Tag Archives: rig

Vocas PMW-F5 and PMW-F55 Shoulder Rig. Really Nice Stuff.

DSC05096-1024x681 Vocas PMW-F5 and PMW-F55 Shoulder Rig. Really Nice Stuff.
My lovely Vocas shoulder rig.

I’ve been using various shoulder mounts for my F5 over the last year. They have all worked well for me. But at CabSat in Dubai I was lent a Vocas shoulder mount and handles to use with one of the F55’s I was using on the Sony booth.

Now, I’ve come across Vocas many, many times before, they are not new players in this arena and thier products have always looked to be well thought out and well made, but when I put the F55 rig on my shoulder and my hands wrapped around the beautifully carved wooden handles I just fell in love with it. When you use a camera day-in, day-out, how it feels in your hands or on your shoulder is really important and it’s amazing how a great shoulder rig can make using a camera a much more enjoyable experience. A bad rig will make using the camera a miserable chore.

DSC05098-300x199 Vocas PMW-F5 and PMW-F55 Shoulder Rig. Really Nice Stuff.
Another view of my Vocas F5 rig.

So what is it about the Vocas rig I like so much? First of all it’s a fully modular system so you can buy just the bits you want or need. Many of the parts will work with other systems. Initially I just got the shoulder mount and hand grips, but after using these for a short while I realised I also wanted to replace the existing top plate and somewhat uncomfortable carry handle that I had been using with the Vocas one, so I added the top cheese plate and carry handle to my rig this week.

DSC05099-300x199 Vocas PMW-F5 and PMW-F55 Shoulder Rig. Really Nice Stuff.
One of the delightful to hold Vocas wooden hand grips.

The thing that got my attention when I borrowed the rig back in March was the comfort of the handles. The carved wooden hand grips were developed in association with Cam-A-Lot, one of the larger high end cinematography rental houses in Europe. So they know their stuff and know what camera operators want. The design is simple but beautifully executed, a carefully shaped handgrip with an Arri style rosette. The top of the grip has a notch/extension that your thumb wraps around making your grip really secure, this won’t slip out of your hands by mistake. You don’t have to hang on to these handles, your grip is secure even with very light pressure. Your fingers wrap around smooth grooves in the front of the grip and it’s hard to explain, but it just “feels right” and wood is much nicer to hold than plastic or rubber (Vocas also make leather hand grips).

The hand grips are then attached to some extension arms and these arms then attach to the base plate. Again the design of the arms is really simple, but sometimes simple is really effective and these arms are really really light, yet very, very stiff, the quality and finish of the alloy used is excellent. You can join any Vocas arm to any other Vocas arm to create different angles and lengths and there is a range of different arms of various lengths and offsets to choose from. I’ve ended up with one short straight arm and one longer offset arm. Using these two arms I can configure the rig several ways.

DSC05090-300x199 Vocas PMW-F5 and PMW-F55 Shoulder Rig. Really Nice Stuff.
A single Vocas hand grip on a short arm used to create an ENG style rig.

Using just the short arm I can place the right hand grip up alongside the lens for a very secure and very comfortable single handed ENG style shooting rig. There is no need for the strap that you have on the hand grip of an ENG lens. The wooden grips are so easy to grasp and so secure that you just don’t need that extra strap around the back of your hand. I could use the longer offset arm, mounted on the right side and offset to the left to place the hand grip under the lens for an alternative single handed rig.

DSC05100-300x199 Vocas PMW-F5 and PMW-F55 Shoulder Rig. Really Nice Stuff.
Two handed configuration with two Vocas grips and arms.

By using the short arm on the right, angled down and the longer offset arm on the right angled down I can create a two handed rig. One thing I did find is that if you mount the single arm sections that I have on the rosettes on the shoulder mount the handles are quite close to your body. If you prefer your hand grips a little further away from your body you have a couple of options. Either double up on the arms joining two together to make a longer articulated arm, or do as I did and add the 15mm rail bracket that has a rosette at each end to mount the handles from the rods (Vocas also do a 19mm system). The rail bracket has a very neat quick release catch, so it’s a breeze to fit.

