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Remote field monitor

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Neil Weaver
Remote field monitor
on Jun 23, 2009 at 9:09:52 pm

Does such a thing exist, or am I in dreamland?

A lot of my work is location based, me and a camera-op on highly mobile shoots - following people actually on the job -no actors, no set-ups. It often means I don't get to see what's been shot until after the fact - when it's not always possible to go for another take. Generally speaking, I use camera ops I know and trust and we go into each shoot knowing what we want out of it. But I would still like to be able to view what's being shot as it's being shot.

So is there such a thing as a phantom powered, wireless field monitor that means I get to see what's going on without risking me, the camera op, the on-screen talent or any passers-by, tripping over or getting throttled by a connecting cable?

Thanks in advance...

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Kai Cheong
Re: Remote field monitor
on Jun 25, 2009 at 3:19:49 pm

What we use on shoot currently is a lightweight 8" Ikan V8000W monitor, attached to our Sony Z1-P camera using component cables [we got the 2m one - not too long or too short]. It also takes S-Video and HDMI.

It's a decent monitor for it's price range - though we kinda just realized it's STILL a little overscanned [no underscan function]. Which presented some problems when we were shooting with a Letus adapter recently.

A lot of our shoots also involve running around but nothing overly adventurous yet. My director likes being close to the DP while shooting, so he could point out some details when needed. That's why the cables are still ok.

So far, we haven't hurt anybody [or equipment] in the process...

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Bill Davis
Re: Remote field monitor
on Jun 28, 2009 at 8:10:33 pm

It's perfectly possible, just not particularly cheap or easy - particularly the "unteathered" part.

You'd need 2.4Ghz wireless video transmission and reception units, battery power adapters and an LCD monitor screen. Depending on how robust and bullet proof you'd probably be looking at between $1000 and $3000 to make it happen sorta reliably. (I say "sorta" cuz when you use radio-wave anything, interference is always an issue)

Wired is easy. Wireless is not so much.

I'd question, tho, how much you'd actually use it even if you got it to work. I base that on the fact that years ago, I got a smoking blowout deal on the historically venerable Sony RM VJ-1 video microphone unit - which had a lovely 3.5" LCD screen in a handheld unit COMPLETE with zoom and focus controls in a sleek handheld unit tethered back to my camera. I guses the idea was that a producer/reporter could become a 1 man band.

It's been sitting in a box for about 10 years now and I don't think I ever took it in the field more than twice.

In practice, nobody who has much sense goes to shoot anything important without a confidence monitor somewhere on a cart. And it's easier to just walk to that to get a REAL look at the picture than to carry something around.

I'm shooting more with my Canon 5d these days, and it has an app that sends a live view picture to my iPhone, so maybe possibly, this might change the way I look at hand held monitors in the future - but right now, I'm not holding my breath.


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Neil Weaver
Re: Remote field monitor
on Jul 1, 2009 at 11:39:05 am

That's just it - when I shoot as a one man band, I know I'm getting the shots I want. When I direct, I'm relying on the camera op to get the shots I tell him to get. A lot of the time, it's fine - my regular guys all know what they're doing and we plan stuff out accordingly. It's just sometimes, back in the edit, I'm thinking, 'you know what, if I could actually have seen what was being shot as it was being shot, I would have asked for x,y or z as well...' Not because we're missing hugely important stuff, but when you can see what your operators can see through their viewfinder it makes a difference - particularly with composition and framing. And on these highly mobile observational shoots a wireless monitor would be worth its weight!

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Bill Davis
Re: Remote field monitor
on Jul 5, 2009 at 8:52:54 am

But Neil - why not just buy a cheap LCD monitor and mount it on the opposite side of the sticks from where the operator is standing and feed it from the BNC tap?

What I'm saying is that is there something that's preventing you from directing from near the camera? Why go to the hassle to send an RF video signal when you can just set up a monitor wherever you like and have your crew run a line to it?

I've been directing that way for more than 10 years and my crew knows that the camera gets set up first, and "video village" gets set up second.

On my set, Video Villlage is a folding 2-level production cart that has a 13" Sony Pro monitor on the top level, and my laptop for directors notes below. This lets clients and content experts and whomever else is mission critical - stand around me and watch right along. Something that you just can't do holding a 3" gizmo in your hand.

But, of course, that's just how I work. YMMV.

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Raymond Tarry
Re: Remote field monitor
on Mar 9, 2013 at 4:05:44 am

Bill, I’ve been seeing a lot of small LCD monitors for sale like the ones on this web page:
I don’t know if they’re as good as the industry standard quality production monitors, but with all the changes in the last few years, the “industry standard” is in a constant state of flux and an aspiring Director, I really hate the whole idea of Video Village.

If we consider the following scenario of a one-location feature film production in which:
1. You and your DP do camera tests, project them on a D.I. screen at a good post house so the “look” of the project is set.
2. You’re able simulate daylight through windows so you have a lot of control day to day.
3. You have a reliable camera like the Arri Alexa (just suppose you can afford it).
4. You have no DIT, but a PA off-set off-loading Data from SxS cards.

Would one of these monitors mounted on a rack on the camera serve a good DP’s needs when it comes to lighting a set?
For everyone else who hangs out in video village, I’d just as soon give ‘em IPads with some sort of LivePlay set-up and have ‘em stand somewhere else. I don’t direct through a monitor, except to check the shot.
I’d appreciate your thoughts on this - Raymond

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