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Redrock Micro: Battle Tested Rigs, Innovation at an Affordable Price

Every rig that I have in our Hurlbut Visuals HD DSLR rental division is Redrock Micro. Why, you ask, when there are so many rigs out there to choose from?

I met Brian Valente in March 2009 – right when this whole DSLR revolution was just getting started. Redrock was fabricating rigs to try to turn this still camera into something that could function as a motion capture device. In viewing all of their rigs and innovative inventions, I felt that Redrock would be the only rig that would hold up chasing the Navy SEALs through swamps, shooting out of helicopters, storming beaches on high speed zodiacs, or running on the top of an Ohio Class Nuclear Submarine in the middle of the Atlantic. The rigs were well thought out and beefy enough, while having a quick conversion quality that increased my speed.

Redrock designs give you the ability to create and build anything that you desire. They make you feel like kid in a candy shop. At HV rentals we are constantly reacting to the ever-changing HDSLR platform by re-configuring and re-tooling with Brian. Redrock is there every step of the way.

Let’s talk about customer service. Access to customer service is a huge advantage when owning your gear. Things break and bend. Accidents happen. Redrock has been all over customer service in a way that many other companies should stand back, take note, and copy their model. They are organized, personal, quick and attentive – four qualities that rock in my book.

The Elite Team members and I roll out with 2 hand-held styles and 1 studio style.

Man-Cam: This looks and feels like half Steadicam and half hand-held when operated correctly. You can start low on the ground and use your arms and legs to boom up and follow anyone or anything. I love this mode and it was my go to rig with the Navy SEALs. I was able to be up close and personal with this rig, much more than a shoulder mounted rig. It gave me an intimacy with the Platoon and a style of movement that you really have never seen before. This is revolutionary.  All of these handheld and studio configurations change so quickly with Red Rock’s newly released  Really Right Stuff quick release baseplate.  Speed is of the essence when re-configuring your camera on the set and this has made if fast, and efficient.

SEAL intimacy with the Red Rock

Rudy Harbon operates with ease following the Navy SEALS through fire

Red Rock’s New Really Right Stuff Quick release BasePlate

Here it is configured in the Hurlbut Visuals Man Cam Mode

Plenty of 3/8″ and 1/4-20″ holes to mount with

Shoulder Hand-Held: This looks and feels like a 35mm motion picture shoulder mounted camera, along with the added weights that provide stability and counter balance required to balance a still lens or cinema style glass. You can set it up to be remote or manual focused. The Anton Bauer quick plate can be mounted to their counter balance weight system for ease and comfort, and also slides to the right to offset your on board monitor if necessary. I have been shooting a lot out of helicopters recently and this gave me a beautiful stable platform to move and react to whatever the Navy and the Marines threw at me.

Hurlbut Visuals Shoulder Hand-Held setup gives you the ability in the field to comfortably grab exposure from the back LCD screen and then swap over to operating off an on-board Marshall monitor. This configurations also gives you the ability to shoot with out the on-board for action oriented shots.

Hurlbut Visuals offset makes this camera feel more like a 35mm motion picture camera if you do not need to broadcast to someone. This configuration will slide perfectly into Redrock

Redrock Shoulder rig in underslung mode in Cancun on AM Resorts

Studio Mode: This mode is for mounting on dollies, cranes, cine-sliders, tripods, anywhere you have a head. It gives you the ability to counter balance cinema glass to help you operate as well as balance remote heads on cranes.

Red Rock Studio mode chillin’ in Cancun at Zoetry Resort on the Panther 40′ Crane

Redrock Studio mode in action high above the Spa roof in Cancun

Remote Follow Focus System: This is something that will be out very soon and I feel will blow peoples minds. It is so smart and user friendly. Stay tuned.

Micro Remote with iPhone

Micro Remote Base station for lens calibration

Micro Remote Base station for lens calibration

Micro Tape: This unit goes hand in hand with your remote follow focus system and is also coming soon. Helping you gauge distances is not only essential for a seasoned focus puller but also for filmmakers learning this art, and it is an art. I am asked so many times how I deal with focus on the 5D. I let everyone know that my focus puller does it. He is the most important crew member on the set when it comes to bringing your creative vision to life. Through experience they have a zen like ability to gauge distances without using anything other than their eyes.

Micro Tape device uses sonar waves to help you judge focus distance

Micro EVF with mini HDMI loop thru

Micro EVF: This is the next part of the puzzle in completely turning your HDSLR into feeling and operating like a film camera.  I cannot wait to see what Redrock has in store for us.  All of the problems with on-board monitors, seeing focus on them, light contamination, framing and the weight will soon be eliminated. Stay tuned.

Micro EVF on hand-held shoulder rig

What rigs do you roll out with? I would love to hear your comments and suggestion to help all of us perfect our craft.