DSC05104-300x199 Vocas PMW-F5 and PMW-F55 Shoulder Rig. Really Nice Stuff.
Underside of the Vocas PMW-F55 base plate.

But what about the shoulder mount that all this is hanging from? The one I have is the Vocas standard PMW-F5 and F55 base plate. Now, this doesn’t look anything special, but looks can be deceiving. This very comfortable base plate weighs only 600g. That’s quite a lot lighter than my previous base plates and lighter than the Sony equivalent. It’s a VCT-14 compatible plate so snaps in and out of the very common Sony quick release plate quickly and easily. If you don’t want VCT-14 compatibility the silver part with the VCT wedge in the picture above can be replaced with a flat plate for mounting directly on to tripods or other mounting systems.

DSC05076-300x199 Vocas PMW-F5 and PMW-F55 Shoulder Rig. Really Nice Stuff.The base plate can be slid forwards and backwards relative to the camera body to help you achieve perfect balance. The mounting screws run in a slot with deep shoulders that make the plate very ridged and secure. The comfortable soft shoulder pad can also be moved forwards and backwards within the base plate giving you further flexibility. On the sides of the base plate are a pair of Arri style rosettes and at both the front and rear there are holes for the usual 15mm rods.

DSC05082-1024x681 Vocas PMW-F5 and PMW-F55 Shoulder Rig. Really Nice Stuff.Moving on to the top of the camera….. The comfort of the carry handle is so important, especially when the camera is rigged up with weighty accessories and heavy batteries. The last thing you want is blisters on your hands from a bad handle. So after experiencing the comfort of the hand grips I decided to add the Vocas top cheese plate and handle.

DSC05089-300x199 Vocas PMW-F5 and PMW-F55 Shoulder Rig. Really Nice Stuff.
The Vocas handle and top cheese plate for the F5 and F55.

The handle has a very nice wooden grip insert which makes the camera very comfortable to carry. You also get a pair of posts to take a standard Sony shoulder strap. Oh Joy! Sony take note: please include provision for a shoulder strap on all your cameras, they are very useful! The top cheese plate is well… a cheese plate with lots of mounting holes for all your accessories. It’s very slightly raised from the top of the camera body to avoid inhibiting any cooling of the camera. The handle takes a mounting bush for the F5/F55 viewfinder that can be placed either at the front of the handle or on the rear. This is handy for film style shooting from behind the camera rather than to the side. You can also use a pair of 15mm rods attached to the handle that run above your lens if you need to mount a Matte Box from above or add extra items like follow focus motors. Integrated into the handle is a pair of cold shoes for accessories such as a camera light. If you have a very heavy lens, like perhaps the new Canon 17-120mm or a Cabrio then the handle can be mounted facing forwards to get better balance.

DSC05101-300x199 Vocas PMW-F5 and PMW-F55 Shoulder Rig. Really Nice Stuff.
Vocas side cheese plate that protects the viewfinder connector.

The last part of the kit is the optional side cheese plate. This serves two purposes. The main one for me is to protect the rather vulnerable viewfinder connector that sticks straight out from the side of the camera body. With a list price of just 95 Euros, this is a really wise investment (if you don’t use a cheese plate etc why not get one of my plastic viewfinder connector protectors that I sell on ebay). The other purpose is to provide yet more 1/4″ threaded mounting points on the side of the camera. I think it also looks cool! A small observation is that the rather flimsy connector still protrudes beyond the cheese plate by about 15mm, so bash it into a door frame walking through the door way and you could still damage the end of the connector. So I’m going to add a 1/4″ bolt to one of the threaded holes in front of the connector. This will stick out a bit and further protect the connector from damage.

So while a shoulder rig might not be the most interesting part of your camera kit, it is one of the most important. It’s what connects you to your camera, or what connects your camera to your tripod. If it isn’t comfortable, your camera will feel awkward. A bad rig might compromise your shots or shooting style, so getting the right rig is important and I can highly recommend Vocas as a supplier of shoulder rigs and associated support equipment. If you get the opportunity, do try the wooden hand grips. They are a bit more expensive than most plastic or rubber based hand grips, but they are just so nice to hold. Using this rig is a delight, I love my PMW-F5 and this rig makes it very easy and comfortable to use.

