Cinematography Mailing List - CML

HD 1st AC 101 Lesson Plan.

By B. Sean Fairburn SOC

A fundamental change in the way good High Definition is to be done, different from film sets and different from video only sets, will be the very necessary good relationship between the 1st AC and the Vision Engineer or Video Controller. Good communication and an Understanding of the rolls each person is to perform will go a long way in keeping the "Camera Dept" from having problems. There is no engineering and camera its all "Camera" and the 1st AC and the engineer must establish a good relationship.

Where the engineer does his or her job is not "video village" it is the Engineers workstation. Their work is a necessary contribution to the success of the camera department and the show and should be respected and treated as such. It is not a secondary luxury much like Video playback. Helping one another get the job done right is the only way the Camera Crew can function properly.

Sound will also come to you and plug in sound cables in the camera be a team player and don't give them a hard time. By putting sound on the HD tape as it is shot saves over $100,000.00 in Syncing of dailies in Post and every effort possible should be made to accommodate Sound in this effort.

These are what I consider the basic skills an AC should possess to comfortably take on a High Definition job.

You need to be aware of the features and capabilities of the Camera even if it may not be your direct responsibility to perform the function.

I look forward to seeing you on the set.

B. Sean Fairburn SOC
HD Cinematographer
IATSE Local 600

Camera Power Distribution :
AC-550 via 4 pin to HDCA-901 or Camera
Onboard AC power supply via Aspen, Anton Bauer, Sony.
Onboard SONY Lithium Ion (dovetail mount)
Onboard Anton Bauer (3 prong mount)

Accessory Power Distribution :

Onboard monitors, Downconverters, Lens lights, DA's, Wireless receivers & Transmitters.
Hirose 4 Pin 12v DC out of Camera.
Anton Bauer 2 prong from Camera Battery Plate.
Off board Block Battery 4 pin direct or to Mini distro box.

Back Focus :

Stop Wide Open, shutter or ND Down.
Turn Peaking and Contrast up, Brightness Down.
Zoom in; Focus on Back Focus chart, Zoom Out wide.
Adjust BF till crispy and sharp.
Reset Stop, shutter or ND, and Viewfinder.

Timecode :

Record Run, TC Generator runs only while recording. Free Run TC Generator runs continuously.
Shift & Advance are used to set Code (Hour=Tape#)
Jam syncing with Genlock, TC Out & In for Free Run.

Cabling :

Part of the Camera dept and a necessary part of shooting in HD. Situation will determine how many and what type. Generally: SDI, YPbPr (RGB), Sound,
Remote control cables. Video dept (Video Village) has their own cables which are downconverted NTSC and come from the Engineering Workstation.

Field of View :

Wider than 2-1 for HD Lens FoV to 35 mm Film lens FoV equivalent or 2.50:1 on the wide focal lengths. (1.85 in 90%) Not as much on longer focal lengths, closer to 2.35:1

Depth of Field :

Don't be deceived about having too much and taking it easy.
Build your own charts to understand each lens f-stop/Focal length characteristics. Wide angle lenses have more but the DoF drops sharply as you increase focal length.

Sound (it is now!!) :

You may be responsible for plugging in Sound cables Ch 1, Ch 2
And double checking good Tone levels on LCD panel @ -20db
When you record Bars at the head of every tape also lay Tone from sound. Using the denecke timecode generator Attached to Cam SB-2
Sound's Timecode may also be fed into your Ch 3 @ -30db

Onboard Monitoring in HD (ERG & Astro are good)
HD SDI off the HDCA-901 or Evertz onboard downconvter.
HD Analog YPbPr off camera.
NTSC Via Downconvert.

Aspect Ratio adjustment :

Operator File Page <03>
Marker : ON
Center (crosshair) : ON 3
Safety Zone : ON 90%*, 80%, 92.5%, 95%
Effect : ON
Aspect Mode : Var V*, 16:9, 15:9, 14:9, 13:9,
4:3, Var H, Vista1 (1.88), Vist2
Mask : ON 50 (level of dark area shade)
Var Width : 936* (for 1.85 inside of 90%)

Shutter Speed/ECS Adjustment :

Toggle switch is below Lens. OFF, ON, Sel(ect)
(24 & 23.98psf) OFF, 1/32nd, 1/48th*, 1/96th, 1/125th, 1/250th, 1/500th, 1/1000th, ECS (24.0 to 2200 Hz)

Syncing to Computer Monitors (ECS) :

ECS Extended Clear Scan, an option in Shutter Speed.
Use rotary encoder to dial flicker out of monitor.

