Hours of Operation
Audio Studio Orientations
Hard Drives and Backing Up
Student Union Movie Organization (SUMO) Sponsored Film Application
Goodhue Rehearsal Room
Equipment reservations are made by speaking directly with a Production Office person who is on duty in Weitz 139: by phone (507 222-5434) or in person.
CAMS production equipment is provided for current students in CAMS production classes, as well as CAMS staff and faculty for curriculum development and support. The equipment is made available for affiliate faculty as need in the production curriculum allows.
The Production Office does not make same-day reservations.
Patrons borrowing equipment from the Production Office are expected to return it on time in good working order.
Patrons may request renewals. A patron must request a renewal before the reservation is due. The Production Office will grant a renewal if the camera package the patron currently has is not reserved next in someone else's name. If it is so reserved, the patron is expected to return the camera promptly.
Students currently registered in Digital Foundations have access to: Sony NX5U camcorder kits (12), Manfrotto tripods and Røde NTG-2 shotgun mic kits with shock mount and pistol grip (18) for one-day reservations.
Advanced production courses have access to the same, plus Canon 60D packages (11), Spider Braces (5), Figg Rigs (2), Red Rock shoulder brace+follow focus kits (2), Sennheiser K6+ME66 packages (2), and Edirol and Marantz audio recorders (2 each), for two-day reservations. Spider dolly and jib arm at instructor's discretion, following safety training.
Compsers have access to the same for periods of time as requested, pending departmental approval of their comps proposal.
The Production Office does not check out headphones (although PEPS does). Sony MDR-7506 headphones are in use on the set and in studios the world over. CAMS students who don't already have quality headphones are urged to purchase a pair of 7506es, available for well under $100 (e.g. B&H, Amazon, and elsewhere).
The Production Office does not check out memory cards. Any Class 10 SDHC card of either 16 GB or 32 GB capacity will work in both Sony NX5Us and Canon 60Ds. Reputable manufacturers such as SanDisk and Lexar are recommended. Qualified SDHC cards are available for sale in the Carleton bookstore. It's most likely advanced production students will need multiple cards to complete assignments.
The Production Office is open:
-Monday through Friday 11:00 am to 3:00 pm the first week of each term
-the second through tenth weeks of term (ending at close of business day on the last day of instruction) according to this schedule:
Mon: winter term t.b.d.
-reading days and exam days: 11:00 am to 3:00 pm weekdays
-during Rotblatt each spring
-senior week: 11:00 am to 3:00 pm weekdays
The Production Office is closed and personnel are available by appointment only:
-the Monday of midterm weekend each term
-Saturday and Sunday of exam days each term
-winter break (Fall term packing day until the first day of instruction winter term),
-spring break (Winter term packing day until the first day of instruction spring term)
-the day of Spring Concert
-summer (from commencement day until the first day of instruction fall term)
-any dates dates not listed above
Please use this form to request studio time:
It is the Production Office's policy not to do same-day reservations.
This form asks you to list your entire group's first, second, and third choice of date and time. Doing this makes it highly likely you will get a studio booking.
This form asks you to list both start and end times. This makes it likely you'll get the amount of studio time you need.
Studio requests are processed during regular business hours during the regular work week.
Studio requests are processed in the order they were received.
The Audio Recording Studio is made available to any student, staff or faculty member who attends a single one-hour orientation. These are held at three different times early in each term.
Studio requests are confirmed by e-mail to the your Carleton e-mail address.
This form only works with @carleton.edu accounts. If you see a screen that says "You need permission to access this item," log out of Gmail and log back in with Carleton credentials, or use a second browser.
Printed schedules are posted at the door to each studio twice a week, although bookings continue to be made throughout the regular work week as requests come in. So, if you'd like a look at the up-to-the-minute schedule for a studio:
1. Please visit https://ems.ads.carleton.edu/EMSWebClient/
2. Click on My Account, then on Log In.
3. Please use "camsview" as both user name and password.
4. Click on Book and select Weitz Center.
Seeing time when the studio appears free is not an invitation to use the studio without confirmation.
