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Eclair ACL or A-Minima for doc???

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Alec Eagon
Eclair ACL or A-Minima for doc???
on Jul 22, 2011 at 3:26:56 am

Hey Everyone,

I am shooting a short Super 16mm documentary, mostly going to be filming in a recording studio in a mixing room (so fairly close quarters, acoustically tuned, etc). The two set-ups that I am looking at investing in are roughly as follows:

************************************

ECLAIR ACL 1.5 SUPER16 KIT:
- Eclair 1.5 (converted Super 16mm) (newer motor, very well kept)
- 1 Zeiss Super Speed T* 16mm f/1.2 Arri Bayonet for S16mm
- 2x 400ft Spools (1 Barney)
- 2x 200ft Spools (1 Barney)
- Anatomical Grip, Rails, Matte Box

STRENGTHS:
- Full Package ready to go
- NOISE: 32db for the Eclair (w/o barney) [might be close to the 29db for the Minima w/ barney???]
- MUCH CHEAPER (1/4th the cost of the A-Minima)

WEAKNESSES:
- Lots of Parts
- Might want to upgrade again a year or two...
- Repairs may be difficult?
- Might not hold its value as well (would be more of a purchase than an investment)

*********************************************************

AATON A-MINIMA KIT:
- A-Minima Camera (Non-Rental)
- Canon T 2.4 Super16mm Lens
- potentially some other goodies... (tripod, matte box, etc...)

STRENGTHS:
- Warranties, resell guarentees (Purchasing from a big name re-seller)
- Smaller Overall/Less parts (camera, motor, mag are all in one...easier to travel with in the future??)
- Canon T 2.4 is Remarkable (from what I understand???)
- A-Minima is a current industry standard (B-Cam to be sure on bigger productions)
- A-Minima might retain value more???

WEAKNESSES:
- Significantly MORE EXPENSIVE (3-4x more expensive than Eclair Package)
- No 400ft Mag capability option

*****************************

The filming for my next project is going to be extremely low key (gonna be more photographic, more demonstrations and potentially will be more like 2 or 3 mini-docs around 5 mins in length), so the 6 minutes (200ft spools) vs. the 400ftrs on the Eclair pack shouldn't be that big of a deal (I may be speaking too soon though).

Both cameras packages are within my price range for the project, however the A-Minima package is, as stated above, (4x more expensive).
I've learned a ton in the last few years, but I am still very much a rookie when it comes to experience, which is why I really need some advisement here. Want to make sure I am not going for the cotton candy (w/ the A-Minima) or stopping short with the Eclair.

Any wisdom that could be offered to me on this would be MOST APPRECIATED!!!

Thanks a lot!

- Alec


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Todd Terry
Re: Eclair ACL or A-Minima for doc???
on Jul 22, 2011 at 4:04:27 pm

I think you've already hit most of the pluses and minuses... just now depends on what things are important to you.

If money is a big concern, go with the ACL.

If it's not, the A-minima probably would win it hands-down for me. I love the A-minima. It's really a robust, modern camera, whereas the ACL is a bit of a dinosaur (although plenty of them are still in service).

The A-minima is a lot smaller and will be much quieter, both of which might be important, depending on your work. Sync is also a no-brainer on the Aaton, as it runs Aaton Code. The only real downside to the A-minima is the 200ft capacity, which might or might not be a factor for you. I usually shoot 35mm so I live in a "three minute mag" world, so 200ft of 16mm seems like a luxury... but if you are used to shooting 400ft rolls of 16mm you might find the short run time crippling.

Are you married to those two choices? I'm a big fan of a very little known camera, the Bolex Pro sync...



I had one for years, before selling it a couple of years ago. It looks like an A-minima on a lot of steriods. They only made about 300 of them, so you don't see them often, but they were great cameras. Built like tanks, sync motors, quick-change coax mag in the rear, great viewfinder, and servo controls for everything... focus, zoom, aperture. It even has a built-in meter and will auto-expose, if you want (although I never used that feature). Really great cameras, and you can sometimes find them available in the $4K range. The only complaints I ever had about mine were the weight (it's heavy), and the fact that it does not have a variable shutter.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Alec Eagon
Re: Eclair ACL or A-Minima for doc???
on Jul 22, 2011 at 6:14:24 pm

Hey Todd,

Thanks a lot for getting back to me.

1. Looked into the Bolex Pro just briefly. That is so cool. I've never come across that thing. Is it a Super 16? Quiet?

2. AatonCode is really appealing to me...do you think it would save me a ton of headache with a doc? I've shot crystal sync for music videos, and it takes a while but I've always been able to get things to line up pretty darn well (the longest shot though that I've done that for is only about 1 min though).

3. What about stability? I have a "Rolls-Royce" condition Bolex Rx5 S16 (Crystal Sync) and the exposures I get are still a little "wobbly" right and left. Is the A-Minima a little more stable?

***

Pretty convinced I am going to go the A-Minima route...

-Alec


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Todd Terry
Re: Eclair ACL or A-Minima for doc???
on Jul 22, 2011 at 7:32:26 pm

Hey Alec...

Yeah the Bolex Pro is as quiet as a mouse... or at least the one I had was. If I was in a very super quiet-as-a-church interior location I could barely hear it running. If I was in an interior with any ambient noise (even just "room tone") I really couldn't hear it at all, and certainly for exteriors it was as good as completely silent. You'd have to press you ear to the mag to hear it running. The one I had was standard 16, but the guy I sold it to planned to convert it to S16, so apparently it can be done. Changing the gate wouldn't be hard, but I do not think you could recenter the lens... the camera body front was just too complicated for that. Fortunately though supposedly the lenses would still cover the S16mm frame. The camera had a very funky proprietary lens mount so you're stuck with the lenses that were made for the camera. Most had an Angenieux zoom, but mine had the rarer (and more sought after) Schneider 10-120 zoom, which was a fine and fast lens indeed.

Aaton Code will definitely help you if you plan to do a LOT of syncing or very long takes. I can't remember the A-minima specs exactly, but it's something ridiculous like accuracy +/- a quarter frame per 10,000 feet or something absolutely crazy like that... which of course is a moot point since you have 200ft mags.

You shouldn't have that wobbly gate-weave with the A-minima that you see with your Bolex. Even though the A-minima is not a pin-registered camera (neither is your Bolex, or the ACL), the images are still rock-steady.

Among the (few) disadvantages to the A-minima (other than those already mentioned) is that you might want to use a filmstock that is not available for the camera, since you have to buy film from Mother Kodak on the special A-minima spools. And the viewfinder has a fixed position... just thought of that.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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