Steadicam Pilot – broken bearing

I opened my Steadicam case today to find some rather strange looking metal pieces laying loose in the bag. I’d not noticed any issues before but these parts had obviously come from somewhere so I decided to give everything a good check over.

It didn’t take me long to notice that one of the bearings in the upper of the two parts of the arm had failed. I’m not sure when this happened, I didn’t find any of the actual balls from the bearing which would lead me to think that it must have failed whilst in use, although I can’t remember actually sensing it go.

Tiffen UK have been extremely helpful and very quick to respond to my request for help. Ill be sending it for repair next week.


** UPDATE 30-09-09 **

My Steadicam arm arrived back from Tiffen today, just a few days after I sent it to them for repair. I’m really pleased to report that it’s as good as new. The guys at Tiffen have been incredibly helpful, I can’t express enough how nice they have been to deal with and what fantastic support they gave me.

Thanks Tiffen!

Snow Leopard, 2.2 Gamma at last!

After my initial wingeing about snow leopard I’m starting to notice some of the good stuff about the new OS. The first of those things is that Mac OS now sets it’s gamma to 2.2 by default, and not only that but in the display calibration pages it actually lists 2.2 as being standard!

This may seem like a small thing to be pleased about, but the way Final Cut Pro has dealt with gamma up until now has been the cause of much confusion amongst editors. Because Apple assumed mac users were using their standard gamma setting of 1.8 they decided that it was a good idea to have Final Cut Pro & Quicktime display video slightly darker than it really was to give the user a more accurate representation of how the rest of the world would see their video.

The problem with this approach however is that if like me you want to see content in the same way as the majority of the world, you would set your gamma to 2.2 which makes the whole OS display similar colours to PC’s & TV’s. The trouble with this though is that Final Cut was not aware of the change and would still apply the compensation making your video appear darker than it really is.

before I understood what was happening with the gamma in FCP I spend endless hours colour correcting footage only to find that it looked washed out once exported and uploaded to vimeo, YouTube or other online streaming service.

Now that Apple have finally settled on a standard gamma of 2.2 it seems that they’ve stopped this happening, at least it appears to be the case with version 7 when used with Snow Leopard.

Here’s a screen shot showing the same clip in Final cut, quicktime X and VLC. While the colours do vary slightly in VLC the gamma now seems to match.


Snow Leopard, Sony SxS woes

As somebody who likes to keep all my software up to date I decided to buy the latest operating system from apple (OS 10.5.6 Snow Leopard). After installing the upgrade on my MacBook Pro I couldn’t help feeling a bit confused after the final reboot when everything seemed pretty much the same as it was before with the exception that some of my apps no longer worked. The worst of the affected software is the driver for Sony SxS cards, the result is that I can no longer offload the cards from my EX1 using the MacBook Pro’s ExpressCard slot. Apparently Sony are working on a new driver but they are warning that due to Snow Leopard being a new release it might not be available until next spring.

Didn’t Sony know Snow Leopard was being released?

[edit] Mon 14 Sep

Sont have now released an updated SxS driver that supports OS 10.6 For more info visit the Sony Website.

Replacing the ATI X1900XT in a Mac Pro 1.1

As far as computers go my current mac has to be one of the longest lasting machines I’ve owned. Purchased nearly three years ago it’s still going strong and although I’ve been tempted to replace it a few times the performance gain by doing so just doesn’t seem worth the expense. I’m a big believer in buying the best specified computer you can afford in order to make it last, and that was the case with this mac pro. The machine is an intel Xeon based quad core 2.66Ghz. When it was purchased I opted to upgrade the standard graphics card to the more expensive ATI Radeon X1900XT which offered much better performance in 3D and video apps.

Other than a couple of RAM upgrades and regular hard drive changes my mac has remained the same over the years I’ve owned it but recently I ran into a problem with the X1900 card. I started noticing horizontal red lines which would strangely appear on windows and would remain attached to those windows as they were moved around the desktop, along with these visual issues my mac started to crash regularly, especially on warmer days. After some trawling on the web I discovered that this is a common problem with these cards. Many people advised cleaning the fan and removing unwanted dust, this does seem to help somewhat but the problems were still happening each day. I started using a fan control app to increase fan speeds in my mac which again helped a little but I need a reliable machine to edit on and the card just had to go.

After three years I expected to be able to add a newer faster card to my mac, but after a conversation with an Apple rep it turned out that the only card I could replace the X1900XT with, was another X1900XT, and to make matters worse they still wanted £264 for the part! X1900XT on the apple UK store


Apple do sell a much more capable card for the newer mac pro’s in the form of the ATI Radeon HD 4870, but it’s listed as only being compatible with machines from early 2008 onwards. Considering that this latest card retails for £280, a mere £17 more than the three year old model it’s also much better value. Radeon HD 4870 on the apple uk store


I called an apple retailer to ask if this newer card could be mde to work in my older mac pro but they just confirmed apples statement and said that my best option was to purchase another X1900XT.

Not wanting to give in quite so easily I spent a bit of time on google and discovered a few reports of the 4870 working in older macs so I decided to take the plunge and risk it. I also ordered one of the new 24″ displays because the 4870 only has one DVI port so I wouldn’t be able to use both of my DVI based monitors. The 4870 replaces the second DI port with one of apples newer MiniDisplay Ports which can be used with the new 24″ screens.

On receiving the new parts I immediately took the old ATI card out of the mac and inserted the 4870, which unlike the X1900 requires two power connectors to be connected to it. The card is supplied with two of the required connectors though and even though my old card only used one, the mac does have two connectors on the motherboard so it was just a case of simply plugging in the second connector.

I switched the mac on half expecting to see some kind of boot error or visual problem but it booted straight up without issue and instantly felt a little snappier in use. The card has been working flawlessly since installing it and the machine hasn’t suffered from any more of the heat related crashes.

I’m not sure why apple list this card as being incompatible with older mac pro’s, maybe there are some that is won’t work with, or maybe they would rather people just purchased a newer machine! In any case it ll works well and is a much wiser choice than the three year old X1900XT for £14 less!

EX1 mic holder replacement

Like many EX1 / 3 owners I’ve had to replace the mic holder on my camera due to the standard one snapping off. To find out more about my solution click here.

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