FYI. The Matte Box is one of the new Alphatron Matte Boxes. A review of which will be on-line very soon. It’s nice! The follow focus is an Alphatron ProPull, a great little compact follow focus with adjustable end stops for fast focus pulls. The lens is a Samyang Cine Prime. Based on a DSLR lens but with pitch gears and smooth aperture adjustment. Great image quality and T1.5.

 

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Ultimate F3 ENG rig?

F3-eng-rig-1024x520 Ultimate F3 ENG rig?
PMW-F3 ENG Rig.

So, here’s what I am working on. This is a “work in progress” but I’m liking where it’s going. My aim is to create a truly useable kit for the F3 that will turn it into an ENG type camera. Now I’m not suggesting that the F3 is a good camera for news or that type of fast moving thing. But for documentaries it has a big place and the easier I can make it to use, the better. The rig is made up form all kinds of bits and pieces.

1: This is an old Canon J16x8x2 SD broadcast lens, which becomes a 20 to 320mm f4 zoom lens. It works OK, fine when wide but a little soft in the corners at the long end.

2: New metal body HDSDi Cineroid EVF attached with a custom bracket (5)

3: Genus GMB-P ENG camcorder adapter with 15mm bar support. This has the quick release wedge needed to work with the VCT-14 tripod plate.

4: My B4 to F3 adapter. Watch this space, in production very soon.

5: Custom made (by me) PMW-F3 ‘H” plate. This attaches to the two 1/4″ threads on the top of the camera body and gives you lots of 1/4″ threads along the entire length of both sides of the top of the F3. To this attaches a custom fully adjustable viewfinder mounting system.

6: Custom made shoulder mount. On production units this would be a little shorter, it’s a bit tall on the prototype. It features an adjustable soft shoulder pad and mounts for the cheese plate and VCT-14 adapter.

7: Genus cheese plate.

8: IDX V-Lock adapter plate. But you could also use an Anton Bauer plate.

9: DSM V-Lock battery (98Wh). Will run the rig for over 4 hours.

10: VCT-14 quick release plate.

The balance point for the rig is just slightly forward of the centre of the shoulder pad, so it’s really nice to handhold. A slightly bigger battery or a Convergent Design Gemini on the back would give near perfect balance.

So, what do you think, would you by this lot (excluding lens and EVF) as a kit? I’m looking to do a small run of kits, no idea of the price yet. More pictures below, click on the thumbnail for a high-res image.

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F3 Shoulder Rig

F3-shoulder-rig2-300x195 Ultimate F3 ENG rig?F3-shoulder-rig-vf-mount-150x150 Ultimate F3 ENG rig?F3-shoulder-rig-front-300x192 Ultimate F3 ENG rig?

Today3D Electronic Follow Focus and 3D Rig Controller. FIZ

IMG_06621-e1308775858912-300x223 Today3D Electronic Follow Focus and 3D Rig Controller. FIZ
Today 3D FIZ Controller

Here’s a very exciting new product I was first given a sneak preview of at Cinegear in LA a couple of weeks ago, but now I have had a slightly longer look and a chance to take some pictures at Broadcast Asia. It comes from a new name to the market, Korean based Today 3D, but don’t let that worry you, I know some of the guys behind this and they know what they are doing. In addition many of the products coming out of Korea in recent years have been very good, like the NextoDI range of media backup devices. The device is a full wireless electronic follow focus designed primarily for 3D applications. There will be different models capable of driving up to 8 motors for full stereo focus, zoom, iris, interaxial and convergence control down to an entry level 2D wireless follow focus.

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Today3D controller screen

The hand controller is beautifully well built, machined out of a solid block of alloy and it feels reassuringly solid, if just a little heavy in your hand. On the right side there is a nice big, silky smooth focus control that sits nicely in your hand. On the face of the controller there is a slide control that would normally be used for the other functions such as convergence or most commonly interaxial. The unit is full programmable via a small joystick and menu system with a multicolour display giving you information about your focus distance, zoom position and interaxial etc. It runs off rechargeable Canon DSLR batteries which easy enough to get hold of wherever you may be. The final price has yet to be announced but I have been reassured that it will be extremely competitive, probably a lot less than a comparable C-Motion controller. It won’t initially come with motors but it has the industry standard motor interface so can be used with motors from Heden, Preston, M-One etc. It’s a great looking piece of kit that really feels built to last. I’m hoping to get hold of one for a full review and test drive in the near future. There are also some other interesting 3D products coming from Korea including some innovative transparent alignment charts! Watch this space.

