The name Bright Tangerine is synonymous with high-quality matte boxes, but in recent years they have branched out into making other camera accessories. Two of these products are the Revolvr and Revolvr Atom, both of which are touted as being high performance follow focus systems.
The Revolvr was originally shown at IBC way back in 2014, and it took Bright Tangerine more than three years to finally get it to market. A delay of over three years is normally a death sentence for most products, but Bright Tangerine stuck by their guns and wanted to make sure that the product was exactly right before they started selling it. A high end follow focus need to be meticulously well made and you can’t release a product that isn’t right otherwise no one will buy it. For Bright Tangerine, it was a case of better late than never.
The Revolvr and Revolvr Atom units are well made and the parts used are certainly of the highest quality. The distinct Bright Tangerine orange colour really stands out, but some operators would probably prefer something less flashy. The attention to detail is very apparent and the follow focus units are well made and assembled. Both the Revolvr & Revolvr Atom have a 15mm LWS core but can be adapted to 15/19mm Studio rods.
The Revolvr Atom is meant to be a smaller and lighter option to the Revolvr but still features the same core that drives the follow focus. The main difference is that the Revolvr Atom is only single sided and accessories must be connected to the hand wheel, not directly to the drive shaft.
Bright Tangerine offers two sizes of handwheels. The Revolvr kits all come with the large and the Revolvr Atom comes with either the small or large handwheel. The handwheels have been designed to work with either the Bright Tangerine Revolvr or Revolvr Atom focus units.
The handwheels provide a raised gripping surface, this ribbed surface offers a good amount of extra grip and it feels nice to hold onto and use, even when wearing gloves.
On the Revolvr, the handwheel can be attached to either side of the shaft to drive the unit.
Personally, I prefer to use the larger handwheel on the Revolvr & Revolvr Atom.
Removeable hard stops can be used on the handwheels which move independently so you can use one or both. The two end stops are nicely weighted and you don’t get a hard, thumping stop once you reach one of the points. It is a nice soft stop, almost as if two pieces of soft rubber are coming into contact with each. I found that by using the hard stops I could get extremely smooth and repeatable focus moves.
The hard stops are included with the Revolvr but are optional with the Revolvr Atom.
Soft stop, hard stop trick
One of the two stops features an inscribed white index mark for lining up the marks on your disc. This soft stop system allows for a more tactile control of a set focus pull. By setting the A and B positions, and using your forefinger to feel when you hit your mark, it’s easier to get a more organic result. If you prefer to activate the hard stops, you just push forward the plunger system.
Another nice touch is that the follow focus is designed to be used when wearing gloves. If you work in cold climates, you know that there is nothing worse than trying to operate a piece of equipment that isn’t glove friendly. Luckily Bright Tangerine has made the Revolvr fairly easy to use while wearing gloves.
The handwheels also include a removable Delrin marking disc. The disc is interchangeable and can be used on any industry-standard mini handwheel. The indent will prevent the disc from rotating on a handwheel with a matching locating pin. You can pre-mark discs to match specific lenses which saves time when you are working. The surface of the disc is smooth, which allows it to work with dry and wet erase markers. Additional discs can be purchased separately.
Whip it, whip it real good
Bright Tangerine offers a few accessories which can be used to control the follow focus in tight spaces or at a distance with a flexible whip or the speed crank. They connect securely to the handwheel with an active-expanding coupling system to ensure zero backlash.
On the Revolvr, accessories can be mounted directly to the drive shaft on either side.
Varying speeds for stills or cine lenses
Modularity has been a big thing for Bright Tangerine. By combining different swing arms and gears, you can achieve a different amount of rotation on the lens for each rotation of the handwheel.
This is useful because it affects how precise you can get your focus pulls. Many cine lenses have a 300-degree focus throw, compared to stills lenses which have much shorter focus throw around 90-120 degrees.
On a cine lens, you will want to be able to pull focus from the minimum focus distance to infinity without having to rotate the handwheel a bunch of times, compared to when you are using a stills lens, where you want to increase the amount of rotation the handwheel requires to go from the minimum focus distance to infinity.
The Swing Arm transfers the focus movements from the handwheel mounted on your core bridge to the drive gear that interfaces with your lens. The swing arm mounts to your core bridge with a single screw and pivots to adjust for the diameter of your lens.
You can mount the Swing Arm on either side of the drive shaft to fit comfortably on your lens or in-between other accessories.
There are two swing arms available, the slow arm which has a spin ratio of 1:1 and a cine arm which spins at 1:1.824. For every complete revolution of the handwheel, the gear inside the swing arm will rotate one time on the slow and 1.824x on the cine arm. I found that using the slow arm with stills lenses made a huge difference and it was much easier to do precise focus.
