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Suggestions for DSLR Rig on Rails for ENG Work with Pre-Amp and Zoom?

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Steve Crow
Suggestions for DSLR Rig on Rails for ENG Work with Pre-Amp and Zoom?
on Apr 24, 2012 at 9:11:27 pm

Ok, here's the thing. My setup is only good for tripod based filming - going handheld would be clumsy at best. I've seen the rectangular "cages" some people really like but for me the ergonomics and balance just don't appeal.

So specifically what I am looking for is a "rails" based system designed to go on and off the tripod and onto the shoulder.

In addition to my Canon T2i, the solution needs to hold:

a) a Beachtek or Juicedlink Pre-Amp
b) a Zoom H4N (for non-ENG traditional filming on a tripod)
c) 2 Wireless Lav Receivers (for non-ENG traditional filming on a tripod)
d) External Microphone to feed into camera or Pre-Amp
e) Zacutto Z-Finder's Gorilla plate
f) Canon Battery Grip

It needs to pop on and off a tripod very easily to allow me to go from stable tripod-filming right into hand-held shoulder supported ENG mode in a snap.

I've seen this shoulder/tripod right from RedRock Micro that might provide a starting point:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/673398-REG/Redrock_Micro_8_003_0023.h...

but haven't run into anyone setting one up the way I describe - can someone post a picture of a rig that meets these requirements?

Steve Crow
Crow Digital Media
http://www.CrowDigitalMedia.com


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Stephanie Stiavetti
Re: Suggestions for DSLR Rig on Rails for ENG Work with Pre-Amp and Zoom?
on Apr 24, 2012 at 10:21:17 pm

Steve, I've used Zacuto rigs and had them work very well with my tripod. I'd contact the company directly - their sales associates are very responsive and eager to answer questions. They should be able to tell you which model will most suit your needs: http://www.zacuto.com/zacuto-contacts

--------------
Stephanie
http://www.theculinarylife.com


---------------
Stephanie
http://www.theculinarylife.com


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Joseph W. Bourke
Re: Suggestions for DSLR Rig on Rails for ENG Work with Pre-Amp and Zoom?
on Apr 25, 2012 at 3:20:37 pm

Steve -

Let me preface this by saying that I'm a cheapskate, but there's a certain level of quality which I won't go below if it affects getting the job done properly.

That said, I did a lot of homework when I first bought my T2i, on the name rigs, and decided that since these setups are essentially an erector set, I could buy and configure my own setup just as well (and way cheaper) than I could buy a custom configured set of parts.

I ended up with a Fotga DP500 system - I purchased the rail rod quick release system first, and then their follow focus system - here's a link to the components - I bought mine direct from Hong Kong on *bay from Fotocola:

http://stores.ebay.com/Fotocola/Movie-accessories-Fotga-DP500-/_i.html?_fsu...

If you're going to be swapping out from tripod to other support systems, you can purchase the quick release as a separate item, so you have a couple of them - I haven't found that the QR is compatible with other QR systems (I haven't checked), but everything is solid and well machined. The follow focus is the standard .8 gearing, so if you don't like the rubber gear that's the "one size fits all" approach, you can go with the Nine Inch Rails version of the zip tie gearing or something else. Everything on the system which should be standard is standard, right down to the opening on the follow focus which will take a standard cinema whip handle insert.

I also purchased several compatible items from CoolLCD.com, also in China, and found that, although their shipping seemed pricy, the arrival was blazing fast, and from China. I bought their hand grips, and a few mounting accessories, such as multiple 1/4 20 15mm rail rod clamps for attaching articulating arms and such - once you buy a few items for the low price, the shipping isn't as painful.

As I said - I'm the type who wants to configure his own system for the best price - this may or may not work for you, but look at the options - what I purchased total came in at well under 400 dollars, and the build quality was/is excellent - the shipping from Fotocola took a few weeks, but for the savings, it was well worth it. There are some reviews of the Fotga DP500 system on Cheesycam.com, but they are for the most part, when it first came out - the follow focus has been improved since the first design. Good luck.

Joe Bourke
Owner/Creative Director
Bourke Media
http://www.bourkemedia.com


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Steve Crow
Re: Suggestions for DSLR Rig on Rails for ENG Work with Pre-Amp and Zoom?
on Apr 25, 2012 at 3:36:47 pm

Thanks for the links Joe! You're right, you do pay an outrageous price for the name brand rigs so I am open to alternatives assuming the quality is still good.

But my basic issue comes down to this - I haven't found many pictures of rigs that can support all the gear I've mentioned and go from tripod to shoulder mount very easily.

I started looking into using DSLRs for ENG work and found lots of microphone related issues - as you know, in ENG work you can't assume you are going to be able to mic everyone with lavs and so on in advance, your on-camera mic has to be sufficient on its own if need be.

