Thursday, June 27, 2013

Alexa Update

   I posted last year about some problems regarding the Alexa that I was having on a show (I would link to the post, but the internet here is slow because the entire crew is on it, so just look it up). In short, we were shooting on mostly zooms, with the 15 mil rods and were having a nightmare getting the bumps out. Shots that I would not have hesitated to do without skates on a Panaflex were showing bumps and shimmies like we were on a dirt road instead of track. We tried wedging under the lens, skate wheels bracing the arm, everything, yet the bumps still showed. We finally switched to 19mm rods and that cut out 75% of the problem, but I was still having to wedge under the lens. The problem is the 4" footprint of the baseplate and not much supporting the rest of the camera. Since this post, I've gotten phone calls and emails from many dolly grips having the same problem with this camera. I got a text just yesterday from another one. I don't know what the solution is unless Arri comes up with a better support system, or if the rental houses at least make sure that all the necessary support brackets etc. come out with this camera. The movie I'm doing now is maybe 20% Alexa and the rest are Canon cameras (a lot of car mounts) but we are still having to wedge the lens. Anyone got any thoughts or comments on this situation? Fire away...
D

12 comments:

Bryce said...

Try using the wedge plate adapter. Much larger contact than the BP-9

D said...

Thanks, Bryce. The problem is, I'm not a part of the camera load in. I can ask about it after shooting starts, but a lot of assistants (like dolly grips) don't like people getting in their sandbox.

Bryce said...

Very true, if you want, I can mail you one to try out, then maybe if you buddy with the camera guys you can convince them to try it out. I definitely know what you are saying though.

Wick said...

I bring this up with the ARRI folks every chance I get. They're aware of the issue, but like D says, if the AC or department doesn't appreciate our problem, there's not much to be done. This

http://www.arri.com/arriajax?mod=productList&product=290

is one solution from ARRI that might be the way to go with suggestions. Is this what you meant, Bryce? Otherwise, yeah, wedge it and show the guys the improvement, then ask them to get the right tool for the job.

Bryce said...

That's the one. First time I used it was a VFX heavy gig. Seemed pretty secure.

D said...

Yeah Wick. I've gotten more calls and emails about this than anything. By the way, you'll be happy to know I'm pushing Ten on this job (it's a long story). Frank hooked me up.
Thanks Bryce. I appreciate your input.

phemius said...

I was just working on a feature with Alexas, and on the Steadicam, they had a cheap LED flashlight (the 9-LED ones that run on AAA batteries) jammed up where the shoulder pad would go on handheld. Didn't have a chance to ask, but I'm guessing that was partially a shake solution.

Anonymous said...

Do your camera packages down there not come with a little bracket that slides on the long dovetail at the front (just behind the mattebox) that supports the rods in front, so there's no cantilevering?

D said...

So far not. But the packages come from everywhere. There's also the long back of the camera body that's unsupported. Like Bryce says, there are some pieces that have been made to do some of these things, but a lot of them are "aftermarket" adapters that the Ac's don't get. I had two calls from dolly grips in LA last year asking me about what I did to solve this problem because they were seeing the same thing. Bryce I will get in touch w you on my next Alexa job and work something out. Shoot me your email.

Markus Kuballa said...

I have a bridgeplate that attaches to the front and back of the Alexa similar to the one Wick suggested for my Steadicam. Whenever I have setups wich change back and forth from tripod/dolly and Steadicam I just leave the Bridgeplate on and use another adaptor called the cat griller to secure the plate on a fluid hat. Good thing in my case is I'm usually the Steadicamoperator and the Dolly Grip so I can have my fingers in the camera department as well.

Kar Wai Ng said...

Haven't encountered complaints from operators or dolly grips about this issue, but in regards to the back of the camera being unsupported, Arri does make a quick release plate called the QR-HD1 that is FANTASTIC. Almost nobody carries it, although one rental house here in Toronto does have it. It is an ENG-style release plate where the front toe portion of the Alexa is swapped out for a Wedge adapter, and you click it in like an ENG camera and a pin at the rear of the plate locks into the clip at the back. This is nothing like the flimsy Sony ENG plates. This thing is absolutely rock solid (it better be, at over $2000.) Instead of the regular BP-9 or newer BP-13 studio-style bridge plates, going with the QR-HD solution is an absolute godsend when doing a show with a lot of handheld to studio conversions and vice versa. However, I have not used it in conjunction with a long Optimo zoom, so I can't say if there is any improvement over the regular bridgeplates, but in theory with the QR-HD1 and a dovetail-rod support bracket on the rods behind the mattebox (all the 24-290 Optimo zooms that are rented out here in Toronto come with this), you then have three points of attachment.

Azurgrip said...

We've had the same issues with the RED Epic in SteadiCam configuration. The back end has too much wobble after stacking the battery plates and transmitter. I built a bracket that bridges from the camera plate to the transmitter and locks it all together.