems

Ritter Battery

Betz Tools for Stabilizers


Camera Motion Research

Omnishot Systems

PLC Electronics Solutions

Paralinx LLC

rebotnix Technologies



Varizoom Follow Focus

PLC - Bartech

Boland Communications

Wireless Video Systems