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China experience


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#1 RobVanGelder

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Posted 20 February 2006 - 03:59 AM

I'm now in Shanghai to shoot a commercial for icecream. Supposed to be a summer-feeling, it;s almost freezing, some snow and grey overcast.....

Anyway, i could not bring my own gear, so i accepted to work with the local rigs available.
A government-owned company has the Ultra, though not really complete I found out.
No wireless control, though it has the motorized stage, no low mode bracket for the 435, but otherwise in brand new shape so usable (after they found one of the rachet clamps and put it back on the vest :D

3 batteries that they claimed last 1 hour each.... well, that turned out to be 5 to 10 minutes! later I heard that they recently recelled them with new Chinese batteries!

Therefore I had ro work with the only power cable that comes with the camera, with a thickness and weight of a jump-start cable for your car, also it was curled, so weighted about 1,5 kg!

Now wonder my shots were not so stable.... it pulled the rig off with every movement though I attached it near the gimble, but it was just too heavy.
(I'm sure someone will remark the sway and wag in these shots :P )

but the batteries were the real problem, they did not hold even enough power for the sled only for a reasonable time, and with one charger, no battery could be charged more that 15-30% because most of the shots were on steadicam.

So I asked to bring in another set that i saw at one camera company, a cannabalized, sodomized, battered IIIa with a huge battery construction for 3 Pags so therefore promising for power supply. The vest was like a rag, but i could use the Ultra vest of course.... if only it would work. The Transvideo LCD didn't give an image ,the follow focus was one of the oldest Heden wired controles! Being at 0-5 degrees celcius it could not turn any lens so I asked if we could use the Bartech from the Ultra set...... no cables or connectors available...... :huh:

Though I though I could make a working system out of these 2 ,it would be a major process, involving two companies that would not allow that!

So they called another - Hong Kong based- company and tonight I will check their equipment!
I'm sure this one comes with it's own set of problems, i know that this company doesn't have the newest of the newest.....

To be continued! :D

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#2 Matt Mouraud

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Posted 20 February 2006 - 04:27 AM

I've been through all that stuff in Afghanistan. Gotta love it ! It'll be a fun memory... Later ! :lol:
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#3 Matt Burton

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Posted 20 February 2006 - 08:19 AM

What doesn't kill you makes you stronger mate.
Interested to see how this one turns out !
Good luck Rob
-matt
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#4 Jason Williams

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Posted 20 February 2006 - 11:23 AM

A nightmare situation indeed ..... bad planning on their part, and it's very unusual they wouldn't let you use your own equipment, maybe it's how it is over there, I have no experience so can't comment, but just find it bizarre.

It's all in the learning curve though :)

Jase
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#5 RayLam

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Posted 20 February 2006 - 01:35 PM

Hi Rob,

I am surprised you didn't bring your own rig. There is no problem bringing equipment in as long as you have the proper document or a carnet. I work all over China and I always bring my Mk-V system with me from Hong Kong. I even have my new AR with me in Beijing now as I am working on director Zhang Yi-Mou's latest film.
The Shanghai film Studio has a Master series film 12 volt system complete with Bartech system in good condition. Both rental companies - Cinerent and Arrow Films have Steadicam 3As for rent. There are other Steadicams owned by local TV stations which may not come with focus systems. Get your production manager to ask around. Call me at +86 13620475757 in Beijing :( if you need any help. I will try to sort it out for you.

Raymond Lam
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#6 RobVanGelder

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Posted 21 February 2006 - 07:22 AM

As promised, a follow up:

It was also a budget issue, to use the locally available rigs....

Raymond, i had all those you mention, the Master from the Shanghai Film Studio is the one i started with, but it has those "newly" recelled batteries that don't last, then the Arrow company, from which we had the camera gear had the sodomized IIIa, where the LCD failed and the follow focus too, not to mention the ragged harnass. Exchanging parts between the 2 is not possible, the right cables are just not there. So they asked the next option: Cinerent from Hongkong, a company that I know from thailand and I also know the state of their equipment....

That evening I visited them and they had happily build the rig for me, totally wrong and on strange angles, but what wads most interesting was the camera on the topstage, which had an angle of 10 degrees left to right and was wiggling :o
I quickly found out that this Master had crashed, the topstage and adjustments was totally gone and was only hanging on the internal wiring.
The people from Cinerent didn't know!
but with the same flair they presented another old IIIa system with Transvideo monitor and Anton Bauer ProPacs, and a Genio/heden follow focus. After 2 hours fiddling with this and finding the right cables I had this working (they didn't even know they had these cables, although they were in the case....)

