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Did the Japanese ever attempt professional movie cameras?


Phillip Mosness
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2 hours ago, Karim D. Ghantous said:

Yeah, but the mirror housing isn't there.

Mitchells remained non-reflex for many years after companies like Arri and Eclair had already introduced spinning mirror shutters during the 30s and 40s, a peculiar American stubbornness. In fact, the first reflex conversion of a Mitchell BNC wasn’t until 1968, when the newly formed Cinema Products offered a pellicle reflex modification.

So in the 50s, when Mitchell made that ‚Äėbutterfly‚Äô Vistavision camera, there was no mirror to house. It‚Äôs one of the reasons that by the late 70s ILM needed to make upgraded¬†VV cameras for their special effects rigs,¬†as well as adding more modern electronic instrumentation. But like many companies involved in the evolution of motion picture cameras, they used the movements and bodies from¬†earlier models. In the same way,¬†some¬†of the first Vistavision cameras in the 50s were made from 3 strip technicolor cameras from the 30s that had become obsolete.

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5 hours ago, Satsuki Murashige said:

Not at all sir, you’re thinking of the Panaflex movement. The Moviecam movement is very different to a Mitchell and much smaller.

I’m not. The first Moviecam was made from a Mitchell. On the second a new movement was introduced. All articulating movements have an ancestor, the one invented by Labrély and built into the Grande Vitesse Debrie of 1923.

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36 minutes ago, Simon Wyss said:

I’m not. The first Moviecam was made from a Mitchell. On the second a new movement was introduced. All articulating movements have an ancestor, the one invented by Labrély and built into the Grande Vitesse Debrie of 1923.

Simon, are you referring to a pre-SuperAmerica model? I’m not familiar with those at all.

When Moviecam is mentioned, I think most are referring to the Compact/SL system. But I’d love to know more about the first few models, there’s not much info out there about them.

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45 minutes ago, Simon Wyss said:

I’m not. The first Moviecam was made from a Mitchell. On the second a new movement was introduced. All articulating movements have an ancestor, the one invented by Labrély and built into the Grande Vitesse Debrie of 1923.

What sources are you using, Simon? Do you have a drawing of the Labrély movement?

From what I understand, the first couple of Moviecams (prototypes really) bear little resemblance to the later models.  Bauer may have studied Mitchell movements to work out why they were so stable, and used variants in his first camera designs, but his subsequent compensating link movement was a complete redesign that was no longer a Mitchell derivative. That quiet yet very stable movement was the primary reason Arri decided to buy Moviecam in the 90s and base their new camera line upon it.

By contrast, Panavision’s Panaflex and Millenium cameras are direct descendants of Mitchells, and are quite different to a Moviecam or Arricam.

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https://www.cinematographers.nl/CAMERAS2.html, scroll down

http://cinematographes.free.fr/debrie-grande-vitesse.html, http://cinematographes.free.fr/labrely.html, http://www.cineressources.net/consultationPdf/web/o002/2383.pdf (pages 81 and f.), http://cinematographes.free.fr/debrie-gv-notice.html scroll down manual (notice)

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6 hours ago, Simon Wyss said:

Thanks for the links Simon, I am enjoying the reads! 

You’re right it seems, Fritz Gabriel Bauer did make his first prototype from a Mitchell movement. But the compensating link movement in subsequent Moviecams (Super America, Compact, SL) was his own design, so it seems Dom is right as well. Anyway, it’s all very interesting!

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  • 4 weeks later...

Not to completely hijack this thread, but just how similar are Arricam LTs and Moviecam SLs? Want to rig my SL with an IndieCam Assist, but wow, they are pricey! Like 3x the cost of my camera package. Wondering if the video block is interchangeable.

indieASSIST_step-ring_side-1-705x376.jpg

Side note ‚ÄĒ¬†anyone have luck with AZ-spectrum.com's flicker free HD assist?

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2 hours ago, sines said:

Not to completely hijack this thread, but just how similar are Arricam LTs and Moviecam SLs? Want to rig my SL with an IndieCam Assist, but wow, they are pricey! Like 3x the cost of my camera package. Wondering if the video block is interchangeable.

The Moviecam SL is more similar to the standard Moviecam's. They're basically moviecam's with the sprocket drive pushed forward and raised above and below the movement to make the design more compact. They shaved as much weight as possible by making the housing much narrower and still retained quietness. 

The Moviecam SLMKII is kind of a hybrid between the Moviecam and Arricam SL. 

