Freefly, MoVI, Kessler, Paralax + more

More often than not, when you’re doing a slider move, it’s common to build your move around a visual "anchor" in the foreground, so that the camera movement is exaggerated by the difference in movement over relative distance between the foreground object and the background.   This is know in the film industry as parallax, or if you’re Tom Guilmette as "Backpan!"  (That’s an Inside joke from Master in Motion.)  

More often than not – such as in product shots or interview –  you design the move specifically so that the foreground object is always the subject of the shot, centered in frame, as the slider moves down the track – so that it appears that the camera is rounding the object.  You’re basically creating the ‘appearance’ of rotating the camera around your subject in an arc, while in actuality simply sliding left to right and panning in the opposite direction to stay on target with your subject…

In order to pull this off, you need to have a fluid head mounted to your slider, so that you can pan pull off the move effectively, and doing it well takes practice.  This process can become a bit mind-numbing during a long interview (not to mention irregular in terms of how often you ‘nail’ it and how fast you’re going…)   This little move, now forever coined as "The Backpan" by Tom,  is not only tricky to execute, but also requires a dedicated crew member.  To deal with these challenges and the reality that many of us work solo, there have been some new sliders recently manufactured that include a curved track.

That being said, I have to give a tip of the hat to a piece of simple (and some would say genius) engineering that adds this capability to equipment that you already own, if you own a Kessler slider that is.

Kessler Crane has developed their own Parallax system, which consists of a rod that affixes to the side of their sliders, and connects to a rotating mount that attaches to the slider mount.  The bar can be adjusted at different angles relative to the slider, so that when the rotating mount travels down the slider, it is forced to rotate a specific amount based on the angle you’ve positioned the bar.  It’s really not as complicated as it sounds, and is an incredibly clever way to achieve a controlled version of this shot.  You can check out the video above to get a better sense of how the Parallax works and can be applied.

While speaking about Kessler, it is also worth noting that they have recently released Carbon Fiber versions of the Philip Bloom Pocket Dolly and the Stealth Slider - making these already lightweight sliders even easier to travel with and carry, especially if you are operating as a one-man-band.

On some other accesorry notes that can make a BIG impact relative to their cost:   I wanted to mention a cool new cable from Hocus Products that I have incorporated into my MoVI rig.  I have been using the Axis1 follow focus on the MOVI to remotely control focus for nearly 4 months now w/ flawless results.  This new cable allows you to start/stop the camera from the wirelss focus transmitter itself (i.e. wireless start/stop.)   This may not seem like a big deal at first, but the truth is that given that the MOVI operator  has both of theirnhands full w/ the MoVI rig supporting their camera, s/he will start a pre-roll very early, and cut late… while doing some sort of juggling act to go from holding the MoVI w/ two hands down to one…   All of this amounts to tons of wasted roll time as you reset the camera position or wait for the 1st AC (if you have such a luxury) to run over so someone can cut the roll!   And with that comes the potential for a large amount of unnecessary data being recorded, transcoded, and backed up – especially if you are shooting on the Epic (at high frame rates 96 fps at 5K for example.)   However, Hocus has developed a cable that interfaces with the Axis1 wireless controller, and plugs directly into the Lemo port on the EPIC to control start/stop remotely.  Definitely a a small, but helpful item.  It also works with the Arri Alexa and Sony F5/F55.   What you pay for this cable, and even perhaps for the wireless focus + cable will quickly justify itself in saved hard drive space and time on a set for high-bandwith users...very quickly.  If you actually realize that nearly 30-50% of the data you capture on an average MoVI move can be pre and post roll… it gets expensive!

Speaking of MoVI, Freefly has expanded rather quickly due to its success with the MoVI M10.   And to that end, if you order a MoVI M10 today… you will likely get it by tomorrow if you ask to have it shipped overnight (by their shipping cutoff time naturally, which is usually just after mid-day on PST time.)  The folks at Freefly are now able to meet orders right away after being backordered since it was announced in the spring of 2013 at NAB – which is exciting news for me to announce.  

