One of the most popular rigs out there is the handheld rig, because it allows you mobility and frees you up to get your shot fast. When it comes to figuring out the best way to configure your digital camera, there tends to be a lot of arms, a lot of cables, and a lot of accessories.
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But even in my film days there were handicaps while in handheld mode. I remember that camera weighing about forty to seventy pounds sometimes, with all the Pana-tapes and monitors and follow-focuses and NDRs and all these things making it heavier than hell. So, it’s all relative.
What I want to do is start with the bare bones of our digital camera, which leaves us with the brain. There’s not much that this small, little body cannot do. And the cool thing about having something this small is you can build it as big or as small as you want it.
THE LENS MOUNT
Now, a film I just did called The Babysitter, we physically mounted this camera — 6K with a Leica-R Mount — so we put an EF Mount on here, and we were able to physically mount it to with the Doggie Cam Body Mount, and we got this incredible atmosphere as he walked around, giving us a disoriented effect.
So, when you have a camera that only weighs four pounds, you’re enabled to do those types of things with your handheld setup. And this is what’s so exciting about this new age of small cameras. Now, we have a lot of crazed young shooters at Hurlbut Visuals, and this is what we call our Rage Cam, or what I like to call the Millennial Setup.
THE MILLENNIAL SETUP
It’s the very small, bare-bones of a camera system. You have your EF Mount, you have your bracketry to be able to hold it in tight like this if you want. I’m using my three points of contact and I can suck it really close, so I’m able to keep my handheld nice and stabilized. I have the monitor here, so if I want to do low shots, tracking with people. I immediately can go into low mode.
And the cool thing about this handle is RED really addressed the Millennials. I’m able to pull focus on the thing, change all the settings, including my iris on the handle. I have hot buttons — A, B, C, and D to change white balance, to go in and magnify. All this stuff, it’s all right here, all at your fingertips.
So, this handheld build is very compact and the BlueShape battery conforms perfectly to the build, so it’s not sticking up high. A lot of times I like to spin the handle upwards, especially if the lens is a little lighter, so I have it low to the ground when I’m running with it. If I wanted to spin the handle, I couldn’t do it with high batteries, so BlueShape works extremely well. And you got your P-taps if you want to wireless follow focus or whatever you’d like. But this setup is pretty rockin! It’s very small, it’s very compact, it’s how you get your rage on.
I just love how it’s got this rubber grip. It just feels really good. And quickly I can immediately shift my aperture. I can get my focus — there, I’m getting that to focus nicely. I like to have my cameras lined up like guns on a rack. On my features, we’re rolling out with about 19 cameras, and they’re all in different configurations.
I have accessories that I can add on to this package, as well. I can go for a cage if I want to take this Millennial build a step further. Now, I have tried so many of these cages. We’ve tried the Tilta and sparks shot out of it. We’ve tried the RED cage, which is very minimal with not a lot of accessories. But with our little handheld setup here, I’m going to work with a Movcam Side Bracket.
The Movcam DSMC2 Hot Swap Adapter gives you 140 seconds to take the battery off and put it back on. You have a beautiful sliding base plate that’s ergonomically built into this cage system, and you have an awesome top plate that has many different ports for you to go SDI, Auxiliary Out, HDMI Out, it makes it very nice and compact. So, you’re still keeping the camera very, very small.
Back in the film days, Spider Grips were king. This is how I rolled out. You’re able to configure these things in almost any setup. And they have all different rod configurations as well. So, you can go with the mini rods or you can go with the wider depth. They spin and rotate. There’s not a configuration you cannot get in and that’s why I really love them. When I was in New Orleans working on Into the Badlands, there was times when it was 130 degrees. My hands would just be dripping sweat, but I was able to grip these really well and wick the sweat.
Now, there’s also the Movcam grips. What I like about the Movcam grips is not only do they have the sweat-wicking ability, but it has a nice gripping area that lines up with your palm. So, what I do is loosen the grips and I rotate them ever-so-slightly in because when I’m in this configuration I like to keep my grips in tight. A lot of times on movies you like that handheld feel, but it’s not like you want it all over the place either. It’s that kind of thing where you just want that feel of your breathing and the frame is just barely moving. Now, that’s a locked set up where you can just stand there giving it a more natural feel. Or, if you’re going in for coverage, I’ll put an apple box down and just sit on that as I’m operating.
Remember, giving yourself options while in handheld is key to quality performance. Now, this gets you all dialed in with a more minimal build where there’s no cables with this system. It’s all very tight to rip and go, and that’s what I really like about this handheld rig. Other than how it looks sometimes when the Ragers get involved! Haha! Hell, you got to embrace technology and the future, and Millennials — they all have a part in it!