Production Diary: Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue (That’s Me)

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Something Old

It’s 1868. In San Francisco, lumber merchant Matthew Turner can’t find suitable fast ships to carry his timber. With almost no training in boat building, he says, “I’ll build them myself.”

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The brigantine

Matthew Turner

being built today—inspired by Turner’s 1891 ship, the


Over the years, he designs and builds 228 tall ships.

In 1891, he builds the Galilee.

Now, here, today, in Sausalito, San Francisco, only a few miles away from my home, the Galilee is being re-created as the brigantine Matthew Turner. (Live video of the shipyard is streaming on

Something New

Since 2012, I’ve been shooting the progress of the new ship. With almost no training in 3D stereography, I say, “I’ll build the 3D rig myself.” I start with two Sony Alpha NEX-6s.

April 2013 NAB Show: I see the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera and promptly order two.

Bye-bye Sony NEX-6; I’ll miss your OLED viewfinder.

Something Borrowed

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December 2012: This log will become the keel to the new ship

Skipping back several decades, I had bought a Bolex H16 film camera with three fixed lenses: a 16mm wide angle, a 25mm standard and a 75mm telephoto. I guess I could have bought just the body but I’m young and know nothing.

It didn’t take long to figure out that the 16mm lens isn’t wide at all. I replaced it with the expensive Kern Switar 10mm f/1.6.

Here and now, my two BMPC cameras arrive without lenses. What do I buy? I buy the Panasonic 14mm. You’d think I’d have learned my lesson 50 years ago. Even with the 14mm’s wide-angle adapter, the lens isn’t wide enough. Heck, even my iPhone camera is wider.

That does it. I need the Panasonic 7-14mm zoom. Here’s where something borrowed comes in. To test out the lens, I go to and rent it for a trial spin.

Something Blue (That’s Me)

I’m blue because my two BMPCCs aren’t perfect.

Take the batteries: they’re 800 mAh wimps. Blackmagic says you can get an hour’s recording time. I never have. In the real world of looking for shots, climbing trees and lying on your back, you keep the camera switched on. Even if you’re not shooting, you can still drain the battery dry.

On my 3D rig, there’s one battery for each camera, one for the SmallHD 7.7” OLED monitor and a 9-volt inside the juicedLink RA333 audio mixer. That’s four separate batteries.

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October 2012: The keel-laying ceremony, my first 3D Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera shoot

The solution: I replace all four with one Lenmar DVDU923 universal lithium-ion battery. It’s only 9 volts but it powers the two Blackmagic cameras, the SmallHD monitor and the RA333 mixer.

Blue on Blue

I’m doing test shots with my new 3D rig and the Micro HDMI monitor connector keeps falling out of its hole. Just the weight of the cable is enough to jiggle it out. The solution is a Nanosecond Super Extreme Thin Micro HDMI Cable. So light, it stays tight.

A Kind of Blue

I need a LANC controller for starting both cameras at once. My friend Joe is an engineer. He puts two Sunpak LANCs together and connects them to a single button on my hand grip. One push and the stereo-paired cameras start instantaneously. Magic.

Boo Hoo Blue

My interocular (in the biz we call it IO, and it’s the separation between the two cameras) at 90mm is way too much for wide-angle lenses. I watch five minutes of my precious 3D shoot, stand up, whoooo ... hang onto the chair or I’ll fall over.

It’s endgame: a giant Sargent screw-up.

Matthew Turner: 228. Stefan Sargent: 0.



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