So if you’ve been on the fence about buying one for your production, you should know that you can get one without delay.  To find out more, read more after the jump below.   I’m working on really exciting project next week that I hope to share with you soon… but I might not get a chance to post until after the holidays.  If that’s the case I wish you wonderful holidays and look forward to seeing you back in the new year!  

Lastly, if you’re looking for holiday stuffing stuffers for the holidays, don’t forget to check out my latest (pretty major) update to my gear section on this blog for all still photography and HDSLR/Cinema gadgets and "toys."

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Posting a Huge Update to the blog’s “Gear Page” for 2014

After more than 13 million visits in 5 years to this blog, the site’s top landing spot has been the "Gear Page.

I was one of the first to put one of these sections up in the HDSLR world 4+ years ago, and oh my, how times (and gear!) have changed.    The original intent of the section was to try to create a good resource that would help answer the hundreds of e-mails I would receive each week from people looking to put together the best kit for their HDSLR kits.  

I and several others have put a significant amount of energy into this section and I decided it was time to do a major update – now with close to 400 items listed (!!!)  that go beyond the HDSLR world that we now work in and include the new cine-series cameras, lenses, and accessories.  


You’ll find everything from HDSLR recommendations,  Cine Cameras, Lenses, Monitors + Wireless, Audio, Lighting, External recorders, Media, Tripods, Jibs, Time Lapse … basically you name it: it’s there  (It took us nearly 8 weeks to update the 49 sections with the latest and greatest ‘current’ gear.)  And while this wasn’t the original intent – I guess this is just in time for your year-end purchases or holiday gifts (if you’re so lucky!)  

You’ll also find a new MōVI section with my favorite gear that I’ve been using steadily for 3 months now (since I got my production MōVI)   

SawmillAnd I’m also starting to list some gear that I’ve helped create in a new section titles "Laforet Edition Gear" – including a beautiful wooden handle that is hand made by Sawmill Cinema that I’ve wanted to have since the first day I held a DSLR (and secretly lusted for an Aaton camera w/ those gorgeous wooden handles.)  I’ve never put my name to anything (I’ve resisted it to be honest) but I find it appropriate that this be the first product given that it’s the furthest possible thing from a mass production product, and made by one craftsman, one handle at a time by hand.

So what makes this gear section different than all others?  

Well I’ve done my best to not only list what I use, but also to explain WHY I’ve chosen each piece of gear and to include actual examples of resulting videos/images, links to previous posts on this blog,  and whenever possible anecdotes.

I’ve actually used every single piece of gear in this section at one point or another – I’m not randomly picking items that I "think" will work.  I’ve gone into painstaking detail and done my best to explain why "x" kit is better than "y" kit for "z" application, and why "y" might be better in another situation.

I’ve also done my best to keep things as realistic as possible in terms of budgets – given the generally high prices in the cine world.  

I’m not listing anything I wouldn’t buy myself, or recommend to a colleague or friend.

To that end, I’ve put up a new section, the "Kit" section where I’ve put together 3 "starting" kits for 3 levels of filmmakers.  

This is clearly the #1 request I get on a regular basis:  "What should I start off with to film "x" type of project."   This is my best attempt at answering that.  

Obviously you’ll want to mix and match, but I’ve done my best to put together the same list I’d put together were a colleague or family member to ask me for advice and I’ve done my best to make each kit "work" within the three budget categories.  

What you won’t see:   An Alexa or Epic kit that would easily take you in the 6 figure $ category – I didn’t think that would apply to readers of this blog.

So go ahead and check out the new sections – I’ve included a list of the categories and subcategories below.   You’ll find that we’ve put a tremendous amount of energy into this (special thanks to Justin Hamilton for doing all of the coding) and I look forward to continuing to update this list as we go forward, likely on an annual basis: 

