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Preston vs. Bartech - Politics

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#1 Dan Coplan

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Posted 31 July 2007 - 11:21 PM

Wondering what your feeling/experience is with crew's reaction to having a Bartech vs. a Preston. I have a Bartech. In my experience, I've never had an equipment problem with it. When coming to new sets and telling AC's what I have, most are totally cool with it, some hesitate for a moment but roll with it, and just recently the reaction was, "Sh_t!". I think mostly because this job I'm jumping on does a lot of switching from Steadi to studio to handheld and using the Preston as a base, makes the changes quicker. Makes sense. But there certainly seems to be a particular sentiment out there about it and admittedly, when I heard the AC's reaction I thought, "Great. He's already looking down on me because of my gear".

My feeling is I have equipment that's in perfect condition and it works so who cares. But people do care. I'm considering getting a Preston but only because of this peer pressure.

Along those lines, perfectly fine to get an older unit or is it really worth auctioning off organs to get the latest and greatest? Or do I maintain my current state of mind and stick with what I have?

Dan "Do I *Really* Have to Spend More Money?" Coplan
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#2 Erwin Landau

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Posted 31 July 2007 - 11:44 PM

At a certain point in your career you will have to bend and spend...

Meaning when you start getting your full day rate and there are Millions of $ spend a day and everybody is tens... and a little delay, screw ups, etc can cost you your job... yeah go ahead and spend.
If Production is paying you squad and the AC is giving you lip... kick him in the B***s and don't worry about it. I call my Follow Focus the most expensive piece of equipment that I never touch... If the AC can't pull with a BFD on a small budget show... Hell send him to Howard Preston.

At a certain point, yes you need to have it. You are not there yet.

Check the ICG magazine... David Emmerichs running balls out Handheld with a 235 and a BFD attached to it... can't be that bad for Michael Bay. On his rig yeah he has a Preston...

The BFD has it's place. So does the Preston. Not sure about the Scorpio and some other units...

Good Luck,

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#3 Louis Puli SOC

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Posted 01 August 2007 - 06:51 AM

Hi Everyone
There are 1st AC who just do a great job what ever the toys you have and there are #####1st AC who think they are gods gift to the world and bad mouth you to the DP after you have left . The latter happened to me on a job when I only had a BFD .The 1 st AC only wanted to work with a preston .
Lucky for me the DP is a friend of mine and is no longer using that 1st AC .
At this point in time I have both 3 BFD'S and a full Preston kit and love using both were needed.There have been many times on several films where the BFD'S have saved ass . Thanks Jim .

If I was to sell my Prestonwhat would I buy? I would have to say the C-motion system would be where I would spend my money.Great system .
Just my 2 cents

Louis Puli from down under B)
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#4 Robert Starling SOC

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Posted 01 August 2007 - 09:55 AM

Hey Dan, I understand how you feel; I've gotten the same vibe one or two times as well but my Bartech has always worked and one of those AC's who turned up his nose liked the Bartech enough to start asking questions about cost and how much HE could get in kit rental for it. Which brings about a good question:

Why is it that we're expected to bring ALL the kit to the circus? If the particular AC is so concerned with his or her focus system why don't they step up and make an investment in gear like we do, then wait to recoup their investment over the course of time? Obviously, rigs are a personal item for each operator but I can't think of hardly any other position on set where the crew has such a large investment in owned gear as we do? Maybe on big features or episodic TV there are other crew that have to invest as much or more? I don't know since that is not my world for now.

If you went to a Preston system what is your return on investment ratio compared to the Bartech? If you can theoretically get $150-175 a day rental for a Bartech, what can you get for a Preston ($250-275?) or is it just lumped into your kit rental like mine is? Could you up your kit rental and get it if you had a Preston? Are you losing jobs because you don't have a Preston or is it just a personal feeling or even a professional aspiration to have the same thing other ops have? It's a mix for me in all those areas but for now MY reality is the Bartech works, is reliable, great service and it fits my budget and the budgets of my clients. And I'm thankful to have it! As the stature/budget of my jobs grow, or if I get that big call and break into features or episodic one day and have an extra $10k-$20k around I might look at the Preston, or just buy another Bartech and put some money in the bank for a change.
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#5 Sean Jensen

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Posted 01 August 2007 - 10:54 PM

Hi Dan!

