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Why a ShoulderCam Should Be Heavy

  • October 26, 2012
  • Shane Hurlbut, ASC
Why a ShoulderCam Should Be Heavy

The best handheld sound camera I ever used was the Panavision Platinum camera. With a lens, lightweight 400’ mag, Preston MDR, focus motors, Mattebox and on-board monitor, the camera weighed in at about 45 lbs. The best handheld camera for action that I have ever used was the Arri 235. With a lens, 400’ dolphin mag, Preston MDR, focus motors, Mattebox and on-board monitor, it weighs in at 26 lbs. So why would you want your RED Epic, Canon C500, C300, 1DC, 5D, F3, BMCC, FS-100, etc. to weigh any less? This is called stabilization.

 

“Make It Weigh a Ton”

Operating with some girth on your shoulders gives you control. Having a shoulder cam rig that fits and conforms to your body is paramount. You need it to feel like it is attached to you as well as being perfectly balanced. When Letus and I set out to design the MCS 2.0 ShoulderCam, we took the Arri 235 and made it our benchmark. The long weight in the back of our rig weighs the same as the 400’ dolphin mag. The camera sits over the center of your shoulder, not far forward.

400’ dolphin mag

MCS weight with pad

The shoulder pad is a wedge design because your shoulder is not flat. It trails away at an angle so the pad is shaped in a way to roll the camera to your eye. It is one inch that tappers to a half inch, with very comfortable leather and memory foam pads that can be replaced if they go bad.

MCS shoulder padMCS pad flat on shoulder

MCS shoulder cam

This has velcro stitched into it, which then can affix to the Revolutionary V-Lock baseplate.

V-Lock baseplate

embedded velcro
Film cameras sit right on the center of your shoulder, perfectly balanced, not way out in front.

film camera on a shoulder

MCS shoulder rig on a shoulder

ShoulderCam

The MCS system does exactly that. Pans and tilts are more controlled and rolling shutter minimized. The EVF opened up all of this innovation. It took all of the cameras that look like still cameras or black boxes and made them into something that looks and feels like a film camera.

 

Grabbing Ahold of Something

I love handheld in many ways. It simply puts you there. You are present; you feel immersed. As an operator, it gives you a great amount of freedom so that you can react with the actors and not worry about 2 to 3 other people, like a dolly grip or a crane grip, having to be in sync.

When I operate handheld with a Panavision Platinum, I grab ahold of the MatteBox.

Shane grabbing Mattebox with Platinum

We noticed two things very quickly. Our MatteBox is very sturdy, and you can grab ahold of it and operate if you have it mounted to the rods.

Rod mounted MCS Mattebox

To keep your conversion time down, I would advise you to use our clamp-on MatteBox set up with the T-Handles so that it will not spin on you. The reason for the clamp-on is that when you click out of the V-lock baseplate to convert to another rig, you are taking everything with you. Nothing will be left other than the rods and baseplate, which would be desirable if you wanted to strip it down into ActionCam or ManCam.

MCS clamp on system

MCS clamp on system

 

“Time is Money”

Converting from handheld to sticks literally takes 15 seconds by ripping off the shoulder pad where the Baseplate already has a mini touch and go built into it. This baby just clicks right in to your head, and all you do is remove the handles, pull the back long weight off, and add the Anton Bauer gold plate weight to counter balance your fluid head.

Converting from ShoulderCam to StudioCam

Converting from ShoulderCam to StudioCam

Converting from ShoulderCam to StudioCam

Converting from ShoulderCam to StudioCam

Converting from ShoulderCam to StudioCam

Converting from ShoulderCam to StudioCam

Converting from ShoulderCam to StudioCam

Converting from ShoulderCam to StudioCam

Converting from ShoulderCam to StudioCam

Converting from ShoulderCam to StudioCam

Converting from ShoulderCam to StudioCam

gold plate weight

 

“A Rock Solid Rig”

Have you ever been frustrated with spinning handles and never getting them to be rock solid? Well, what Letus and I did was to square off the rods so that they could not possibly spin. We made them T shaped so that you can fly them up high like you were grabbing a Mattebox or down low to feel more like a traditional handheld rig. It will work for you no matter what your preference might be.

T-Handles in high config

T-Handles in low config

t-handles

squared off rods for handles

 

“How I Use Shoulder Based Camera Systems”

What I love so much about handheld is the ability to tell a story from point A to B to C to D without cuts. Panning around and moving with the scene’s blocking is so important in telling stories that demand that feel and intensity.

“The Power of the V-Lock”

What this base plate and shoulder pad system does is enable you to convert quickly from one shooting configuration to another effortlessly, which saves time, adds shots and gives you the ability to put it up on the screen. This is the whole reason behind the MCS 2.0 system. Saving time saves money, which in turn expands your vision.

There are plenty of manufacturers that are taking these small plastic boxes and turning them into an Alexa sized camera system with all the SDI outputs, XLR inputs, power ports, etc. We want it to be an Alexa when it can be, but we also want it to be small and nimble like a DSLR, so that it can get into unique places, with all the necessary support to make a movie, not just how it came out of the bubble wrap. It still needs to function, needs follow focus, on-board monitors, MDR’s, etc.

bare bones camera system

bare bones camera system

Having a camera system that can be as big or as small as you like is the power of the platform and why we built it. If you look at other manufacturer price points, they spend 1/20th on the rig, compared to the selling price. We spend half of what it costs to make it. It seems pretty simple.

For rental inquiries go to www.revolutioncinemarentals.com

 

  • camera rig
  • master cinema series
  • MCS

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