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Cold Weather Supplies!

This time of year we carry some great expendables to help you in the cold and snowy weather. Two main items are “Setwear Cold Weather Gloves” and “Bag It” all weather bags. The Setwear gloves are built to keep you warm with Thinsulate C40 lining and a seamless index finger design for sensitivity. They are padded for comfort, but form fitting to eliminate snagging. The Bag It bags cover a variety of studio equipment such as taco carts, studio lamps, camera dollies and makeup tables in bad weather, protecting them from slush and snow. They are made of strong 6mm plastic and are very versatile. It’s a cost effective way to protect your valuable equipment. Stop in to Production Outfitters to see for yourself! Gen Andrews, Production Outfitters (and Rentals, too)

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In the Showroom: The AF100

With the new Panasonic AF100 Camera being shipped, and the new Sony PMW-F3 on its way, lots of questions have arisen, especially by filmmakers who don’t actually know much about lenses.  I know…seriously?  However if you’re like me and want a simple explanation of what goes with what, here it is below.

We’ve recently established a relationship with Birger Engineering, a well-known company right down the road from us in Boston, and, as of February 10, we’ll start carrying their Canon EF to Micro 4/3 Adapter.  Their Birger F-Mount adapter will shortly follow and after that you’ll be seeing adapters for the Sony PMW-F3, which is a native PL-mount, and also the Arri Alexa camera.  Don’t forget we’re having an event this Wednesday, January 19th featuring the Sony PMW-F3, currently, only one of two in the entire country.  If you have questions you’d like to ask Sony directly, this will be the event to come to! So, what next?  Well, please make sure you are stocked on accessories.  We are obviously seeing a delay in the AF100 inventory due to high demand, but note that we now carry stock of SanDisk CF and SDHC Cards, SxS-1 and P2 as well as batteries, chargers, headphones and more.  If there is something you’d like to see more of here, email me at Brooks@Rule.com, and let me know!  I’ll happily add more to the inventory if I’m missing something.  Tune in for more new things to be expecting- the countdown to NAB is on now that the New Year has begun, and it’s never too late to start tracking what you’ll see. Below, we have some pictures of an AF100 we recently set up for a client, including the Zacuto Fast Draw, with an extra Zwivel Arm, 4.5 M-F Threaded Rod, 10” Arm Extensions, 77mm step-down ring, Genus 4×4 Matte Box, Arri M-FF1 Follow Focus, Zacuto Zip Gear with stops, Vibesta 8.3” Magic Arm, Canon 24-70mm L-series lens and a Convergent Design Nanoflash.  Accessories?  In this case, Panasonic VWV-BG6PPK batteries and single slot Panasonic charger, Panasonic 32Gb Gold SDHC Cards, SanDisk 32Gb Extreme CF Cards (Class 10) and a Canon Adapter that will be announced shortly. As we were setting this up: One thing to note: When using a non-Panasonic lens with an adapter, go to Menu>Other Functions> Lens Check and turn it “off.” Otherwise you’ll see black. Michelle Brooks, Inside Sales Rep

(Above) Panasonic AG-AF100 with Arri MFF-1 Follow Focus, Zacuto Fast Draw Kit Canon 24-70mm LF/2.4 Lens and Genus Matte Box (Below) Same set-up with C.D. Nanoflash and Vibesta Magic Arm.

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PluralEyes for Avid Media Composer

We’ve been watching with envy as the Internet has been buzzing about PluralEyes and its auto-syncing technology, which brings some exciting news for Avid users… PluralEyes is available to most of the major NLEs: Final Cut Pro, Premiere Pro, Vegas and now Media Composer. The MC version is currently in beta and offered as a free download to encourage testing and, of course, feedback. This new version of PluralEyes uses AAF to move files between the two pieces of software. Here’s a step-by-step guide (as outlined on the Singular Software site): In Media Composer, create a sequence and add the clips to it. They can be positioned anywhere in the sequence, as long as all the clips from each recording device (camera, audio recorder) go on their own track. Export the sequence to AAF. Be sure to select all the tracks you want to sync first. Start PluralEyes. PluralEyes is a standalone application. In the PluralEyes main window, click the Open… button and choose the AAF file that you exported earlier. Choose any desired sync options (if you’re not sure, just leave them all unchecked) and press Sync. PluralEyes will create an output AAF file and will tell you where it is. In Media Composer, import that AAF file. The result will be a copy of the input sequence but with the clips moved around to be in sync. It’s nice to see such platform openness in third-party software like PluralEyes. Zbigniew Twarog, Chief Engineer

