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Audio Tethering


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#1 Alfeo Dixon SOC

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Posted 21 June 2008 - 01:21 AM

Hey walls,

Just wondering what options are out there for letting the Audio guys hook up to the HD cameras?

The current solution I have worked out with the recordist, insisting that once one cable is connected, then one other surely wouldn't hurt... blah blah blah!!!

He gave me a Cat5 as a jumper (Left, Right, audio monitor and return monitor) in between two small boxes. One Velcro'd to the vest the other to the camera.


-Alfeo

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Edited by Alfeo Dixon, 21 June 2008 - 01:29 AM.

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#2 Charles Papert

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Posted 21 June 2008 - 12:56 PM

picture didn't come through on my computer Alfeo.

Have you found flexible CAT5? That stuff is usually really stiff.
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#3 Alfeo Dixon SOC

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Posted 23 June 2008 - 11:05 AM

Ick! Don't have the picture anymore... will have to re-upload the monstrosity tomorrow when back on set.

The audio guy actually has a really soft one... even when cold. I'll have to get more info about it. It's working pretty well.

I drop a 3ft spaghetti thin BNC off the back of the camera and couple it to a regular 6' or 10' coiled off the back of the vest for the HD signal back to video village. Then run the Cat5 using the "Hill" method.

-Alfeo
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#4 Alfeo Dixon SOC

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Posted 01 August 2008 - 02:21 AM

Then run the Cat5 using the "Hill" method.



Oooops.... that would be the "Holway" method...

UPDATE: The audio guy gave me a nice gift yesterday... a new bundle with right angles and super flat Cat5 cable.

Have you found flexible CAT5? That stuff is usually really stiff.


Charles, this Cat5 he found is remarkably flexible and worked like a charm. We tested it yesterday and everything works great.

http://shop1.frys.co...CH:MAIN_RSLT_PG

I thought the other cable was flexible, but this is a hands down solution that is nearest to wireless. I may have to add this entire setup to my kit.

Pics here: http://gallery.me.com/alfeo1/100106

-Alfeo
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#5 Bob Woodhead

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Posted 01 August 2008 - 07:48 AM

Thanks for the detailed info Alfeo!
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#6 Alec Jarnagin SOC

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Posted 01 August 2008 - 06:27 PM

Alfeo,

"I thought the other cable was flexible, but this is a hands down solution that is nearest to wireless. I may have to add this entire setup to my kit."

With all due respect, there IS only one solution. Wireless. If they want it to be more foolproof then record a backup on something other than the camera (which is actually the best solution to begin with). By agreeing to fly cables you are screwing the next guy. Sorry to call you out mate, but that's the way I see it. To buy your own sound cables makes it even worse. Seriously - years of training, buying the best gear money can buy and then to piss it all away with cables when there are solutions is just a bad thing. Tell them "no." If they complain, explain it the way I just did. Its analogous to putting a $5 optical clear in front of a $20K lens. Use the right tools (get the quality optical clear). I should add that I'm a hypocrite because I routinely agree to flying one spaghetti cable for HD-SDI viewing so the DP can see the image in HD, but I do draw the line there. No more cables; nothing thinker (had that argument today with a teck who wanted to lose my "jumper" instead of adding an HD-SDI booster when the line got long and signal faded. I won.)

Just my opinion. Hope you're well my friend.
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#7 Alfeo Dixon SOC

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Posted 01 August 2008 - 07:12 PM

Alec,

With all due respect, the battle has been lost with our department heads and their neediness to hide in a dark room surrounded by the DIT's, 1st AC's and the Gaffer by their side. It's getting lonely out at the camera. I fight for wireless at every point and loose.

I'm eagerly awaiting to test the IDX's WEVI which I hoping to free my rig.

Just out of sheer agony I have considered to add this element into the kit so that I will have a solution that fits my needs and gives me the greater ability to operate the shot as it should be.

I'm sharing this information to help the next guy not get screwed.

-Alfeo
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#8 Afton Grant

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Posted 01 August 2008 - 09:49 PM

I've got to side with Alec on this one. Production needs to understand that by hiring a Steadicam, there will be a few small requirements from other departments as well, and those departments need to be informed. Whenever I get a call, I always STATE (not ask) that any audio must be wireless. It doesn't have to be a confrontational thing at all. It's usually just a friendly reminder or heads up that this is what is necessary for the Steadicam. It's usually in the same sentence as focus puller and spotter. Many productions already know, some don't, but since I've brought it up as one of the requirements in order for Steadi to operate properly, they're usually fine with it. Alec is correct, though. The ones that say, "Really? Well the last guy...." make me want to find that last guy and smack him in the forehead - not that I would ever hit you in the forehead. I might fear that by buying that little box and cable, you're now saying, "Hey, this is fine with me," instead of it not being an option in the first place. By stating it before the shoot also, you're covering your ass should you arrive to set and find them to be unprepared.