Bottom line - what I found is that unless you plug your external mic into some kind of pre-amp before connecting it to your camera body you are going to get a lot of noise - but where does a pre-amp like that fit on the rig? I tried it myself under the camera but found it too unstable, the camera was slipping and sliding no matter how tight I thought I had screwed it to the pre-amp. I later found a speciality plate that is supposed to address this and make everything tight but I haven't had a chance to try it.

So right now I am just on the lookout for rig configurations that can handle all the gear and go from tripod to shoulder - once I have a basic plan then I think there would be many manufacturers that could supply the parts - but I need that configuration first and right now I don't see it in my minds eye.

Steve Crow
Crow Digital Media
http://www.CrowDigitalMedia.com


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Joseph W. Bourke
Re: Suggestions for DSLR Rig on Rails for ENG Work with Pre-Amp and Zoom?
on Apr 25, 2012 at 5:03:56 pm

Steve -

Are you using Magic Lantern on your T2i? If not, you're missing out on a free, major upgrade in the way the T2i deals with micing. I think that a cheese plate is the way to go with mounting the preamp, but it seems to me that you might want to try installing the Magic Lantern software, playing around with it (it gives you gain control on two separate mic inputs - depends on whether you need phantom power or not), then trying mounting it on the back end of a shoulder mount. Of course this would put it behind you, not good for riding gain. But on a multiple mic shoot, you might want to tether to your preamp, record to a laptop, and work it dual system.

Have you looked at, or are you using, articulating arms? You can pick them up on *bay for about 20 to 30 bucks, and even B&H are carrying them in that price range. If your preamp has a 1/4 20 mount, you could hang it on an arm, but then you'd have to balance that by hanging something on the opposite side for balance. There are also some small flex arms available with 1/4 20 mounts - I have the larger versions which I use on my Manfrotto tripod for lighint accessories - they work quite well, and are completely flexible to any angle or configuration.

The bottom line is that you want something you can move around with, and not look too much like a Frankensystem, plus be balanced. I kind of like a tripod with wheels on it for indoor stuff - I can hang any amount of things on it, from laptop to lights and audio, and it just rolls where I need it. But it's not good for tight spots or rough ground outdoors.

I would suggest doing a search on "DSLR rigs" on B&H, and scrolling through the multitude of designs and manafacturers, then using that as a starting point to build your own system. There are some very new, very creative, very over priced options there, which you can probably beat by 1/2 by configuring your own.

Joe Bourke
Owner/Creative Director
Bourke Media
http://www.bourkemedia.com


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Steve Crow
Re: Suggestions for DSLR Rig on Rails for ENG Work with Pre-Amp and Zoom?
on Apr 25, 2012 at 6:01:23 pm

I did briefly try out the Magic Lantern software but didn't stick with it. I didn't like how it cluttered up my screen and found that I much prefer to work with firmware produced directly by the camera company. Unfortunately, I have to admit that Canon has drastically underachieved when it comes to making timely and quality upgrades to their camera software - for instance, how hard could it have been to add a simple on/off option for the automatic gain control function in their on-board mic?

I am indeed looking at articulating arms - most often I've seen them used for external monitors but I've also seen them used to hang on to a Zoom H4N - so that's a possibility. The cheeseplate idea is interesting - not so sure about hanging it off the back but something to consider.

Steve Crow
Crow Digital Media
http://www.CrowDigitalMedia.com


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Stephanie Stiavetti
Re: Suggestions for DSLR Rig on Rails for ENG Work with Pre-Amp and Zoom?
on Apr 25, 2012 at 6:50:52 pm

Steve, I'd really like to see a photo of your setup if you're willing to share. I'm interested in building my own rig as well and seeing others' examples is very useful.


---------------
Stephanie
http://www.theculinarylife.com


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Steve Crow
Re: Suggestions for DSLR Rig on Rails for ENG Work with Pre-Amp and Zoom?
on Apr 25, 2012 at 8:52:03 pm

I don't have a direct link handy for you but if you go to my blog and search for rig you should find pictures and a full explanation

Steve

Steve Crow
Crow Digital Media
http://www.CrowDigitalMedia.com


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Stephanie Stiavetti
Re: Suggestions for DSLR Rig on Rails for ENG Work with Pre-Amp and Zoom?
on Apr 25, 2012 at 6:49:44 pm

Steve, here's a demo of one person's tripod rig where he mounts the preamp under the camera:



Not sure why your camera would wobble when mourned to the preamp - in my experience they've designed for just that and the camera sits snuggly on top. Maybe a call to the manufacturer is in order to find out why your camera isn't seating correctly?


