So I recently returned from Las Vegas where I was working on a commercial for Spring Preserve through Nydrle Films. The director Peter Nydrle was fantastic to work for and it was really great to see a serious director who knew what he was doing. Bill Gray was the 1st Ac and it is always a pleasure to work with him. I worked as DIT and 2nd AC. I also want to appologize for the low resolution photos. One of these days I'll invest in a small point and shoot camera and stop taking pictures with my blackberry.
They shot the commercial on the Canon 5D and I had worked on several 5D shoots before, but the hard part was coordinating all the proper gear for an out of town shoot. I had to make sure I had everything in order before we left. So the first problem that many people encounter when it comes to working the 5D is how do you monitor your signal. This shoot was going to be run and gun so i had set it up for us to get a 17inch HD Panasonic monitor with a Matthew's monitor support bracket for the clients to view the footage in real-time.
To convert the hdmi signal out of the 5D, I purchased a HDMI-SDI Black Magic Mini converter box. Now the problem with these converter boxes is the power supply. Nobody wants to be tied down with power on a run and gun shoot so I had to figure out how to power this thing. Some people have been powering them using the D tap out of anton bauer dionic batteries off the onboard monitor. This seems like the perfect solution, except that those batteries can run up to 18v fully charged. The black magic box won't work with anything over 15v. I couldn't take that risk. So I did a little more researching and found out that Abel Cine had put out a great blog post addressing this issue. They suggested using a Nebtek lithium-ion battery adapter to power the box with a regulated 12v. Then I got a zacuto zotshoe (so overpriced) to mount the self contained unit on top of the camera. It didn't take very long to put everything together and I was pretty suprised at how sturdy the unit was.
I have yet to find anyone in MD who are renting these units so please contact me if you are interested.
There was a last minute mix up at the LA rental house and they ended up giving me a monitor with HDMI in instead of SDI in. I found this out Friday evening, and we were supposed to be on a plane Monday morning. So now I had to figure out how to take that HDMI signal out of the 5d, split it to go into the onboard monitor and the converter box. Luckily, places like Baynesville Electronics exist. I picked up a 5v HDMI splitter that splits the HDMI signal into 2 separate signals.
This now meant we were tied down with power, but unfortunately it was my only option. I tried splitting the signal with a self powered hdmi splitter, but it wasn't strong enough to carry the signal through the converter box and to the client monitor.
When working with the Black Magic unit with a SDI onboard monitor and a SDI client monitor, I would say its the best on the market. You are not tied down by power, and its one cable from the camera to the box, one cable from the box to the onboard and one cable from the box to the client monitor. SDI is also very reliable and does not need a power source every 25ft (as opposed to HDMI). But overall it was a great learning experience and I feel very confident with DSLR monitoring now.
The DIT work was pretty straight forward. I have to thank Digital Cave for hooking me up with the best gear. Those guys are awesome. I had a Macbook Pro with 3 G-technology harddrives, 2 connected with esata and 1 connected firewire. ShotPut Pro allowed me to easily offload the footage into 3 locations at the same time and saves a log report of the process.
And of course, no trip out west is complete without a stop to In-n-out burger....so good.