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The Arrival of the Alexa

The Alexa, the much-anticipated new digital cinema camera from ARRI, arrived last Monday in its factory-fresh box.  The Rule Boston Camera staff was obviously ecstatic to get their hands on the camera after various ARRI factory delays postponed its arrival.  Within its first few hours at our shop (Arri Unboxing), the Alexa was booked on its first rental — a week-long commercial job.  Our Alexa made its first public debut at the PBS Quality Workshop at WGBH on November 4th, where the camera was eagerly inspected by the many who attended. From a rental house perspective, the ARRI Alexa is a welcome tool in the transition from the ease and image quality of film-based acquisition to the current needs of digital cinema.  The camera will be an excellent choice for those looking for an alternative to both the RED and the numerous HDSLR systems currently being used in productions. We’ll be hosting an upcoming Learning Lab dedicated to the features of the new camera, but in the meantime call or drop by with questions or to catch a glimpse of the Alexa. Brian Malcolm, General Manager

Arri's Guenter Noesner provides an overview of the Alexa

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The First Forum Shoot

In past posts, I mentioned that this room at Harvard’s School of Public Health, is interesting because of its dual purpose. Well, on Friday we broke in the production part of the room. Here is the techno-geeky breakdown of the shoot: The goal was redundancy to prevent failure. Four BRC-H700 Cameras mounted on ceiling lifts that lower them down to eye level when needed. Each fed HDSDI into an AnyCast switcher. Two more sources from an EX3 stationed in the room to provide a human operator better equipped to grab audience questions, and a PC running a PowerPoint. The PC was converted through an Extron USP 507 to HDSDI and fed not only to the Anycast but also to two 40″ LCD screens in the room for audience viewing. Audio in from four wired lav mics in the room and one wireless hand held into a Shure mixer for processing then to the Anycast to combine with the video. Also 8 Clock Audio ceiling mics through a Nexia DSP to the AnyCast for audience questions. Music in from an iPod to open the show rounded out the audio scheme. Recording was done on six different devices. Two KiPros each taking a program feed from the AnyCast. Three camera backups to HVR-1500s, so that everything could be fixed in post. There is also an audio recording done to a Marantz MP3 recorder. This file was emailed directly after the event to have a transcript made. In addition to all of this, the unit that we are using to do a live encode for the web does its own recording, a Digital Rapids StreamZ HD. There is a future technology coming to the location as well. Using VYVX, we will be able to transmit full-quality HD to any network in the world. This system has a lot of complexity stuffed into a small space, but it all works very well. I look forward to seeing many more of these events in the future. Ian Tosh, Director of Engineering Services

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Production Outfitters: New G-Drives!

New to Productions Outfitters are the G-Technology G-Drives!  These light and portable drives come in a range of storage sizes and include a sleek silver design.  They are naturally rugged and  capable of faster transfer speeds and a range of connectivity. The G-drive mini has some added bonuses including 2 firewire 800 ports and no need for AC power.  You can just plug it right into your computer via the firewire cable.  We have them available right next to rentals, so if the need should arise you can pick one up right away! Gen Andrews, Production Outfitters Store

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The Forum Launches Today

In the last couple of weeks, the System Integration Team has been putting together the final pieces for the launch of the Harvard School of Public Health’s FORUM series.  The AV and lighting are now in place in the room that will be used BOTH as a conference room and production studio.   The production studio portion of the room is hosting its first event today, which will be (both) recorded and streamed live for a worldwide audience on the inter-web. The topic is: The Impact of the 2010 Elections on U.S. Healthcare Reform: Presented by The Forum at Harvard School of Public Health in Collaboration with ReutersTime: 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. EST.  Watch at:  www.ForumHSPH.org Ian Tosh, Director of Engineering Services

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System Integration at Harvard is Up & Running

In mid-October, the System Integration Team installed the Panasonic 103″ monitor in the 10th floor conference room (which looks really great).  The monitor was hoisted by a crane up 10 floors through a window and then was stored in a closet while the construction part of the project was finished. Like everything in this installation, the monitor will serve two separate masters.  In the conference room it will take the place of a typical projector and be used to show presentations and video conference calls.  When the room is used in production mode, the monitor will serve as an adjustable background.  Any of the sources in the room can be fed to the monitor through an HDSDI router.  It might “host” a still for one of the Forum presentations or you might see a moving background from the Final Cut Pro laptop system — really, it could be anything! In a typical conference room set-up, we would have created this scenario with a rear projection screen.  In this case, there was no room behind the screen for a rear projection system, but the necessity to show it on camera, perhaps under lights, made it necessary to use this monitor. The monitor is a great showpiece for the room, and as they say “It really ties the room together.” Earlier last month, we received and installed the camera lifts that are now holding the 4 installed cameras in the ceiling.  I have to give credit where credit is due.  These lifts came from a company called Display Devices, and they were a pleasure to work with.  They customized the lifts per our specifications, and they delivered them on time. The builders and carpenters who installed them did a great job compensating for the weight of the cameras and tying everything into the ceiling in a way that looks great and works well! Now the cool part… What these lifts do is allow the camera to mount flush with the ceiling in the “up” position in order to keep them out of the way when the room is used as a conference room — yet they can still be used as a video conference camera.  In the “down” position, they arrive at about eye level so that they can be used in production mode without the high angle at which these cameras tend to me mounted. These lifts have the cameras inverted, but the same lifts can be used with the cameras mounted inside the box allowing them to completely disappear from the room until they are needed.  Very cool.  I’m  looking forward to working with these lifts again on future projects. Ian Tosh, Director of Engineering Services

