Freefly’s Movi was one of the first products to introduce gimbals to a non-specialist audience. Although using one to ‘fly’ a camera can produce impressive results, setting up and controlling any gimbal system still requires a steep learning curve and a second operator to get the best results.
Freefly’s Mimic attempts to make controlling camera movement much simpler and more intuitive for that second operator. When used in conjunction with a Movi, there’s no need to use a controller or joystick – the Mimic actually copies the user’s movements and translates them into camera motion, via the Movi, in a way that’s much more straightforward to control.
Priced at $495 and available at the end of the month, this looks like it could be a very tempting purchase for existing Movi owners.
The quality of the images obtainable from smart phones continues to get better and better every year. Here at Newsshooter we have featured quite a few articles from contributors who have used a smartphone to capture stories for broadcast. Phillip Bromwell has shot quite a few stories for the Irish national broadcaster RTE and many others are following in his footsteps. While smartphones can be used to capture stories they really do need some accessories to make them work. Enter Beastgrip, a company who came up with a smartphone rig back in 2013 and now in 2015 have a new offering called the Beastgrip Pro. The Beastgrip Pro is designed as a complete rigging solution for just about any type of phone.
Building on customer feedback from their original offering, Beastgip set out to make a completely new model. Almost every component has been redesigned to improve functionality and adaptability. According to Beastgrip it is now stronger, more functional and easier to use with any type of smartphone. It can transform from a basic tripod mount to a full-featured professional rig.
The Beastgrip Pro design features an adjustable lens mount and clamps that adapt to virtually any phone. The new clamps secure both small and large devices and the redesigned lens mount assembly is built on a three-way axis to accommodate any phone-even if it has a protruded camera. There are few phone models such as the LG G Flex/2 (curved shape with button on the back panel) and LG G2 (with button on the back panel) which will fit in the clamps properly, but can’t be aligned perfectly with lens mount because of the shape and/or button on the back panel. The Nokia Lumia 1520 can also be used with Beastgrip Pro. Simply remove the handle on the BG’s lens mount assembly to align the lens mount with the 1520′s camera properly.
It has a standard threaded 37mm lens/filter mount, cold shoe mount and five 1/4″-20 threaded mounts already built-in for attaching accessories.The 37mm threaded lens mount can be used with a wide variety of conversion lenses, filters and DOF adapters (DOF adapters need to be combined with an SLR lens). The optional Beastgrip DOF adapter is made of a tube with an SLR mount ring (Canon EF mount) on one side and a set of macro lenses on the other. Inside of the tube is a focusing screen mounted on custom holder. The SLR lens projects the image onto the focusing screen, allowing the camera phone to frame the intermediate screen by focusing in macro mode. The principle is similar to pointing a camera at a movie screen. The phone camera’s only responsibility at this point is to record what is being projected onto the focusing screen. Beast grip recommends using a fast lens (f0.9-f2.8) and warns that DOF adapters will decrease the quality of photos and videos taken when using it. You may also get vignetting, barrel distortion and chromatic aberration.
There is also an optional 37mm 0.43x Extreme Wide-Angle lens allows you to capture a much wider field of view than your phone’s stock camera lens. It has a removable macro lens component that can be used separately for close-up shots. Also available is a 37mm Fisheye Lens that produces strong visual distortion and enables you to capture approximately 180 degrees field of view in a single frame. It has a removable macro lens component that can be used separately for close-up shots.
All of the major components of the Beastgrip Pro are custom manufactured. The main body components are manufactured using a mold injection process with an extremely durable glass-filled nylon material. Rubber overmolded clamps will hold your phone securely and protect it from scratches. The custom-machined brass lens mount ring and threaded inserts are molded-in place before the material hardens, forming an unbreakable bond. And the custom-machined anodized aluminum standoffs and aluminum thumb screws with a soft nylon tip assure a smooth operation and increased durability. All products will be fully assembled by hand in the USA.
