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#1 Brian W. Hall

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Posted 10 October 2007 - 05:33 PM

Hello everyone. I got a last minute call to do some steadicam tommorow and part of the shoot requires low mode. I'm nervous because A. I've never done low mode and B. I'm not sure I'll be able to get low mode setup properly without a cage.

first of all, can i set up my MK-v rig in low mode by attaching my dovetail plate to the top screws on the handle? It will be an SDX900. The shot is a slow walking shot so it shouldnt be getting too much stress.

Secondly, if that doesnt work, does the old 'flip it in post' method work? Can i simply slide my gimbal down the post and flip the rig? Any major disadvantages in doing that? My monitor can flip the image for myself but will this freak out the EP's too much?

I appreciate the quick responses.

Thirdly, if anyone has a low mode bracket that will work on an SDX900 and you're near hollywood let me know. I would need it tonight (Wednesday Oct 10).

THANKS!


Brian
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#2 Jeff Muhlstock SOC

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Posted 10 October 2007 - 06:17 PM

Flip it. That camera may even have an image flip switch in the menus like its big brother the Varicam has. Even if it doesn't, I always flip video instead of traditional low mode handle mounts or cages. In fact, I have turned film cameras upside down in a pinch before I had my MK-V. My old sled took to much time and never felt good in low mode so I would stay away from it. With my MK-V the 4 stage post is a breeze, 4 minutes to low mode! never a worry.
good luck, don't worry, "flip it in post" works just fine. Its a simple key stroke, don't let anyone tell you different.

Jeff
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#3 Mike McGowan SOC

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Posted 10 October 2007 - 07:52 PM

you can sometimes get away with, "flip it in post" but not always. also remember you need to flip it both horizontally and vertically. some camera men and or directors are cool with that but some aren't. another simple fix is to go to the hardware store and by 2 "u bolts" (the metal U with a nut on each end) and a piece of metal strapping (i think its a plumbing part but it's like a 6 or 8 inch long, 1 inch wide piece of metal with several holes in it). just 'u bolt' the strapping to the top handle and screw your plate into the strapping.

everybody has their own method of setting up low mode but i like to flip the camera over but keep the rig upright in the stand. get it balanced just like you would if the camera were right side up and then shorten your post until the drop goes from 4, 3, 2, 1, 0, -1, -2, -3, et and tweak the left to right and your good to go.

mm.
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#4 Rob Vuona SOC

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Posted 10 October 2007 - 09:27 PM

Hello everyone. I got a last minute call to do some steadicam tommorow and part of the shoot requires low mode. I'm nervous because A. I've never done low mode and B. I'm not sure I'll be able to get low mode setup properly without a cage.

first of all, can i set up my MK-v rig in low mode by attaching my dovetail plate to the top screws on the handle? It will be an SDX900. The shot is a slow walking shot so it shouldnt be getting too much stress.

Secondly, if that doesnt work, does the old 'flip it in post' method work? Can i simply slide my gimbal down the post and flip the rig? Any major disadvantages in doing that? My monitor can flip the image for myself but will this freak out the EP's too much?

I appreciate the quick responses.

Thirdly, if anyone has a low mode bracket that will work on an SDX900 and you're near hollywood let me know. I would need it tonight (Wednesday Oct 10).

THANKS!


Brian

----------------
Yo Brian,
I'm in Hollywood over at Renmar Studios Stage 6 and will be here unfortunately until at least 10pm . . . I have a low mode bracket if that's what you need, you are more than welcome to borrow it. My suggestion is do as the guru Mr. Muhlstock says flip it first fix it in in post, otherwise build it tonight, then build it again that way your comfortable tomorrow in front of the client. That camera is a very manageable weight so as much as I don't love low mode it very doable with that camera.

All the best

Rob "On a five minute break" Vuona
310-993-0667

Edited by Rob Vuona, 10 October 2007 - 09:28 PM.

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#5 Brian W. Hall

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Posted 10 October 2007 - 11:06 PM

Thanks so much for the quick responses. Rob, thanks for the offer , I think I'm going to go ahead and do the flip. I cant wait to explain it to the director but I'm going to be confident and just explain that 'thats how its done'. Thanks again, I'll let you know how it goes.

