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Catering to camera at a large cost to us


Rob Lewis
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After reading many of the discussion about some of the new products that are smaller and lighter, in which many of them are awesome, is it really a necessity to play the game of constantly spending thousands of $$$ to swap out perfectly good timecode or wireless devices to cater to the camera departments incessant whining about these necessary workflow items mounted to their cameras?  

 

Things like sync boxes and scratch feeds or 2 channel audio feeds are the same a the lense on the camera in my opinion, and must be mounted on the camera to do the job properly.  I own 2 SB3's, 2 ERX's, and a Timecode buddy combo.  Am I now expected to trade up and spend money on TIG q28's, and timecode buddy receivers in order to make camera happy, all while the client complains about the gear rental cost?

 

Im not a film mixer, just a bag guy that does commercials, Docs, News and reality work.  I have the tools and the skills, so I guess if the camera department wants tiny and light they can buy it themselves and I will be glad to jam it. 

 

How do other feel about this?

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Ain't no "havetas." These are choices. Own your choices.

I like having options that help me do the job well. I draw comfort from good tools and knowing how to use them. I occasionally get annoyed at myself for carrying around as much gear as I do but I'm delighted when I pull out a tool that solves some nagging issue.

The point is, that these are all choices that I make. No one forces me to have three or four solutions for any given situation, it's a decision I make if it suits how I wish to work.

My gigs however are wide ranging -- from full-on cart work, to stripped-down run-n-gun, and plenty in between.

Do what serves you and your clients and if it makes you unhappy, don't do it.

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Another question to ask in this context: why on earth do most camera manufacturers use cheap TC crystals in their cams? Why don't they use a proper low drift system like SoundDevices or Arri do?

In a 50,000 $ camera with 50,000 $ lenses a few hundred bucks for proper TC don't matter, do they. Especially as you have to have a TC box anyway.

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If camera wants sync boxes, I politely communicate to them that THEY provide them... I jam them and what they do with them is up to them... I do keep an eye on things when possible..

  I get no EXTRA rental for them...  They are NOT considered a part of the (SOUND) package... I DO own them, but only use them for MY own piece of mind if Cameras unit fails or they forget them etc...  In that case, they are an additional rental for the Sound Dept.  It is indeed a grey area... for some...  not me... Always from camera dept.

 

  Because of the gripes about size, type, operation or familiarity of the units... let them provide what THEY like... Problem solved..

 

  Communication during prep for a job takes care of the whole thing...  

 

  I am not making the investment for a Camera mounted piece of gear that I get no additional rental for..  As for audio, as has been mentioned many times... for what WE do... They get a comtek... and a proper setting and operation...  FOR A SCRATCH ONLY!!  My involvement with the camera normally ends there...  I have never on my jobs mounted Lectros or other Radio mics...  

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pk: " why on earth do most camera manufacturers use cheap TC crystals in their cams? Why don't they use a proper low drift system like SoundDevices or Arri do? "

that's easy: $$

 

and keep in mind the intended market and its price point....

 

RL: " How do other feel about this? "

I think you are whining...

I'm with JB here, you can tell them you don't supply that, and that if the camera person wants it, (and doesn't like what you have) they ought to supply it.

When it comes to acquiring gear: if it doesn't generate specific rental, it damn well better be for my convenience.

AFMY has it right: if the camera selected doesn't meet the requirements of the gig (like keeping proper TC) then it is a camera problem, and they can get all the needed accessories to make it suitable for the gig, not just the lens and sliders...

I, like John like to buy the cool tools, but I also insist on charging for them; my CPA takes care of the bookkeeping on my business tools.  Upgrading is part of my business operations. Sure, I used to feel for the camera folks in the ENG/EJ world who had to keep constantly upgrading their camcorders, often before the current model had paid for itself, but it is all part of the biz.

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The only time I've ever had camera complain about a particular piece of gear, or should I re-state, had a preference for a particular sound related chatchka on their camera is the insistence of using a slot-in receiver for wireless hop.  I looked at their request, figured the value for myself, and agreed - ended up purchasing a couple of SRb.  The fact that I can use this on anything from a DSLR up to broadcast iron made it a pretty flexible kit for me, not to mention in the bag... but other than that, have never had a cameraman complain about a sync box, whether it be an ERX with velcro or an SB-T.  If someone did, I'd probably politely say "suck it up".

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.............I occasionally get annoyed at myself for carrying around as much gear as I do ........

Yes I agree with everyone,

1. I sometimes resent the expectations accompanied by no idea....

2. I like things to run smoothly and sometimes convince myself I need it.

3. I like gear to pay for itself and not get taken for granted.

 

but then followed by a disparaging -

"God, do you really need all that gear?"

 

I'm very tempted to be rude, but aren't, anyone got good or amusing ways to respond?

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The reason i ask is I just got off of a 4 day job with a miss mash of cameras.  F5, 2 EX3's, F3.  Of the 3 cameras 2 of the ops bitched about having the SB3's on the cameras. I told them it was not their decision and was part of the requested workflow of the producer.

 

When they went to shoot b-roll, they would strip the audio and timecode gear off the cameras even though I politely asked them no too because it would risk mistakes if we had to go back to an audio situation.  

 

Please keep in mind that in the bag, Doc world we don't often get prep days and sound usually has to provide sync boxes because the producers don't have a clue about technical work.  They just want to be able to sync everything.

 

When Im supervising a large project (Reality show, yes reality) and the gear is coning from said rental house, I request each camera be provided with a sync box (since they aren't renting mine).  If the show won't pay for it, the camera gets jammed and they can pay the editor way more than sync box rental to fix the drift issues.

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RL: " The reason i ask is I just got off of a 4 day job with a miss mash of cameras. "

you're still whining...