3D Workshop at Samy’s Camera (Fairfax store) LA. Also Cinegear appearance.

I shall be in LA with the Genus Hurricane Rig for Cinegear at the beginning of June. Then on June the 5th and 6th I am running a two day 3D workshop where you can gain full certified Hurricane Rig accreditation. The normal fee for the full two days is $500 USD however if you purchase a hurricane rig between now and then the course is free and you get the option to do the second day hurricane rig accreditation workshop again for free. If you just want to attend the first day and the intro to 3D workshop then you can attend for just $50. Make any purchases at Samy’s totalling $500 or more and the day is free. Lunch will be provided and it should be a lot of fun as well as an interesting insight into the world of S3D. See http://www.samys.com for more details.

Genus Hurricane Rig to be sold by Manfrotto.

IMG_0450-300x224 Genus Hurricane Rig to be sold by Manfrotto.
Genus Hurricane Rig at BVE

Just an update on the progress of my light weight, modular 3D mirror rig, the Genus Hurricane Rig. In many countries, including the USA and UK the rigs will be available through Manfrotto accredited dealers. To ensure the very highest quality of service and support I am assisting Genus and Manfrotto with a global dealer training programme. In most cases dealers will already have 3D knowledge, but in order to sell the rig they must attend one of our workshops and demonstrate a good understanding of 3D and the Hurricane Rig. The rig was on show on the Canon and Manfrotto booths at the recent BVE show in London where it attracted a large amount of interest. In the UK you will be able to order rigs directly from me via the hurricane-rig.com web site. The advantage of purchasing this way is that I will be able to ensure that the rig will meet your needs and provide after sales support and training if required.

IMG_04621-223x300 Genus Hurricane Rig to be sold by Manfrotto.
A pair of hurricane rigs at Singapore Poly.

I recently spent a few days in Singapore training the lecturers at Singapore Poly to use the Hurricane Rig. The polytechnic has purchased a rig as a teaching aid for stereoscopic 3D classes. They will be using it with an EX1R and EX3 as well as a convergent design Nano3D. This makes a really good light weight and low cost system. The Nano3D will output an anaglyph output so a conventional 2D monitor can be used on set to align the rig and for monitoring. This can be a big cost saver as 3D monitors are expensive items.

Genus Matte Box, Rails and Shoulder mount on PMW-F3

DSCF9051-1024x576 Genus Matte Box, Rails and Shoulder mount on PMW-F3
Genus kit fitted to an F3

So here is my current set up. As you may know Genus are making the 3D rig that I designed, so I get to play with the latest Genus bits and pieces. This is my F3 with a pre-production universal riser and base plate. The base plate will fit most camcorders and incorporates mounts for a pair of 15mm rails. Up front I have a Genus Wide 4×4 matte box. I’m really pleased with this light weight matte box with added top flag, it is a good match for the Nikon DSLR lenses that I will be using and is much, much lighter than my old Petroff matte box. It fits lenses up to 105mm  diameter so I will need a bigger matte box for many PL mount lenses (and bigger filters) perhaps I’ll get one of those nice TLS Raven Matte Boxes. For smaller lenses though the Genus 4×4 is really nice. Behind the matte box I have a Genus Superior follow focus. This is a silky smooth FF unit and on this lens it’s driving one of Genus’s clever flexible lens gears. This is a little bit like a hose clip, a thumb screw tightens it up so that it fastens snuggly around the lens. It will fit a much larger range of lenses than a traditional rigid lens gear.  The lens in the pictures is a Tokina ATX-Pro 28-70mm parfocal zoom. This is a great lens, plenty sharp enough for HD video and it doesn’t telescope when you zoom. Breathing is minimal. To match the lens to the camera there is one of Mike Tapas (MTF) excellent Nikon to F3 adapters.

