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Levering_2pp

2 Player Productions Equipment Catalog

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We have received a few requests to share our shooting setup here on the boards, so i put together this information dump. Feel free to ask us any questions in the comments.

Cameras

Panasonic AF-100P

w/

Convergent Design Nano Flash recorder

Lexar Pro 128 Gb 133x SDXC (camera)

Lexar Pro 64 GB 1000x CF (nanoflash)

We upgraded to this from the Panasonic HPX-170 for the larger image sensor and variable lens mounts. We tried using the 170 with a 35mm adaptor but the rig was too unwieldy. Soon we’re adding the external nano flash recorder to have 4:2:2 color sampling and less compression. What that means is that when the camera shoots to the SD card it compresses the footage to make it fit. That results in image noise. The nano flash records an uncompressed video stream from the cameras SDI video output to super fast compact flash cards, with roughly 4x the information density. This results in a cleaner, more accurate image that holds up better to post production and is acceptable for most international broadcast standards.

Lenses

Nikon lens 100mm f2.8

Nikon lens 28mm f2.8

Nikon lens 50mm f1.4

Canon FD 50mm f1.8

These are some older lenses of ours we’re trying to phase out. Any f stop over 2 is just a little too slow for most natural conditions in the studio, and even the faster 50mm lenses have been eclipsed by newer ones we’re using in terms of speed and image quality.

For a quick explanation of f stop, the lower the number the less light you need in the environment to get a shot. So lenses with really low numbers are great for a dark studio with very little natural light. As the numbers get higher you need to introduce more light into the scene for the camera to see anything, which means we have to be outside or setting up lights in the studio.

Panasonic Lumix G Vario 14-140mm f4-5.8

This lens came with the camera, and we wrote it off at first because of how slow the f stop is. It does have a very powerful zoom, but it’s likely we’ll be replacing it with the faster Olympus lens below.

Olympus Zuiko ED 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0

Olympus Zuiko Auto-S 50mm f1.2

This Olympus zoom is super wide at 12mm, and at 60mm it can get in close enough to cover most situations that take place in the studio. It’s a little slow, but it is practically impossible to find a lens with a powerful zoom that is also fast and not ridiculously expensive.

The 50mm is a great prime lens, an older model from a used shop that has a nice dreamy look. The Voigtlander listed below may take its place due to better image reproduction, but it’s nice to have two similar primes in case we want them on both cameras.

Voigtlander NOKTON 50mm f/1.1 LENS

Voigtlander NOKTON 25mm f/0.95 LENS

(pre-order) Voigtlander NOKTON 17mm f/0.95

The 25mm lens here is somewhat legendary and it’s made us fall in love with the brand. Super super fast, bright lenses with great depth of field and sturdy construction. These lenses will be the primary workhorse for the series.

Gear

Steadicam Merlin Arm & Vest Kit

Something we picked up recently to help with traveling shots. Takes a lot of practice but the results are worth it. It’s likely you won't be seeing shots from this for a few episodes while we learn how to operate it.

Oben ACM-2400L monopod

Manfrotto 501HDV head w 546B 2-Stage aluminum tripod

None of our lenses with the exception of the Panasonic Lumix have shake reduction, so any trembles can come through very clearly. As many of you have pointed out to us. The Oben monopod helps in tight spaces and has great mobility, while the Manfrotto is heavier and more stable for smooth panning motion.

Lowel Tota 300w Key light

Arri 150w Fresnel accent light

Just some basic lights for set up interviews. We try not to set spaces up too much, but in an interview setting it helps to just have some light to bring people out of the background.

Sound

VDB medium boom pole

Tascam HDP2 - stereo portable recorder

PortaBrace AR-HDP2 - case for Tascam recorder

Roland R44 - 4 channel portable recorder

(24bit 96khz)

The Tascam is a great industry standard field recorder, but it eats batteries like crazy and should just be plugged in as often as possible. We recently picked up the Roland R44 because it allows recording of four separate channels instead of just the two on the Tascam. It’s also way cuter then the Tascam.

AKG AKSE300BCK93 Blue Line Series Microphone Kit

Sennheiser MKH416 P48 - Short Shotgun

These have been the go to mics we’ve been using since the Penny-Arcade shooting. The Sennheiser has a tight focus and better range, while the AKGs sound great up close. We’re currently looking into possible alternatives, but all the ambient noise in the Double Fine studio makes audio capture difficult in general. The AKGs live on the cameras at this point, but using sound captured on the camera is a worse case scenario. Most of the sound we use comes from the Sennheiser on the boom or the wireless mics below.

Lectrosonics - wireless receiver - UCR411A

Lectrosonics - wireless transmitter - UM400A

Sonotrim Lav - microphone

After avoiding wireless mics for the longest time we broke down and got these during the Minecraft project. “Affordable” wireless kits are more or less useless for serious recording, often times having problems with interference and short ranges. These Lectrosonics kits have never had interference issues and can pick someone up from the other side of the studio. If you ever find yourself thinking about getting a wireless mic setup, best to save up for something good. It’s worth the investment.