The Beastgrip Pro and other accessories are available through their Kickstarter campaign, with the basic Beastgrip Pro starting at just $60 US for the first 150 backers.
US distributors Ikan have just posted a video detailing the new Tilta ES-T15 shoulder rig for the Sony FS7. Like competing systems from Movcam, Vocas and Zacuto it is based around the VCT quick release system and has an integrated shoulder pad. This makes the camera far more like a broadcast camera and changes the FS7 style of operation from a simple handheld setup to something more substantial.
The baseplate, top plate and front plate of the Tilta FS7 setup
Nice touches to the system include a top cheese plate that wraps around the existing Sony top handle and a nice metal front plate. There is also a V-lock battery plate option that allows the camera to power from broadcast batteries rather than the smaller Sony BP-U type.
The baseplate does not appear to allow balance adjustment
One thing to note about the Tilta is that does not appear to slide backwards and forwards to allow for better balancing (similar to the Vocas design). With a heavy lens more counterweight will need adding to keep the camera balanced on the shoulder. My personal preference is still for a plate with fore and aft adjustment like the Zacuto VCT or Movcam FS7 rig – you may prefer something else.
On the plus side the basic version of the Tilta ES-T15 FS7 rig costs $699. For more info on the ES-T15 check out the Ikan website.
At the BVE show in London last week Vocas were showing their new accessories for the Sony FS7. The highlight was the new NATO rail EVF bracket that replaces the stock Sony one that comes with the camera. Owners of the FS7 will know that the original EVF bracket is not very sturdy and prone to rotation. The new Vocas one solves this by using a NATO rails instead of a regular 15mm rod. An quick release adapter is fitted to the Sony EVF that allows it to mount to the rail. This adapter then slides up and down the NATO rail so perfect position can be achieved.
Other third party EVFs like the Alphatron and the new Zacuto Gratical will also be supported with separate adapters. You don’t need to get an entire Vocas kit to use the bracket and it will work just as well with other rigs from the likes of Zacuto or Movcam. The same EVF bracket should also suit other cameras like the AJA Cion – but we didn’t get a chance to test this out.
Also Vocas have added a small baseplate that adds rods to the FS7 without blocking the Sony shoulder pad. This could be useful for operators who really need a follow focus or mattebox but still want to keep things small. My only concern with this configuration is that it makes for a very front heavy setup unless a way is found to add weight to the rear of the camera.
Vocas also have a new H-bracket cheeseplate that fits on top of the FS7 and allows mounting of accessories via a multitude of threaded holes.
At CP+ in Japan, Lumica Corporation were showing the Birds iRod. The iRod is a long boom pole that allows you to attach a small sized camera in order to capture a perspective or view that is not otherwise possible to get. The whole idea is to place a small wifi or Bluetooth enabled camera such as a GoPro on top of the pole and control it remotely from a tablet or smartphone. For News or event shooters this device could come in very handy. With the advent of tougher restrictions placed on flying drones particularly in central city areas, this could allow crews to capture unique perspectives of events such as protests.
A GoPro on the iRod with a custom remote pan/tilt head
Event shooters or news crews could also use the device to live stream a unique perspective to the web or for broadcast through a third party device from a company like Teradek.
Control your camera via a smartphone to tablet app
The iRod could also be used to get unique underwater perspectives by turning it upside down. Being able to send a camera down 7.5m while staying on a boat offers a lot of flexibility.
Three different heights are available: 3m, 4.5m and 7.5m
The iRod comes in three different sizes from 3m (9.84ft) all the way up to 7.5m (24.6ft). It was impressive to see that they had made a design where even the 7m high version folded down to just 165cm (5.4ft) and weighed only 2kg (4.4lb). The iRod can carry a camera load of up to 1kg (2.2lb).
The iRod is made out of a very strong but extremely light glass fibre and carbon material.