These swing arms in combination with either the 35 or 43 teeth gears result in a different amount of rotation on the focus wheel on the lens. Both gears use the 0.8 mod pitch standard.
The 35 teeth gear has a smaller diameter yet wide profile suitable for use with primes and zoom lenses. The 10mm width (or thickness) makes it especially suitable for use with lenses that experience some focus travel. Focus travel can be found on a lot of still photography zoom lenses, as well as some anamorphic lenses. This width also gives you some flexibility in placing your follow focus.
Backlash sounds like something you would find in an S&M club, but it’s actually what is used to describe the play between the gear teeth in a follow focus gearbox. This is something you definitely don’t want. On cheap follow focus systems it’s not uncommon to find a small amount of clearance between the gear teeth, this means that when you move the handwheel, the focus gear isn’t moving at the same time.
To avoid having any type of backlash, a follow focus needs to be made with incredibly high tolerances and precision. This precision is usually why a good follow focus costs considerably more than a cheaper one. From my testing, I couldn’t find any backlash when using any of the Bright Tangerine Revolvr or Revolvr Atom follow focus units.
The nice thing I found about the Revolvr system is it’s highly versatile and with so many interchangeable parts you can set it up to work for a range of different applications. With different swing arm ratios available and gears, it’s easy to use it with a stills lens one day and a cine lens the next. This versatility doesn’t come with long set up times either, all the parts can be interchanged very quickly which helps you get on with shooting.
The devil is in the details
Is it possible to over-engineer a product? I’ve definitely seen some equipment from manufacturers over the years where they have seemingly taken something simple and made it overly complicated. The Revolvr walks a fine line in this regard. It’s impeccably made and manufactured, but I kept asking myself, it’s just a follow focus, does it really need to be this fancy? I mean at the end of the day it’s just a wheel that’s turning a cog that helps you focus a lens. I dwelled over this question for a while, but given the sort of person the Revolvr is being targeted at, yes it does need to be this fancy. If you are going to go head-to-head with companies such as ARRI you need to be able to offer something that is just as good, if not better. You can’t pass off a Corolla as a Ferrari, and for Bright Tangerine to be taken seriously in the high-end market, they need to walk that fine line of almost over-engineering their products.
It’s one thing to look good, but how does it actually perform?
The Revolvr certainly looks the part, but looks mean nothing if it can’t do the job it’s supposed to do. I looked really hard for faults with the Revolvr. Every little hinge, screw, adjustment point has been well thought out and I get the feeling this product went through an awful lot of prototypes before they eventually settled on the final design.
With so many interchangeable components and parts that are also adjustable, you can easily configure the follow focus to work on any lens and camera set up.
Reviewing a follow focus is always a little tricky, because a lot of time it comes down to personal taste and whether you like how it feels. I can comment on the technical aspects and the features, but whether you actually like how it feels when you are using it, only you will know. Follow focus units are really something you need to test out and feel for yourself. If you are going to buy one then you should always go to a store or a trade show and test it out in person first.
There are a lot of follow focus units on the market from a range of companies. If we are comparing the Revolvr Atom ($1,697 USD), here are just a few other options and their prices:
Wooden Camera UFF-1 Universal Follow Focus (Base) $1250 USD
Tilta FF-T05-V2 Single-Sided Follow Focus Kit $1199 USD
Movcam Mini Follow Focus MF-2 $656 USD
Redrock Micro microFollowFocus Black $795 USD
Vocas MFC-1B Universal Follow Focus Kit $1220 USD
Chrosziel StudioRig Cine Single Follow Focus $2192 USD
OConnor O-Focus Dual Mini Cine Set $2398 USD
ARRI Mini Follow Focus MFF-2 Cine Set $1580 USD
The Revolvr is competing directly against the high-end offerings from Chrosziel, OConnor, and ARRI.
The Revolvr & Revolvr Atom are available in a range of kits. Accessories are also available separately.
You can order directly from Bright Tangerine’s online store or authorised resellers.
Revolvr Atom Mini Kit USD$1,697
Revolvr Atom Cine Kit USD$1,697
Revolvr Single Sided 15mm LWS Kit USD$2,297
Revolvr Dual Sided 15mm LWS Kit USD$3,197
Revolvr Dual Sided 15mm Studio Kit USD$3,697
Revolvr Dual Sided 19mm Studio Kit USD$3,697
Do you use a follow focus? If so which one? Let us know in the comments section below.