I too will fly a lightweight BNC for HD monitoring without much protest. I feel there's a difference, however. Even if, hypothetically, sound was able to get all they needed through a cable the size of a BNC, I still don't think I would like it. The video signal is my department. I don't mind it all that much - kind of like your own farts. In my experience, sound guys - and especially ones without wireless ability - are frequently tweaking, checking, asking for playback, and doing a bunch of things that, if attached to camera, would interfere with whatever I'm trying to do. I don't want to smell sound's farts I guess is what I'm saying.

Peace,
Afton
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#9 Emre Tufekci

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Posted 06 August 2008 - 07:31 AM

I have had success working with clients who will agree to run separate sound for tapeless HD projects. This Friday I will be using a HPX3000 with a HVX200 next to the sound guy. We just run a slate, mark it and match it in post. Because both the cameras record the same format and is clip based/non linear workflow it takes seconds to marry the sound and video in post. The HVX costs nothing to rent and I usually bring my own to make life easier for me.

I know this does not apply to all situations but with transition P2 or similar products it makes it a lot easier. Just my 2 cents.
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#10 Rich Cottrell

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Posted 30 August 2008 - 01:22 AM

Alec,
I have been offline for a while, but I have to stir this pot a bit. I mean no disrespect, but I do come from a different client base [live television for those who do not know me], so here is a different perspective on this topic

I disagree quite a bit here? All of my first steadicam gigs were wired shows so I come to this from a different background then you?

I am not sure what the job Alfeo was on, but my current take on wires off my rig is this:
If they [production] want/need to have wires off my rig, they are sacrificing quality, but if I am getting paid my full rate, I fly the rig as long as the wires do not pose a safety issue.

I do a bunch of TriX gigs, so I am used to being stuck on a wire. When/if a gig has RF audio problems, I am often ready for that dreaded wire to come calling my name?

While I have never had an audio guy offer up a Cat5, when I do Robotic Camera on Nascar events, they use Cat5 all the time to run microphones and intercoms over great distances. The wire is so cheep they throw thousands of feet of it away after the event.

The adapters that go from the Cat5 to XLR are so simple I would love to see an audio guy with this in HIS bag of tricks.
If you took the insulation off the Cat5 [which the audio person will have to do on the ends to put on the XLR adaptor], then you will have one super flexible solution. The cool this is they do not even solder these things on, the XLR has these three little binding posts and they just twist the wires on with thumb screws.

From an steadicam POV -- strictly based on Operating-- this could be a better solution to other hard wires. I say could because I have never tried it?

But back to your point of cost and screwing people?
The way I am thinking about this, the only thing that production would be cheeping out on is Audio Rentals. The mixer would still have his job, and so should the boom operator. Someone would also have the job of wrangling your cable.

I understand on ?big? shows many things are expected. My question is, if both a small show and a big show both pay your full steadicam rate and rental, but one of these shows wants/needs to hardwire audio for whatever reason [it is their show after all], why should they not get to make that decision?

There is always some risk of audio dropouts with anything RF, so if they put RF receivers on the camera, would they not be possibly sacrificing Audio over Steadi?

Why can they not decide to sacrifice Steadi over Audio?

If I am getting paid my full-rate and both me and my gear will be safe, then only one getting screwed is them, because they are paying 100% for something that will be less then 100% steadi.
I will have a harder day flying the rig and it will not look as good as it could, but I am not being screwed here? they are screwing themselves.

If another steadicam operator is stuck with the same situation the very next day, and they too are getting their full steadi-rate and rental, how are they getting screwed by this whole thing?
They are told, well Rich Cottrell did it yesterday, why can?t you?

Maybe the shot will not look great on their reel, but the client is still paying them 100% for steadicam. The client gets less then they could out of the steadicam, but the operator sill gets paid his or her full rate.

Wires make operating complicated, but so do stairs, cars, rain, ice, cold, heat, crowds, heavy cameras, long days, dogs, and children.

anyway that is my take as of 2am,
Rich

I forgot -- actors make operating complicated too!
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#11 Imran Naqvi

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Posted 30 August 2008 - 09:35 AM

I've had a job with a 750, where because the audio guy's ebay bought disk recorder died, I was asked to fly with a curly umbilical cable.

It was hell, what should have been a simple move took 18 takes because of that damn cable. Then again there were no other options, production didn't have the budget or the time to get something else out there and they weren't willing to pay for me to come back another day to reshoot the scene, so I gritted my teeth and we finally got 3 useable takes.

In the end I sort of agree with Rich, if production need it and they make the decision to compromise, should I walk away from the job?

