Archive | December, 2013

Flycam Flujo: The Overhaul Pt. 1

27 Dec

Okay. Here’s some pics of what I’m dealing with:

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I bought a new socket block assembly. Obviously, this won’t quite fit. Real question is if I’m gonna have to take it to a machine shop. Update: the socket block itself is an almost identical copy of the new one I bought. Interesting, as it fits the new pin just as well as the old one.

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Pretty sure that all five conductors should be soldered to all five connections. But that’s just me.

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So. It looks like they put a board doing voltage regulation in the battery pack, off the back. They did put a voltage display in, which is cool but kind of pointless. But here’s what doesn’t make sense to me: why put this regulation so far upstream? Here it’s getting power straight from the batteries, yes, but then it’s going through one or two (three, in case of the J-box) connections, each of which is costing it voltage and amperage.

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Not terribly clean. Additionally, you might notice that the same wire colors are not present here. That’s a bit of an issue, too–who knows what cord is which, and going where? Wish I had taken a picture of the J-box beforehand–it was like a Skittles bag in there, even more colorful than what’s in the sled or the battery pack.

I think, at this point, I’m changing my original plan, and will go ahead and build it out in such a way that I can get 12/24v in one sled. It’s actually somewhat less complicated, somehow–part of it is that I’m using 5 conductors up the post, as opposed to the 12 of the previous design.

So far, I’ve removed all the components, reassigned connectors to what I want/need, and have removed logos (’cause why let people ask questions?).

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Flycam Flujo: The Proposal

24 Dec

In order to solve the problem of becoming an owner-operator for $5,000, I am getting the following equipment:

– SmallHD AC7 (LCD, not OLED)
– RedRock MicroRemote WEFF
– Nyrius HD Transmitter
– Flycam Flujo

I’m keeping track of my expenditures, and I think I’m going to be overbudget, but not by much. Here’s my reasoning:

– I have a SmallHD DP4, and am constantly impressed by their products and their support. The AC7 comes standard with HDMI, and I can add SDI capability to it in the future. Plus, when not on my rig, it will be a nice additional monitor.
– The RedRock is cheapest. Simply put. I’ve been reading some good and bad reviews of it, and as much as I would like to get a Bartech or Preston, the MicroRemote system interests me more. Plus, I like the idea of adding the MicroTape eventually.
– I found the Nyrius a while back, and have been wanting to try it out. I’ve since seen some reviews of people using it, and honestly, I’m just looking to get on that bandwagon before anyone else.
– The bones are there, and it’s pretty cheap.

The aforementioned student who bought the Flujo is going to sell it to me for $1100, which is considerably less than he paid for it (once you include shipping.) The best part is, he’s got a set of spare parts, which is letting me tear into it without completely destroying the system (yet) so I at least for now have a functional rig, and then a set of options for adapting.

Next post: the overhaul.

Flycam Flujo – The Problem

24 Dec

I took a Tiffen workshop in 2009 to become a “certified” Steadicam operator. I was bit by the bug then–it seemed to combine my favorite parts of work and film (engineering and camera) and completely changed the way I thought about camera movement in a 3D space or environment. Now, almost five years later, I’ve been aching to get a rig of my own, so I can start operating as a freelancer in the area.

When I looked around, I found that I would be the only Steadicam owner-operator local to the Virginia Beach area. This presents me with some interesting issues. Firstly, is there even a market out here for that? It’s a fairly small and young video market, and Steadicam may be a bit above the milieu so far. B) how could I make myself more marketable and important to an area that doesn’t have any competition at all? And ultimately, how can I keep my costs low to begin with? A smaller overhead lets me charge a lower day-rate starting out, which means I don’t have to be stuck with a huge investment in case there, in fact, is not a market out here.

In the 2.5 years so far of graduate school, where I’ve actually been teaching Steadicam basics to students using a Glidecam X-22 (kill me) and used said rig for a couple of shoots, I had come across an oddity: one student with a credit card and a lack of inhibitions had bought a whole Indian-knockoff setup on eBay–for about $3,000 received a DSLR rail system & mattebox, a monitor, and a “steadycam” rig that, according to different websites, could hold between 6kg and 22kg (13-48 lbs.) which seems entirely too good to be true. But, being the “Steadicam teacher”, I agreed to help him do an initial setup.

When I pulled the long, slender cases open, I was shocked by the quality of what I saw. There was quite a bit of “modularity” in it, most things were metal or carbon fiber, the connectors looked like actual LEMO’s, and the vest had a clasp-like system (much better than the velcro thing that Glidecam has going for it.) We rigged it up, and that’s when the problems arose–hooking up a JVC HM-700u camera to the power showed 12v for ’bout 2 seconds, and then nothing. The post cables consisted of two straight cables (which, coming from Glidecam, I already know is a huge problem), one a simple HDMI female-to-male, the other a 12-pin LEMO that connected the base to the J-box. As soon as I put an Anton Bauer Hytron 150, the bottom box fell right off the sled!

BUT! for all its problems, the bones are there. I’ve used it twice now, once flying a RED Epic with Schneider-Krueznach Cine-Xenar III’s, and once with a RED Scarlet and the 18-85mm lens (NOT a lens for Steadicam) and I’ve been pretty optimistic about the rig. And, as time has worn on, I am just ready to be on the market. I would love to get a Steadicam Zephyr to start off, but that’s $10,000 for just a rig–a wireless follow-focus, any wireless monitoring, etc. would be extra. If there’s no market here, then what would I do but sell that rig for a small loss and suffer the psychological effects of failure?

So, the problem is this: get a Steadicam-type rig, with the appropriate accessories, for a decent price (I figured a $5,000 24-month loan would make my payments about $300 a month, which is pretty low for Steadicam equipment rental) and start acting as an owner-operator.

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