Studio requests are requests for studio time only, and do not automatically include equipment. The Production Office handles reservations both for CAMS production gear as well as for the Weitz Center's Audio Recording Studio gear. It is the Production Office's policy not to do same-day reservations for equipment.
Good luck follows good planning. Fortune favors the prepared. For more information, please e-mail pbernhardt at carleton.edu
Any Carleton student, staff or faculty member who attends a one-hour orientation (see: below) may become authorized to schedule time in the Weitz Center Audio Recording Studio. Typically, three of these are held at the beginning of fall and winter terms, plus one at the beginning of spring term, with places for about eight people each. Here is a list of upcoming orientations.
In conjunction with this orientation, the Quick Start Guide to the Audio Recording Studio and Mackie Onyx user manuals may be of interest. (Links to these are found in the right-hand column of this web page.)
After you take part in the orientation, if you're a student, you'll be subscribed to the weitzaudio list. Students can send to this list in search of engineers. (If you'd like to opt out of this list at any time, please e-mail the Weitz Center Audio and Video Technical Director.)
Faculty and staff (as well as students acting as employees of the College) may not use this list to ask for volunteers. If you are faculty or staff and are exploring a project you think the Weitz Center Audio Recording Studio might be well-suited for, please consider:
-attending a training and learning how to engineer basic recordings;
-bringing to training a colleague or employee (including student employees you'll pay for their time) who wants to learn how to engineer basic recordings;
-contacting the Weitz Center Audio and Video Technical Director: pbernhardt at carleton dot edu.
Have a look at the Quick Start Guide to the Weitz Audio Recording Studio.
COLD WEATHER: PEOPLE
Winter in Minnesota provides the opportunity to get breathtaking footage but it's important to protect ourselves, and help protect each other from its hazards. The U.S. motion picture industry's "Guidelines for Working in Extreme Cold Temperature Conditions" explains risk factors, symptoms, and prevention of the two most common hazards when working in the cold: hypothermia and frostbite, along with what to do if someone is showing signs of either.
If you're considering gathering footage outdoors in winter, it's important to weigh carefully these guidelines and whether you can plan and execute a shoot that takes them into account. Questions include:
Does everyone have adequate clothing?
Are you all watching each other for symptoms?
Who's keeping track of how long you've been out in the cold?
Can anyone on your shoot get indoors quickly whenever they need to warm up?
UNDERSTANDING WIND CHILL
Wind chill expresses the additional cooling effect of wind in cold weather. The National Weather Service's publication Wind Chill Temperature Index includes precautions, as well as a chart of temperatures crossed with wind speeds that allows you to estimate wind chill.
Windchill temperatures are associated with what are called frostbite times: the time it takes for frostbite to develop in exposed skin. Given an ambient temperature of zero degrees Fahrenheit (-18 Celsius) in fifteen mile per hour winds, it only takes half an hour for frostbite to develop in skin directly exposed to these conditions--fairly common in Minnesota winters.
Wind in cold weather not only puts people at risk of frostbite in exposed skin. As we know from a short walk across campus on a blustery day, wind drives cold air through and/or past layers of clothing. This is an additional consideration for risk of hypothermia.
Frostbite can develop in any part of the body that gets cold enough, exposed to the air or not. Fingers and toes are of frequent concern. Extra socks can compress the foot and decrease circulation, thus shortening the time before toes get dangerously cold. One longtime outdoorsperson advises students he leads on winter nature walks to bring a piece of styrofoam to stand on, in addition to wearing cold weather boots that fit properly.
It's easy enough to get from the National Weather Service the current ambient temperature and estimated wind speed as measured at the nearest weather station (for Northfield, that's at Stanton Airfield, about seven miles east of campus). Smartphone apps such as weather.com can be helpful as well. Temperature at the weather station might not be much different from where you are (low-lying areas can be quite cold), but wind speed can vary tremendously over short timespans and depending on precise location. A handheld thermometer/anemometer with built-in windchill calculator is available for checkout from the Production Office.