The iRod is made out of a glass fibre that incorporates carbon and it features a tilt-able mounting plate at the end of the pole for attaching a camera. It also comes in a nice carry case with a shoulder strap for transporting.
The basic iRod unit prices are:
3m Version 13,000yen ($110 US)
4.5m Version 13,000yen ($110 US)
7.5m Version 23,100yen ($193 US)
A version with a light stand is also available
Another version of the iRod that includes a light stand mount:
3m Version 18,600yen ($155 US)
4.5m Version 18,600yen ($155 US)
7.5m Version 30,100yen ($252 US)
The iRod looks to be an interesting piece of gear. My only concern would be just how stable the shots would be and how it would perform in windy conditions.
Even though cameras like the GH4, a7S and C100 have become incredibly popular there are still plenty of video shooters using Canon DSLRs daily. Despite this there has have been relatively few custom cage solutions made for the newer models. Korean maker Motionnine clearly think there is a market for these and so last week launched two new cages specifically for the 5D mkIII and 7D mkII. These have a tight form fitting design that hugs the camera body while still giving easy access to the camera’s controls and battery door. Like many other cages out there it has a multitude of screw holes to attach accessories.
At Newsshooter we’ve been testing one of Motionnine’s GH4 cages for a few months and use it for our trade show coverage. We found it to be remarkably solid and well made. The aluminium it is made of is not excessively heavy and the whole package is still hand holdable. The gunmetal finish is nice to the touch and seems to keep its looks well over time.
The Newsshooter GH4 in a Motionnine Cube cage with Atomos Shogun, Rode SVMX and Genus Mattebox
Clever design features include a metal support rod on the rear of the camera that sits between your thumb and your forefinger (apparently this part of you hand is known as the Perlicue – I had no idea). It also has a sliding support base for lens adapters that importantly adds a second 1/4 20 screw hole to the base of the cage, allowing a tripod plate to be mounted via two screws rather than one. This is a nice touch that prevents the camera from accidentally coming loose from the tripod plate and spinning. On the side of the cage is a cable clamp block that also doubles as a second handgrip – this secures all cables and can be removed if not needed.
The 5D mkIII Cube cage
For the new Canon cages Motionnine have gone for an all anodised black finish and added a Pro handle option that attached via a NATO rail. This makes the handle much quicker to release and should be compatible with widgets from other manufacturers like Wooden Camera, Movcam, Zacuto and others. The handle itself slides backwards and forwards to the most comfortable position and has a 15mm rod mount at the front for attaching monitors or EVFs with the appropriate rod adapter. The handle can be bought separately and can also be retrofitted to older Motionnine cages.
The new Pro handle mounts via a NATO rail
The GH4 Perlicue support bar is replaced on the Canon versions with a wooden thumb support with buttons that connect to the buttons on the camera body behind – a bit like those on underwater camera housings.
The rear of the 7D mkII cube cage
The cable clamp block found on the GH4 cage has been redesigned and can attaches via another NATO rail. This makes it quick to attach and detach. To access the cables themselves there is now a clever one-touch system that looks very quick to use – much better than the older GH4 version that required an allen key to install. It can also work on Motionnine’s a7S and GH4 cages.
The redesigned HDMI cable clamp has a quick release system
The older Motionnive cages have an option rod riser that mounts them at the correct height on rails for matteboxes other accessories. A similar rod riser is promised in the near future for the Canon cages.
The 5D mkIII cage is now on special offer for $331.50 US, the 7DmkII cage is $552.50, the new Classic Pro handle is $178.50 and the NATO cable clamp is $93.50. At almost $600 for the complete system that puts the Motionnine Canon cages at the higher end of the price spectrum and faces stiff competition, but as ever I guess you have to pay for quality.
Shape look to have come up with a great solution for re positioning and re mounting the Sony FS7 SmartGrip. Compatible with ARRI rosettes, it’s designed using push button technology. Shape claims that this will make sure your handle will stay in place and you only need to turn one screw to extend the handle. The handle is made of CNC aluminum machined for durability.