Frame rate & Format adjustment :

Maintenance <M7> page
Set cursor to NEXT and use rotary encoder to select frame rate, then Power down the camera to affect change.
"HD is Really Good Video and Really Cheap Film"
Options are:
60i Non Drop Frame NTSC Video equivalent
59.94i Drop Frame NTSC Video equivalent*
50i PAL Video equivalent.
30psf 30 Frame Progressive Film equivalent
29.97psf Drop Frame Progressive Film equivalent
25psf 25 Frame Progressive Film equivalent
24psf 24 Frame Progressive Film equivalent
23.98psf* Downconvertable 24 Frame Prog Film EQ*

Cueing (Reracking) the tape :

Whenever Power is broken (Battery change) or tape is taken out and put back in, it is necessary to perform a match frame edit to prevent a break in control track.
Push RET button behind Zoom rocker on the ENG lens or
Assignable Toggle on side (Adjustable via Menu) LENS RET
Set switch under Advance button to REGEN* TC will pick up where it left off automatically.

Onboard ND and Color Correction
ND filter wheel
1-clear glass no ND no light loss
2-1/4th or ND .6 = 2 stop light loss
3-1/16th or ND 1.2 = 4 stop light loss
4-1/64th or ND 2.4 = 6 stop light loss

Color Correction :

A-4 point star filter.
B-3200K filter (clear glass cam is Tungsten Base).
C-4300K filter 85C used for mixed color temp light.
D-6300K filter 85B+81B used for Daylight & HMI's.

Proper Eyepiece Adjustment :

Set Camera to Color Bars and turn Contrast down 1/4 turn, Set Brightness till rightmost Pluge black bar is
barely visible (SMPTE 16x9), or till rightmost Black bar (FULL 16x9) matches darkness of outside edge of viewfinder.

Save vs. Standby :

Save-takes 7 seconds to record, Tape is off the head.
Standby-takes 1.5 seconds to record, Tape on head.*
Either way you should record for 6 to 10 seconds before calling Speed, Marker, Set, ACTION.
This will always insure enough Preroll to use the footage shot (like necessary leader for the editor)

Gain (electric enhancement which increases sensitivity of camera :

Every 6db=1 stop)
L-Low Adjustable via Menu usually 0db*
M-Med Adjustable via Menu usually +3db, or +6db*
H-High Adjustable via Menu usually +9db, or +12db*
Beware of adding too much unnecessary Noise with increase in Gain.

DCC Dynamic Contrast Control (maximizes separation of highlight distinction) (A good Thing) :

Sets the output of camera to Color Bars or Camera.
Also turns DCC circuit ON* or OFF

White Balance (Trigger for WB and Black Balance next to shutter speed below Lens) :

Performs function of shooting Gray Card at head of Scene.
Preset-corresponds to CC filter preset set WB.
A-Manually adjusted WB stored in memory.
B-Additional Manually adjusted WB stored in memory.

VTR Start & Stop (all 5 ways) :

On the Lens
On the front of Camera
On the RMB-150
On the Microforce
On the Assignable switch (smart side bottom of camera)

Loading HD Tape Cassette :

Push eject button on top of the camera under the handle.
Orange Door to the front and sprocket holes to the smart side.
Slowly press door closed.
***Always put at least 30 seconds of Color Bars and Sound tone at the head of every tape.***

Recording: Step by Step :

Attach Battery or AC Power supply.
Power Up the Camera (ON OFF switch)
Push the eject button to open cassette carriage door.
Insure record inhibit tab (lil red square) on tape cassette is flush with edge for record. Place tape in Camera.
Set Timecode to Hour 01:00:00:00
Set Proper color correction and ND for light being used.
Set Frame rate at 23.98psf
Set Shutter Speed to ON and Insure it is at 1/48th =180° Shutter Angle.
Insure all necessary cables are plugged (the Engineer, Video controller, or utility person may perform the task)
Set camera on Color Bars, (or Ask Engineer to do it from the RMB-150) ask for Tone from Sound.
Push VTR (record) button to start recording and roll for 30 seconds.
Push VTR button again to stop recording. Tell sound you are "Clear"
Set camera on DCC ON, Cam ON.
Now you have a picture and are ready to hand the camera over to the Operator or DP to frame up the first shot.

I recommend visiting an HD Camera rental house and going over these things to become more familiar with how this works before you take that first HD job. Then have fun doing what you love to do.

Please feel free to share this with 1st and 2nd AC's that might be interested.

God Bless,

B. Sean Fairburn SOC
HD Cinematographer
Happy to share.

Copyright © CML. All rights reserved.