American Cinematographer Magazine: September 2007 - New Products

The American Society of Cinematographers

Loyalty • Progress • Artistry

September 2007
U-Configure Ugrip
The Danish company Ugrip presented its self-titled flagship product at the 2007 National Association of Broadcasters show, touting it as “a unique and indispensable camera-support system developed by photographers, for photographers, to make handheld shooting more flexible, stable and comfortable.”
A&I Photographic Offering Motion-Picture Stock for Stills
For more than 20 years, RGB Color Labs in Hollywood was the place student and professional cinematographers went to when they wanted to develop still photos shot with motion-picture film.
Motorig
Move ’n Shoot, a manufacturer of camera-rig systems, has introduced the Motorig, a motion-controlled rig that is mounted to the undercarriage of the picture car.
Telescoping Jib
Employed on the 2007 Academy and Grammy awards shows, the Techno-Jib telescopic jib is a breakthrough in the world of remote camera jibs.
March of Time Collection Available
Thought Equity Motion, a supplier of online motion-content licensing and management services, and HBO recently announced the online availability of the March of Time collection, an exclusive library of historic film footage from the famous newsreel and TV documentary series.
Cahiers du cinma Online
The venerable French film journal Cahiers du cinéma now has an English alter ego on the Web: e-Cahiers du cinéma.
Panasonic AG-HPX500
Panasonic has introduced the AG-HPX500 shoulder-mount P2 high-definition (HD) camcorder.
Codex Portable Digital Recorder
Codex Digital, a specialist in high-resolution-media recording systems, is launching a new portable field recorder.
Cooke/i Datalink
Cooke Optics Ltd. has introduced the Cooke/i Datalink, which records camera data for use in post.
Nice Set of Wheels
Arri has improved handling and mobility of its Series D Lighting Kits by providing wheels as an option on the compact cases. 
CineBags CB-22 HD Backpack LT
CineBags has introduced the CB-22 HD Backpack LT to accommodate new medium-sized DV cameras such as the Panasonic HVX200 and DVX100 and the Sony HVR-Z1U, as well as a laptop computer.

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New Products and Services
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U-Configure Ugrip

The Danish company Ugrip presented its self-titled flagship product at the 2007 National Association of Broadcasters show, touting it as “a unique and indispensable camera-support system developed by photographers, for photographers, to make handheld shooting more flexible, stable and comfortable.”

Ugrip R&D Manager Lars Malmborg sought to create a product that would incorporate all video and motion-picture elements into one unit and ended up developing a support system that has at its core a modular, customizable design. In its most primitive form, the Ugrip is a baseplate, one or two arms, and one or two handgrips. Even with this basic setup, multiple configurations are possible, allowing the operator a number of shooting options.

Assembly and reconfiguration of the Ugrip is simple thanks to the exclusive use of a 4mm hex bolt for every joint and fastener except one: the baseplate, which can accept either a 1/4" or a 3/4" screw, requires a wide flathead. Faster than you can say “Picture’s up!” the ergonomic, foam-padded handgrips can be flipped upside down, shortened, extended and rotated in any position. The Ugrip’s flexibility means it’s compatible with a range of cameras, from consumer-level camcorders like the Sony PC350 to prosumer cameras like the Panasonic HVX200, all the way up to the Arri 435. (A list of compatible cameras is available at the Ugrip Web site.)

Conversely, the hex-bolt method of customization also lends a certain amount of unreliability to the Ugrip when dealing with heavier loads. In the field, a JVC GY-HD100 weighs about 20 pounds when equipped with a mattebox, rod support, follow focus, V-mount battery and Firestore drive. After about an hour of running around, the grips and the arms began to loosen on their own, even after a strong tightening with the hex wrench.

For practical purposes, the Ugrip might work much better with smaller prosumer cameras than larger cameras. In all of the Ugrip’s assembly documentation, an HVX200 is shown, and cinematographer Marcel Zyskind’s endorsement refers to his experience using the Ugrip in conjunction with the Panasonic DVX100. (However, he made use of a similar setup with the Arri 235 while shooting A Mighty Heart.)
Concerning the Ugrip’s compatibility with larger cameras (i.e., 16mm, 35mm and hi-def video), despite the system’s inherent flexibility, the grip arms’ short reach could make for a slightly constricting experience, depending on the distance of the camera’s baseplate mount from the shoulder rest. The only way to be sure of this is to field-test the Ugrip before making it part of your camera kit.