With an old III a arm and the Masters vest I managed today a full day steadicam, from 08.00 to 18.00, almost non-stop!
It was a good day, hilarious because of all the language confusion and the overly active helping chinese crew that really tried to tear the sled out of my hands when I try to dock
It took several shouts and hitting on hands to make them understand!

but what is most annoying is the total misbehaviour towars equipment. 2 times I had to say them not to drop the arm on the pavement, to be gentle with the equipment. Only when I explained some prices of those items they began thinking, but at the end of the day I saw the arm on the concrete again.....

This is for everything, lamps, camera's, viewfinders, cables, mini/DV recorders, etc, they don't care, probably because they have never learned to care due to the great communist idea's from the past.
This will take many years to become a reasonable responsible film-business!
If ever.....

tomorrow another day, with a tracking vehicle which is just an electric cart, normally used on in a park. I have my doubts.

But I keep laughing, trying, educating, etc, there is a great future here, but these people need help from pro's!
:) :rolleyes: :blink: :D
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#7 Matt Burton

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Posted 21 February 2006 - 08:42 AM

Education is key here, but unless it's done from the inside perhaps it will never change.
Lets all move to China !
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#8 mattmarek

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Posted 21 February 2006 - 10:20 AM

...been there rob! :) feel your pain. butt, not that much pain. check out my avatar and you'll see the old 'virtual reality head mounted monitor' setup i had to work with in moscow. that day there were stairs too! :blink: the base of the sled was rugby ball shaped and felt kind of spongey. the arm socket block on the vest only mounted on the wrong side (wrong for me) so i had the arm jutting out of my left side and 180 degree crank around to kind of operate the sled on my left and out in front....did i mention i had to do stairs as well????

anyways, i wish i was in your situation :D an ultra?!!! what's that? we located some reallly beat up old model 3 for me to use a couple days. arm locked up and was kept on the floor (by the owner of the rig who also was on set) and the monitor was some old black and white tv that your dad always had down in the shop. :D good memories though.

i will ask though, have you ever tried just bringing in a case or two with you and not declaring anything? i dont think i've been lucky (as my gear was held up in moscow) but all other countries, it's been no issue. just an amateur photographer doing some travelling.

cheers
m
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#9 RobVanGelder

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Posted 23 February 2006 - 11:18 PM

The last part of the China Experience!

The second and third shooting day went well, we did normal shots and on a "tracking vehicle" (a gardener lorry from a local park) and we had no real problems, other that the language. Chinese seem to need a lot of words and explanations to get going, but that might be only my observation.

All in all a good experience, with plenty room for improvement.......... :)

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#10 thomas-english

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Posted 24 February 2006 - 11:56 AM

WOW! you can operate with some chunky gloves on!

really want to go to Beijing.

Thomas
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#11 Matt Burton

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Posted 24 February 2006 - 07:23 PM

WOW! you can operate with some chunky gloves on!

really want to go to Beijing.

Thomas


Every photo Rob posts makes you want to be their !
Have fun.
-matt
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#12 thomas-english

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Posted 27 February 2006 - 07:19 AM

can you tell me a little about the lighting setup? I am always interested in these mobile lighting setups when you are shooting off a vehicle

what is that a 2.5kw HMI? straight on? working as a fill, sitting so close a line to the camera?

what was the chimera for?

thomas
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#13 RobVanGelder

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Posted 27 February 2006 - 09:10 PM

Hi Thomas, that was 200W battery operated Arri Par with a chimera to soften it a little bit, just to give a constant fill. The whole street was lighted from the rooftops so there was a general level everywhere, this is just to keep it from going (too) dark in some places with shadows.

Those gloves were not that bad, I had to put a deathgrip on the rig anyway as there was no way to mount a hardmount, though there was one in Shanghai.However, there was no way to attach it to the little car, without damaging the car... (Later I found out that they had cancelled the grip and his equipment for this day....)
So therefore my position was not optimal, but manageble. After the first rehearsals, the DP and Director told me to "float" a bit more, it was too steady :huh: , so the gloves were good for this.
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