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21st Century 3D BX4 “lightweight” 3D rig tested!

3D Steadicam…now with less fat!

This past week, famed 3D pioneer and Stereographer Jason Goodman invited me out to his LA offices to test out his new creation.

The BX4…what’s new?

Designed specifically for RED EPIC, RED Scarlet, Arri Alexa M, Canon C500 and C300, and other small form factor D-Cinema cameras, BX4 is among the lightest and most versatile rigs available. Weighing only 11lbs in its lightest configuration, BX4 is optimized for steadicam, handheld, and remote head applications.

In addition to motorized interaxial and convergence controls, all camera alignment functions can also be motorized for remote operation. naturally I always prefer to use my C-Motion Cvolution wireless lens and rig control. But….no built in electronics means no delays from electronic failures and no additional weight when motorized operation is not needed(this is key for keeping the steadicam light). All controls can be manually actuated as well.

One of the key new features with the BX 4 is, two optional filter holders, they can easily be attached or removed in the field.(once again keeping the steadicam config lighter) The two stage filter holder utilizes standard 4×5.65 drop in filters. The single stage rotating holder accommodates 5.65×5.65 filters and has unique click stop positions as well as angle markings that allow DPs and stereographers to utilize linear polarizing filters and easily match the angle for both cameras. Cinematographers have the option to creatively employ polarizing filters on a 3D rig. Managing reflections and shooting skies in 3D is greatly enhanced with BX4.

The other major design change is that now both cameras move. They move opposite of each other which keeps the steadicam sled in balance during IO changes mid shot.

Base price is $29,995. Optional filter holders are $2,495 each.
http://www.21stcentury3d.com

So how does it work on my steadicam?

Having previously operated the previous model the BX3 (later the 3.5) I can honestly say the BX4 is a massive step forward.

Like I mentioned, the “IO” (Inter-ocular or Inter-Axial) is now achieved by moving both cameras opposite each other. This keeps the rig “mostly” balanced on sled during IO changes mid-shot. I say mostly because there is some torque effect and some slight differences in weight that may cause a horizon change. This can easily be remedied by trimming the balance with a few small weights. Even without any trim weights the balanced is mostly unchanged. This allows the stereographer to alter the IO during the shot.

The rig is much lighter now. In fact, it’s an amazing 11lbs. at the moment! I set up the rig on my sled in “underslung” mode. This lowers the CG and allows me to run a shorter post. The rig was still front heavy but luckily I only needed a bit of weight out back to even things out. In the back of the rig you can see the decimator, the ambient TC and sync generator and also the Cvolution “camin” transmitter.

The total ready to shoot weight of the sled cam in at 58lbs. This was with Red zoom lenses. Also Jason mentioned a few small design changes to reduce weight even further.

One big design aspect that assists in practical operation for the steadicam operator is that fact that the bottom camera plate which is located in front of the gimbal is rather small. This results in quite alot of gimbal movement before contact. You can pan the rig quite a bit before there is any contact with the rig. This point cannot be understated. It is a huge pain in the butt to have to pull the gimbal handle closer to your body and make sure you don’t ruin you shot by hitting it on the rig. Thankfully due to his elegant design there is alot of room and this situation is greatly improved over other rigs/designs. In fact in “don juan” you wrist is free to assume it’s normal position and you have a clear view of the monitor.

Due to it’s lighter weight, running with the rig is now possible (see video) and generally I see no problems using this vest mounted in most situations. But when the situation comes when you need to zoom up and down a soccer field or chase actors down streets or do 4 page “walk and talks” there is nothing like a segway!

…on the segway.

Due to it’s lighter weight segway operational envelop is much larger. I found myself fighting the inertia of the rig much less. Due to it’s lighter weight and my resulting short post I had no issues with contacting the wheel on the segway.

All in all I came away very impressed by his new rig. The only other rig in the market that is lighter and better for steadicam is the ScreenPlane “Steady-flex” rig which is ready to shoot (Epic and ultra primes) at 52lbs. Full review coming soon.

The BX4 is a full size rig, with great optics and simple, robust, reliable adjusting mechanisms. All of which are things I value.

Can’t wait to use it!

For more information on the rig and rates, contact Jason Goodman – www.21c3d.com

For more information on my and my rates contact at www.pgfilms.tv

below is the full review video:
on youtube

on vimeo
https://vimeo.com/41135454
Here are some pictures taken during the test

2 thoughts on “21st Century 3D BX4 “lightweight” 3D rig tested!”

  1. Jason Goodman says:

    Thanks for posting this Pedro. I was a bit surprised by the comment

    “The only other rig in the market that is lighter and better for steadicam is the ScreenPlane”

    As I recall during the test, you mentioned the Screen Plane rig was a 6 lbs lighter, but lacked in features that made steadicam operation with the BX4 a better option overall. Did I misunderstand that?

    1. pedro says:

      It’s true…the “steady-flex” is indeed “lighter and better” for steadicam. Making it a better rig for steadicam. It’s more compact and nothing hanging off the rear of the rig.

      It’s also true that your rig the BX4 has a larger mirrorbox can accommodate more focal lengths. Your rig has the filter trays and costs less. On the BX4 you can use angenuiex zooms as well.

      Both rigs are really exceptional. Yours is a more of a full size capable rig. The screenplane steady-flex is a compact rig maximized for steadicam use. Naturally some areas it falls short.

      Being the the BX4 is larger there are areas where it becomes more flexible if you only have budget for 1 rig. The fact that it is a “full size” rig and manages to be only 6lbs heavier is quite the accomplishment! One that is not to be understated!

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