" the ops bitched about having the SB3's on the cameras. "

refer them to direct their bitching to the producers and/or post...

it isn't your decision, either.

that concludes your due diligence and it is now on their shoulders (or neck, or head...)

" When they went to shoot b-roll, they would strip the audio and timecode gear off the cameras even though I politely asked them no to "

their decision, their risk, their issue...

" sound usually has to provide sync boxes " for which they are being paid rental.  everyone in the rental business, including us keep their equipment fresh (up to date) as a usual part of running the operation; technology is not going to stand still.

 

If the show won't pay for it, the camera gets jammed and they can pay the editor way more than sync box rental to fix the drift issues. "

bingo, and we have a winner...

 

Senatorium: you can lead a camera-person to Time Code, but you cannot make 'em sync

or: you can provide a camera with time-code, but you can't make 'em sync it

Edited by studiomprd
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When Im supervising a large project (Reality show, yes reality) and the gear is coning from said rental house, I request each camera be provided with a sync box (since they aren't renting mine).  If the show won't pay for it, the camera gets jammed and they can pay the editor way more than sync box rental to fix the drift issues.

 

These are very wise words. Even an inexpensive assistant editor will cost more than $50/day to sync up lots of unjammed camera material. I agree 100% that the camera crew is very foolish to disconnect a timecode box, and they run without win at their own peril. I have told camera operators before, "if you just sat in on a single dailies session, you'd never again fail to see the need for reliable timecode."

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but then followed by a disparaging -

"God do you really need all that gear?"

 

I'm very tempted to be rude, but aren't, anyone got good or amusing ways to respond?

 

In our most collegial and joking voice (and with the right camera op), "No I don't. But your camera does."

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Good on Jim! I'll use that on the next one.

 

Thanks Mark! Sometimes i will get labeled as a curmudgeon by camera because I fight for the sync boxes.  The job i mentioned above was one that all cameras but the F5 were using AJA KI Pro Mini recorders externally.  Since these don't record with free run code unless manually triggered they wanted to use REC RUN so they could auto trigger the external recorder.  I fought it everyday, making them push the REC key on the external so we could be on free run.  The camera ops didn't mind and I know the producer will thank me.

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Pls remember that to the AC the DP is god. Their murmur is a command.

If you have explained the consequences to taking the Lockit off then quite frankly it's their problem. If you need to cover ass then make it clear what bus happening to the AD or producer.

I was only asking myself "why timecode was the sound departments problem" earlier this week.

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Rob, these are some of the reasons I always record to a hard drive/CF card - if the camera dept decides to fiddle with the Rx (maybe move it with telling me) - or "bumps" the taped down settings then I know I have the master copy that is 100%.

IMO it's often better to take this path (of less resistance) than argue with the cam op (especially if it's a shooter producer).

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I will have what I need to do to get the job done and in some cases I may have an alternative or two and perhaps a work around if the options aren't to the liking. But if what I have is not the first choice from the camera department - so be it. And if they feel strongly about a certain piece of gear let them buy or rent it.

But generally I get all the latest toys - because I like toys, they often make my job easier and they are a write off.

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Since these don't record with free run code unless manually triggered they wanted to use REC RUN so they could auto trigger the external recorder.  I fought it everyday, making them push the REC key on the external so we could be on free run. 

Been there done that - but with nano flashes.

Come on . . .  Its a single button push. Are they that lazy?

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I charge for my lock boxes. If they don't want to pay for them, see the AE argument. It's not a big rental, so I it's not a big deal for me to let people pay for it in post if they choose to do so. But I don't simply add on equipment for free. I don't like it when other sound mixers give away gear for free either, as it fosters expectations. Let them complain, it's just noise. If they can see the truth, that it doesn't cost them, it saves them, the logical thing to do is pay the rental on them. I don't stress about it.

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Been there done that - but with nano flashes.

Come on . . . Its a single button push. Are they that lazy?

I've worked with a nano and a pix hanging off the back of an f5 in a doc-style hand-held situation, and it's a difficult reach for an op to get back there when it's suddenly time to roll, versus hitting a thumb trigger. One work-around is to set up a transmitter on the camera, sending time code back to me, and go ext-tc auto-rec on my 664 or 663. I also get an audible notification when the op rolls, which is nice.
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I'm not going back to any sort of camera-triggered recording for doco work--I roll when I need to roll, when I see something that wants recording whether the camera is rolling or not.  That sort of perceptive capture is what they are paying me for, and there are many ways to skin the sync-cat.  Using a rec-run camera/recorder is stupid, but there's lots of stupid out there, and if they won't listen to info about how big a stone this situation will put in post's shoe then off we go.  

 

A reason to be interested in owning some of the newer, smaller/lighter (and cheaper) sync boxes is that there are still a lot of whiney editors who are lazy about post syncing double system audio, even when good matching TC on video and audio is provided.  I basically will not be cabled to cameras anymore unless we're doing a sit down interview (by which I mean that I'M sitting down), so convincing editors that auto-sync can be just a quick download of Resolve Lite away may involve getting a TC box on a somewhat less than cooperative shooter's camera.  Thus smaller/lighter is better and often worth it to me.

 

philp

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rob: " and I know the producer will thank me... "

...or maybe not if he is better friends with the person who wanted the other workflow

 

mullay: " when other sound mixers give away gear for free either, as it fosters expectations. "

good point, but it is a big, bad, competitive world out there...

 

thus: it still depends

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Matthew I hear what you are saying, but I don't want the shoot be hostile and uncomfortable. The crew has to work as a team. I just don't understand why these days there is so much hostility between camera and sound. Maybe not at the big budget feature level, but at the Doc, news, reality level there is lots of it.

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