Custom Kits for Filmmakers:
Basic Kit - for those dipping their toes into the HDSLR / motion world who want to buy gear they can grow with. (And for still photographers)
Recommended Kit – this is for those in film schools, or working on HDSLR and up productions who are more serious, and need "production gear" that is still within grasp.
Advanced Kit - a lot of this is what I use everyday when shooting w/ HDSLRs or C-Series camera.  Everything listed hear will continue to be put to work as you grow into bigger productions.   The lenses & accessories are the "best of breed," durable, and can easily make the transition with you for use on high end productions when the time comes.
Here are the individuals categories with their subcategories:
Super 35 / Cine
Action Sports
Canon EF / Zeiss ZE  - Prime lenses / Zoom
Cine Lenses – Prime Lenses / Zoom Lenses  
axis1_1This should be a popular section and I fully intend to continue to fill it out with more gear.  Keep in mind that I always test the gear I use on real world productions (usually for a few weeks to months) prior to recommending them – for example I used the Hocus Products Axis 1 Single-Channel Wireless Focus system for over three months without a single hitch, and only then did I list it.  It’s been called the "Rolls Royce" of single-channel wireless follow focus systems and earned approval from veteran Hollywood 1st ACs which is hard to come by…  You’ll also find my favorite monitoring solutions in this section, as well as an explanation as to why I used both the Teradek Bolt system, as well as the Paralinx Arrow.
Fluid Head / Tripods
Handheld Kits
Mounting Solutions
Additional Support 

Rail Components
Camera Remotes
Loupes & EVFs
On-Board Monitors
Off-Board Monitoring
Wireless Solutions

CF Cards, Media & Readers
External Recorders
Phew!   Well I’m glad to finally put up this update!  I hope you appreciate it, and feel free to post feedback, questions, and suggestions in the comments section.  I’ll get to those as often as I can – hopefully I’ll have answered most of your questions in the sections themselves!   



Recent Freefly MōVI News + Accessories

Here’s a really cool example of what top Hollywood directors and DPs can do w/ the Freefly MōVI for a DirectTV World Cup Spot that Director Oliver Stone both directed and starred in with top DP Rodrigo Prieto.

What this shows me is that we’ve only just skimmed the surface in terms of the incredible variety and uses for the MōVI can do. What they did in this spot – awesome.  Definitely a lot of fun.   You can actually check out a large number of videos on Freefly’s Vimeo page.    One thing I highly recommend you check out is their tutorial section, notably how easy it is to custom configure the MōVI with Freefly’s software to truly fine tune the way it reacts and for each specific use.   There are more than a dozen videos that cover every aspect of the MōVI from balancing all the way to more advanced customization such as the aforementioned software, an area they clearly excel in and differentiate themselves from others.

MōVI: The DirecTV Session from Freefly on Vimeo.

On the still image below you’ll see a bunch of accessories that can be used with the MōVI, my next post will relate to some of the accessories many of you will most likely need as you move into the MōVI world – that will be up within a 1-2 weeks.  I’ve made a point of working with these accessories on a few productions before recommending them – ergo the delay. 


 I’m currently at Rule Boston Camera (I’m speaking for them tonight in Boston, and I’ll be speaking at Photo Plus Expo in NYC this week Thursday, Friday, and Saturday on the Canon Stage) and Mike Sutton showed me this sleak pre-cut case for the MōVI that CinemaOxide made for him.   It’s a StormCase that comes in at exactly 40 lbs WITH the entire MōVI Kit – which gives 10 more pounds for accessories to make it under the 50lb limit, and perhaps even a camera and lenses (depending on their weight naturally.)  This also allows you to add up to 35 pounds to meet the 75 lb "media/production" rate many top American airlines (American Airlines, Delta, United) honor ($50 per case 75lbs or under if you have Press ID / Production ID.)   You can click on either one of the images below for a closer look inside.  

CinemaOxide Case2

More to come… 

Anyway,  I just happened to see this today and thought I’d share while I was here and cross one thing off the accessory list!   I’ll share some more info on different wireless follow focus systems (Axis 1, RedRock) Monitors (Small HD DP4 and AC7) and wireless video solutions (Teradek, Paralynx) in more detail as soon as possible.   I’ve just been busy actually testing them out for more than a month and wanted to give you in depth reviews and advice – if you’re impatient, click on the links above for a hint… 

 Here’s the resulting DirectTV video:

and in case that’s not enough – here’s another cool video to check out:


MōVI – Red Bull Dreamline BTS from Freefly on Vimeo.

And here’s that software video I recommended you watch:


MōVI Tutorial – Wireless MōVI App Remote Transmitter Settings from Freefly on Vimeo.