Author: Shane

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45 Comments

  1. I’ve been using their microShouldermount rig since 2008. I also have their microFollowFocus and various mounting gear and never leave home without them. I’m waiting with great hope that the microRemote/microTape will be out by the time I shoot my next project as it would be a vital part of the rig that I need to tell this action oriented story. That, with the microEVF are two tools I’d love to add to my arsenal.

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  2. WHOA at that micro EVF. THAT is a game changer for DSLRs right there.
    I can’t afford any of Red Rock’s gear, but I’d gladly lose and arm for that baby right there. Holy crap that’s gorgeous!

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    • Kahleem, yes the EVF will be the next fuel to the fire of this revolution. Check out the Cineroid EVF, I have six of them in my kit and I am still battle testing them, but loving the freedom and they work with the 5D perfectly.

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  3. Actually thinking it through now- wouldn’t this only be effective for the 7D?
    I’ve never had the opportunity to use it, but I’ve been reading a lot that the 5D and T2i downsample to 480p in HDMI display mode.

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  4. I can’t wait for the Micro Remote and Micro Tape to come out. Those have really got me jazzed. I’ve got to be honest though, I have the Capt Stubling (sort of Man Cam-ish) and I hardly ever use it. I’m usually always shooting solo though and I’m pretty much a minimalist when it comes to filming. I do a lot of aerials and work in a flight test environment so I have to have an extremely non-obtrusive footprint. Plus switching between motion and stills while barrel rolling in an F16 is so much easier when the 5D is naked. Not to mention trying to change lenses. That said, I will fatten that baby up when I slap it on the jib or dolly. Plus, it just looks cooler when you have all this stuff on it. Great post as usual, Shane. Keep ‘em coming.

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    • Matt Short, copy that. I understand, stripper mode as I call it works great when you need a small footprint. Thank you so much for the kind words and support. Bruce Dorn has a great little one man band rig you should check out http://vimeo.com/10778373

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  5. Shane, first off, I’d like to thank you for being one of the best sources for innovation and discussion about HDSLR filmmaking. As someone who is just starting to explore the moving image it is great to have resources like you to pave the way and provide us with educational material. Cheers to HurlbutVisuals and the entire Elite Team!

    Do you guys place a lot of confidence in the hot shoe mount from RR? I’m wondering if its a viable mount point for the microHandle in the event i need an ultra-light low-angle rig. Is supporting the weight of a 5DmkII plus a lens hazardous to that small metal joint? It works great when you have a tiny mic supported by the camera, but what about reversing the role?

    Thanks again.

    Jim Weise
    Photographer (& budding director/DP)

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    • Jim Weise, We mount many things to that hot shoe. It is incredibly tough and pretty strong. The only problem is locking stuff in there, things tend to slip out if not fasten in correctly. I mount my EVF on there, we mount our proprietary IZZY RRS bracket on there. Thanks for the kind words my friend and keep up the hard work.

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  6. Hi,

    Can you also talk about how you set up your audio? In the first pic, you have wires to your right, what is that?

    Thanks for all the info you put out. I come back to your lenses recommendation page all the time.

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    • Ajit, that is not a mic, that is a sonar cine-tape for the focus puller. It gives you footage read out so that the focus puller can judge distances. This one is about 7,000.00, but Red Rocks is very good and much more in people’s price range. We rent those at Panavision. I never usually mount a mic to the camera, we use a double system.

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  7. These are some pretty crazy toys! Wish I had the money to buy all of them :)

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  8. Shane,

    Excellent article as usual!

    I roll with the 5D Mark II and Redrock eyeSpy rig. I decided to go with that rig because I always pulled my own focus and never used both pistol grips with the DSLR cinema kit.

    I must admit that at first I wasn’t too happy with my Redrock purchase. Given that I started off shooting film (RIP – heh, I’m joking!), and I now regularly shoot with the Red One cameras, I felt the system to be too basic, too light, too unstable for the type of filming I wanted to do. I didn’t purchase the back weight because I didn’t have enough money. One night while DPing a music video, I asked my AC to attach a 3 1/2 lb dumbbell to the back of my rig with gaff tape. I then flipped the pistol grip so my left hand was holding the rig while my right was on the lens (since I’m a ‘righty’). I took the rig out in the field to give it a whirl, and low and behold it worked wonderfully. Smooth shots, and I could now take the rig off my shoulder, onto my hands, and get smooth pans and tilts.

    I lacked the initiative to take advantage of the rig’s ergonomics until I was frustrated. I realize that what I am describing is more akin to some ghetto rig you’d see on an indie set, but given what resources I had available to me, I improvised and made the rig work for me. That is the best possible thing about the Redrock rigs; they’re utilitarian in their simplistic design, but aren’t so overly engineered that you can’t customize it yourself with extra parts, not even from Redrock, but whatever you can find lying around your own house.

