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Tom Wills

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About Tom Wills

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  • Occupation
    Steadicam Operator
  • Location
    Buffalo, NY

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  • Website URL
    http://www.willsvideo.com
  1. I just finished working on a short where we were using a Sachtler Video 18 with the XTR Prod. It was a pretty bare-bones kit (body, onboard battery, 400ft mag, and Zeiss Distagons), but we still had plenty of capacity left on the head. I think we were only on step 2 of 5 on the counterbalance. The few times I actually got behind the head, it seemed quite nice. (I was doing Steadicam on the shoot, so I didn't have much time behind the actual sticks!) I'm sure an OConnor would have been a step up, but the Video 18 was within the rental budget, and worked out fine. Go to a local rental house, bring the camera, and try it out. That's how we ended up with our sticks.
  2. I'm in Buffalo, not too far of a ride from Rochester. I've got a Steadicam that flies up to 12ish pounds, so I'm always on the lookout for somebody with a bigger rig that I could rent from. There should be plenty of ops with a weight plate in NYC. I'm sure he can find somebody. Another name they go by is Weight Cage - basically 2 weight plates, one on top of the camera, one below. Rob, adding weight to the bottom of the rig is most likely not the right answer. Adding weight below the gimbal, while making the sled heavier (and better suited for the arm) means you have to drop the gimbal even lower (or suffer horrific drop times - the sled being way too bottom heavy), which leads to more issues. Adding weight up top is usually the way to go with a sled like the EFP, which is meant for a heavier camera weight. Matte Boxes, on-camera monitors (so long as they're not going to act as sails to the wind), and other accessories can help here, but as there is such a big weight discrepancy between the EFP's "sweet spot" of camera weight and an EX1, adding pure weight may be the simplest solution.
  3. Does the EFP come with its operator? Or is this a rig that you're going to be renting/loaning out? If there's going to be an operator, ask them if they have weight plate. If you're doing this yourself, consider investing in one, or having one made. They're generally just large plates of steel with tapped and drilled holes throughout that allow you to screw on your camera, and then screw the whole setup onto your dovetail. I'm sure a little research on the Steadicam Forum could give you some pictures to guide you. Some of the more complex ones even add more weight up top, allowing you to have the gimbal even further up the post. Good luck. (By the way, who has an EFP in Rochester? If it's a private owner, I may be in the market to do a bit of renting!) :P
  4. I just happened to stumble across this post, and I actually have some wisdom about Newvicons - I took one apart, put it back together, figured out the wiring, and also did a ton of research, only to find that mine was fried. That 10 pin connector on the back is a VTR connector, not for a CCU, which was used a lot for old home video cameras with outboard VTRs. The VTRs provided power, and then the camera fed it back control signals and composite video and audio. I can't remember where I found the pinout, but I did find it somewhere online, and it was very simple. I just did a quick google for "10 pin VCR pinout" and found some. There's a pin for +12v, a video ground, a power ground, and a pin for CV out. If you can find a "power adapter" for one of these 10 pin cameras on eBay or somewhere else, those often will power the camera and give you RCA outs, which would be a perfect solution. I think the connector might be universal across Sony and Panasonic, but I'm not sure enough to suggest testing it. Good luck with the camera!
  5. I can personally attest to the fact that the DSR 390 is one incredible camera. I use one at work, and we film sporting events. You should see the kind of locations we have to shoot in sometimes. It's a workhorse camera, with a great low-light performance, and it has incredible image quality. The DSR450 having more pixels is a little strange, because I can't see the quality boost being that great considering 2 full stops of light loss.
  6. I think Bonolabs is the place with the Harddrives you're talking about. http://bonolabs.com/ In terms of looks, why not just shoot it all straight, and CC in post to get more of the feel? I mean, for the low-contrast, gray, grim stuff, shoot it with lower contrast (light everything to basically the same level), and then just take it from there in Color Correction. If you're going to be editing digitally, this is probably the easiest option. Good luck on your film! :)
  7. Tom Wills

    Canon ZR60

    Hey, I use my ZR for filming docs and short films all the time. Get a wide angle lens for that puppy though, they really need it in my opinion. Turn the windscreen on (in Audio section), use manual focus only (the auto jumps around) and if possible use manual exposure too. Get a nice set of worklights if you're going to be doing low-light shooting. The camera works surprisingly well if you know how to use it properly. It has some of the most beautiful, saturated, clear pictures of any camcorder in it's price range. When I use Magic Bullet for Editors with it, it's just... incredible. Good luck with your film!
  8. Yes, I understand that comment wasn't really the final nail in the coffin, nor was it meant to be. Sorry if anyone felt I was trying to mislead them there. I should clairify what people said, including my father, a former film cameraman and current HD editor. The first thing you'll notice about magic bullet is that it ups the contrast by leaps and bounds. The footage has a distinct, non-crushed black, and whites that are crisp and not blown out. It also adds on a filmstock look. I particularly like one of them, Bufallo, which is a very high saturation one. It really builds the color from a dull DV-ish hue to something you'd expect from something much more grandeur. Sorry if I confused anyone, but really, Magic Bullet is incredible. I'll grab some frames from Final Cut tonight to show.
  9. Magic Bullet always has worked for me. The "For Editors" plugin for your editing system is good for stuff where not converting to 24p and de-artifacting isn't a big deal, and the full one is perfect, but it takes HOURS to render. If you've got the time, the full one does produce marginally better video. I shot a 30 minute documentary on 1 CCD MiniDV and with Magic Bullet, was asked how I afforded to shoot on HD.
  10. I played with the GS-400 in B&H. Wasn't too impressed. Really, it didn't look much nicer than my Canon in terms of quality. The colors weren't at all different, and it had a little more quality, but nothing really noticible. I'd say if you want to go 3CCD, go for a tried and true model. You are plunking down a somewhat sizable amount of cash up front, without even knowing all of this, so you want something that you can know will work and won't have the first generation bugs. Try and go prosumer, but if you can't, go for as good of a consumer camera as you can get. Also, if you can, try and go to either B&H or a place like it, where you can get your hands on the cameras and feel their controls, look at their pictures, and test it all. That's a quite important part of buying a new camera.
  11. 500-800 dollars will get you a good 1ccd camera. If you can live with having to work more to create good shots, it should be fine. Sure, it's not gonna be great, but if you can shoot 16mm and have it look good you can shoot this and make it look good too. I'm thinking a Canon would be right for you. Incredible lenses, great CCD blocks, and small and light enough to take anywhere. I'd recommend getting good support equipment though. A good shoulder support and tripod are worth their weight in gold with these small cameras. Your arms and picture will thank you later. :P Good luck venturing into the world of DV. :)
  12. Hey Guys, first post here but long time lurker, I just felt the need to comment on the comments about younger filmmakers wanting to use video. Well, yes, I am an incredibly young filmmaker, (I just got hired as a DoP on a low-budget DV film), and I do shoot digital. The thing is that I learned digital after I learned 35mm still and learned various types of Motion Picture Film from my father, a cinematpgrapher of more than 40 years. I really love film and the asthetics it has, and I love the simplicity of it all, but for me digital has a time and place. It's not perfect for the biggest, best features out there, but it's perfect for those with low budgets, simply because of the cost, and it also gives a look which I love. Even with the most simplistic of cameras, a great image can be made if you understand how to shoot properly. DV isn't perfect for everything, but then again neither is film. Well, now to get down off of my soap box. Have a nice day. :D
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