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Down Converters


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#1 Michael Stumpf

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Posted 12 March 2004 - 06:27 PM

Looks like I may be doing a show in High Def.

So, since it's been a couple years since I've done a HD job, I'm curious to find out what's the best down converter for the camera.

It's probably going to be the Panasonic Varicam.

Thanks all
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#2 Ramon Engle

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Posted 13 March 2004 - 12:01 AM

Hi Michael
I've shot several jobs with the varicam using an AJA (Sp?) downconverter. It worked well but the downconverter needed a proper home somewhere on the camera. It was a little nest like with all it's cables as well. Lately I've been shooting with the Sony Alta which incorporates an Evertz downconverter onto the back of the camera as a module. It's clean and neat and provides 2 SDI BNC's out and 2 Analog BNC's out. SDI is useful in showing the DP a higher grade image to on the monitor for lighting references before you shoot or rehearse.
The new version will incorporate not only 2 11 pin fischer connectors to power Arri accessories but also firewire out! Pretty cool. Haven't seen it yet but it sounds like downconverters are becoming more than a cumbersome yet necessary box.
Good luck with the varicam.

Ramon Engle
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#3 Alec Jarnagin SOC

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Posted 13 March 2004 - 10:10 AM

Michael,

You should like the Varicam (as much as you can like a video camera). It is much shorter and lighter than the Sony and has SDI built into it. As for a downconverter, I've used both the AJA and the Evertz. Both get the job done, but you'll have to find a place to mount it. One of the Evertz I've used was like the Sony version, mounted between camera and battery, but another was a box I velcroed. The Evertz is a bit beefier both in weight and in construction, which is good because the AJA is a bit delicate in the connector department. Both have a delay, but are workable - I find it is a matter of getting used to it, like a flicker-free tap (although you don't have the option to turn it off!).

I mentioned awhile ago, a suggested cable to power these downconverters. Most come from the rental house with a Anton Bauer power tap connector. This requires using a battery on the camera to power it. I got sick of requesting a downconverter to four pin XLR cable to find it missing when I show up, so I made a VID/AKS (small four pin Lemo on PRO) to female AB power tap cable. Now I can plug the male AB cable from the downconverter into my junction box (without adapting to a 4-Pin XLR as I did before). Very useful when Hytron 100/120s are provided with camera. Even if the smaller Lithium ones are provided, it is nice to divvy up the power drain to your various batteries (i.e. you'll get more from the camera battery by powering the downconverter elsewhere).

Have fun.
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#4 Mitch Gross

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Posted 13 March 2004 - 11:35 AM

Just to note that if you don't have the adapter cable Alec mentions, most rental houses have 2-pin A/B PowerTap extension cables. Order one of these as a backup and in a pinch you could run a cable down your post and plug right into the jack on your battery mount. Never thought you'd have a use for that thing, did you?
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#5 TJ Williams

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Posted 14 March 2004 - 04:10 PM

Radio shack, I don't know where else to get this? has this plastic to plastic velcro stuff that is very strong I've mounted our AJA downconverter under the tape door with two strips (the stuff comes in a little plastic box of strips) You have to take it off with a lever. I use a small thin screwdriver with chamois wrapped around it. I've used this for transmitter, downconverter, even a little lcd, for several years and never had anything come off during a shot.
TJ
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#6 Mitch Gross

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Posted 14 March 2004 - 04:35 PM

TJ, I think the stuff you're talking about is a #M product. It's generally available at Home Depot and elsewhere. It's well-known to anyone on the East Coast with an EZ-Pass medalion in their car, as this is what is used to attach it to your windshield. Think of the material as hard plastic rods that is like the hard side (hook) of Velcro but is hard on both parts. Very strong and solid.
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#7 WillArnot

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Posted 15 March 2004 - 01:38 AM

It's called 'super velcro', and it is a hard connection like that of Lego.
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#8 Anthony Hardwick

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Posted 15 March 2004 - 12:08 PM

Marine Supply stores also carry a waterproof 3M product that is not velcro, but more like velcro on steroids. Maybe this is what you guys are refering to? It's called "Dual Lock," and here's the description of this stuff:

3M? Dual Lock? Reclosable Fasteners have been used extensively in transportation, electronics, business equipment, machinery, medical and sign and display markets. When the mushroom-shaped stems interlock, tensile strength is high enough to replace mechanical fasteners in many applications, yet you can readily open and close Dual Lock fasteners hundreds of times. High temperature and solvent resistant. Black, polyproplyene reclosable fastener with a VHB? Tape pressure sensitive 400 stems per square inch.

Here's a link to the 3M website section on it. Unfortunately there isn't a very good picture of it.
http://products3.3m....ler/output_html

The adhesive on the back is waterproof, and the fastener is really strong. I use it to mount a fish finder/depth finder to the top of my kayak. Coming back in through the surf and getting crashed by waves multiple times has not yet caused me to lose the unit.
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#9 Michael Stumpf

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Posted 15 March 2004 - 04:25 PM

Well, well, thanks guys, but I was just undercut by a newbie whose really a 2nd AC so I won't be doing the job anyway.

When the "UPM" called me and told me they (director from Japan) wanted to use xxxxx xxxxx, a guy the director had used before, I quickly looked him up only to find he's a second assistant.

When I asked the "UPM" if they're really going with this guy because he offered to do the job for less money, she just replied with an uncomfortable type giggle.

I let her know she might want to ask for a resume, then do some research or call for references on this guy because he is most likely misrepresenting his experience, and they might not be getting what they want or expect.