    On another note, I’m excited to see how the Redrock follow focus and cinetape work. If I don’t have to spend a large sum of money on a pinpoint wireless follow focus system, then I’m all for it! Shane, would you be kind enough to do a test which will compare the Redrock follow focus to other cinema systems?

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    • D, thank you so much for those kind words and your support, we will be all over those units once they are near release.

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  9. My big questions about these rigs are always the same and have kept me from purchasing one…

    Who’s pulling focus during shooting? The camera operator? If so, how does it affect the rig’s balance (he/she is left with just one hand to hold the rig)? If not, what do you use for someone else to do it?

    The Captain Stubling seems to be the only rig I can find from Red Rock Micro that allows you to operate and focus at the same time.

    Thoughts? Anyone?

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    • Raji Barbir, If you are a one man band then these units do not work very well. I am remote follow focus at all times, because when you touch the rig it always throws you off. If you want a nice little stripper rig, check out Bruce Dorn’s rig, http://vimeo.com/10778373.

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  10. I have contacted Brian Valente about maybe having a sponsorship or him helping me out on a short film I’m doing. He gladly agreed, and asked for my wishlist. This was all before Christmas. I haven’t heard back from him since, and have sent him a couple more emails. I don’t know what’s going on over there. Maybe you can ask him for me? I know thatwould be a huge step for such a small film maker like me. Thank you.

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    • Brendan, Hurlbut Visuals can help you out. Send us a list, we support and love helping and inspiring young filmmakers. Contact Kevin Anderson at kevin@hurlbutvisuals.com.

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  11. I’ve been using my Redrock microShoulder Mount since early 2009. Great handheld rig and love using it. I’ve added the RR microFollow Focus as well, along with crank and whips. Never leave home without them. Also have their microMattebox Deluxe and it’s awesome. Love the swing arm on it. I’m very much looking forward to the microRemote and microTape accessory. Those, along with the microEVF are going to be vital tools when I shoot my next project. They make great gear. I just wish I could afford more of it.

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    • Heath Vinyard, I love them also. A wider shoulder pad is on the way soon. Stay tuned.

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  12. When I first got into these cameras January of 2010, I of course began researching different rig set-ups that would make these still cameras more “cinema friendly”. After sifting through Redrock’s website, no other company could compare. What is great about this company is the ability to be able to go through the site, (and if you know what you want), be able to piece together unique and interesting rigs. I was definitely a kid in a candy shop, too. I will also go with these guys for my handheld rigs. Although I am a little disappointed with how long they’ve been dragging out the products mentioned in this post.. I heard about the EVF way back last year, and the micro remote as well… The EVF will be another game changer and I see it as an almost essential piece to any person’s cinema rig.

    Shane, do you know when the EVF is estimated to be released? I e-mailed Redrock in November and Rachel told me first quarter of this year. Keepin’ my fingers crossed…

    By the way, are those the steel rods from Redrock that you guys are using in your rigs or ones of your own making?

    Awesome post by the way, as usual.

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  13. Chris.
    I have those same SS rods that Shane has on his rigs. RR used to use these a year ago before they moved to carbon fiber rods. The SS rods can take a real beating but they’re a little heavier. But with DSLR’s, that’s not a bad thing.

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  14. Hey Heath, that sounds cool. I’ve got the carbon fiber ones now, and they’re good, but I would kind of like to have a little more sturdiness. Those look pretty legit, Redrock is still selling them. Fair price, too.

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  15. Shane,

    It must be such a wonderful feeling when you finally get a system that just works. The ability to chose to go from shoulder-mount to man-cam, to literally snap the camera out of one rig and into another must bring such pleasure. Filmmaking is all about organisation, and it seems you have that down to a tee with these HDSLRs.

    Being organised and efficient on set, a well thought out pre-production and right through to an efficient post-production workflow are invaluable. When everything just works, all your worries about gear and the technology go away, leaving you with a clearer mind to focus on your creative sensibilities. Your organisation in every field is inspirational to me, so thank you for sharing what works for you and inspiring us all to step up our game, iron out the creases, and get with a system that lets you focus on what counts.

    Oli.

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    • Oli Kember, yes sir. I love the freedom of losing the technical stuff and focusing on the story.

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  16. Shane.
    Just wanted to say thank you for doing these blogs. I read every one that you post and what you post has been so helpful. I’m looking at finally making the move to full time filmmaker soon and all the stuff you post is helping inch me there.

    Thank you for helping better the skills of your readers.
    Heath

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    • Heath Vinyard, you are so very welcome and that is great news about your move to shooting full time. ROCK ON!!!! Any help, feel free to drop us an email.

