RedrockMicro ultraCage | blue for C300 (and other systems…)
The Canon C300 is finally starting to ship, and so far the verdict seems to be that C300 = "Awesome" – see the linked video and you’ll get it… You can also check out my initial review of the camera HERE. And it’s true – in terms of imaging, the C300 is really quite impressive. However, you’ll quickly find yourself needing a rig to mount traditional cine/doc accessories to the C300. The C300 was built as most camcorders are – without much thought to allowing for mounting points for accessories and that remains something that I hope they take into account with their next camera (besides not being able to over crank 60 fps or more at full resolution.)
Yes, the form factor is small, and quite nice. And the optional side handle helps bridge the gap between those who are moving from DSLR shooting into a true cinema system. However, the rounded body still feels like a camcorder and not a digital cinema camera – (maybe its the inclusion of that view finder on the back as well). Its irregular shape and lack of mounting points don’t make it easy to build out and customize your rig. A baseplate on the bottom can provide Rod support, and the shoe mount on the top gives you another mounting option, but on the whole, the camera body is not designed for a full build-out.
Maybe this was a smart move by Canon – focusing all of their design on form factor and the sensor specs within, and allowing third parties to design modules that build around the technology and help integrate it into traditional cinema camera setups. This is where Redrock Micro steps in with their new ultraCage, which they have designed in tandem with Canon. The cage provides full baseplate support with a 15mm rod system, and is rock solid. It has two places to screw into the base of your camera – with a 3/8"-16 and 1/4"-20 screw holes on the bottom, and another 14"-20 on the top. There are also rod mounts on top and bottom of the cage, without sacrificing the use of a top handle (always helpful in run n’ gun situations, or just moving your heavy rig around on set). However, the cage is also built to be the correct height for 19mm rod support and cine lens use if you just mount the cage to a 19mm baseplate. This came in handy on "Mobius" because we were working with Canon’s new cinema zooms almost exclusively.
The cage wraps 360 degrees around the camera body and doesn’t block any of the cameras buttons or features – including the side handle should you put to keep it on. Throughout production on "Mobius" however, we hoped to remove the handle as it got in the way of other accessories. It is also filled with numerous mounting threads both (3/8"-16 and 1/4"-20). You have to love this – because this is what gives you the power to customize your rig so that it is comfortable to the way you shoot. I typically mount an EVF, or Marshall Monitor on an arm to the cage for monitoring. Also available are optional add ons, including an extension element that mounts to the back end of the rods and extends the cage behind the camera. This gives you a whole other surface of mounting threads, as well as a place to mount the optional backPack, which can carry an external battery (such as the Anton Bauer Dionic 90s).
Which brings me to my next point – a powered cage. I have been using a powered cage with my DSLR rigs for years. Simplifying your rig by running everything off of one, reliable power source, is incredibly helpful. While the batteries can add weight to your rig, they also minimize the points of power failure. This is why it is extremely exciting that the ultraCage comes with an optional powerPack, that can take the power from the battery mounted to the back of the rig, and distribute to your camera and accessories via three outputs. There is one variable output (5-12v), which is typically used to power your camera (the C300 is 8.4v), and two 12v output ports used for power accessories (such as an EVF or Monitor).
Of course, if you can’t front the $15,999.99 price tag on the C300 – but still want the use of a professional, powered support system for your DSLR rig, Redrock has developed a universal version of their ultraCage as well that works with all DSLR’s, as well as the Sony FS100 and Panasonic AF100 which makes this an even more attractive solution for all types of shooters with a wider range of budgets.
If you haven’t already seen it – check out Blake Whitman’s BTS video of "Mobius" to see the ultraCage in action: