Largely thanks to Philip Bloom sharing with his crowd, last week’s post Sharp Shooting for Guerilla Warfare – Part 1 – Bare Bones DCinema with Red MX, Alexa and EPIC received 1144 views and some nice comments on the RedUser forum.
Today I want to look at ergonomics and operation in a bare bones, location based situation where setup and tear-down, physically moving the camera from position A to position B, and getting into tight spots quickly can mean the difference between staying on schedule, or falling behind.
I’m going to start with the Red One MX, move on to Alexa and save the best for last!
The Revolutionary Red One
The Red One will go down in history as the camera that led a revolution. In that spirit of reverence, I am not knocking it here at all. It is however, a camera that is better suited to a larger, slower shoot with a full camera team. If I remember correctly, this is the only camera that we chose not to move while it was mounted on the head and legs.
Ergonomically the Red One is a heavy, bulky camera to handle, especially handheld or on the shoulder.
While head mounted, it’s great, no problems but as soon as a situation involves trying to manoeuvre into a tight corner, or into a car for instance, things get more interesting and options are restrictive.
There were a few shots on INSIDE where we struggled, wanting to move walls out of the way, but obviously demolition wasn’t an option.
As Philip Bloom so eloquently put it in his write-up for Arri Philip Bloom goes solo with Alexa –
The ALEXA is the Aston Martin of digital cameras – Philip Bloom
I couldn’t agree more. The camera is a work of art, it just looks like a Arri, and I love that. It instils confidence and speaks of a wealth of history in cinema technology.
It also has a nice shoulder pad! or at least our camera came with one, and that make for far more comfortable shoulder shooting!
The camera is still a long rectangular box with the lens mount at one end, the battery at the other, it’s heavy, but with fewer bits “perched” onto rods on top, on bottom, on side as with the battery and drive cradle on the Red One, it’s a bit easier to “throw” around. Often we did just grab the whole camera, head and legs and move the whole lot when necessary (two or three of us assisting).
In praise of ALEXA’s ease of operation!
I said I would get into camera menus but I’m going to stay quite general on the topic. I had a whole series of menu snapshots to share, but I fear it may be all a bit boring. I’m not trying to write a operations manual here.
What I wanted to share is basically what a pleasure the Arri’s menu system is. It’s so intuitive, I find my friend’s Sony Z5 more confusing and difficult to set up. I knew the menu back to front in less than 10mins without reading anything. You all know how men (especially) typically don’t bother with user manuals… or any kind of documentation, unless perhaps there are pictures of scantily clad women in them (even then reading anything is unlikely).
The Alexa is the most wonderful camera to set up and use. It’s an absolute pleasure!
Okay… I will share one snapshot.
You can play with the menu interactively online here, I encourage you to check it out: http://arridigital.com/technical/simulator
If the ALEXA is a Aston Martin, the EPIC is a Ferrari Enzo, it’s smaller, tighter, lighter and more manoeuvreable. It’s the indie filmmakers’ dream in every sense.
I don’t think there was any instance where we couldn’t get the EPIC right where we wanted it. Handheld takes on a whole new meaning when you can grab it like a 5D MkII, and while it’s certainly heavier than a typical DSLR, especially with a Ultra Prime mounted, it’s not un-manageable. It’s actually a nice solid feel.
The EPIC made shooting inside a car an absolute pleasure, with the 10mm Zeiss, we framed everything we needed in the shot and could get it high, low, in, out, wherever. There is no way we could have captured these shots with a bigger camera.
Smaller, lighter, more flexible.
One significant advantage to the EPIC, is the need for a heavy film fluid head is gone. We had the same O’Connor 2575 we used for both the Red One and the Alexa, and it’s a beautiful, silky smooth head, but we probably could have put the camera on a Manfrotto 501 video fluid head and been perfectly fine.
This advantage carries on to jibs, car mounts, sliders, and almost anything you might want to put the camera on. While heavier than a DSLR, I would argue the EPIC with a cinema prime and a clip on matte box can be handled with anything that will take the weight of a EX3. It’s cinema in a video weight class.
That’s it for this post.
In the next post Part 3, we go into post production with these cameras! Stay tuned!
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