Brian
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#6 Rob Vuona SOC

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Posted 10 October 2007 - 11:36 PM

Thanks so much for the quick responses. Rob, thanks for the offer , I think I'm going to go ahead and do the flip. I cant wait to explain it to the director but I'm going to be confident and just explain that 'thats how its done'. Thanks again, I'll let you know how it goes.

Brian

---------------
Tell him that's how Mr. Muhlstock does it ! . . .LOL . . . .
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#7 Charles Papert

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Posted 11 October 2007 - 03:27 PM

Hey Rob, will you be at Renmar on Saturday? Just heard I will be working over there on the Oval Office set.
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#8 Rob Vuona SOC

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Posted 12 October 2007 - 12:40 AM

Hey Rob, will you be at Renmar on Saturday? Just heard I will be working over there on the Oval Office set.

-----------
Hey Charles,
I was just over on that set five minutes ago . . . . .It's the smaller oval office set apparently . . .and the Translight is a duplication so beware of that through the windows . . . .way too funny that I actually know about that . . .

Ummm Oh ya . . . . . I won't be here tomorrow or Saturday thankfully . . .! , I got here at 10:30 this morning and yes we are still here shooting . . .

Maybe next time, I'll be over at Culver studios next week though . . .
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#9 Brian W. Hall

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Posted 12 October 2007 - 12:46 PM

Thanks to everyone for the great advice and quick responses. The shoot was a success! I ended up doing the flip it in post and there were no issues. Just to be safe the night before I practiced with the SDX and found out that I could mount the camera right side up by mounting my dovetail to the screws on top of the SDX handle. When I got to the shoot I told the director I could do either way but let them know it was a matter of 3 minutes and 15 minutes. She immedietly said 'lets do the flip it in post way". I kind of figured she was going to say that since the whole day was very tight on time. All in all it was a great day. One thing that I wasnt used to was how quickly they wanted to move things along. For example I would do a long walking shot down a sidewalk, across a street, back on the sidewalk and while it looked good I still felt that I could have done it better or that we could have tried to iris down somewhere in the middle of it. I would ask the DP "do you think it got a little dark towards the end there?", and he said "its fine". Since everyone had monitors I trusted that they got what they needed and I shouldnt worry about it. Anyone else battle with those kind of concerns?

Brian
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#10 Charles Papert

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Posted 12 October 2007 - 01:17 PM

When I got to the shoot I told the director I could do either way but let them know it was a matter of 3 minutes and 15 minutes.


Try to get those numbers down Brian--with modern rigs it should take half that time for either configuration.

Regarding your iris concerns, while it's great to bring that sort of thing up with the DP (lets them know you have your head in the game), it's 100% their concern. If it was day exterior, I always have an iris motor mounted up and ready to go so that if the DP decides last-minute that he wants to do an iris pull, there is no time penalty involved.
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#11 Jess Haas SOC

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Posted 12 October 2007 - 01:32 PM

Try to get those numbers down Brian--with modern rigs it should take half that time for either configuration.

Just because it should take half that time doesn't mean that he should be telling the AD/director/DP that it will take half that time...

You need to add in a little extra time so you don't look bad when shit hits the fan or something that is not your fault holds you up. If you say 15 minutes and get done in 7 you look good. If you say 3 and get it done in 7 because the DP wanted to talk to you about the next setup while you were working on your rig you look bad. Of course if you over estimate and then other things aren't ready when you are because of it you will look bad.....

I was working on a film once where no matter what time estimate I would give the AD should would ask me to do it in half. If I said 10 minutes she said 5, 20 she said 10, etc... One time she let up a little and when I said something would take 20 she asked "can you do it in 10?" My response was "of course; I have been doubling all of my estimates just for you." Interestingly she stopped cutting my estimates in half and started accepting the estimates I gave. She was even happy about it since I was still getting things done faster than estimated and it was saving time for her to not half to cut all of my estimates in half :-)

~Jess
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#12 Jess Haas SOC

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Posted 12 October 2007 - 01:44 PM

I would ask the DP "do you think it got a little dark towards the end there?", and he said "its fine". Since everyone had monitors I trusted that they got what they needed and I shouldnt worry about it. Anyone else battle with those kind of concerns?

