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  1. #1 Building a DIT cart... 
    Senior Member Dominick Pietrzak's Avatar
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    I'm looking to build a DIT cart, as I want to have a bit more horsepower than a 2010 MacBook Pro. The only thing I can do right now is data manage. I'd like to build a DIT cart where I can slowly add more and more feature into it. Since I'm slowly getting into the DIT world, I don't want to max out the cart with a ton of money straight away.

    Also, I currently have a 2008 Quad Core Mac Pro with a 30" Cinema display.

    Some questions I have:

    1.) What would be your favorite cart to build it around?

    2.) What would be the most essential first purchases, apart from the cart, to get it going? Hardware? Software?

    3.) What is the large raid used for on a cart? I'm assuming it's to copy data to first and then from there to the clients' drives, and to transcode and grade footage on for speed reasons?

    4.) Anything else I should know?

    Thanks in advance for any info you can provide! I always learn so much by posting a question on here.
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  2. #2  
    Senior Member Ryan De Franco's Avatar
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    Forums are great, but a DIT is not his cart, and a job can't be taught by parsing others' gear lists and then asking why they bought a given RAID.

    The best way would be to offer your services as a utility or data wrangler for a working NY DIT. If you don't ask too many questions on day one, he or she might start to share best practices, advice, eventually a few personal tricks. Granted they might know you are just there to learn how to be their competitor, but some people are mad nice, and if you bring them a coffee or whatever and generally make more help than noise, you'll learn all you need.

    If I were you I wouldn't offer myself as a DIT unless I watched a professional at work. Neither would a cinematographer, neither would a crane operator, neither would a dentist, neither would a schoolteacher, traffic cop, nurse, pilot etc, and not all of them make $600-$1,000 per day plus kit!
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  3. #3  
    Senior Member Ryan De Franco's Avatar
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    All of that said, if money is no object, the Innovativ carts are great. Otherwise I see mostly Jaeger, Backstage and Magliner; I've seen some people use pancakes for their wrists and keyboard to make a surface even to the metal lip on the cart. Do you want something that can fold up and break down, or something you roll from straight into a truck or van and never break down?

    As far as essential purchase, the first real macpro in 3 years is due out in a few months, less than half a year probably, and I would wait until then. For now your quad core should do you just fine for on set back-ups, and if you must transcode, could probably do a reasonable job with a rocket in there. Not that buying a rocket is the way to go if you have limited funds--since debayering is all CPU, and plenty of folks claim realtime debayer with maxxed out setups, I will let someone who does this for a living advise what kind of machine to build! Personally, I wouldn't go the hackintosh route if this is going to be the machine trusted with every dime a production is spending.

    speaking of stability, I know several techs with two machines, not just to spread out the processing power but so that if one goes down, the train keeps moving while he fixes the troublemaker.

    as far as RAID selection goes, for on set, you probably want something with dual redundancy. I'm not talking about drive redundancy, (that should be a given, drive fails, swap it out and keep going), but raid controller redundancy. on some well designed RAIDs (like the Caldigit), despite all the intelligente that went into them, there are two components that can fail; on others, there are only one; on others, if a component in the raid controller fails, it alerts you and continues running on the other, much like humans do with kidneys. again, not a DIT, but if I was building a RAID, I'd pick this one.
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  4. #4  
    Senior Member Dominick Pietrzak's Avatar
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    Thanks for the reply Ryan. I've actually tried to find a DIT to learn from and work with, but my search came up empty. I did meet some interesting people along the way, but not one DIT who offered to let me work with him. I'd be glad to bring him coffee and copy data!

    Of course a DIT is not his cart, and I want people to hire me for me and not my equipment. I understand this, but I was just looking for some pointers regarding hardware and software. I've heard about the new Mac Pro so that's why I haven't updated my 2008 one. I think I'll upgrade once it comes out. Good point about redundancy, this is really important to keep going.

    The reason I posted this question was to find suggestions so that I can slowly build up a larger kit as I go along. I was planning on starting out managing data and transcoding on set, then coloring, eventually doing dailies, and so on.

    Oh yeah the Inovativ carts look really great. I'm still not sure about if I want it to be completely built or having to break it down. I really like the rigidness of a more permanently built cart though.

    Anyway, if a NY DIT reads this and would like an assistant please do let me know! I'm more than willing to work hard and I do have knowledge of formats, codecs, data managing, and RAW workflows.
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  5. #5  
    Senior Member Will Keir's Avatar
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    Certainly an attitude that needs changing.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ryan De Franco View Post
    If you don't ask too many questions on day one, he or she might start to share
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  6. #6  
    Senior Member Ryan De Franco's Avatar
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    Will,

    There's nothing more inspiring than a rookie 2nd AC or utility who's literally excited about being on point with the battery changes and eager to hear everything there is to know about cameras. You're inspired by their passion for remembering to say "crossing," they're inspired when they see the monitor or hear a good set legend.... everyone gets something good out of it.

    But here in NY there are some crusty folk who believe an assistant should assist; "I'm not paying you to learn, I'm paying you to work' etc etc. So when they hire someone who shows up with a notepad and an armful of questions they "teach em a lesson" and run them into the ground. From their side of the fence... questions about the merits of on-set grading and dailies can be a bit annoying when you're scanning footage after a transfer.

    And of course.... we can't blame them for distrusting someone half their age who wants to compete for their job. Sorry if I didn't express this clearly before, but it's about respecting the way someone else wants to work through their day, then letting them open up to your questions.

    Dominick, I'd suggest going to places like OffHollywood, Nice Dissolve etc. to see if they need an extra guy sometimes.
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  7. #7  
    Senior Member Will Keir's Avatar
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    Dominick,

    I look for a DIT that can show me the footage with a few custom first light corrections in real time.

