Pre-Production Ups and Downs

Posted by on Jun 30, 2014 in News


So we’ve been doing a lot of preproduction and have enjoyed successes and suffered setbacks. It’s all part of the process. Let’s get the bad news out of the way first.

I ordered a wireless follow focus (Redrock Micro) from ebay. I had read good things about it and watched one very convincing video touting its merits. But ebay being ebay, my unit was rather noisy. I have no idea if it is as noisy as a brand new unit or not, but it’s not really usable for any of our shots requiring audio. Major bummer. Like on a scale of one to ten, I’d give that an 8. Wasn’t cheap.

Continuing the bad news, our wireless HDMI system (Paralinx, dual receiver) show its weakness when we tried to daisy chain an EVF (Zacuto) , a critical monitor (Odyssey 7Q) and a TV. That was one too many. I’d like to take this moment to mention just how much I hate HDMI. I cannot put into words my hatred for this format. The cables and connector inputs are absolute rubbish. The format is utter crap (the digital handshaking delays are like water torture). Whomever developed this technology should be forced to use it for all their video projects.

Our camera rig sucks. It sucks bad. We call it “Frankenstein” because it’s such a hodge podge of cobbled together stuff. Most of it is Chinese made garbage. I’m sure the Chinese are lovely people and have a wonderful culture and I have nothing against them personally, but my god do they make some serious crap. I’ve used balsa wood stronger then the metal in Chinese products. I bought a bunch of widgets to make it better. It’s not better. This thing should win some kind of anti-ergonomic award.

I also sliced my finger and blasted my abdomen in a minor power tool incident. It was one of those things where you try to drill into something that doesn’t want to be drilled into and you’re too lazy to put it in a vice or a clamp and then the thing goes whizzing around, slams into your gut and the drill bit breaks off as the whole thing tears across your finger. One of those things. It really is a wonder I’m alive considering all the stupid things I’ve done.

On the way back to Chicago to return some lenses we rented, I was in a toll booth lane that didn’t work. I used my credit and debit cards and cash, nothing worked. Had ten cars backed up. I could feel their hatred. One guy came and paid for me using quarters. Still didn’t work. I pressed the Help button. Dead air. The rage! Eventually everyone backed their way out, including me. I went to another booth and put in twenty bucks and waited for my shitload of quarters. Nothing. I pressed the Help button and they said they could file a report. !^@^%$!@&^%

Now for some good news. Our scouting has been amazing. We have all our interior locations accounted for. We’ve got beach front mansions, high end law firms, atmospheric homes, and creepy psychic lairs. Not to mention spectacular dunes and countryside landscapes. We’ve been really lucky in finding these locations. Way to go team!

I worked out the wireless HDMI problem so we can monitor on three devices. I think. Maybe. Given the finicky nature of HDMI, which only works when it feels like working, who knows if it will hold up in the field. I need to battle test it some more. Pray for me.

Frankenstein has come to life. I spent an entire day reworking the camera rig, specifically focusing on balance. We want to do a lot of handheld work for Alexis, so having a well-balanced rig is critical. The big engineering problem, if you will, is the fact that the Canon 5D’s HDMI output port is where your right cheek needs to be if you position the rig’s center of balance on your shoulder. Also, my not-very-impressive matte box from Super-Fun-Chinese-Camera store totally gets in the way of the follow focus. I may not have finished my engineering degree at Purdue, but sometimes I feel like I’m the only one who gets basic engineering for functional products that humans actually use. I ask myself, who the hell designed this and what were they thinking? Oh, and there’s no room for the EVF. Anyhoo, so I tore apart the matte box and created a custom mount using hardware store latches and hinges. It’s hilariously jury-rigged, but works great and doesn’t get in the way any more. I spent hours custom hacking a mount for the EVF, only to finally end up with a super simply solution using a basic clamp and arm bracket. Frankenstein is now wonderfully balanced. Just need the padded shoulder mount to arrive and then it can be polished out for cabling.

Casting has begun as well. We’ve had a lot of interest in our project and there have been some ambitious auditions. We’re really expecting a lot from our actors. We won’t start this project until we have the best we can get.

We also filmed a little promo piece for Indiegogo. We’ll get that up this week so we can start our media push and try to collect a few shekels.

Thanks for your interest and talk to you soon.