I feel as long as you make it clear that you won't be doing your best work and it will probably require more takes to get what they want, then the end result is down to the person making the call.
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#12 Alec Jarnagin SOC

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Posted 30 August 2008 - 11:12 AM

Hey Rich - glad you brought this up again because I've been meaning to post an amusing follow up. A few weeks ago, I agreed to help out a focus puller I work with regularly who was DPing a short film on the RED. I show up for the Sunday night shoot and as I'm building, the audio guy starts to plug in...... I tell him no cables please and he says OK, but they have no other way to do it! I pull my DP friend aside and tell him the situation. Not good; I have images of Alfredo laughing at me in my head. I play the dick head card for a few minutes saying "I guess the scene is MOS," but I know that is not an option. Must say, the sound guys were very cool about it all; they had told the Producer we needed to go dual system (and that Rich is the best answer - not solely wireless to the camera in the event of RF) but they were told there was no money for that. I then pull the Producer aside and quietly read him the riot act (he is a good friend - a grip I work with all the time who decided to Produce this short).

In the end, I flew the damn cable & it was a pain, but we got the shots.

Rich, I don't really agree with the full rate argument. You are the specialist. Yes, at some level it is up to them, but they brought you in for a reason. If they were paying you your full rate and wanted you to wear a pink teddy.....

I should add that I know there are many budget levels in this industry and even more opinions. I'm not really trying to hold Alfredo's or Rich's feet to the fire as they have a right to their opinion. I just disagree with them - that's all. Maybe I'm being closed minded, etc. One can definitely go overboard in an effort to produce good results - I rarely ask for another take when the director and DP are happy even if I know I can do better because that can annoy the Producers, ADs, and actors (although I will on occasion...).
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#13 Robert Starling SOC

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Posted 30 August 2008 - 11:59 AM

A lot of my jobs are live television or live to tape via Triax and now Fiber cable; with custom lightweight jumpers I've learned to adapt and live with it. Early-on Peter Abraham recommended I have an ultra lightweight audio jumper made with three tiny tiny Mogami cables rather than one big one. It is a good solution on the days that RF isn't an option, working or available, but I don't offer or mention it unless that is the last and only choice, and at that point you're saving the day for everyone. I think we'd all prefer wireless in a perfect world.

I stole another idea from Kris Wilson; I call it "the lobster bib" and it's a piece of very thin slightly rubberized fabric that velcros to the bottom of my vest that I pull up over the buckles and knobs on the vest to help stop the video, audio and comm cables from catching on the knobs. Rob Vuona has a very slick wireless comm setup that I plan to copy and build up as soon as I get a little spare time.

Basically, once I'm operating and have my cable management sorted out, the cabling becomes pretty much transparent and I don't even think about it anymore. Obviously having a great Utility is a must. Doing live television has forced me to not only deal with cabling but also pulling my own focus and zoom at the same time; it isn't all that terrible once you get used to it.
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#14 RonBaldwin

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Posted 30 August 2008 - 01:52 PM

I still find it funny that we can send images to/from outer space yet can't send a decent picture to a monitor located a few yards away. Cables blow (and suck).

I rarely have to do it, but when I do it's a disaster. Maybe we need a steadicam class on running cables so there's no auto-pan.

rb
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#15 Charles Papert

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Posted 30 August 2008 - 02:20 PM

Baldwin, did you not see "Capricorn One" back in the day? Pictures from outer space, pshaww.

My feeling on this subject is that live television has its own MO, narrative-style production has a different one and a one-size-fits-all philosophy can't really be applied across the board. I've been sort of fascinated by the live broadcast subculture that has developed here on the Forum over the past year or two. It's sort of like the way all of Steadicam used to be, a little group of guys that all know each other on a first-name basis, have highly customized rigs and a particular style.

My feeling is that when shooting narrative/feature/episodic type stuff, audio cables are full-on BS. The workflow is fully realized for dual-system sound, that's the way it was done for years and there's no reason to change it now. I understand the advantage of having a scratch track for audio on camera, so I will accept a wireless or Comtek, but hardwiring two channels of audio plus a return for the type of job that up until a few years was always dual-system (mostly because it was film) is a bad idea. Cables are enough of an issue when one is shooting on the dolly, let alone handheld where they are an annoyance. In the case of Steadicam, they hobble the actual work and to do so simply because no-one bothered to think it through in advance is silly.

This comes up for me occasionally too (and as the audio on RED becomes more useable, I'm sure we'll see a lot more of it; many of the people using that camera have never even heard of a Nagra). "How is audio being recorded" is on my list of questions when I'm called for an HD job, along with what type of camera, which rental house, what lenses, accessories, anything unusual etc. If the answer is "in camera", I will start the discussion on this. Sometimes this sort of thing can be avoided, sometimes not, but the key is to get the discussion happening while there is still time to do something about it. Obviously there's not much you can do if you show up on the day and don't start the talk until the audio guy comes over and plugs in half an hour before you are due to roll.

There is a fine line here. It's a bit aggressive to put one's foot down and say "screw it, I'm not doing the shot with those cables on there" but if you cheerfully acquiesce, you are indeed setting the standard and the next guy won't have a chance in hell to make the argument that there will be a problem. At a certain point it becomes a political issue, not a technical one.
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