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      • Same here like Heath. Goin Full force with being a auteur filmmaker.
        Thanks Shane for your site/work/effort to keep the site goin.

        my line of equipment so far
        Canon 7D
        Sigma 14mm 2.8
        Sigma 30mm 1.4
        Canon 50mm 1.4
        Canon 85mm 1.2
        Tascam DR-100
        Audio-Technica 4053b mic
        Tripod
        Super Heavy-Duty slider
        Proam Crane
        Varavon viewfinder
        Suction mount
        GorillaPod

        needs more lenses, monitor, lights, atomos ninja (if it works as advertise), and lots red rock gear with switronix gear.

        ps: because of how you utilize the RR man-cam, i now want one asap.

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        • Marlon, Thank you both so much for your support.

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  17. Thanks for the link, Shane. That is one compact rig. The skateboard wheel style follow focus would definitely speed up lens changes. In the cockpit however, I’m still going to fly naked (camera-wise that is). I have the Zacuto Z-finder and I even found that to be a pain to work around while flying. With a lot of twisting to shoot over-the-shoulder behind me and holding the camera out in front of me using my arms to stabilize, it just seemed to be in the way. Also, I talked with Elite Team member Dave Knudson about rigging in flight to help with stabilization in the varying G-force environment and I think we worked out a viable solution. Thanks again to you and your team for being an invaluable resource to this community. Much appreciated.

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    • Matt Short, you are very welcome. Thank you for your support and too continue to push the limit.

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  18. My interest is peaked. What’s the IZZY? is it a “proprietary” secret? I only ask because I am VERY familiar with RRS gear. (I may or may not work for them)

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  19. Shane, Thanks for the post. I been rolling with a microshoulderMount Deluxe Bundle since August 2008 it was my first Redrock purchase. I used it with my beloved PD150 on a Costa Rica Documentary Shoot. I have to say its my go too rig since then. It has grown over the years and broken up and down into numerous configurations. I traded the PD150 and all SD gear to BH in 2009, got a 7D and the rest is history. You’re right customer service Rocks. When I got my rig I had things missing on my part two days b4 my flight. Redrock got me what I needed by Saturday. Flight was Sunday. That was all by email communication and now the have phone support. Bottom line for a one man crew and Budget Redrock is the way.

    Thanks for Educating the Community. As we say in the Caribbean “Nuff Respect”

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    • George E. Kennedy, Jr., Thank you so much for sharing. I agree and we will continue to push on.

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  20. Hey Shane,

    We use two different Redrock rigs. I use the RunningMan when I have to go low profile into a crowd. It works like a dream. For longer handheld shoots I’ve recently moved to a Redrock Eyespy balance with the offset, handlebar and second grip. I couldn’t believe how stable it was to shoot with. Personally I pull my own focus on the Eyespy. I am able to torque my hand just perfectly to get my thumb on the FF with minimum movement to the rig. It’s tough to keep everything steady but I have to shoot solo so we can afford a B cam op.

    Like so many have said let me echo them by saying thank you for being such a great part of this community, and for your willingness to always share your experience!

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  21. Shane or Mike or anyone else on the Elite Team, any idea when Redrock’s EVF will be released? I have been in contact with Rachel and she just pointed me to the direction of the page on the RR website, which I have drooled over many times. Do you guys have an inside scoop on this by any chance? This thing looks like it is going to put a lot of the other EVFs out there to shame, which is why I’ve been waiting for the release.

    Thanks.

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    • Chris McAlister, buy the Cineroid. No need to wait. I bought six because I could not wait for RR.

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  22. I’m afraid I might have to do that. It just sucks because RR’s looks so ergonomic, and for the estimated price, it seems to be worth the wait. But if it is going to be much longer, I’ll have to go the Cineroid route.

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  23. I’m very much considering buying a redrock rig, can anybody tell if you can still use it to a good standard without having an external monitor? I understand you physically are able to, but i’m a bit stripped for cash at the moment, so is it still worth me getting? I’m eventually going to save up and get one, however that could be a good 6 months away. So, will a monitor-less rig still be better than just holding the camera on its own? Or will it be more of a hindrance than a help?

    Thanks everyone! :)

    (I have a canon 550D by the way)

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    • Sam, I would go with the Red Rock rig that offsets the camera so that you can use a Zacuto Z-finder and operate it that way. Yes you will need this to get a steady shot. Make sure you have at least 2 counterweights in the back to give it some girth.

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  24. Hi I really like the Shoulder Hand-Held setup you have in this post. Do you have a parts brake down as I want to buy one.

    Seb

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  25. Great article.

    One thing I’m wondering about is how to configure a Red Rock shoulder rig so that the Z-Finder Pro (the one that uses the Gorilla mounting plate) is aligned with the eye. I know it needs to be offset but do I need to get the microLink4-Flat or the Riser? I use small body Canon DSLR

    Thanks

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