When you shoot film, you start with a camera that feels nice — good weight, great on your shoulder. Let’s say this baby weighs 35 lbs. All of a sudden, my focus puller gets to that camera and cine tapes get affixed, brains for remote follow focus, motors, arms, monitors, and now that nice camera that weighed 35 lbs. is trimming out at just under 45 lbs.
All of this is necessary, especially if you take focus pullers to places that I do – t2.0 at night with 3/4” of depth of field and ask for everything to be in focus. I respect their talent so much. Darin Necessary is one of the best. His instincts are incredible. These next few points are how he likes to add the little bits to make his life easier on set.
The first little bit I would suggest would be a 16×9 Cinelock. I screw this to the right side of the cage.
Then I add another Cinelock on to the bottom of an Ultralight Arm. You might ask why would I need this? Well, this is the device that will energize Video Village. We are now going to add a TV Logic monitor to this arm that will work on the dummy side of the camera. With its HDMI to SDI converting function, it will send an SDI signal to video village. The signal is one they are familiar with and their gear will recognize.
The Achilles heel of the Canon 1DC is its mini HDMI port, and I have brought this to Canon’s attention. Converting this signal is paramount if you are going to have anyone watch what you’re doing. HDMI cables are delicate, fragile and do not broadcast long distances without clumsy repeaters.
Moving on to more accessorizing, I would now add a top handle to the cage. This allows you to grab it easily, operate low angle shots with, you name it. This baby rocks. Arri, Zacuto, Redrock Micro, Letus and Element Technica are my favs.
The Letus has a rosetted top handle. It will adjust to any angle. Its locking top plate and clamp give you flexibility along with a mini rod support. Element Technica’s top handle is fixed and bolts directly to the cage with mini rod supports as well.
Why would I want mini rods on the top of my camera? The mini rods on top of your camera enable you to mount your remote follow focus motors, manual focus and/or zoom motors easily.
One of the disadvantages of this DSLR is that there was no solution to remotely turn this camera on or off. Canon made some bluetooth wireless devices but they do not communicate well. They have a cable method, but it is not wireless and it doesn’t lock.
So many of these little bits cost a lot of money and may be something that you do not need all the time on your jobs. I look to a rental house that looks forward into the future and figures out all of this stuff for me. One of the places that I use when I shoot Canon are my friends at Revolution Cinema Rentals. Q, Sarah and their kick ass team of co-collaborators have come up with many of these “LITTLE BITS” so that your camera is production friendly.
When the 1DC could not turn off and on remotely, I turned to them to find a solution. Their device connects through the side port of the camera which talks to the 1DC and enables you to turn it on and off through your remote follow focus system. BAM!!!!
Ok, we have our camera nicely tricked out to function on a head in studio mode, but how do we power it? The on-board batteries are an option, but you have many other things to power — monitors, remote follow focus, EVFs etc. I like Anton Bauer batteries, so I have based the power distribution around this. Many people have gotten into the power distro game, like Switronix and Hawk-Woods UK.
I will start with a Letus battery weight plate to use as an example. The reason I am using this one is that the Letus Gold Plate has four accessory p-tap ports. Anton Bauer has a gold plate that has four ports as well. Why is this a big deal? I like eliminating variables, and plugging accessories directly into the battery is paramount. When splitter/breakouts are used, it is just another thing to go down and they do go down a lot. They are made of plastic; they over heat and break easily. With the Letus or Anton Bauer gold plates, you have four places to plug in.
We successfully have all our accessories powered, but what about the camera? You can go out and buy some more 1DC batteries, but what if you were able to power this baby with your Anton Bauer? On The Ticket, I built one of these and it was a lifesaver. This is another place where I turned to Revolution. I asked them, how can we power this up so that all of the accessories and the camera are powered by one source? They went out and built this cool set up that uses the AC adapter dummy battery of the 1DC, then with an extension cable and a box which allows you to power the camera via p-tap, 4pin XLR or 2 pin Limo. This kicks butt!!!
Creating a system that can go quickly from studio mode on a head to camera on your shoulder is HUGE!!!! This is what increases your speed. I know that you do not have six 1DCs all sitting around in every configuration. RIGHT? Converting time is lost shots; you are taking scope off of the screen. I have set up a way to transfer quickly from studio to hand held mode.
Let’s use the Element Technica Mantus Rig. The camera snaps into the mini dovetail plate and you are ready to go. This rig is for shooters who like the camera and lens weight out in front of them.
The Letus Shoulder Rig is based on keeping the camera centered on your shoulder and all that is needed is a couple of rosette-based handles and a shoulder pad. The weight is equal in the front and the rear. What I like about this set up is that it feels very much like an Arri 235 35mm camera on your shoulder. That 35 mm camera was my favorite. The 5 lb. weight that also holds the Anton Bauer battery can be flown directly behind the camera or flipped over to pinch against your shoulder in the back for steadiness.
The secret to this little set up is the shoulder pad. Take a look at it. It is a wedge design. Why is that? Well, look at your shoulder. It is not an even surface. It goes down at an angle away from your head.
This wedge design keeps the camera level and sucked to your head. I velcro the Element Technica mini dovetail to the Letus shoulder pad. How does this help? You can convert from studio to hand held. Slide your camera off the mini dovetail that is mounted to your head. Then slide the same camera right onto the mini dovetail that is velcroed to the shoulder pad. Quick and easy. All you add are handles and you are shooting immersive hand held.
Let’s look at the Arri design. Great accessories from a trusted name in the film business. Their DSLR line is built to last. I like the balance and the handle adjustments.
Over the last three weeks, we have dealt with your menus. We have caged the camera, powered it, added the little bits, rigged it and converted it. Now it is your job to take as much from this as you would like and get out there and create. This gives you a production ready, cinematic movie making machine. Have at it!!!!!
How do you build your 1DC out?
What other rigs, power boxes, etc. have you come across that you like?
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