DSCF9055-300x168 Genus Matte Box, Rails and Shoulder mount on PMW-F3
Genus hand grips and Follow Focus

Underneath the lens I have a pair of hand grips from the Genus shoulder mount kit. The shoulder pad is right at the back behind the camera. For a little bit of extra convenience I have a Genus GAP adapter plate that allows me to use a quick release VCT-14 tripod plate.

The only thing left to sort is a loupe for the LCD screen. I’ve experimented with a Hoodman DSLR loupe that I have and this almost works. It doesn’t cover the full width of the LCD, but does allow me to use the LCD as a viewfinder when using this shoulder rig. I guess I need to get the Hoodman Hood Riser and Hood Strap to make the loupe fit the LCD correctly. I’ve read elsewhere that it does not fit the F3, but my experiments with the loupe alone suggests it will fit. Anyone else tried it yet? I’d rather go this route than getting a Cineroid viewfinder.

The tripod is a Manfrotto 509. This one of their new silky smooth “bridge” style heads. The 509 is a mid weight head with a pretty high payload capability, true fluid action and variable counter balance. I’m going do a separate write up on the tripod, it’s really rather good, especially considering the price!

Hurricane Rig Update. Available via Manfrotto.

My 3D rig will be available in many countries via Manfrotto from the 1st of March. Production has been in full swing for the last few weeks and we now have finished rigs in stock at the factory. In the UK rigs will be available from Manfrotto or from the Hurricane-Rig.com website (approx €6700 euros, £6000 GBP plus VAT, price TBC). In the USA select Manfrotto Dealers will be selling the rig for $7995 USD.

We are working on a range of add ons for the rig which include a motorisation kit that will add motorised Interaxial only, interaxial plus convergence as well as dual focus and zoom options. These will options will fit all Hurricane rigs so there is no need to wait for these options to become available. Pricing TBA, but it will be very competitive and you can pick and choose the modules that you need.

Shooting 3D with 2 Cameras and Synchronisation (Camera Rigs)

It is important to understand that no matter how much you slip and slide the clips from you cameras in the edit suite timeline to bring them into sync, if the images captured by the two cameras sensors are not in sync, you may have some big problems. Even if you press the record buttons on the cameras at exactly the same moment, they may not be running in sync. In the edit suite you can only adjust the sync by whole frames while the cameras may be running half a frame out and this can be impossible to correct in post production.
Remember that from the moment you turn a camera on it is capturing frames. When you press the record button the recording doesn’t start instantly, but at the start of the next full frame, so the synchronisation of the camera is dependant on when the camera was turned on and how long it takes to start working, not when you press the record button….. Unless you have Genlock, which overrides the cameras own internal clock and matches it to an external reference signal, forcing the camera to run in sync with the sync source which can be the second camera or a sync generator.
It is possible to shoot 3D with non-sync cameras, but any motion in the scene, or camera movement such as a pan may lead to strange stereoscopic effects including distortion of the 3D space, un wanted depth changes and moving objects appearing to float in front or behind where they should really be.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t use a non sync camera, just that it is less than ideal and it’s use will limit the kinds of shots you are able to do.
If you don’t have genlock a further option is to use a pair of Canon or Sony camcorders with LANC control. It is possible to get special LANC controllers such as LANC Shepherd or the controllers I have listed below:
http://www.berezin.com/3d/Lanc/index.html
http://dsc.ijs.si/3dlancmaster/
http://www.colorcode3d.dk/group.asp?group=42
These work with most camcorders that have a LANC port or AV/R port and provide good sync for periods of up to around 15 minutes at a time. To reset the sync the cameras must be powered off and back on. They work by synchronising the start up of both cameras and then measuring the sync error. The sync won’t be perfect, but it will be good enough for most 3D applications. However as there will always be slight variations in the master oscillators in the cameras, over time the sync will start to drift apart. The controller will tell you how far apart the sync is and when it becomes excessive you will need to re start the cameras to bring them back into sync, typically you get between 10 minutes and 20 minutes of useful synchronisation.