There are three price-point levels: Koral, Pearl and Diamond; the latter is the most complex and expensive (list price: $1,837). But at any level, you really get what you pay for: the Ugrip is rugged and elegantly conceived. Advanced packages include stackable slots for a Firestore drive or video and audio transmitters, a heavy-duty clamp for onboard lighting and mounting the Ugrip from the top of the camera, and a zoom mount for Bebob’s custom Ugrip zoom controller.

by Iain Stasukevich

contact info:  
www.ugrip.dk
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A&I Photographic Offering Motion-Picture Stock for Stills

For more than 20 years, RGB Color Labs in Hollywood was the place student and professional cinematographers went to when they wanted to develop still photos shot with motion-picture film. But RGB went out of business in 2005, leaving Los Angeles-area directors of photography no other local options to do still-camera emulsion testing. (Taking wedges down to the local one-hour is out of the question.)

Cinema stocks use a process called ECN-2 to develop the negative, while the more common C-41 process is used for most still photography. The big difference between the two processes is found in ECN-2’s use of a Rem-Jet carbon backing — an opaque layer just below the negative base that prevents light from reflecting off the base and back through the emulsion to create an undesirable halo effect. The backing is removed in an alkaline bath during development. Attempting to cross-process either stock in the other’s chemicals might ruin both the developer and the film, so this practice is generally avoided unless done in a private darkroom.

At the behest of American Film Institute instructor Charlie Rose and Mole-Richardson owner Larry Parker, Baret Lepedian of A&I Photographic in Hollywood has stepped forward with a new service that develops these shorter lengths of motion-picture negative for still cameras. Now A&I provides both Fuji and Kodak 35mm stocks in 36-exposure rolls at $3 and $6, respectively.

Here’s how it works: Once the customer exposes the film and returns it to A&I, all the film for that week is edited into one large reel according to type. This means there can be no pushing or pulling or any other special process. Processing is handled by Deluxe for $15, and includes the negative and a positive print either mounted or in strips. For an additional fee, A&I will print the film to paper or scan to a digital source. The whole process takes about a week, although Lepedian says he anticipates a faster turnaround once the popularity of the service starts to grow.

Keith Gilbey, A&I’s lab technician at Deluxe, cautions potential customers to be mindful of sprocket damage caused by older still cameras — in the interest of machine safety, Deluxe will not process damaged film — and advises them to return their film to the lab as soon as it’s been exposed. “The image will deteriorate if it sits around,” he says.

by Iain Stasukevich 

The film stocks offered by A&I include Fuji’s Eterna 160T, 250T, 400T, 250D, F-64D, and Reala 500D. Available Kodak stocks are Vision2 5201, 5205, 5217, 5212, 25218 and Expression 5229. Mail-order services are available for out-of-state customers.

contact info:  
www.aandi.com
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Motorig

Move ’n Shoot, a manufacturer of camera-rig systems, has introduced the Motorig, a motion-controlled rig that is mounted to the undercarriage of the picture car. It is compatible with the Mini Scorpio two-axis head (which is also recordable and repeatable) and Arri 235 and 435 camera combinations. (Other combinations are possible.) The maximum rig length is 5 meters (16.4') and a maximum speed of 80 kph (about 50 mph) is possible. Pan capability of the rig left and right is 220° in five seconds. Tilt up and down 0-90° is accomplished in four seconds. (Specs are dependent on driving technique, road surface, acceleration and deceleration.)

Setup time after one prep day is 1.5-2.5 hours, while allowing 15-45 minutes of program time per shot, depending on the complexity of the move and familiarity with the rig. Motorig is not frame-accurate per se, however, frame positions and vector data are memorized for each repetition and are usable for editing. Future plans include data exchange with 3-D programs for pre-configured camera movements.

Motorig movements are as such: move to start, midpoints and end points, and all are saved as data. Up to four separate rig movement sequences can be saved. The Motorig also can run while memorizing camera head movements with joystick or wheels. Up to five separate camera head movement sequences can be saved.

Motorig initiates the synchronized start of rig arm and camera head via a start button within the picture car, a wireless button outside the car, or a wireless beam trip for precise car positioning.

contact info:

For booking information, call (310) 283-3378.

