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Need to Learn a Camera's Interface Before You Use It? These Free Camera Simulators Can Help

05.31.12 @ 9:46AM Tags : , , , , , ,

So you just got hired onto a production as an AC or a Camera Operator, and you know that you have the knowledge, talent, and skill to produce some beautiful images. There’s just one problem: You’ve never laid a hand on the camera that’s being used in the production. It’s probably not going to look too good if you have to spend a lot of time fiddling around in the menus to find the settings you’re looking for, but not to worry. Canon just released a camera simulator for the C300, and there are also simulators available for the Arri Alexa, and the Sony F65:

Canon C300 Simulator

Arri Alexa Simulator

Sony F65 Remote

As an extra bonus, you can save the Arri Alexa (and Alexa Plus) simulators to an iPad as a stand alone app. And the Sony F65 Remote iPad app can be run in Offline Mode as a simulator. Unfortunately, Canon doesn’t offer the option to download their simulator as an app.

While these are great learning tools, I can’t help but wonder why there aren’t more camera simulators available. Considering that everything from DSLR’s to 4K (and higher resolution) cameras are being used professionally, it would really be in the camera manufacturers’ best interest to make more simulators for the cameras that they produce.

What do you think? Do you find camera simulators to be helpful? What cameras would you like to see simulators for?


[via CineTechnica]


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  • Dana Yurcisin on 05.31.12 @ 10:04AM

    This is a fantastic idea, and I’d gladly take the time to learn all cameras available via simulation, so it’s a shame there are only three currently available. Still, I think it’s awesome since I don’t have loads of cash to rent all of the cameras I’d like to learn, let alone purchase them. I’d hate for a great opportunity to pop up only to have to decline due to lack of knowledge on a certain camera.

  • When I first found out about it, I admit that I played with the Alexa simulator for close to an hour, high hopes in my heart.

  • Earlier this year I went to an Alexa Plus demo, which was great just because I had never seen an Alexa in person, but also because I heard about this simulator and the idea blew my mind. I think this is great for all cameras to do. For their products to be used to their full capacity and get the best image possible, its best if the ACs, camera operators, and DPs know how to work with the camera.
    While simulators aren’t going to give you everything you need to get that best image, they will help you get more accustomed to them so that you can find that sweet spot quicker. And with more films that look great because of the filmmakers skills with their technology, the better the camera companies and their products look. To me, these simulators make a ton of sense.

  • I think Epic and Scarlet simulators would be great, along with an option to download some R3D sample footage to dummy run your raw workflow. I think I would be far more likely to rent one of these if I were really familiar with both sides of the equation beforehand. It would break up the conundrum of not wanting to spend hundreds of dollars just to try a new camera for a day, but also not wanting try a new camera, format, and workflow you’ve never used on an important paying gig.

    • john jeffreys on 05.31.12 @ 2:49PM

      If you are renting a new/special camera for a project, I think it would be safe practice to rent it for an extra day so you can mess around with it in your room or office, to tinker with its functionality, do some test shots, and such, so you are ready to go on day 1. or if you dont want to pay for the extra day, just have the thing with you constantly from the moment you leave the rental house to when you set it up for the shoot, shit, even sleep next to it (or not sleep at all, and play with it all night)

      • Daniel Mimura on 06.8.12 @ 4:36PM

        Most rental houses are cool for you to go in early and mess with it there. You wouldn’t get to sleep with it, though, if that’s your thing.

        Ha ha.

    • Daniel Mimura on 06.8.12 @ 4:51PM

      Red did offer up some files for that purpose.

      In my experience, it’s easier to get to mess with a camera that’s unfamiliar to you at the rental house then after its in the hands of the production.

      I’m a steadicam operator and I NEED to get to mess around with the camera and the AKS beforehand if I haven’t used it before. Few productions want an operator to take home the production’s camera between the last day’s wrap and the next day’s call! Often I get hired on something just for a day—something that has already had their prep days before I’m hired. It sucks, but what can you do. That’s the thing that sims don’t help…like how it balances and where the masses are…

      Never be embarrassed not to know a camera. Pretty much every rental house I’ve ever dealt with (excluding an individual or two here and there) has been super cool, and they want you to know the camera. They want your future business and they are often great support. Paying an extra day or half day or whatever is unnecessary.

  • This just highlights the fact that camera manufacturers need to make their interfaces more user friendly. They should take UI design cues from Apple’s iOS, where the interface is simple enough even for people who can’t read or are mentally challenged.

  • Michael Soomon on 05.31.12 @ 12:38PM

    ah thank you so much for this. AC’ing for the first time on an Alexa in two weeks and this helps a ton.

  • Red Epic/Scarlet, so all the fanboys who love to talk about Red but have never actually operated an actual camera can feel less pathetic.

  • This is a great idea and probably the most effective way to get people up to speed very quickly on how to operate a camera. Some of the Cameras I’d love to see simulators for are…

    RED One / EPIC (Scarlet)
    Sony F3
    Phantom High Speed Cameras
    BlackMagic Cinema Camera

    Really these apps / simulators should be standard practice for every new camera that comes out. A coupled PDF user guide, video tutorial and or Simulator would be a great way to quickly ingest the camera’s nuances and be ready to shoot on a production that you physically touch the camera for the first time… Man I love video games :)

  • Awesome

  • Awesome idea. And a great selling tool for the camera(s) concerned…

  • AD Stephens on 06.3.12 @ 8:58PM

    Guys,the Alexa simulator has been around for a while now, I found it when I was due to trainee on a music video in August last year. I’m sure the admins have been aware of it (and maybe even made a post about it previously, I’ve only been following nofilmschool for about 3 months), but it was very useful and really such a brilliant addiition from Arri for guys like me who have it tough getting some facetime with the camera.

    It’s also a real shame that the guys from Red haven’t shown a menu simulator anywhere, since it’s already hard enough as a trainee trying to get hands on experience when you’re working with pro AC’s who just don’t have the time to explain the settings or how to achieve the appropriate look (at least not on the music videos/promos I’ve worked on, maybe on a feature you’ll get more input from the AC’s).