As gear enthusiasts we spend a lot of time drooling over the latest cameras, lenses, drones, and gimbals, but the things I get excited about the most are products that I use on a daily basis that make my job easier. At NAB a few years ago Sachtler showed the Speed Level Clamp, that loosens a tripod head position when you squeeze the handles and sets the head in place the moment you release the squeeze. Still, to this day it remains one of the most useful products I own and I couldn’t imagine working with out it.
At this year’s NAB show I saw two more products that I instantly knew would make my day to day shooting easier, the first being the Bright Tangerine Titan Arm. As everyone knows using a arm to support and adjust monitors and other accessories such as top lights is always a fiddly and time consuming process. Locking off a monitor arm in a fixed position isn’t difficult, but as soon as you have to adjust it you need to loosen the lever, hold the monitor with your other hand, move it, and then lock it off again.
As shooters we are constantly adjusting the camera and that means we then have to move a monitor so it is in the best possible position for viewing. Instead of having to use both hands and undo a latch to re position a monitor, what if you could adjust it by just moving the monitor? Well that is exactly what Bright Tangerine have done with the Titan Arm. The Titan Arm is a self-supporting and pivoting unit, designed to take a payload of up to 8kg. The beauty of the self-supporting design, is that when the arm is loosened for positioning, it will stay in place, even with a full 8kg mounted on it. When locked off, the monitor can still be pivoted and the arm can be disassembled so you can fix it yourself, in the unlikely event that anything breaks.
I’ve been road testing the Titan Arm over the last few weeks with a Convergent Design Odyssey 7Q+. I must admit it that using the Titan Arm did take a bit of time to get used to. As my brain is wired for how a traditional arm works, I did find myself initially undoing the lever all the time to adjust the monitor position. I had to keep sub consciously reminding myself that I didn’t have to do this with the Titan. Once you get used to using the Titan Arm, you will find it incredibly hard to go back. It is so quick and convenient to just grab and move the monitor with one hand to put it in the exact position you need.
When you are working as a solo operator and there is no 1st AC or camera assistant to move the monitor for you, having a Titan Arm becomes invaluable. When you have limited time to shoot something, every second counts, and this is why I don’t use a monitor on all jobs. With the Titan Arm I now find myself using a monitor a lot more as I know I don’t have to waste valuable time re-positioning an arm when I need to move it. You may well be thinking, well surely 10-20 seconds here and there won’t make much of a difference, but if you are moving a monitor 20-30 times on a shoot that time quickly ads up.
I have tried out so many support arms and in my honest opinion, there are very few, if any, that are as good as the Titan Arm. Not only is beautifully made, but it is robust, super strong, and offers unique functionality that sets it apart from anything else on the market. The Titan Arms are available in either black or gold colours, and they have just started shipping for $249 US. While this may seem like a lot of money to pay for a monitor arm, competing pro grade arms are even more expensive. The Matthews Infinity Arm lists at $299 US, the Transvideo Heavy-Duty 3D Swing Arm is $324.95 US, and the Noga MG38CA-CL2 Cinematic Arm is $323 US.
The second product that I have been testing is the Gripper Tray. This is a new design to solve the old age problem of getting filters in and out of a filter tray quickly, safely, and efficiently. The Gripper Tray has been designed so that instead of pulling a clip upwards to release the filter, you gently squeeze two levers on either side of the tab instead. Again, this is one of those products that until you use it you don’t realise just how valuable it is to have.
Taking filters out of filter trays is always a fiddly process, and if you are in a rush as a solo operator it is very easy to make a costly mistake. I know from previous experience having dropped and broken filters over the years. Squezzing two levers together is far easier than lifting up a small locking mechanism. With the Gripper Tray you can use one hand to hold the levers and the other to safely remove the filter. The only thing to be careful with is that you don’t accidentally pull the Gripper Tray out of your matte box while holding onto the gripper tabs instead of the top of the tray. If you do, you may well find yourself watching an expensive filter fall towards the ground.
Where the Gripper Tray really shines is if you are working in cold conditions where you need to wear gloves. If you ever tried changing filters with gloves on you will know just how difficult it is. At the start of the year I was shooting a documentary in the Himalayas where the temperatures often fell below -25c (-13F), and in these sort of conditions you don’t want to have to go taking your gloves off to change out filters. This is something you no longer have to do if you are using a Gripper Tray. The tray has been designed specifically to allow you to easily change out filters while still leaving your gloves on. I really wish I had of had it for my shoot, as my hands are still angry at me!
Bright Tangerine plans on phasing out their older trays and all new Bright Tangerine matte boxes will eventually ship with the new style filter trays. The filter trays will also be available separately to purchase.
For info on the Titan arm and the Gripper trays you can visit the Bright Tangerine website.