Our Camera Setup

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1-2 IMG_7853

RED Scarlet with our new setup

At Igniter Media, we are always looking to improve the quality of our videos, and to pair beautiful visuals with a good script. At the beginning of the year we purchased a RED Scarlet, in the hopes of doing just that. We’ve come to love this camera, with it’s depth of color and flexibility in post production.

One thing that this camera needs is accessories. Since it is so modular, just shooting with a simple package can be downright difficult, if not impossible. When we first purchased the package, we invested in the Scarlet-X Lightweight Collection, which was a good start, but we could tell it wasn’t ideal.

We shot a number of videos with this simple setup, including Filled and The Adventure of Fatherhood. Both were shot handheld, with me cradling the camera body, and using a stabilized Canon 17-55mm lens to keep things smooth. This was doable, but still somewhat awkward. Also, the REDVOLT batteries that go into the side handle only last for about 25 minutes, so you are constantly worrying about how much time you have left and whether or not you should shut down the camera. Needless to say, this setup worked, but it was a bit cumbersome and not very practical.

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1 IMG_2054

Shooting "The Adventure of Fatherhood"

We were really in need of some rails, a follow focus, a top handle, perhaps a shoulder rig, and a larger battery solution. Doing some quick searching around RED’s online store, as well as other places revealed that accessories are EXPENSIVE, not to mention there are so many little add-ons that it will make your head spin deciding what to purchase. I was hoping to get a working solution without spending so much.

Along came... the Echo Conference!

...and with it, vendors that set up booths on our floor. Ikan, a manufacturer of camera rigs, batteries, monitors, and other accessories contacted us and asked if we would be willing to exchange a spot on our floor for $2000 worth of gear. We accepted.

First of all, we spent some of the credit on a battery and charger solution. These new, larger, IB-L130S V-mount batteries, along with the Switronix V type Camera Mount Plate and Wooden Camera Fixed Back allow us to power the camera for a much-more-practical 2 hours per battery.

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13 IMG_7906

Next, I started hunting through their Elements rigs to see if I could retro-fit something to work. After seeing a lot of interesting options, but not quite what I needed, I opted for the Elements Master Kit that would allow me to assemble something custom (which excited me because I love LEGO, and it was basically a big box of parts). I also found a refurbished follow focus that is built like a tank.

After a some tinkering and playing around to see what-would-work-with-what (5 “W”s!), a trip to the hardware store, and a little bit of help from a friend with a drill, I ended up with:

  1. A bottom plate with rails to mount the follow focus to the camera
  2. A top handle
  3. A shoulder mount

 

To mount the camera rig to the shoulder rig, I simply tighten one of the 15mm rod mounts that is already attached to the shoulder rig, to the end of the camera rig’s 6-inch rails.

Granted, I realize that most people don’t have access to $2000 worth of credit at a camera accessory store, but I post all this to point out that with a bit of playing around you can get some interesting and useful results. After comparing prices, what we were able to come up with out of the “box of LEGOs” is significantly cheaper than other “made-to-fit” options out there. I don’t think this is a perfect rig or anything, and I’m not necessarily suggesting that anyone copy our setup, but this has worked out great so far, and has saved us a good amount of cash. It also makes the DIY personality in me smile.

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IMG_2228

Shooting "The Apostles' Creed" with the new setup

What about you? Have you taken some interesting steps to save some money? We'd love to hear what you have come up with.