I love a moving lens. I am always amazed how a small camera move can bring such depth and emotion to a production. When planning a shot my first thoughts are about where the Director wants the lens to travel and what camera/lens controls we need to achieve the desired result. My next thoughts are about what size and type of camera/lens package, pace of the production day, and of course, the production budget. A simple mechanical manual device will most often be easier to use and easier on the budget. Devices with remote servo controls, complicated mechanics, and delicate balance will require more time for set up and more expense. The benefit of more complicated rigs comes into play in the edit suite when you look at the footage and realize your production has hit a stunning new level of professional coolness.
A slider or mini jib are the most cost effective rigs and offer a great deal of production value. Ease of set up and speed of movement from location to location can really add up to a lot of time saved when compared to large dolly/track options. The camera slider is a nice, light weight camera carriage that runs smoothly on rails mounted between two stands or tripods. The camera and slider are operated by the Director of Photography with no need for a dolly grip. Motorized moves using servo controls can also be made for repeat action or time-lapse shots.
Mini jibs are able to do vertical and horizontal sweeping moves. These are normally used with manual tripod heads and jib moves are performed by the Director of Photography. A mini jib can offer a 4 foot reach to get over top of subjects and 7 feet of vertical movement. Both of these camera movement options are great for manufacturing, instructional, medical, music video, corporate and commercial applications. They add great production value without breaking the budget.
One of my favorite rigs is a G12 3-axis gimbal by Defy. The gimbal offers movement similar to a Steadicam or Glidecam, but is much more agile and capable of doing sweeping vertical moves similar to a jib. The operator carries the camera stabilized by 3 gyros and can balance up to a 12 pound camera package. It’s a relatively small package that can be walked or run with, handed from operator to operator through small openings or even lowered by rope. The gimbal is also well suited for vehicle to vehicle shots, i.e.. cars, boats, bikes, skateboards or my favorite: a Segway X2. When the G12 gimbal is used on a Segway Handsfree Transporter, the Director of Photography is able to do moving shots up to 11 miles per hour as well as work off road on rough terrain.
Recently we did a walking shot on a rooftop with three actors. We blocked the shot, rehearsed the move, shot the scene and wrapped more quickly than we could have handed the parts of a jibarm up the ladder to the rooftop. The shot started with a smooth arcing move around the talent at shoulder level then dropped to within a few inches of the roof surface as the talent walked away. This move would have been next to impossible with any other type of camera movement gear in that amount of time.
My absolute favorite rig is the Stanton Triangle Jibarm. The Triangle is a full sized camera crane with a servo controlled remote head that can handle up to a 50 pound camera package. The length (or reach) of the jib can be built from 4 to 40 feet and can be mounted on a movable wheeled base, dolly track or an electronic jibcart with leveling jacks. The jib operator has full control of the pan, tilt, roll, focus and iris of the camera from the rear of the rig. It can also be controlled by a film style crank wheel controller or a separate pan/tilt pedestal similar to running a studio camera. Over the years, I’ve used this rig on many concerts, commercials, music videos, reality shows, college campus, corporate events,church conferences, factories, sporting events and live broadcasts like HBO Boxing at Night or the 2013 Presidents Cup NBC Sports broadcast from Dublin, Ohio. The electric motor jibcart has turf tires allowing the jib to be transported quickly from location to location over fairly rough terrain. One day on a college campus we were able to record over 25 different jib locations all around the grounds. This would not have been possible mounted on a regular wheeled base.
Now that camera motion solutions are more affordable and practical than ever, camera movement has become more common in productions. Whether your production calls for a short glide or an epic sweeping panoramic scene-setter, Brainstorm has the latest tools you need to make it happen. I have a real passion for a moving lens. I continually seek out and test the latest creative camera motion solutions as they become available on the market so I can offer our clientele new ideas and approaches to their production needs. Thanks for your interest and check back for future posts about different types of sliders we offer and what odd mounting, methods and uses we have found for them.