Brian

While it is important to make sure that your work looks good sometimes you just have to give up and go with the flow. If it is good enough for the DP and the director, even if it looks like total crap, then sometimes it just needs to be good enough. I gaffed a few very low budget features a while back where a lot of the lighting was very sub par. There were a lot of things we should have been doing to make it look better but the bottom line was we didn't have the crew or the time to get it done. The director was happy and the DP was happy so I was happy. Yes some things looked like shit, but I was getting paid to get the job done the way they wanted it done, not to hold up production.

Of course I hope that no one who is thinking about hiring me ever watches some of those films.....

Sometimes you do need to take a stand and insist on another take even when the DP and Director think it was good. If you have to fight for it then make sure you only do it those times when they are going to thank you for it later or you might not get hired again.....

~Jess
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#13 Brian W. Hall

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Posted 12 October 2007 - 02:07 PM

Charles, I was in fact buffering the times a little bit, but I hear what you're saying as well. I actually did the flip in about 20 seconds while on my arm when they had a last minute shot they wanted in low mode. Sometimes it seems that directors ask you if you're ready at the half way point anyway. For example if I said 3 mins they would start asking at 1.5 minutes when I was ready.
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#14 Charles Papert

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Posted 13 October 2007 - 09:29 AM

Guys:

Just because in the low budget world AD's and directors get all hand-wringy about how long it takes to do certain things doesn't mean you have to accomodate them. The flip to low mode is one of those things that is often misunderstood and a source of way too much discussion, especially in the low-budget world. How many times over the years have I have been asked "how long to go to low-mode" and even when they are told "7 minutes" (and unless there are unusual complications with the camera setup, that is the estimate I give and know I can hit) there may follow a 4 minute discussion of whether they can take that time or not. Another thing is that while many directors and DP's like to cheerfully chirp out "go to low-mode!" there are many occasions where they don't really understand whether a shot calls for it or not. I will generally ask what the shot is and where they would like the lens, and a surprising amount of the time it's not actually a low-mode shot after all (where if you have converted, you end up with your longest arm post and the rig boomed up way over your head, or standing on an apple box or some foolishness like that).

Finally, an AD that thinks time estimates can arbitrarily halved is one that has not learned their craft from the right people. It's been a while since I've come up against that bit of business but the last time I did, I pulled them aside at the first opportunity for a little discussion and that was that.
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#15 Alec Jarnagin SOC

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Posted 13 October 2007 - 11:18 AM

In the world of episodic, time and page count are what dictates almost everything. For the most part, the ADs are seasoned veterans who know their craft. In many scenarios, they don't even ask for a time estimate - they merely throw numbers at the director based on their experience. This is in part not to distract you from task at hand and also their way of telling you/the DP/whoever that they have a certain amount of time. Obviously, they ask you for estimates when unusual things pop up, but in this day and age "going to low mode" is like reloading a camera - the AD has seen it done a million times and just knows how long it should take. If I were to borrow the "miracle worker" rule form Star Trek's Scotty and double my estimate to look good when finished early and throw out a number like fifteen minutes, I'd be laughed at (and if I were new to the job, I'd risk making them think I was a hack). As for quality of work? When I was young and naive and I'd see a bad Steadicam shot on TV, I'd think "I could do better than that." Now I chuckle and feel for the operator because there are so often circumstances conspiring against you that make it impossible to always deliver your best work. I'll ask for another take if we are not in meal penalties, the actors are in a good mood and I feel that one more take will really push the shot to the next level. Otherwise, if the powers that be are happy.... Seriously, not trying to sound lazy or justify so-so work, I'm just saying that if you continually ask for another take, they will ignore you because they don't feel there is a problem. If you rarely ask, then they are almost certain to grant your request.

Reading this thread makes me smile though because there are times I miss working in more of an "arty" environment (i.e. indie films). Hearing these stories reminds me that the grass is always greener though. I remember being on some low budget indie once and the AD would to ask "how long" every-time the AC had to reload. I couldn't believe it. It made them look like a complete idiot.
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