So for the standard Moviecam SL, you'd need someone to replace the video tap circuit board with a "board CMOS or CCD camera" which will give you a pretty decent HDSDI video output. It requires a tiny bit of re-engineering, but a decent tech who has converted taps before, should be able to do it. You should ask az spectrum, na never know! 

No there are no HD taps specifically made for the standard Moviecam's, prior to Arri's buying of them. 

 

Edited by Tyler Purcell
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22 hours ago, Tyler Purcell said:

So for the standard Moviecam SL, you'd need someone to replace the video tap circuit board with a "board CMOS or CCD camera" which will give you a pretty decent HDSDI video output. It requires a tiny bit of re-engineering, but a decent tech who has converted taps before, should be able to do it.

I had an HD-SDI Video Assist upgrade finished for me by Greg Defoe of Defoetech last month:

web_IMG_7570.jpg.90ee4c732d31fa2c8d08f766eda1f240.jpg

web_DAY_INT_LensT2.1_Tapf4.thumb.jpg.ee3b71ab82f237431389c9f7d70985d3.jpg

This an upgrade of my design with parts that I've managed to scrounge up. It is not flicker-free, but it works well with Teradek Bolt XT transmitters and HD-SDI monitors, which is all I wanted. It required 10+ hours of engineering and machining on his part, in addition to many hours of my tinkering over several years.

I know that Greg is working on his own HD-SDI Video Assist with a different design for another Moviecam SL owner, and I'm sure that one will be even nicer when it's ready. Greg used to work at CEI, btw.

If you're interested in a HD-SDI tap for your Moviecam SL, I can let him know.

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1 hour ago, Satsuki Murashige said:

I had an HD-SDI Video Assist upgrade finished for me by Greg Defoe of Defoetech last month:

Very nice, he did a great job. Do you know what camera he used? They're not very expensive to buy, but the labor to install and setup is high, hence the reason why people generally charge so much. How much did he charge ya? I need to get a 3 perf studio camera at some point and will probably get another moviecam because they're tanks and not too expensive when they show up like the arricam's are. 

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18 minutes ago, Tyler Purcell said:

Very nice, he did a great job. Do you know what camera he used? They're not very expensive to buy, but the labor to install and setup is high, hence the reason why people generally charge so much. How much did he charge ya? I need to get a 3 perf studio camera at some point and will probably get another moviecam because they're tanks and not too expensive when they show up like the arricam's are. 

I think so too. This one is my design which Greg machined together and focused/centered the optics. He only charged me for labor, but I provided all the parts and had the camera/lens built already. You're right that labor/setup is the highest cost. The more you can do yourself, the more you'll save. I ended up paying around $2500, probably spent around $1000 on parts.

Greg is using a different camera for his tap - no idea what he is using, and I wouldn't reveal his trade secrets anyway. I know his version will be much more polished than mine. I probably would look for a more modern camera with 24p and flicker reduction features if I were starting today.

For myself, I went with this camera: https://www.viewbits.com/Camera-HD-SDI-1080p-60-traffic-POV.html Took apart the boards, ordered matching ribbon cable and power cables. The ribbon cables are basically single use expendables, so you need quite a few if you're tinkering.

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26 minutes ago, Satsuki Murashige said:

For myself, I went with this camera: https://www.viewbits.com/Camera-HD-SDI-1080p-60-traffic-POV.html Took apart the boards, ordered matching ribbon cable and power cables. The ribbon cables are basically single use expendables, so you need quite a few if you're tinkering.

Nice, good idea. So does it flicker at all? I know on the Aaton's, the film camera sends a signal to the tap that tells it when to snap a picture and there is a little frame buffer on board that holds that frame until the next snap. So they're progressive scan cameras but put out an NTSC interlaced signal at whatever frame rate you want, flicker free. I wonder how the Moviecam's work in that regard. I've only worked with taps on much older Arri's or Aaton's of course. 

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1 minute ago, Tyler Purcell said:

Nice, good idea. So does it flicker at all? I know on the Aaton's, the film camera sends a signal to the tap that tells it when to snap a picture and there is a little frame buffer on board that holds that frame until the next snap. So they're progressive scan cameras but put out an NTSC interlaced signal at whatever frame rate you want, flicker free. I wonder how the Moviecam's work in that regard. I've only worked with taps on much older Arri's or Aaton's of course. 

There is rolling shutter tearing at all video assist frame rates (29.97p, 59.94p) while the camera is rolling, except for 59.94i. So that's what I set the tap camera for. Then you just get normal mirror shutter flicker, just as it looks in the eyepiece. It's not ideal, but it's fine. 