Monitor Installation at Harvard
Putting the Monitor in Place
The Monitor in Place

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In the Showroom: 3D, Euphonix MC Color, Tripods, Z-Finders, G-Drives & More

I was recently sitting in the Showroom looking over the latest additions to our stock.  We’re steadily adding to the inventory, so I’ll post what’s new in the Showroom as it comes in.  In the meantime, if you’ve been reading Mike Sutton’s blog posts or following the latest technology in the Learning Lab sessions you’ll know what’s new!   While I was in the Showroom writing this, one of our engineers, Alex Ulloa, came running down the hallway with an unfamiliar-looking manual, and as he pressed it against the glass everything went blurry.  And I bet the same thing will happen to you when you check out the new Panasonic 3D cameras.  They’re currently being tested by our engineers and prepped for rental and demo use.  If you’re looking to buy one, check in ASAP!  For a sense of what they look and feel like when shooting, check out Mike Sutton’s blog post (he recently took one out for a test drive), or come to the October 20th Learning Lab which is all about shooting with the AG-3DA1 3D camera and the BT-3DL 2550 25.5″ 3D LCD monitor (we’ll provide the 3D glasses). Another new product you’ll see in the Showroom is the Euphonix MC Color used for Color Grading.  Most of you Final Cut Pro users have probably heard about it, but what you might not know is that Euphonix was recently bought by Avid.  We like the MC Color because Euphonix built it specifically to avoid breaking the bank.  Any other color grading option out there starts at $3,650. Then there are the new tripods, specifically the Manfrotto 701HDV, 547BK, Sachtler FSB-6 SOOM tripod, Manfrotto 504HD, 546BK tripods (replacing the discontinued 503’s) and the standard Sachtler FSB-4 and FSB-6. Last but not least, we’re doing our best to get in some custom Canon and Zacuto catalogs.  I’m guessing that a lot of you are looking online trying to figure out which kit is best for you, so let us help you with advice from people who have already put together their own custom rigs and know the parts pretty well.  Bring your camera in along with any and all of your parts, and we’ll help you rig them to go with what you need.  If there are any missing pieces, we’ll order them right then and there.  It’s nice to be able to build something that fits your needs, not changes them. We’re becoming dealers for new brands by the week, adding Euphonix, Adobe, For-A, Ross and G-Tech relationships, so keep checking in!  We just got a LARGE shipment of Zacuto Z-finders and G-Drives so come in soon! Michelle Brooks, Inside Sales Representative

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A Unique Dual-Purpose Integration: Mobile & Fixed

The most recent integration project started with a phone call from a local producer who planned to build a portable HD control room for Harvard’s School of Public Health. As initially conceived, this would involve a switching flypack that would move between 2 separate spaces in one building and provide all the control gear to turn a conference room or large performance space into a remote camera production studio.  We were familiar with the construction of a portable flypack and the installation of remote cameras but putting these functions together presented some interesting challenges.  For example, where was the line between the portable and the installed equipment?  How do we connect the 2 systems so they’ll work well together and separate easily?  These questions made the project unique, and we were definitely up for the challenge. Once we started working on the portable production aspect, the architects who were overhauling the conference room suggested we design and build the audio/visual portion in that space.  Consistency was the main objective.  By building the mobile flypack first, once in the conference room, it had to work in tandem with the audio visual components (e.g., teleconference, boundary microphones, resident computers, a VERY large display, etc.) in this more permanent space. It was the right way to handle this type of design, and as we moved through this particular phase, we became increasingly aware of the relationship between both aspects of the project. Overall, whether the production equipment is mobile or in the control room, the objective was to produce the highest quality HD material for both live streaming over the web and broadcast feeds to a variety of news outlets.  Because both systems would overlap in some of their hardware, it meant that much of the equipment in the conference room would conform to very high specifications.  For example, it’s not common to use a high-end HDSDI signal to feed a teleconferencing system.  It’s also not common to use Lite Panels (production lighting) on the speaker in a conference room setting.  The dual purpose for this space made the high-end choices budgetarily necessary. After wrapping up the design phase, and then preassembling and testing the gear in our shop, construction is finished and we’re now moving the gear on site in order to have the entire room tested and ready for production early next month. At this particular point in the project, it strikes me that despite all the overlap within these 2 co-existing systems (and no matter what the final purpose of the room) — video is still video and audio is still audio! Ian Tosh, Director of Engineering Services