Computers

27-inch Apple iMac

3.4 GHz Core i7

32 GB 1333 MHz DDR3

AMD Radeon HD 6970M 2048 MB

256 GB internal SSD

1 TB internal Sata Disk

Apple Thunderbolt Display

17-inch MacBook Pro

2.5 GHz Core i7

16GB 1333 MHz DDR3

AMD Radeon HD 6770M 1024 MB

256 Gb internal SSD

These are Apple computers, nothing much to say. A solid state drive and tons of ram ensures that programs run great. Our editing software can render footage and produce an export 3-4 times faster than our previous setup. If that doesn't seem like much, imagine exporting something like the first episode of DFA would have taken 4-5 hours, now it takes 45 minutes to an hour. And you can do other stuff while the CPU churns through footage, instead of just having it lock up and crash.

Promise Pegasus R6 12TB Thunderbolt Raid (RAID 6)

Drobo Pro 16TB Raid (BeyondRAID)

1080p HD footage comes out to be something like 80 minutes for 64gb of storage, so a days worth of footage from two cameras starts to add up fast. We use the Drobo for backing up and storing footage, while the Pegasus is built for speed so we use that to edit footage. When setting up any Raid drive you lose a little space, which makes the Pegasus more like 10TB and the Drobo more like 12TB. Drobo uses a special format for redundancy called BeyondRAID. The Pegasus uses RAID 6.

Software

Final Cut Studio 7

Final Cut Pro X

Screenflow

Motion

Compressor

Photoshop

Adobe After Effects

We’ve always worked with Final Cut and Final Cut has always worked with us. We were hesitant to make the leap to FCPX, but we’re warming up to it as Apple addresses many of the problems the software launched with. It helps to have a faster system to run it on as well, it’s definitely something that was built for newer machines. During the course of the project you’ll start to see us switching over to X, and we’ll share our experiences with it on the boards here.

JT9VJ.jpg

This is our cluttered work station in the office. Turning around from this view you would see a heap of bags, boxes, and sound blankets in the corner.

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Looking forward to hearing how FCPX works out, thanks for the info

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Cheers for the info guys! We're currently thinking about moving to the AF-101 and having seen the stuff you're putting out, I'm pretty convinced.

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Interesting.

Do you guys only shoot at DF, or do you also have some editing equipment there?

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Interesting.

Do you guys only shoot at DF, or do you also have some editing equipment there?

We have a workstation set up at Double Fine, as well as at our home office.

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Nice list of equipment! One general question: How many days per month do you plan to film at Double Fine's studio?

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Nice list of equipment! One general question: How many days per month do you plan to film at Double Fine's studio?

I will be here pretty much all the time, with Owens and Asif coming down for a week or more each month.

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Very good read, much appreciated. And I'm looking forward to further insights into your work process.

I'm especially interested since you use a tapeless workflow (though it's a bit amusing how Panasonic puts 4:2:2 and uncompressed into one sentence). We mainly work with HDCAM on AVID Media Composer and DS systems, yet are looking for alternatives. FCPX has been addressing some major issues recently but open source Lightworks does look promising as well.

Your iMac setup makes me curious as to how it compares to a MacPro (which hopefully gets an update this fall). But with that much RAM and SSD I guess it's not really an issue?

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very nice equipment - thanks for the detailed rundown.

i especially envy you for the voightlander lenses, the merlin vest, the mics and the nanoflash. gonna get me all of these one day :-)

love the merlin. don't got the vest, though, so it gets pretty heavy on the arms with the af100. (with the "kit" lens i have my merlin set to something like 337mm, hole H, using all weights that came with it (middle: 1m 1f, down: 1 s 5m 1 f , dovetail at 1.9 - including lens hood and handgrips. might have changed that a bit since since i set it up, but haven't got it "perfect" yet.

i've already switched to FCP X - sometimes it can drive you nuts - but a lot of other times it makes up for it's limitations with it's simplicity and easy way of arranging and rearranging footage in the timeline.

Your iMac setup makes me curious as to how it compares to a MacPro (which hopefully gets an update this fall). But with that much RAM and SSD I guess it's not really an issue?

a mac pro update would be sweet. i hope, it happens eventually. having had some good experience with my "hackintosh" so far, but nowadays it's getting slow really soon (especially with fcpx)

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Looks like a sweet setup, guys. A few more of those Kickstarter documentaries, and you should be rocking a Scarlet or two as your main cameras ;)

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Very good read, much appreciated. And I'm looking forward to further insights into your work process.