The original B&W Moviecam SL tap is very, very simple. There's no flicker-free, frame store, overlays, nothing. Just an image and an iris control. So I don't really feel like I'm missing anything, but if you're coming from a modern Arriflex IVS then it may seem like a step down.

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10 minutes ago, Satsuki Murashige said:

The original B&W Moviecam SL tap is very, very simple. There's no flicker-free, frame store, overlays, nothing. Just an image and an iris control. So I don't really feel like I'm missing anything, but if you're coming from a modern Arriflex IVS then it may seem like a step down.

Got ya, that's what I figured. I've owned to moviecam's a Super America and a Compact MKII. Both had incredibly horrible video taps. I gotta ask my friend who makes taps for his BL's how he gets away with the flicker. There is a trick, I just don't know what it is. If I hear anything worth discussing, I will report back. My guess is, his flickers too and I've just never noticed. 

Here is a clip from my 35III Aaton from our last short film. You can see how good the tap is, even though it's NTSC. 

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2 minutes ago, Tyler Purcell said:

Here is a clip from my 35III Aaton from our last short film. You can see how good the tap is, even though it's NTSC. 

That's pretty nice. I don't think it would be worth upgrading it to HD-SDI from a picture quality standpoint, as you're still limited by the quality of the available sensors and lenses. Plus the footage counter overlays are very useful.

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6 minutes ago, Satsuki Murashige said:

That's pretty nice. I don't think it would be worth upgrading it to HD-SDI from a picture quality standpoint, as you're still limited by the quality of the available sensors and lenses. Plus the footage counter overlays are very useful.

Yea that's my thought too. I just invested in all analog wireless system as well. So now I'm good to go with old school tech. I plan on getting another XTR Prod in the future, maybe that one I'll convert to HD. I've seen the AZ Spectrum tap, it's really good. Flicker free. But again, using a trigger from the camera to achieve it. I'm shocked (or rather not shocked) that moviecam didn't have that trigger. It is an older camera design than the Aaton's. 

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22 hours ago, Satsuki Murashige said:

I had an HD-SDI Video Assist upgrade finished for me by Greg Defoe of Defoetech last month:

web_IMG_7570.jpg.90ee4c732d31fa2c8d08f766eda1f240.jpg

web_DAY_INT_LensT2.1_Tapf4.thumb.jpg.ee3b71ab82f237431389c9f7d70985d3.jpg

This an upgrade of my design with parts that I've managed to scrounge up. It is not flicker-free, but it works well with Teradek Bolt XT transmitters and HD-SDI monitors, which is all I wanted. It required 10+ hours of engineering and machining on his part, in addition to many hours of my tinkering over several years.

I know that Greg is working on his own HD-SDI Video Assist with a different design for another Moviecam SL owner, and I'm sure that one will be even nicer when it's ready. Greg used to work at CEI, btw.

If you're interested in a HD-SDI tap for your Moviecam SL, I can let him know.

Yes please! Andrew is local, but it sounds like Greg has already figured all of this out ‚ÄĒ and probably doesn‚Äôt have to reinvent the wheel.

I’ll PM you my email. Thanks so much Satsuki!

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I use a Blackmagic Micro Cine camera and it is flicker free on bl4s. Plus, the dynamic range is pretty close to film as well. Not to mention, you can set custom color temperatures,  different asa's etc... 

Edited by Giray Izcan
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2 hours ago, Giray Izcan said:

24fps and 360 degree shutter. 

Yep, I've done this with a projector before on my pocket, it looks pretty good, no flicker. You do get a little bar that goes up the screen, but not something that would bother someone on set. 

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16 minutes ago, Giray Izcan said:

I tried different frame rates and shutter angles as well and don't recall any flickering issues.

I’m surprised that you don’t get any tearing or rolling shutter artifacts from the mirror shutter at non-24.00p settings. I also tried 25p and 50p on my tap and always got a large black diagonal bar that would slowly travel north/south thru the frame. Basically made it unusable, as a third of the frame was always obscured.

I also saw small barely-visible horizontal bars, but those could be phased out easily. 

All of my rolling shutter issues went away at 59.94i. My camera also has an automatic de-flicker shutter mode which seems to work best, but there is some light loss. Not sure how it works exactly.

1/60 sec also seems to work well. My camera does not have 23.98/24.00p or shutter angle mode. I think your 360 shutter may be helping quite a bit with the flicker issue.

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