An otherwise gentle seven mile-per-hour breeze combined with an ambient temperature of negative seven degrees fahrenheit to create a windchill of -22.7 F on the Bald Spot. 9:45 AM Monday, January 21, 2013. photo: Woody Kaine.
COLD WEATHER: EQUIPMENT
The CAMS production students at the heart of Carleton's production community depend on having access to gear that works properly. It's important to know the risks to our equipment from shooting in cold weather. If you damage something you're still responsible for its repair or replacement, even if you've taken precautions described here.
None of our cameras are rated by their manufacturers for operation below freezing. Chuck Westfall of Canon discusses why here: http://www.prophotohome.com/forum/canon-1-series-digital-slr-eos-5d/73967-low-temperature-30f-digital-photography.html#post450352.
National Geographic photographers Sisse Brimberg and Cotton Coulson offer tips for cold weather shooting at http://photography.nationalgeographic.com/photography/photo-tips/cold-weather-photo-tips-coulson-brimberg/.
People sometimes think of keeping a camera warm inside winter clothing, but there are several problems. It doesn't take many times of unzipping vital layers to get cold--dangerously so, in extreme conditions--and nothing is worth that. But the insidious factor for equipment is condensation. We know water damages electronics, so of course we want to keep precipitation (including snow) off of equipment, but condensation is a bit trickier.
Condensation happens when a cold thing encounters warm air. Any humidity in the warm air will deposit on the cold thing as condensation. This includes putting cold gear inside a warm coat, as well as bringing gear indoors on a cold day. Surprisingly, it's easy to risk equipment damage at the very moment we might think we're bringing it out of harm's way. Here's how it works.
A camera body or a microphone lets in air and its humidity quite easily. When condensation forms, it coats every electronic component inside, potentially turning it into an expensive paperweight . Here's a very important preventative measure to take.
While you're still outdoors, seal the equipment in an airtight container, such as large ziplock bag or, in pinch, plastic tub. (If you're returning gear to the Production Office and you don't have such a thing, please do call extension 5434 and ask whoever answers to meet you at the door with one.) This way, when you bring it indoors, condensation forms on the outside of the container while the gear inside very slowly comes up to room temperature--overnight is a good rule of thumb.
If you have reason to think there's any moisture at all in a piece of electronics, don't power it on. Remove any battery, open any door or cover, and turn a fan on it--overnight is again a good rule of thumb.
These are important techniques to have in your kit. However, there's no guarantee some last little bit of condensation hasn't formed somewhere deep inside a piece of equipment. If damage results, you are responsible for repair or replacement.
Camera covers for Sony NX5Us and dSLRs are available for checkout from the Production Office. It's possible to tape a chemically-activated handwarmer packet to the inside of a camera cover, although there are several important precautions. Chemically-activated handwarmer packets can reach 165 degrees Fahrenheit, hot enough to burn you and far hotter than any camera's range of operating temperatures. Clearly, the heat could damage components. Additionally, as air warms near a handwarmer, condensation can form, either as liquid or frost, from any humidity present. This is an immediate cue to shut down the equipment and dry it as described above.
Batteries are best stored cool and used warm. Shooting with a battery that's physically cold is chemically inefficient and will give startlingly short battery life. A battery that's cold enough will read as dead on the camera's battery meter, even though there is a charge stored in it. The best use for a handwarmer packet is in an external pocket where you can put your hands when you don't need them and also keep several batteries warm, then rotate batteries in and out of the camera (checking closely for moisture). Unheated exterior coat pockets are usually about as cold as it is outside.
Canon calls the 60D "water and dust resistant." Clearly this is not intended to be "waterproof." Sony makes no claims about the NX5U as in any way resistant to water or dust.
It's worth considering getting at least some shots on your list from indoors. With luck, the entryway of a building on or near location is just warm enough to help people and gear stay warm, and just dry enough condensation doesn't form. Often foyers are difficult to work with, either for being overheated or surprisingly humid.
