Recently Pierre Michoud, Aaton’s Director of Service and an old friend, came all the way from Grenoble, France to train us on their new 2-Perf / 3-Perf 35mm Penelope camera. The three-day training included a camera overview, converting the camera between formats, service techniques and future upgrades. Jeff Marzigliano, Jordan Napolitano and myself participated in the 3-day training session. It was an honor to be one of the first to witness some of the advances Aaton has made since their last 35mm camera.
The first thing everyone comments on is the camera’s quiet movement. You almost can’t believe it’s pulling film. The video tap image and viewfinder are significantly better than previous models… and, that’s just the beginning.
Each day’s agenda was carefully planned. We started with general topics, such as loading the new magazines (look for a demo of this soon on our website), navigating the improved electronic menus, and video tap features, but as the day progressed, we got down to the nuts and bolts of the camera. We discussed the claw movement and the difficulties of designing a movement that would accommodate both 2-perf and 3-perf formats. We discovered that the Penelope has a third motor, solely dedicated to driving the shutter. We completely disassembled the camera and saw how Aaton’s engineers were able to achieve such a quiet camera by “floating” an inner chassis to absorb and isolate camera vibrations.
It was great hanging out with Pierre. Pierre is like your favorite teacher in school and your college roommate all wrapped up in one. He is jam packed with knowledge about everything camera related: mechanical, electrical and optical. And at the same time we can share stories of our adventures in Southern California and Southern France. I visited the factory twice: once to be trained on the Prod (way back when) and more recently to learn how to upgrade the Prod to an Xterà. Pierre use to be a resident of Los Angeles when he ran the U.S. Aaton facility and worked sided by side with Jordan Napolitano. There is plenty of history between Pierre and Abel’s technicians. There is never enough time in the day to spend with Pierre; his time at the LA office went fast. Before leaving, we were already planning our next reunion in France around the launch of the Digital Magazine. I think a training session is in order.