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Zoom control for Steadicam


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#1 Ben Fisher

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Posted 17 August 2004 - 06:23 PM

Hello All,

We are beginning the development of ?zoom handle? for use on Steadicam?s and the like. Rather than keeping hush-hush about this development we think that this product would benefit from input from every operator at every level.

After a suitable period & hopefully plenty of input we will publish a shortlist of designs (probably in the form of preliminary CAD drawings) on our site and invite pot-shots at them (on this forum). This will be followed by prototypes and open field testing (perhaps six prototype units) by whoever would like to.

So no matter how outlandish (or obvious) your ideas, comments and criticisms are, please feel free to make them here. I have a sheet of blank paper?.

Ben
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#2 ChadPersons

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Posted 18 August 2004 - 12:18 AM

I'm not a very technical guy but I am interested in a zoom handle if you develop one. I just started my third season on the West Wing and was suprised to find out that we switched to 16mm. It's kinda cool now that I'm getting use to it. I fly the 8-64mm zoom all the time now and have recently put thought into having a zoom control hook up. If you get it going let me know. Paul Sommers, on Cold Case, said there is already some sort of zoom control I could get but I haven't seen it yet. Anyway, keep me in mind.

Chad Persons
Chad_Persons@yahoo.com
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#3 Ben Fisher

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Posted 18 August 2004 - 05:02 AM

Thanks Chad,

If you can find out a little more infomation on the device Paul Sommers mentioned it would be useful.

I also got this via email:

"Hello, I own and operate a EFP Steadicam. I work mostly live TV. I always have a J-7 on the rig. With the EFP a cable runs from the J-7 to the JBOX then either a Canon or Fuji "Jumper" to the camera. I would suggest one thin cable or even better wireless. The other thing I wish the J-7 had was a zoom speed control instead of using the speed the camera was set at."

Wireless is definatley feasible - the two possible down sides are:
[1] battery powered zoom handle (although battery life could be 12 months)
[2] obviously some sort of small receiver unit

Please keep the comments coming.
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#4 TJ Williams

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Posted 18 August 2004 - 10:02 AM

.Ben...
1. very small and light, yet easy to reach the zoom control.
2. Positive in it's start stop similiar to the remote handle from Canon which has a thumb tilt rather than like control on the lense which you can press down quite a bit before the zoom starts, thus making it hard to start a zoom on cue.
3. Most operators have Bartech, Preston, and a few of the older Seitz etc.
There are also some new systems it would be nice if your unit was wireless and sent to the receivers and motors of systems already owned for film use.
4. Since zeiss, fuji,and canon all have differences in the zoom drive and there are also some differences between the drives on older lenses and newer, and since there are several types of connectors push in slotted, bayonet small bayonet etc it will be good if your unit addresses al of them.
5. includng focus if possible makes sense if the operator is doing a one man band type thing. Otherwise the assistant can zoom for me, which on the Preston gives them a feed back so their zoom is exact and repeatable.

TJ
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#5 RonBaldwin

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Posted 18 August 2004 - 10:55 AM

I think Preston has had one for a while. Attatches to the gimbal handle (same little red button as their micro-force). I'm not sure if this goes straight to the motor or through some break-out box/amp doo-hicky.

Ron B
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#6 Ben Fisher

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Posted 18 August 2004 - 11:03 AM

This is quite interesting - do people prefer the the pressure sensitive zoom type (as used by Preston, Scorpio and our BENZ systems), front-back rocker types (all video lenses) or left-right rocker types (J7, Zoe, Canon zoom demands, etc..)?
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#7 RobVanGelder

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Posted 18 August 2004 - 11:43 AM

With my Preston I would prefer a pressure sensitive knob à la Microforce, but smaller and plugging directly into the control port of the MDR-1 (the white ringed port)
It should not interfere with remote controlled focus/iris of course.
You need to make it compatible with the MDR-2 as well, probably different from the MDR-1.

But it could have an additional on/off switch, or maybe not as that would interfere with the selected state on the hand unit. forget that!