I'm especially interested since you use a tapeless workflow (though it's a bit amusing how Panasonic puts 4:2:2 and uncompressed into one sentence). We mainly work with HDCAM on AVID Media Composer and DS systems, yet are looking for alternatives. FCPX has been addressing some major issues recently but open source Lightworks does look promising as well.

Your iMac setup makes me curious as to how it compares to a MacPro (which hopefully gets an update this fall). But with that much RAM and SSD I guess it's not really an issue?

Technically it's not uncompressed, just much less compressed. The nanoflash isn't recording at it's max setting because it would just burn through our cards at a impractical rate. 100mbs is a nice place to be though.

We didn't have time to wait for a potential MacPro upgrade, and it seems very likely they'll just be dropping the platform all together. For the price, you could also have 3 top of the line iMacs for the cost of the best MacPro system. Since we're not doing any extensive graphics work a system like that seems unnecessary, for us at least.

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love the merlin. don't got the vest, though, so it gets pretty heavy on the arms with the af100. (with the "kit" lens i have my merlin set to something like 337mm, hole H, using all weights that came with it (middle: 1m 1f, down: 1 s 5m 1 f , dovetail at 1.9 - including lens hood and handgrips. might have changed that a bit since since i set it up, but haven't got it "perfect" yet.

It's really tricky. I feel like we do a little better each day though, so it seems like it just takes constant practice and experimentation.

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Looks like a sweet setup, guys. A few more of those Kickstarter documentaries, and you should be rocking a Scarlet or two as your main cameras ;)

I'm not sure it's really the best camera for us. No one out there has a perfect solution really, so it's just a matter of finding something you're most comfortable with.

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As a fellow documentarian (amazingly not a real word, but it should be) and photographer who feels it's about 25% equipment and 75% the person actually using the equipment, being at the right place and understanding angles, etc. and the same with the editing... I still gotta express some jealousy.

I'm working from pretty much no budget here, so jealousy must rear it's head, even if I'm proud of what I've been able to accomplish while LOVING what you have.

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my film school completely dropped FCP after FCPX came out and is an Avid/Adobe house now. Theres talk of getting PCs now because Apple might ax the Mac Pro line, too.

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I'm not sure it's really the best camera for us. No one out there has a perfect solution really, so it's just a matter of finding something you're most comfortable with.

That I can agree with.

So where do you guys stand on using a DSLR's for the job? You've already got the glass, and the differences between still and a video cameras seem to be moving away (albeit slowly). Than again, for video documentaries, an actual video camera makes a logical choice.

Either way, kudos for using some Nikon glass :D

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Cool. Here is an epic lens that Stanley Kubrick used to make Barry Lyndon in 1975:

At the very early stages of his preparation for "BARRY LYNDON", Kubrick scoured the world looking for exotic, ultra-fast lenses, because he knew he would be shooting extremely low light level scenes. It was his objective, incredible as it seemed at the time, to photograph candle-lit scenes in old English castles by only the light of the candles themselves! A former still photographer for Look magazine, Kubrick has become extremely knowledgeable with regard to lenses and, in fact, has taught himself every phase of the technical application of his filming equipment. He called one day to ask me if I thought I could fit a Zeiss lens he had procured, which had a focal length of 50mm and a maximum aperture of f/O.7. He sent me the dimensional specifications, and I reported that it was impossible to fit the lens to his BNC because of its large diameter and also because the rear element came within 4mm of the film plane. Stanley, being the meticulous craftsman that he is, would not take 'No" for an answer and persisted until I reluctantly agreed to take a hard look at the problem.

http://www.visual-memory.co.uk/sk/ac/len/page1.htm

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As a video editing hobbyist, I was fascinated reading this; thank you for the detailed breakdown!

I am currently using the final version of Final Cut Studio (my old professor gave me a license when the school moved to FCPX) - what are some of the challenges you've faced in moving to FCPX? I am looking into upgrading now that Apple's made some of these changes and I've wrapped up all my current projects.

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Thanks a lot for sharing you specs and gear. it's not that often that people are willing to share what they use and how they work.

We have received a few requests to share our shooting setup here on the boards, so i

Software

Final Cut Studio 7

Final Cut Pro X

(...)

Photoshop

Adobe After Effects

Since you're working with AE & PS, have you ever considered working with Premiere Pro ? It became something really great in CS5 with their mercury engine and new UI. I used to work on both PP & FCP, and switched to PP full time when FCPX was released. You guys should give it a try when you get the chance to ;) Nothing worldblowing, but still worth a try for tapeless workflows

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Thank you for the information, it's an interesting read.

You should do some filming behind the scenes of how the documentary was made, it would be intesting to watch :-).

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A nice list, thank you!

I see a distinct lack of a secondary backup; do you have off-site backups in case of fire/flood/burglary/RAID-explosions? I remember the anger and frustration a certain indie-developer had when a burglar stole both his work-machine and his backup-machine...

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