For technical information, call (213) 992-1702.


 
www.move-n-shoot.com
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Telescoping Jib

Employed on the 2007 Academy and Grammy awards shows, the Techno-Jib telescopic jib is a breakthrough in the world of remote camera jibs. Prior to the development of the Techno-Jib, camera jibs could only be built to fixed lengths, thus limiting their use to certain shots. The Techno-Jib instantly extends or retracts to obtain the best shot possible. For the first time, a single operator can control all aspects of camera movement, including telescoping the jib arm in and out. When fully retracted, it can easily be moved from set to set.

There are two models of the Techno-Jib, T15 and T24.

The T15 is ideal for use on multi-camera shows such as sitcoms, where space is limited. Maximum height of the T15 is 18'. Maximum reach is 15' with a minimum of 6.5'. Telescopic travel is 9' at a speed of 5' per second. Total telescoped length is 20.5' and 10.9' when retracted. Maximum nose load is 70 pounds.

The T24 can provide that extra reach for shots that previously only a telescoping crane could achieve. Maximum height of the T24 is 25.5'. Maximum reach is 24' with a minimum of 9'. Telescopic travel is 15' at a speed of 5' per second. Total telescoped length is 31' and 15.5' when retracted. Maximum nose load is 45 pounds.

contact info:

For more information, call (818) 917-5677.


 
www.telescopicjib.com
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March of Time Collection Available

Thought Equity Motion, a supplier of online motion-content licensing and management services, and HBO recently announced the online availability of the March of Time collection, an exclusive library of historic film footage from the famous newsreel and TV documentary series.

Comprising nearly 70 million feet of film, the March of Time newsreels were shown to millions across the world prior to theatrical releases. The collection covers significant events in world history from 1913-1967.

This launch also expands Thought Equity Motion’s existing relationship with HBO Archives to provide film and documentary producers, agencies, educational institutions and production companies with real-time access to relevant footage from the March of Time newsreel service.

“With an average per-episode production cost of $750,000 in today’s dollars, the March of Time was one of the largest and most comprehensive news productions of its time,” states Kevin Schaff, founder and CEO of Thought Equity Motion. “By restoring and digitally mastering the collection, we are ensuring this historic content is available to storytellers in the most pristine format for all time.”

The March of Time collection is available for online purchase and download and can be delivered in a variety of formats, including film, video and HD.

contact info:

 
www.thoughtequity.com/MOT
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Cahiers du cinma Online

The venerable French film journal Cahiers du cinéma now has an English alter ego on the Web: e-Cahiers du cinéma. Publishing in English is, of course, a way to reach a large number of readers, but Cahiers hopes it also will be “a way of making a different voice heard in the world — a way of proposing a fresh, rigorous and contemporary approach to the cinema and its place in present-day culture.”

The new e-zine features a search engine, interactive fields with links, video integrated into the pages, direct page access, intuitive page flipping, and much more.

contact info:  
www.e-cahiersducinema.com
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Panasonic AG-HPX500

Panasonic has introduced the AG-HPX500 shoulder-mount P2 high-definition (HD) camcorder. With a suggested list price of $14,000, the HPX500 features 2/3" progressive imagers, a tapeless IT workflow, interchangeable lens, variable frame rates, and extended recording capability. Based on solid-state P2 technology, the AG-HPX500 is backed by a five-year extended warranty program.

Equipped with many of the popular features of the successful AG-HVX200 handheld P2 HD camcorder, the HPX500 delivers full, production-quality recording, with three 2/3" CCDs, DVCPro HD 4:2:2 image quality, independent frame encoding, and four independent audio channels. The HPX500’s progressive CCDs deliver high resolution and sensitivity, excellent low-light performance and a wide dynamic range. The multi-format camera can record in 32 high-definition and standard-definition formats, including 1080i and 720p in full bandwidth DVCPro HD. The HPX500 employs 14-bit A/D conversion, and its digital signal processor (DSP) employs 19-bit internal processing to deliver HD and SD images. It also offers 50/60Hz selectability for international use and a power consumption of only 22 watts.

“The full-size AG-HPX500 is a highly-affordable, full production-quality HD camcorder that includes high-end features that video professionals could only find previously in more expensive cameras,” said Robert Harris, vice president of marketing for Panasonic Broadcast. “The HPX500 offers fast and incredibly flexible file-based, IT workflow with the ultra-reliable performance of solid-state recording. We’re so confident in the camera’s performance that we’re offering it with a free 5-year extended warranty program.”