I've owned a Preston for ten years now. I love it and have never had a problem with it. My focus puller owns a Bartech. I love it too. We are on a show (almost all handheld) where we use both together. Bartech to the DP for iris pulls and the Preston to my AC for focus. Today we rotated a pola with the Bartech and did the iris pull with the Preston. When there is no iris pull we use only the Bartech for focus.

In short, both are great units. This AC who was a dick about your Bartech is a dick. It is a great piece of gear. When you visit the Bartech website look at the photos of the of the Ops who use this gear, be proud you own a reliable, state of the art, kick ass focus unit. If my focus puller didn't already own a Bartech I would buy ony myself.

That is all.

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#6 Matt Mouraud

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Posted 02 August 2007 - 06:31 AM

I was on a big commercial a while ago, and at prep day I met with the AC. She was great, very professionnal, but when I unpacked and she saw the Bartech she went like "what the hell is that ?"... So I asked her if that would be a problem, and she said that she was a little bit concerned because she'd never used one.
After the first take using it she came to me and said "I love it, it's great". We work a lot together now, and she's started recommending the Bartech to all her AC friends.
Where I live there is basically no need for a FIZ. The main rental house has a Scorpio that's collecting dust on a shelf. It's too expensive for the local budgets, and I guess our shots are not elaborate enough to require a FIZ ! :lol:
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#7 nealnorton


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Posted 02 August 2007 - 06:37 AM

The reason I replaced my Seitz system (long ago) was not because it didn't work. My first A/C and very good friend started asking if he could use the Preston System that the Motion control guys had on the set on my steadicam and the remote head.

I bought a Preston system right after that picture and have used FIZ ever since then.

I know other focus systems work very well. Bartech has a great reputation and I would be happy to have one if I wasn't already invested in Preston gear.

The real issue I think is that A/C's trust FIZ systems to be the best focus remote controls on the market. They truly depend on these things for continued employment.

I think you will be hurting yourself in the long run if the A/C's you work with feel like they are at any disadvantage on the job.

Calling an insecure focus puller a "Dick" will not be of any advantage to you in the long run. . .

Neal Norton
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#8 Charles Papert

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Posted 02 August 2007 - 01:34 PM

...unless his name is Dick, of course.

Neal makes a good point and one that could be elaborated on...it's always important to remember (especially as a dayplayer) that the assistant has the ear of the DP and can often be very influential on who is brought in to do Steadicam. It's not out of the question to finish a day all proud of how well you did and how much the DP liked you, yet somehow you never get another call to come in because it turns out that the AC didn't like something you said or did and told the DP negative things about you. That's just the way it is.

By the same token, many AC's will give preference to operators who has gear they find "AC friendly". This may start with the choice of follow focus, system and continue through to the overall condition and organization of the operator's setup including batterys/chargers and accessory cases.

Just as we as operators have to mold ourselves to the style of a given show, director, DP and actors, it's helpful to adopt the same approach with the AC's. Some are super-anal and others are very laid-back. Again, if you are a dayplayer, you are a guest on their show and they will be much more likely to give you the thumbs-up to the DP if you "fit in".
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#9 BJMcDonnell SOC

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Posted 02 August 2007 - 02:25 PM

Hey Dan,

I have to say that Jims service is also fantastic. If you are local and something on the bartech needs to be fixed, he will come down (at lunch break of course) and fix it on the spot. Top notch service Jim. I own a Preston and both the units are fantastic. Don't go dropping mad amounts of money just because some AC gives you shit about your gear. Both work great.

BJ McDonnell
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#10 Lawrence Karman

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Posted 03 August 2007 - 12:54 AM

I own both Bartech and Preston. Both work well, almost always flawlessly. I've had problems with both. Sometimes the Preston has worked better with certain lens/camera combinations with my camera plates and rods.Sometimes the Bartech is just the right thing for the weight factor, or the convenience of passing off the iris to the DP or 2nd AC. (Preston has since made a wireless single channel unit to do just that). I know many big time 1st ACs that own Bartechs (including the one pictured running with Dave Emerichs in that picture from Transformers) and have used them to great success. So the attitude you got from that AC is really unfair. That being said, at this point in your carreer, you can't afford to lose jobs because some one didn't like your equipment. One bad word to the DP behind your back is all it takes sometimes to not get called back. Save up for a Preston and get in line to get one. You won't regret it.
And for those that think the equipment investment is too much for the return, I beg to differ. Considering the 100 day payback formula that is sort of the industry standard, it's right in line. Insist on a fair rate for your gear and you can afforf to get the best.
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#11 RonBaldwin


