Let’s talk about your camera rig setup. I’m always getting asked what I use or why I use a specific piece of hardware or gear for my studio build setup. Well, today we’re going to try and answer a few of those questions, and probably generate dozens more! We previously discussed how to Rig Your Camera for Handheld, so now we’re going to figure out the best Studio Build for you that’s both achievable and affordable.
THE STUDIO BUILD
Everything is set up the way I need it. The monitor, access to the battery, PL Mount, chammy, EVF, my follow focus on the assistant side — which gives enough room for he or she to rack focus — and I got my Teradek fly for remote video. Now, this is how I expect to move both effectively and efficiently. This rig is part of me because I have it rigged for me. It’s not always about seeing what I do and mimicking it, but, instead, it’s about what feels and works good for you.
I can simply take it from the handle and go. This is much different from, say, when I used the Canon C500 where cables were coming out of every which way. This is CLEAN and READY.
The Oconnor is part of the old guard. It’s been the standard for years throughout the industry. That said, I have always been a big fan of the Cartoni! You might wonder why. Well, it comes to metrics. If I measure the Cartoni head, it’s only 9 inches! Whereas, the Oconnor is 10 inches.
An inch is a BIG DEAL.
When you’re on a low-hat and you’re trying to get really low, that inch can make all the difference. Even when your looking up an inch to make your subject more heroic, or looking slightly down on them, that little bit can change the perspective. You need to consider the emotion your conveying with your camera height.
The Cartoni is also quieter to operate. The O’Connor will click and make noises when you unlock the vertical axis, whereas the Cartoni is a silent killer! Another huge benefit to the Cartoni is everything is in reach from the operator’s side. You can also digitally set the balance, tilt, and pan. No problem! On the Oconnor head, you have 1s and 2s and 3s. So at the end of the day, the Cartoni is a little more exact — breaking it down into a science.
The Cartoni can handle up to 65 lbs. The camera rig we’re using is only 25 lbs. We don’t need the massive head of the film days, so the more we can shrink up everything, the better and more mobile we can be.
MOVCAM DSMC2 CAGE
When I roll out on movies, I’m not going with anything else but the MOVCAM cage. For me, it’s the best one and has become a quick favorite of mine. This top plate is my favorite. I just finished shooting a feature in Italy where it worked perfectly, easily moveable to give access to ports. And the hotswap system is another one of my favorite features. Anyone who’s ever worked with RED knows when the camera goes down, it takes an incredibly long time to boot back up. With the hotswap system, you have more than enough time to switch out batteries without worrying about powering back up. As far as this thing goes ergonomically, I have ports from the front to the back of the cage. Access to start-stop, HDMI, auxiliaries, SDI1 & 2. What’s not to love?
It’s incredibly user friendly. You have the ability to change things around to fit how you like it. It’s about customizing it to feel good for YOU. Now, you can put the weight in the front or the back. For me, I like to adjust the weight of the camera right in the middle, so if I take my hands off the handles it stays right on my shoulder.
I also like my handle high, because I’m used to it. Back in the film days the handle was high to give you enough room to grab the mag. So, I kept it there. That’s how you know you’re shooting cinema, baby! What makes it work even better, is I like to use the handle from the handheld setup in the front. That way, I get nice and close so I’m making precise movements, and feel one with the camera.
MATTHEWS INFINITY ARM
Now, this is BEEFY. Even when you’re going for a quick bare-bones shot, it’s easy to slap a camera on. I often like quick-overhead shots. Like in the Adventurers, I rigged it right up to the ceiling and clamped it into place with the Infinity Arm to quickly and easily get the overhead shot.
BLUESHAPE POWER STATION
Now, this is one of my favorite systems to work with. Not only is it waterproof (and yes, you can throw it in the water and it’ll work perfectly fine) you have a full system of batteries in the case. You can put 180s, 240s in here. It can give you 48v or 28v, whatever you need!
They also work fantastic as chargers. I’ve put these in the backseats of cars and powered two ARRI SkyPanel S60s for 4 hours on set with no problem! That’s why I love this system. It can simply do what others can’t!
MOVCAM FOLLOW FOCUS
The ergonomics are nice and smooth. You’ve got speed crank handles and you’ve got the big whips that come in the kit. They’re not some extra add-on. Now, something to really keep in mind is how affordable this option is. The system, in all, is under $3,000. Not too bad. This is especially something to consider when compared to the Arri Follow Focus which goes for $6,000-8,000. What’s great about the MOVCAM Follow Focus is how great it works, and it won’t break the bank.
It’s completely adjustable. You can slide the rail in and out with no problem in changing lenses. You can adjust how tight it is. There are different gear ratios. I love how you can also adjust how tight it is with the different gear ratios and speeds. That way you can customize it to your liking and rack to focus with ease.
When you’re an owner operator, and you’re not looking to break the bank, this is a GREAT addition to your Studio Build.
TIFFEN NATURAL NEUTRAL DENSITY FILTERS
With RED cameras, the Internal NDs don’t really exist. You still have to put NDs in front of your lens which can cause several problems. One of which is creating double and triple reflections. That said, Kippertie has come out with an internal wheel called the Revolva. You can get a PL mount or an EF mount and it clamps right on to the camera, allowing you to get Internal NDs. Just like the Arri Alexa Mini, you have relatively the same set up with the Internal NDs!
But since we don’t have that right now, we can work with Tiffen and their new Natural NDs. I have done a TON of testing with these filters and we have got them in the pocket right now. It is consistent from a 0.3 all the way to the 2.1. With these you get the purest color. This is a big deal! You get the full spectrum of color when you get into massive IR pollution.
Check out our Tiffen Black Diffusion Series for more!
It’s important to have the right gear to make your studio build as customizable and easy as possible. The less time you’re worrying about your setup, the more time you will have to make your shot as memorable as possible. It’s about finding that balance with reliability and affordability!