Rob van Gelder, Bangkok, Thailand
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#8 Gus Trivino

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Posted 18 August 2004 - 11:49 AM

Hi Ben,

I sent you an e-mail.
Please check that.
Best,

Gus
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#9 Benjamin Treplin

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Posted 18 August 2004 - 11:59 AM

The Preston steadicam zoom is a modified digital microforce. The ?Chinese head? red button got it?s own housing with a clamp for the gimbal joke. It is connected via a very thin cable to the electronic housing which powers the motor and has all the buttons, speed wheel and the red LEDs. I used it once and there is definitely a learning curve with the pressure sensitive head. It takes a bit to isolate your body motion from the thumb that is zooming.
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#10 Ben Fisher

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Posted 18 August 2004 - 12:11 PM

Thank you Gus - see my email reply.

Point 5 of TJ's post made me think - would an on screen display of zoom posistion be useful? The data to do this available on most modern video lens's and certainly can be calculated if a digital motor (Preston, Scorpio, Heden M26VE) is used or an analog tacho motor with pot feedback (Heden M26PT, M28VPT, M32PT). Perhaps a clutter/de-clutter button for toggling layered infomation?

I noticed that Scorpio use a small wired 'chinese hat' style control for their gimbal mounted zoom demand? Do people prefer the force-stick type of zoom to rockers?
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#11 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 18 August 2004 - 05:25 PM

I know Jim Bartell has been working on a zoom control called BUZ as well, so there are a lot more options out there now than there used to be.
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#12 Ben Fisher

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Posted 19 August 2004 - 05:07 AM

I searched the forum archives and found Jim working on the BUZ in December 2000, and mention of PCB's over a year ago also BUZ's available for sale in March this year (according to the Bartech Engineering website). So I'm sure that Bartech is ready to launch?

We on the other hand have just started this development and are someway from launch.

Find below a list of other zoom controls, please suggest more:

ZIF-100 by Vocas
DLC-01 by Denz
Microforce by Preston Cinema
Z/F by Stanton Video (aka Jimmy Jib)

Then there are the dedicated zoom demand offerings by Canon, Fujinon and Angeniuex.

Please keep posting the suggestions & comments. Especially interested to find out if people like the force sensitive zoom (ala Microforce) or the rocker type????
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#13 JimBartell

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Posted 19 August 2004 - 12:07 PM

I searched the forum archives and found Jim working on the BUZ in December 2000, and mention of PCB's over a year ago also BUZ's available for sale in March this year (according to the Bartech Engineering website). So I'm sure that Bartech is ready to launch?

As a matter of fact, you are right. There were three versions of PC boards made, an original version which had numerous problems and so never made it into the field, a second version that were screwed up in manufacturing, and a third version which has been in the field being tested for the last two months. Many thanks to Nick Franco, Brad Olander, Alec Jarnagin and Mitch Gross for their invaluable input.

The good news is, the design is finished, complete, done! I will be laying out the circuit boards over the next few days. The really good news is that:

1. It will be able to drive either focus or zoom motors, but the minimum speed with zooms is much lower.

2. It is much smaller than the field test version. For those of you who saw the field test version at Colin Hudson's housewarming party, the production version will be about one third the size and weight.

3. The price has come way down. The electronics box will be under $500 and the control handle will be under $200. The basic unit will be J-7 compatible and a Zoe compatible version will be available.

I will be putting the final versions of the electronics box into field test in about 3 weeks. The original version of the control handle should follow very shortly thereafter.

Sorry this took so long. Building BFD's takes up a lot of my time.

Jim "chaining myself to the laptop" Bartell
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#14 JasonMcKelvey

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Posted 19 August 2004 - 10:10 PM

Benjamin wrote about microforce

It takes a bit to isolate your body motion from the thumb that is zooming.


I've found that the rotating zoom control like on the newer canon and fuji lenses is nice because you can use the stationary part of the controller as a point of reference to the rotating ring by putting your thumb half on the zoom ring and half on the handle. Doing this, once you find the speed you like, you can squeeze it hard and the speed won't change no matter what manouvers you do. With the microforce, you can't feel very well how much force you are using... it's based soley on the pressure of your thumb with no point of reference. I would image that while trying to boom down, it would be difficult to keep from applying force to your thumb. Like someone else said, I have also found the front to back lens zoom style to have iffy response.

My opinions,
J
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#15 Mitch Gross

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Posted 19 August 2004 - 11:19 PM

The good news is, the design is finished, complete, done! I will be laying out the circuit boards over the next few days.

Aww Jim, you let him pull it out of you! So much for double-secret probation! I thought we needed the secret decoder ring to talk about it.

Spendin' too much time in my Cone Of Silence.
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