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Posted 03 August 2007 - 03:00 AM

I was going to buy a pro arm soon after it was first released. I was at GPI talking to George about it and he asked if I owned a preston. I didn't. He said to get that first, it was more important to have the fiz to get the better jobs. I always admired him for that advice as I was ready to write him a $20k check. This was before the bfd and is not meant as a slam to Jim, just to give an example of how important certain pieces of gear are to have. That being said, I own a bfd along with my preston and like both very well.

Assistants have alot to do with who works. They are often the ones to give names/recommendations to dp's. If a dp says to his assistant "hey budday, call operator X for this friday." The ac might think to himself "that uncle-f**ker's gear sucks, but I know someone else who I'd rather work with." So he tells the dp that op X is not available and calls his guy. It's not always like this, but I know it is sometimes.

Ron B
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#12 Sean Jensen

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Posted 03 August 2007 - 06:47 AM

Hello again.

"Calling an insecure focus puller a "Dick" will not be of any advantage to you in the long run. . . "

Neal, I would never suggest calling anyone who treats you disrespectfully a name. That would be stupid. Sometimes my inner monologue escapes to the computer. That being said, an insecure focus puller, who could have a direct effect on one's career, who is behaving and speaking rudely, might be thought of as a...

When I got my first big rig, used, it came with a Seitz. A focus puller on a TV movie wouldn't listen to me when I was explaining how to set up the Seitz. He said he knew and brushed me off. Twenty minutes later when the DP asked what the hold up was the focus puller said he was working with "an archaic piece of s#@t", right in front of me. I then asked him, in front of the DP, if he now would listen to how it was set up properly. We were ready to go in less than a minute. Oh yeah, he also refered to the SR3 (just new on the market at the time) we were working with as a "Nazi f_ck camera". To me, this qualifies as "Dick". I didn't call him that, of course. I never worked with him again and the DP called me several times for work after that. Insecurity or being unfamilliar with gear is no excuse for being so rude.

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#13 JobScholtze


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Posted 03 August 2007 - 11:35 AM

The easyest way to cover up your screwups is to blame the equipment. Prefer other people's stuff. That happends anyware. So i stick with the setup while he loads up the ff. If he starts to be arrogant about it, i just take it back from him and give him 2 options. Or i build it for him, or he provides the set. Then i'll show him how it works within 2 seconds. Makes him look like an ars. Happend ones, now he is so nice to me. Hence, he still calls me for work.
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#14 JimBartell


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Posted 03 August 2007 - 12:42 PM

Might I suggest an approach to take when this situation arises? Tell the 1AC that it is in his best interests to learn to operate as many types of FF's as possible since he will never know what he is going to be presented with and he doesn't want to be perceived as a prima donna who can only work with a limited type of equipment. And that the BFD is owned and operated by some of the top 1AC's in Hollywood and if he wants to achieve that level of reputation it is in his own best interests to learn how to use every piece of equipment he can.

And that way he'll get so rich he can buy his own damn FF.

OK, you might skip that last part.

Funny story, I met an operator working as a product demonstrator for Sachtler at NAB a few years ago who poo-poo'd the BFD when I asked him about it (he didn't know who I was). This year at Cine Gear he was demonstrating only two booths away . He came by, tried it, and ordered one on the spot.

Jim "always a diplomat" Bartell

Edited by JimBartell, 03 August 2007 - 12:47 PM.

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#15 Rich Cottrell

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Posted 03 August 2007 - 12:58 PM

I am not in the feature world, but what I do now, is I keep an extra copy of the BFD manual in my kit. It is only a few pages, so it fits behind the lid foam in my FF pelican case.

If the AC has not used the BFD before, while I show him/her how it works, I tell them I will give them ?my copy? of the manual so they can add it to their stuff if they ever get a gig with the BFD again.
Then I just print out another copy from the internet.

On my last gig, the AC came back the next day knowing more about the BFD then I did because he memorized the manual!

I wish all manufactures put their manuals on the web.
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