With planning, the desired angle is sometimes possible from a window or doorway. Here's a technique for keeping reflections out of your shot when shooting through glass. The key is recognizing where the reflections are coming from--almost always from inside the room you're in--and blocking them from the camera's view. Sometimes you can simply position your body between the camera and the light. Other times, someone can hold up a coat behind both you and the camera. It's also possible to build a little hood of Cinefoil or other black wrap--available in the Production Office--to put between lens and window.
USE HARD DRIVES IN PAIRS
You can be expected to have a hard drive for Digital Foundations and two hard drives for all other production classes, so it’s important to incorporate a vital principle, and a number of related practices, into how you work: Keep files you care about in more than one place.
Something changes in a media maker who’s had a hard drive fail. We’re sharply brought to understand how an entire enterprise rests on these little devices. The wish might form quickly in a media maker who’s lost work for good: ‘I wish I had another copy of that.’
A few types of hard drive failure are recoverable, although the process takes at least a week (time most projects can’t afford) and a minimum of $1,200. Very often a dead hard drive simply can’t be brought back to life at any cost.
Losing work due to hard drive failure is not a rite of passage. In fact, it’s easy to prevent by following this simple principle of redundancy: keep anything you care about in more than one place.
Important practices follow from the redundancy principle:
1. You are responsible for your data’s redundancy.
2. Keep physical media in separate locations in case of loss.
3. Every time you shoot, update what you've shot in two places so you have two complete records of everything you’ve shot.
4. Every time you export a version of your project, save it to both hard drives.
5. Keep all your footage in both places until after your project is final, exported successfully, and turned in.
6. Take good care of hard drives (see below).
Not all Digital Foundations students go on to take other Cinema and Media Studies (CAMS) production classes or become CAMS majors, so it’s seen as potentially unfair to expect Digital Foundations students to buy two hard drives to take the class (although it’s just as disruptive for Digital Foundations students when their hard drives fail). Current hard drives offer far more than double the space needed to take Digital Foundations. For this reason, Digital Foundations students may be asked to partner with one another for the term in order to back up each other’s work (the "backup buddy" system).
It’s reasonable to expect advanced production students to own and maintain two hard drives, using one to back up the other. By the time students are compsing, it’s reasonable to expect they have no project delays that result from failure to work in accord with the redundancy principle.
WHAT MAKES HARD DRIVES FRAGILE
Gary Adcock of Studio 37 in Chicago quips that there are two kinds of hard drives: those that have died and those that are going to. Why is that? Understanding head strikes and corrupted data are two good ways to appreciate the fragility of hard drives.
A hard drive has a disc in it that rotates at very high speed and is written to and read by a laser on a little mechanical arm hovering unbelievably close to the surface of the disc. Kevin Chapman puts the question of scale this way: if the region of each bit (the thing that can be either a zero or a one in binary data) on a hard disc were the size of a hockey puck, the head that reads the data would be the size of a 747 flying 1,136 miles per second at an altitude of 1/100th of an inch.
Kevin asks: what if the pilot sneezes? That, in his analogy, is all it takes to cause a head strike. Suddenly jarring a hard drive when it’s running can put the head into contact with the disc, gouging the surface of your disc and turning the bits that represent your work into dust. If this sounds unrecoverable, it is.
Corrupted data is another good way to appreciate how fragile hard drives are. Hard drives write data in sections. When we eject a drive from the desktop, the drive takes the time to finish what it was doing. However if a drive unexpectedly loses power or connection with the computer in the middle of writing a section of data, the incomplete section of data can cause havoc in how it makes sense of itself as a system for accessing information. Sometimes a disk repair utility can deduce and reconstruct the unfinished data enough to let the disc work again long enough for you to back it up. And other times it can’t.
TAKING GOOD CARE OF HARD DRIVES
It’s a catastrophe when a hard drive with no backup fails. But it’s still an annoyance and an expense when a hard drive fails, even when it has been backed up fully and very recently. So it’s important to take good care of hard drives in these ways:
1. Let any storage device go through its whole power-down routine before physically removing it from the system. With an external hard drive or jump drive connected to a computer, this means using the operating system’s Eject command and waiting for the computer to tell you it has finished unmounting the drive. (With a camera this means turning off the camera before inserting or removing a memory card.)
