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.
fall term hours through end of day, Wednesday, November 20, 2013:
The Production Office will be open Monday through Friday 11am-3pm the following dates:
November 21, 22, 25, and 26,
December 2 through 19, and
January 6 through 10.
Please use this form to request studio time. PLEASE NOTE: This form only works with @carleton.edu accounts. If you see a screen that says "You need permission to access this item," it means your browser is already logged into an off-campus Gmail account. Try logging out of Gmail and log back in with Carleton credentials, or simply using a second browser.
This form asks you to list your entire group's first, second, and third choice of date and time, which makes it very likely you will get a studio booking quickly.
Studio requests are processed during business hours during the week in the order they were received.
Studio requests are confirmed by e-mail to the requester's Carleton e-mail address.
Students doing work for advanced CAMS production coursework have priority in Studio A and Studio B.
Good luck follows good planning and fortune favors the prepared. Same-day requests are strongly discouraged.
Printed schedules are posted at the door to each studio only once a week, although bookings continue to be made throughout the week as requests come in. If you'd like to refer to the up-to-the-minute schedule:
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 shoot then.
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.
Any Carleton student, staff or faculty member who attends a one-hour training may become authorized to schedule time in the Weitz Center Audio Recording Studio. Typically, three trainings are held at the beginning of each term with places for about eight people per training. E-mail for more information on upcoming training sessions:
If you've taken the training, here's the Quick Start Guide to the Audio Recording Studio mentioned during orientation. Mackie Onyx and ProTools user manuals are also available in the sidebar on the right hand side of this page.
After you take part in training, you'll be subscribed to the email@example.com list, which students can send to in search of engineers. If you'd like to opt out of this list at any time, please let us know.
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, firstname.lastname@example.org.
An otherwise gentle breeze of 7 MPH combined with an ambient temperature of -7F to create a windchill of -22.7F on the Bald Spot 9:45 AM Monday, January 21, 2013. photo: Woody Kaine.
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.
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 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Chuck Westfall of Canon discusses why in this post.
National Geographic photographers Sisse Brimberg and Cotton Coulson offer these tips for cold weather shooting.
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 ext. 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 are available (and shortly camera covers for dSLRs will be available) for checkout from the Production Office. It's possible to tape a chemically-activated handwarmer packet to the inside of a camera cover. 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--available in the Production Office--to put between lens and window.
Keep anything you care about in more than one place.
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.
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. 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. Keep all your raw footage on two hard drives until after your project is totally complete and exported.
2. Keep hard drives in two different locations.
3. Every time you shoot, update both hard drives so you have two complete records of everything you’ve shot.
4. Your project file is tiny relative to the size of your raw footage, but contains all your decisions about that footage. Every time you edit, save copies of the project file to both hard drives and to as many other places as you can, including home folder, carl.docs, jump drive, and by e-mailing it to yourself.
5. Every time you export a version of your project, save it to both hard drives.
6. Take good care of hard drives (see below).
7. You are responsible for your data’s redundancy.
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 come 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 whole term in order to back up each other’s work.
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?
Any way of storing your information relies on objects in this world that can be damaged or lost. 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 every night 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.
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; we have 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 45 GB/hr.
It’s realistic to estimate shooting up to two hours of footage for each production class, or 120 to 140 GB of footage. Each four-minute assignment you export as ProRes 422 LT will be about 3 GB in size.
The first time you use a brand-new hard drive, you should format it to eliminate any pre-installed manufacturer's settings.
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
With the new hard drive connected to a Windows machine:
1. open My Computer,
2. right-click on the new external drive,
3. select Format,
4. change file system to NTFS**,
5. make sure Quick Format is selected,
6. select the OK button
* 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 pesky power cables.
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 in place of 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.
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.
HOW LONG TO KEEP YOUR FOOTAGE?
Finally, it's good to make executive 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, redistribute, but it's worth asking ourselves the question at what point most of the raw footage can be erased, and 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.