Last week I reviewed the new BX4 rig from 21st Century 3D. I was impressed that a rig that size could be that light and work so well on my steadicam……well this week Sebastian from Camadeus invited me over to check out a steadicam specific 3D rig.
It raised the stakes!
Built by ScreenPlane in Germany this rig was purpose built for steadicam use, thus the name “Steady-flex”.
ScreenPlane rig has a unusual design. Very ingenious!
They have partnered with C-Motion lens Control and have built into the frame of the rig a “Camin transmitter” (like a preston MDR) The internal electronics control IO&Convergence Focus,Iris,Zoom of both cameras. Thus reducing the overall weight of the rig at the same time cleaning up the spaghetti of cables usually found on rigs.
The other major design aspect is that of the frame itself. It’s centered it’s mass instead of building more of a perimeter frame like on other rigs. This in addition to a few other design aspects enable this rig to be mounted “over-slung” on the steadicam rig. Meaning one camera points up instead of down. Usually on other rigs due to where there mass is and how far away it gets when overslung you end up with a long post and a heavy rig! Which is why on every other 3D rig we generally run “under-slung”.
Being able to use the rig in this “overslung mode” solves many 3D steadicam problems. The first of which is that when mounting the underslung rig on the steadicam you end up with a very front heavy rig. Which causes many problems. mainly you need to add weight to the back of the rig to counter all the front weight. This usually consists of mounting rods in the rear of the rig and mounting batteries, lock-it box, decimator and anything you can find to add rear weight. This also makes the rig really long! Which makes doing a “switchover” move all but impossible. As you have to push the rig so far away from your body ot get around all the rear weight that you had to run. This of course leaves your “dynamic” balance all out of whack. The other large issue with underslung mode is that usually your gimbal will at some point make contact with the bottom camera or camera plate. This means that on some rigs you can barely pan right. Many top rigs being used in the market today suffer from this. You end up have to pan with your body instead.
On the “Steady-flex” in overslung mode I can place my post exactly underneath the “CG” of the rig. This enables a much better fore-aft balance and removes any need to add any weight to the rear of the rig. This has tremendous consequences. The biggest is that I was able to dynamic balance the rig! (I open the video demonstrating this). Also I can keep the rig closer to my body because there is no “stuff” in the back of the rig. This helps with operator fatigue alot. The other is that I can now spin the rig 360 around my gimbal! So no issues with panning.
In this picture you can see how close the bottom camera is to my shoulder enabling the rig to be close to my body.
Once built out with a ambient box (to genlock the cameras), my decimator and all the necessary cables the complete rig (3D rig, sled, batteries) with RED Epics and UltraPrime LDS lenses came in at 52lbs. !!
This low weight coupled with the fact that we can dynamic balance the rig and pan freely presents a massive step forward in 3D steadicam.
Over the last 4 years or so I have flown just about every rig out there. I can honestly say this is the best rig for steadicam in the market. Compare 52lbs with the 75lb rig I flew just in December for Katy Perry 3D also on Epics and Ultra primes(altought that had a telecast copperhead on it).
I spent some time with the rig in my vest and was very happy. Then I threw it up on my segway and was just as happy, altough because of the overslung mode my post was a bit long. So if I ever opted to use it on a segway I would add some battery weight and collapse my post more.
I called my friend and legendary steadicam operator Randy Nolen, SOC to come check it out. He had just finished a job with a 70lbs rig so he was excited to try it out. He brought his friend a fellow SOC member Rick Drapkin to also check it out. He had a previous experience with 3D at around 80lbs!! So needless to say he was almost speechless.
I have a upcoming feature that we are planning on using the “steady-flex”. They want to shoot with the ARRI Alexa-M camera. So in a few weeks I will complete another test with the rig with Alexa-M cameras.
I look forward to flying this rig on the movie and posting a update to this test.
Watch and enjoy the video from the test.
Here some additional pictures from the test.
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