2. Practice cable-awareness. When someone trips over a hard drive’s cables, it will probably hit the floor with its disc still spinning near top speed. Make a quick analysis of where you need the gear need to be, where you and others need to walk and put their feet, then plug things in and route cables accordingly. Doing this is worth a great deal in many contexts and would have prevented catastrophic data loss in many cases here at Carleton.
3. Touch external drives as little as necessary when running. Reinforce data cables (especially Firewire 800), with gaffer tape if necessary, to eliminate any chance of losing data connection and corrupting the drive.
4. Don’t let a hard drive get really cold. Water, including condensation, damages electronics. If a hard drive does get cold, seal it in an airtight container such as a plastic bin or large ziplock bag before coming indoors where the air is warm and humid. Leave it sealed overnight while the hard drive comes up to ambient temperature so condensation forms only on the outside of the bin or bag.
5. It’s possible for a hard drive to be damaged even when it’s not running, so transport hard drives as little as possible. One idea is to for your backup drive never to leave your room. Another idea is to check out a locker in the Weitz for the term so your working drive makes as few trips as necessary in your book bag.
6. When you must transport a hard drive, use its original packaging, including form-fitting foam inserts and the like.
7. When you’re working on the road, keep your working drive with you and stash your backup drive where you’re staying such as locked in a hotel safe.
WHY USE HARD DRIVES IF THEY’RE SO FRAGILE?
Video makers have long been using hard drives for a number of reasons. They’re cheap to buy. Spending $300 for a pair of one terabyte drives (that’s 1024 GB per drive) and using one to back up the other works out to about thirty cents per GB of redundant storage. They’re convenient for personal use — no special software or log-in needed, just plug one in and go. And they’re local: there’s just one cable between the external drive and the computer, eliminating the chance for network congestion.
WHAT ABOUT SERVERS/THE CLOUD?
Any way of storing your information relies on objects in this world that can be damaged or lost, but a server lives in a special room with well-maintained fire suppression and a host of other practical precautions built in, and has administrators who constantly monitor its performance and make sure it’s backed up to another server that lives in a completely different location. When we upload to a server, we implicitly entrust the work of data redundancy to these administrators.
Here on campus, each student has a fully backed-up home folder that contains what you put in it until you graduate. Each home folder is four gigabytes (4 GB): ample for small things such as photos and project files, but enough to hold only about six minutes of video at full quality. Visit https://wiki.carleton.edu/display/itskb/Network+drives for complete instructions on how to access your home folder.
Each of us also has access to about thirty gigabytes (30 GB) of space on carl.docs, Carleton's implementation of Google Docs, found at docs.carleton.edu. This can be accessed from anywhere on the Web. Google, Amazon, and others are happy to sell you additional cloud storage capacity at rates such as $0.01 per gigabyte (GB) per month. Provided you're aware of practical limitations in the field (such as local bandwidth where you're shooting on location), this can be a very useful way for you to back up your work.
If you’re considering purchasing cloud storage or online data backup service, read each provider’s terms of service carefully for their idea of intellectual property, to estimate how much space on disc you'll need over what time period, and note whether they will charge you additionally for accessing your data.
JUST HOW BIG IS VIDEO?
Digital video takes up more space on disc than any other kind of computer file commonly used by individuals: around 60 gigabytes (GB) for an hour of footage shot on a Sony NX5U or 70 GB/hr on a Canon 60D. Here’s how it breaks down.
The shooting files--what the camera actually records--are around 12 GB for an hour of Sony NX5U footage and 24 GB for an hour of Canon 60D footage. But we don’t edit directly with those files; Final Cut has to transcode them first, most commonly as ProRes 422 LT. (This happens behind the scenes in Final Cut X.) The resulting transcoded files are an additional 40 to 45 GB/hr.
A four-minute assignment you export as ProRes 422 LT will be about 3 GB. It’s realistic to estimate shooting up to two hours of footage for each production class, or 120 to 140 GB of footage.