    Mac Pro, CalDigit Hard Drives or RAID solution, Red Rocket Card, 24" color monitor.

    If you can edit a few cuts together in Premiere, one more reason to hire you over the next guy.

    Most important. Relaxed easy going personality. It's a crazy world out there, I like people who stay calm in the storm.





    Quote Originally Posted by Dominick Pietrzak View Post
    Thanks for the reply Ryan. I've actually tried to find a DIT to learn from and work with, but my search came up empty. I did meet some interesting people along the way, but not one DIT who offered to let me work with him. I'd be glad to bring him coffee and copy data!

    Of course a DIT is not his cart, and I want people to hire me for me and not my equipment. I understand this, but I was just looking for some pointers regarding hardware and software. I've heard about the new Mac Pro so that's why I haven't updated my 2008 one. I think I'll upgrade once it comes out. Good point about redundancy, this is really important to keep going.

    The reason I posted this question was to find suggestions so that I can slowly build up a larger kit as I go along. I was planning on starting out managing data and transcoding on set, then coloring, eventually doing dailies, and so on.

    Oh yeah the Inovativ carts look really great. I'm still not sure about if I want it to be completely built or having to break it down. I really like the rigidness of a more permanently built cart though.

    Anyway, if a NY DIT reads this and would like an assistant please do let me know! I'm more than willing to work hard and I do have knowledge of formats, codecs, data managing, and RAW workflows.
    Will Keir
    Creative Director ~ Jumping Rock Pictures
    Epic X & Dragon #2482 / R1 #3033
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    The friendships, the adventure, the art."
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  8. #8  
    Senior Member Andrew clemson's Avatar
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    I find a Laptop to be sufficient for a lot of stuff, and you will need one for certain situations, so starting with a strong laptop based system isn't that silly an idea. Add to that the rumors of a new MP on the way and I agree with ryan that its worth holding off on a heavy duty kit, for now.

    I currently run a MBP with a thunderbolt based system. I have the RED SSD reader running via Esata through the Lacie hub, with a Promise R4 set to Raid 10 with 3TB drives installed. I switch out the R4 for low profile stuff, or rough and tumble work, and use the Seagate backup plus drives (with TB adapters), which are unreal value for money. They also do portable versions (No TB passthrough though) which are great for simple data dumping in remote locations.

    Im still Looking at incorporating a rocket chassis into the system, but seeing as a huge amount of my work at the minute is on Non RED cameras, its a tough decision. I don't do a great deal of transcoding on set, so its not a deal breaker for me really.

    For Alexa or sony gigs, I have the sonnet echo express reader, but again, no passthrough so has to be at the end of your chain.

    Anyway, rough cost minus laptop would set you back around $3,500 and gives you a pretty effective data backup system. Incorporate a rocket in there for encoding and a larger display (Ive had no luck getting older nonTB displays to work at the end of my chain) and you're still looking at under $10,000 and seeing as most of that is in peripherals you could hopefully swap it out if a new MP comes out.

    In terms of carts, I use a film tools junior cart, great trolley for the money.
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  9. #9  
    Senior Member Andrew clemson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Will Keir View Post

    Most important. Relaxed easy going personality. It's a crazy world out there, I like people who stay calm in the storm.

    I can't overemphasise this point, it really can make the difference in who gets work. If you can spot a problem, be confident what it is and wether its worthy of halting the production. Solve it quietly, without fuss and keep calm throughout then you'll likely be asked back over the guy who screams "Stop! its soft!" or my favorite "The highlights are blown! THE HIGHLIGHTS ARE BLOOOOOOOOWWWWNN!" after every error. Clients don't like to hear that stuff.

    Flipside is to make sure you do keep mentioning that everything looks good. Seems obvious but DoPs like to hear that stuff. :)
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  10. #10  
    Senior Member Kwan Khan's Avatar
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    This may help;





    Mac Book pro (R)
    + Sonnet Echo Express Pro ($799)
    + Tempo SSD Pro ($299)
    + Two OCZ 512 GB Vertex 4 (total $1060)
    + BT Red Rocket ($3000)
    + AJA T-Tap (thunderbolt)($295)
    + Black magic UltraStudio Express (thunderbolt) ($470)
    + RED STATION REDMAG 1.8" (MINI) - USB 3.0 ($195)
    + Seagate Flex Desk Thunderbolt Adapter for Seagate GoFlex Desk($185)
    + Euphonic MC Color ($1200)
    + Sony Field Monitor ($3000).




    Some Real TIPs for all DIT (lol);

    If you sit there dragging and dropping to transfer files, you are not a DIT.

    If you don't know color theory, you are not a DIT.

    If you cannot read a histogram, you are not a DIT.

    If you can't setups like detail, noise reduction, secondary color correction in the camera in every scene, you are not a DIT.

    If you can't match whole material on set instead of "fixing everything in post", you are not a DIT.

    If you can't record the proper signal - so you could use as much information in post as you can, you are not a DIT.

    If you never use a gray card, guess what, you don't know why you should use a gray card, and you are not a DIT.

    If you can't advise on exposure, you are not a DIT.

    If your DP does not respect your opinion, you are not a DIT.

    If you color on set, yet don't/can't calibrate your own monitor, you are not a DIT.

    If you are not the consultant on set for your camera crew, you are not a DIT.

    If producers are more excited over your rate than your work, you are not a DIT.



    A DIT is a person who is competent in data management, look creation, and giving knowledgable advice to the DP on ways to get the best image possible.

    Good luck
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