The HPX500 has a variable-frame-rate function that allows professionals to undercrank and overcrank the camera to create fast- or slow-motion effects. For 720p recordings, users can set frame rates at 24p, 30p or 25p in any of 11 steps between 12 fps and 60 fps (or 50 fps). And with the camera’s advanced 1080/480 24pA mode, users have the option of using 2:3:3:2 pulldown, which allows most nonlinear editing systems to extract 24 frames on ingest.

With Panasonic’s current delivery of its 16GB P2 card, the HPX500 delivers extended recording time without “hot-swapping” cards. With four of these P2 cards installed, the camcorder can record up to 160 minutes at native 720/24pN in DVCPro HD, 128 minutes at 720p/30pN in DVCPro HD, 128 minutes in DVCPro 50 and 256 minutes in DVCPro, so recording capacity is now equal to and often longer than tape-based and disc-based media. The HPX500 provides users with the advantages of P2 HD’s IT workflow, including instant recording, thumbnail clip views and a host of recording modes, without the need for ingest.

The 8.2-pound camcorder is equipped with eight gamma modes to address a wide range of shooting situations, including cine-like gamma to create film-like recordings. Key interfaces include IEEE 1394, USB 2.0, HD-SDI, analog component and four audio XLR inputs. Its four 48-kHz/16-bit digital audio channels are independently controllable. The camera also features an SD memory card slot for saving or loading scene files and user settings and a variety of shooting assist functions and presets. The HPX500 features an automatic Chromatic Aberration Compensation (CAC) function that allows the camera to automatically optimize its performance with new CAC lenses.

contac info:  
www.panasonic.com/broadcast
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Codex Portable Digital Recorder

Codex Digital, a specialist in high-resolution-media recording systems, is launching a new portable field recorder. No larger than a toaster, the Codex Portable’s cutting-edge design is packed with features and advanced technology, creating new opportunities for single- and multi-camera production. The Codex Portable can work with virtually every digital camera from high-definition to 4K.

The new system has been designed to meet industry demand for a compact and rugged field recorder. It complements the original Codex HD, 2K, 4K media recorder/server. Using visually lossless compression, the Codex Portable brings cinema-quality disk recording to every production where uncompressed recording is not an absolute demand, but total portability is.

Constructed from carbon fiber and featuring rubber-sealed connections, the Codex Portable is tough, weather-resistant and weighs only 9 pounds (4 kg). It is powered from standard camera batteries and can be carried on an operator’s shoulder or back, or secured on camera equipment such as dollies and cranes. A large record button and illuminated status ring mean the Codex Portable is always ready-to-go, and near-silent operation lets it get right into the action.

Taking its key features from its larger sibling, the Codex Portable adds immediate full-frame playback and review of footage on a daylight-readable touchscreen. Also unique is its secure wireless system, which enables instant shot monitoring or remote control of the system from any networked computer or PDA. The Codex Portable also features a special “Mutter Track” microphone input, which allows the user to add comments during a take for shot-logging and notes.

The Codex Portable packs all the benefits of the Codex tapeless workflow into a remarkably small package. Top-line features include two dual-link HD 4:4:4 inputs, Infiniband and Ethernet data-connections, 10Gbps optical I/O, time code and control ports, eight channels of audio, HD and SD monitoring of all formats up to 4K, and MP4 wireless video output.

The Codex Portable is the first portable disk recorder to handle all formats up to 4K at cinema quality, and the first to handle both video and data-mode cameras. Flexible I/O configurations enable it to record from virtually every digital camera available today — including all HD cameras in video mode, plus data mode from cameras such as the Arri D-20 and Dalsa Origin. It can also record Red Digital Cinema’s Red One camera in 4K data mode.

Recording is made to hot-swappable, shock-mounted RAID disk packs that can hold up to three hours of continuous recording at the system’s highest quality. The compression method used is JPEG 2000, a wavelet-based industry standard, which is visually indistinguishable from the original and comparable to the highest-quality mode of HDCam SR tape.