FORMATTING YOUR DRIVES
"Format" means completely delete everything that's on it and establish a new file system.
The first time you use a brand-new hard drive, you should format it to eliminate any pre-installed manufacturer's settings. Since Final Cut Pro X is Mac-only, you must format at least part of the drive for Mac. (You might wish to partition the drive, create a second volume, and format it for Windows; call the Help Desk for details.)
With the new hard drive connected to a Mac:
1. open the Disc Utility (found in the Utilities folder),
2. select the new drive,
3. select the Erase button at the top,
4. select Mac OS Extended*,
5. select the Erase... button at the bottom
* Hard drives formatted for Mac OS Extended can only be read by the Mac operating system. ** Hard drives formatted for NTFS can be read by both the Mac and Windows operating systems, but can be written to by Windows only. Hard drives formatted for FAT 32 (MS-DOS) can be read and written to by both Mac and Windows operating systems, but is limited to a maximum file size of 4GB.
A hard drive that's described as "bus-powered" gets its power over the same cable used to make the data connection. Bus-powered drives eliminate a pesky power cable.
A hard drive that’s marketed as “rugged” or “ruggedized” means only that its ordinary metal or plastic enclosure has a layer of silicone rubber wrapped around it to absorb some shock from impact. The actual hard drive inside is no more rugged than it would be in an ordinary housing.
Solid state gives us storage without the spinning disc, resulting in somewhat more robustness. Solid state drives (SSDs) can be used happily in place of, but cost more than, spinning disc-based hard drives.
One technique is to buy the most robust drive you can afford as your working drive and use multiple internal hard drives with an external dock as your backup system. This saves the money you'd otherwise spend buying an enclosure (the metal or plastic case with data ports and power supply in it) for each hard drive.
HOW LONG TO KEEP YOUR FOOTAGE?
It's important to make good decisions about what you need to keep for how long. We always want the very highest-quality master file of the finished work to excerpt, display, recompress, and redistribute, but it's worth asking ourselves the question at what point most of the raw footage can be erased. Of course different makers have different answers to, and practices arising from, this question.
Mike Figgis (Digital Filmmaking, 2007) discusses how he used to think he needed to keep every moment of footage he'd ever shot, but found himself staring at an ever-growing pile of hard drives he never used again, until he decided to question this practice.
In a commercial/industrial context, Gary Adcock negotiates with clients, at a price, how many months after traditional project signoff and delivery they have the right to change their minds and come back to ask him to resume editing. The client can, in effect, change their minds and come back to him to revive the project and resume editing it for a certain number of months after the end product is signed off and delivered.
CAMS maintains a networked hard drive named CAMS-Drobo for three purposes:
1. for students to upload production class assignments (including comps);
2. for faculty and staff to load these assignments onto a computer in the cinema and play them back for class screenings; and
3. for the department to archive select class assignments and all comps as high quality files.
Here's how to upload your work to it from a Mac:
1. Go to the Mac finder and choose the Go menu, then "Connect to Server." (You can also use the keyboard shortcut command+K to do the same thing.)
2. In the dialog box that appears, in the "Server Address" field, type 184.108.40.206 and click the "Connect" button.
3. Choose "Connect as Registered User," then enter the user name and password supplied by faculty (not the same as your Carleton credentials).
4. Choose the CAMS-Stu volume to mount.
5.On the desktop, double-click the "CAMS-Stu" icon to open it.
6. Find your class's folder and drag your source file there, named in a way that clearly identifies you. (If you're uploading more than one file, please create a folder with your name and put the files in it.)
7. Check that the size of your file on CAMS-Drobo is the same as your file on the machine you're working on and/or personal hard drive you're backing it up on.
8. Eject CAMS-Stu and log out of the machine when you're done.
Use SUMO's form (https://apps.carleton.edu/student/orgs/sumo/filmapp/) to request support for a film screening, typically held in the Weitz cinema. Drop a line to SUMO leadership for more information.
The Student Activities Office maintains a practice space in Goodhue Hall. This page (http://apps.carleton.edu/campus/campact/guide/musicians/) tells more about it and how to request it.