The Sony FS7 SmartGrip is a great feature on the camera, but using the extension arm is fiddly and you get the feeling that the design was almost an after thought. While I haven’t had a chance to try the Shape solution, it certainly does look like a well thought out alternative to the standard Sony version.
The extension handle can be repositioned out of the way when not in use
CNC machined aluminum lightweight plate
Designed to marry the SONY FS7 shoulder pad SHAPE
Includes ARRI rosettes on each side to fit our HAND12 & Sony FS7′s right handle
Includes a pair of 15mm 8 inch rods
Ratchet key knob to secure the rods
Includes a bottom door to access the attaching screws
Includes a delta plate to attach on PANASONIC quick release plate SHAN TM-700, SONY VCT14. The delta plate is also removable, and threaded holes are available for tripod plate attachment.
CNC machined aluminum top plate
Designed to be installed around the SONY FS7 top handle
Includes 1/4-20 & 3/8-16 threaded holes for accessory attachment
Remote Extension Handle
CNC machined aluminum handle, compatible with Sony FS7 remote handle
Easy and fast length adjustment with only one knob screw
Unique patented SHAPE QUICK HANDLE Push button technology
Compatible with all standard ARRI rosettes
Offers the operator telescopic and 360 degree rotation positioning
The Shape Sony FS7 Bundle Rig
The Sony FS7 Bundle Rig includes:
Includes the SHAPE FS7 V-LOCK QUICK RELEASE BASEPLATE
Single telescopic SHAPE handle ARRI rosette
ARRI Rosettes compatible with the Sony FS7 handle
Offers a balanced solution directly on the shoulder
2 levels of height adjustments for the front rods
A pair of 15mm 8 inch and 15mm 4 inch silver rods
Get comfortable, reajust your Telescopic handle on your chest
Can easily be combined with our practical Telescopic support arm with rod bloc and Belt.
Movcam have made a name for itself recently for making custom rigs for many of the latest cinema cameras. Their philosophy is to create body hugging cages and baseplates that are model specific. Perhaps their most popular rig to date was for the FS700 and they are clearly looking to repeat their success again with their latest for the FS7.
The Movcam FS7 shoulder rig
The FS7 rig features a new design that comprises of a camera plate that docks into the camera’s base where the Sony shoulder pad would otherwise live. This plate docks into Movcam’s VCT compatible baseplate but can also function as a stand alone Arca Swiss style quick release that can mount to a tripod release. The plate can slide forwards and backwards to achieve better balance of the rig although the range is a little limited and getting perfect balance with larger lenses without counterweight at the rear will be difficult.
There is also the option to use a lightweight shoulder pad instead of the VCT baseplate – this is designed for solo run-and-gun shooting where keeping things small is important.
A wrap around side cage serves to protect the camera and also provide lots of 1/4 20 holes for mounting of accessories. On top of the camera is a rod mount that allows accessories to be mounted at the front of the camera as well as providing a place to mount Sony’s viewfinder.
Another nice option is a V-lock or AB battery plate with power distribution. This fits at the rear of the camera in the same slot that is used by Sony’s own XDCA-FS7 pack. The Movcam one doesn’t have the additional features of the Sony, but does add several power outputs and also helps to add weight to a front heavy camera.
There is also an optional cinema style top handle that replaces the stock Sony one and a 19mm rod kit for full cinemising.
The cinema style handle and 19mm rod kit for the FS7
Check out the video to get the full details. Viewers might also like to know that the review video was shot with a Sony a7S in 4K using the new Convergent Design Odyssey 7Q+ recorder. The Picture Profile was set to Cine gamma and there was been no grading of the footage.
Pricing for the rig has not yet been set but I expect it to be in line with other Movcam cages and should be good value considering the amount of metalwork that goes into it. Keep and eye on the Movcam website for further details.