---------------
Stephanie
http://www.theculinarylife.com


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Seth Blaustein
Re: Suggestions for DSLR Rig on Rails for ENG Work with Pre-Amp and Zoom?
on May 7, 2013 at 3:56:54 am

Steve,
I'm really interested in the rig you built. I don't see any reference to having a shoulder mount with counterweights in your setup. I want to build a rig for a Black Magic Cinema Camera, but I'd really like to be able to have a counterweight shoulder pad for lengthy shoots. Do you have any suggestions for parts that can be pieced together to add this? Would I just need to get longer rails and some weights? Thanks for your help, this thread has been very helpful to me.


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Steve Crow
Re: Suggestions for DSLR Rig on Rails for ENG Work with Pre-Amp and Zoom?
on May 7, 2013 at 5:32:31 am

Seth - yeah for a shoulder rig I probably wouldn't incorporate the Bracket 1 although I suppose it might be possible - not sure how that would work. I too am looking at a rails based rig at some point in the future but I haven't seen any rail based rigs that conveniently support two wireless lav receivers. There are the cages but I just don't like the configuration of those.

I have done some adjustments to make the rig a bit more ENG friendly for recording video at live events. Basically I moved the Zoom H4N off the top bracket and attached it to the lower bar using a cold shoe style adapter. Where the Zoom was positioned I put a shotgun mic instead and then I purchased a Sescom splitter cable that allows me to feed the captured audio to both the Zoom and directly into my Canon T2i - it also has a headphone connection so that I can still monitor my sound. I've only tried it once but it seemed to work pretty well (by the way I attached the whole rig to a Manfrotto Monopod instead of a traditional tripod for that assignment)

Luckily for you there are lots of people coming up with rail systems for the BMCC - it's going to be a matter of finding one that gets you close enough to where you want to go and then making adjustments to customize it to perfectly fit your desires.

Steve Crow
Crow Digital Media
http://www.CrowDigitalMedia.com


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Steve Crow
Re: Suggestions for DSLR Rig on Rails for ENG Work with Pre-Amp and Zoom?
on May 14, 2013 at 11:12:22 pm

I just saw this today and it's the first system that I've found that could replace the Bracket 1 based rig I have now with a real "rails" based one. I've not considered cage type systems up until now because they looked like they would block access (particularly on the important right side) to the control buttons on my Canon HD DSLR.

But now Arri has a new baseplate system that has the option of a HALF cage on the left side only OR you can buy both a right and left hand side to make a traditional cage:

http://www.arri.com/camera/pro_camera_accessories/support_systems/mini_base...

Now it's a rather pricey alternative although Arri says that if you purchase through their dealer system you can get a better price.

Steve Crow
Crow Digital Media
http://www.CrowDigitalMedia.com


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Jason Jenkins
Re: Suggestions for DSLR Rig on Rails for ENG Work with Pre-Amp and Zoom?
on Apr 25, 2012 at 7:42:28 pm

Steve,

This post may give you some ideas: http://forums.creativecow.net/readpost/54/859898

Jason Jenkins
Flowmotion Media
Video production... with style!

Check out my Mormon.org profile.


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Steve Crow
Re: Suggestions for DSLR Rig on Rails for ENG Work with Pre-Amp and Zoom?
on Apr 25, 2012 at 8:56:15 pm

Cool - how did the quick release plate attatch to the rails?

Steve Crow
Crow Digital Media
http://www.CrowDigitalMedia.com


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Stephanie Stiavetti
Re: Suggestions for DSLR Rig on Rails for ENG Work with Pre-Amp and Zoom?
on Apr 25, 2012 at 9:04:49 pm

Sorry, I mistyped. That was meant for Joseph.

Joseph, do you have any links to photos of your rig?


---------------
Stephanie
http://www.theculinarylife.com


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Joseph W. Bourke
Re: Suggestions for DSLR Rig on Rails for ENG Work with Pre-Amp and Zoom?
on Apr 26, 2012 at 3:25:36 am

I don't, but if you do a Google search for Fotga DP500, with the Images tab turned on you'll see tons of shots of the setup. The only thing I've added to is a couple of handles from Cool LCD, attached by a couple of their rail clamps with multiple 1/4 20 holes - one handle on the front right rail, and one coming out from the left rail at a right angle, just under the follow focus, so that I can use my left hand to support and focus. I'll try and get a shot of the setup - it's a bit similar to the Captain Stubling rig from Redrock Micro:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/816552-REG/Redrock_Micro_Captain_Stub...

...but at a quarter of the price.

Joe Bourke
Owner/Creative Director
Bourke Media
http://www.bourkemedia.com


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Jason Jenkins
Re: Suggestions for DSLR Rig on Rails for ENG Work with Pre-Amp and Zoom?
on Apr 27, 2012 at 6:21:31 pm

[Steve Crow] "Cool - how did the quick release plate attatch to the rails?"

I'm using this: http://www.cinevate.com/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=68

Jason Jenkins
Flowmotion Media
Video production... with style!

Check out my Mormon.org profile.


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