The Codex Portable can record from two 4:4:4 cameras simultaneously — either independently for A and B cameras or locked together for 3-D stereoscopic acquisition. It can also record from four 4:2:2 cameras simultaneously, allowing complete synchronization of multiple recorders. With this feature, six synchronized Codex Portables can act as a 24-track video, 48-track audio-recorder, enough to record an entire concert or sports event.

The Codex Portable provides multiple standard file formats for the seamless transfer of shots to all post workflows. After recording, the disk packs can be plugged directly into the matching Codex Transfer Station. This copies them (much faster than real time), backs them up and then delivers the material, plus the associated metadata, across local or worldwide networks.

In conjunction with the Transfer Station, the Codex Portable can deliver shots in all industry-standard formats, including DPX, BMP, BWAV, QuickTime, AVI and MXF files. It can even provide native-mode files that editing systems can use with no importing at all. The result is a clean, fast system in which the production moves seamlessly between shooting and post, on set or off.

“We have developed the new portable with a no-holds-barred approach,” says Paul Bamborough, a co-founder of Codex Digital. “There are huge advantages in shooting direct to disk, and we are making those available to all productions who want the highest quality and also need complete portability.”

contact info:

Codex Digital,

Los Angeles, (310) 449-8600

London, +44 (0)20 7292 6918

 
E-mail: info@codex
www.codexdigital.com
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Cooke/i Datalink

Cooke Optics Ltd. has introduced the Cooke/i Datalink, which records camera data for use in post. It enables effects- and digital-intermediate artists to create more accurate, better-looking visual effects and saves significant time in the post process.

The Cooke/i Datalink is a small box that mounts easily to any camera and records the focus, zoom and iris settings of each take from Cooke’s S4/i lenses or any i-enabled lens, all synced to time code. The data is recorded on a Secure Digital (SD) card, storing settings as metadata to pass along to post teams. The workflow has been developed in conjunction with U.K.-based company The Pixel Farm, whose tracking software, PFTrack 4.0, fully supports the /i Datalink technology. When used in conjunction with PFTrack, artists are able to sync the lens data to the 3-D camera data and therefore produce with greater speed a 3-D model that is more accurate.

Cinematographer Devon Dickson has been working with Cooke and The Pixel Farm to test the use of the
/i Datalink and PFTrack software as an end-to-end workflow. He recently shot a test project using an Arri 435 with a Cooke S4/i 15-40mm T2.0 CXX zoom lens, capturing lens data with the /i Datalink. “Automatically recording vital information such as focal length can alleviate hours of time-consuming guesswork when it comes to combining 2-D and 3-D images in post,” he says. “It’s important not to underestimate the impact such a collaboration has on the production process as a whole. This is a huge step in bringing production and post together.”

Cooke Optics Chairman Les Zellan notes, “The biggest benefit this system delivers is time. It takes a process that required manual recording on set and guesswork in post and compresses it in both areas, shaving time from the schedule. The fact that it also delivers more realistic-looking results makes it a positive advancement on the creative side as well.”

The Cooke/i Datalink is available from Cooke Optics and authorized dealers worldwide for $6,500.

PFTrack 4.0 software is available from The Pixel Farm.

contact info:

 
www.cookeoptics.com
www.thepixelfarm.co.uk
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Nice Set of Wheels

Arri has improved handling and mobility of its Series D Lighting Kits by providing wheels as an option on the compact cases. Previously, wheels were only attached to heavy-duty cases, but now even the smallest Series D kit has been made more portable. Rugged nylon inline skate wheels withstand the abuse of production demands, while molded protection bumpers and the reinforced wheelbase provide durability. Series D Softbank Kits are designed for use with modern digital-video cameras. The total wattage has been reduced for these more light-sensitive cameras with no loss of control or light quality. 

contact info:


 
www.arri.com
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CineBags CB-22 HD Backpack LT

CineBags has introduced the CB-22 HD Backpack LT to accommodate new medium-sized DV cameras such as the Panasonic HVX200 and DVX100 and the Sony HVR-Z1U, as well as a laptop computer.

Customizable inner compartments provide safe gear storage and external storage pouches keep the most important items within easy reach. Features include: padded, customizable interior compartment; laptop compartment; see-through compartments; large, padded shoulder harness; waterproof material; large, zipped opening for easy access; internal organizer pockets; tripod strap; and exterior bottle holder. Retail price is $199.

contact info:

CineBags, (818) 662-0605

 

 
www.cinebags.com
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