She pretty much said, "okay, thanks"

When will companies learn they get what they pay for?
And when will newbies learn, they won't get far and win friends/collegues by undercutting?
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#10 Mitch Gross

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Posted 15 March 2004 - 09:37 PM

Marine Supply stores also carry a waterproof 3M product that is not velcro, but more like velcro on steroids. Maybe this is what you guys are refering to? It's called "Dual Lock," and here's the description of this stuff:

3M? Dual Lock? Reclosable Fasteners have been used extensively in transportation, electronics, business equipment, machinery, medical and sign and display markets. When the mushroom-shaped stems interlock, tensile strength is high enough to replace mechanical fasteners in many applications, yet you can readily open and close Dual Lock fasteners hundreds of times. High temperature and solvent resistant. Black, polyproplyene reclosable fastener with a VHB? Tape pressure sensitive 400 stems per square inch.

Here's a link to the 3M website section on it. Unfortunately there isn't a very good picture of it.
http://products3.3m....ler/output_html

The adhesive on the back is waterproof, and the fastener is really strong. I use it to mount a fish finder/depth finder to the top of my kayak. Coming back in through the surf and getting crashed by waves multiple times has not yet caused me to lose the unit.

3M Dual Lock is the fastner I referred to as being used on EZPass medalions. Super strong stuff. When the Velcro eventually wears away again on my Modulus I'll probably switch over to the Dual Lock.
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#11 David Allen Grove

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Posted 18 March 2004 - 04:22 PM

Well, well, thanks guys, but I was just undercut by a newbie whose really a 2nd AC so I won't be doing the job anyway.


I know this has been brought up before but has anyone actually looked into union Steadicam operators getting a bump in pay. People in other classifications in the union get bumps for doing certain tasks and with the way things are going, it seems that many steadicam operators are operating steadicam for scale.
Lets all try and make Steadicam special again and make the producers pay for it.. I mean, really pay for it!

Also, I was just browsing through the archives and found this older thread from 2000 having to do with rates. These will give you something to think about the next time you get a call for work... (hope the following posters don't mind me quoting them!) :)
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"How do you feel about the rates you're getting? Do you feel there is too much Throat Cutting where you work and reside? Do you feel the employers are being unreasonable in your area? Are you being threatened into lower rates with talk of taking the work elsewhere or to another operator who is cheaper? Have other operators undercut you just to get the job? How do you feel about it when they do? What do you feel a Steadicam Operator should make and what should he get for his rig? Do you think experience should factor into this or should everyone make the same rate?"
Dan Kneece

"I recently operated, for a week, on a show which a 10+ year, well respected operator has been on and is still their first call. He has the option to leave the show for another call because of the working relationship he has developed with them. If they don't schedule him in time for their steadicam days for the week, he may not be available.
When I got the call and I was asked my rate, I asked what their regular operator was getting. The rate was good enough that there was room for them to negotiate with me and still be a very good rate. I simply matched his rate so as not to undercut him.
I have not been operating for 10+ years but this I felt was the way to handle things. He is still their first call and I am now their second.
Let's do our best to keep stability in our rates before we all are working for less. Let them call the operator for the job not the rate."

Jody Miller

This issue comes up from time to time. I've been doing this for over 15
years and it hasn't changed. This a free enterprise country and the law of
supply and demand is in full effect. There are more Steadicam operators than
ever and more rigs of all types and conditions floating around. There will
always be hungry new people willing to work for less to get the job and high
level productions willing to pay for the experienced well equipped operator.
There is not much anyone can do to change that. The unions prescribe minumum
rates for operators on different level of union jobs, but the equipment is
open for negotiation. For non-union it's all open to negotiate. I do think
it is a good idea for all operators to know what all others are charging.
Then you can see if you are too low or too high compared to the norm. Of
course there are lots of different factors that enter into what a fair rate
is. Even the rental houses negotiate on what they charge. I myself vary my
rate with the type of project with corporate/industrial video at the low end
and national 35mm commercials at the top.
I have lost jobs to low ballers and also to politics. Probably lost more
because so-and-so wanted a specific operator. I have no problem with that
except when they lie about it. I was booked on a job once and they called
back a few days before the job to cancel saying they had decided not to use
Steadicam. We have all heard this before, couldn't fit it in the budget, but
this was a huge national spot. Later I saw mention on the aol board of
another operator having done the job. That really pissed me off. I had no
malice towards the other operator, but to be lied to by the commercial people
really made me mad.
As far as someone undercutting goes, as long as they give me the
opportunity to meet the lower price, I have no problem. If I'm hungry and
haven't had much work I might do it. If not then more power to the other
guy. But if they book me and then turn around and give the job to another
guy with out giving me the chance to meet the lower price, then I don't think
that's fair.
"That's just my opinion... I could be wrong."
David McGill
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#12 Scott Klepetar

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Posted 26 February 2005 - 01:26 AM

Ok guys a quick call for help. I am currently out in the British West Indies shooting 2 films. First one is 35 and the second one was supposed to be. I just has the DP for the second film come up to me asking about Prices for converter rentals for HD. We may be making the switch to shooting that even though none of us want to. Can any one give me any names and prices of converters? I would greatly appreciate it. Also any help or tips for HD please feel free to send them my way. We will be shooting for about 15 days so or about 3-4 weeks of rental on the converter. Please send E-mails because the internet here goes up and down . Scottklepetar@sbcglobal.net .


Scott
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#13 AdamKeith

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Posted 21 August 2005 - 08:16 PM

I am looking for a HD Digital Downconverter for Steadicam and while I am at it I also need one for a Jib Monitor. Someone recomended a AJA Model HD10MD3 for the Steadicam. Any one use this product? Any recomendations?

Thanks
Adam Keith
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