Journey to the 7th Dimension

In January this year we finally took the plunge and set ourselves on the journey to the 7th dimension.

Last week, we finally shot our first live project using only the Canon 7D digital SLR. This camera can shoot 1080p HD video in the native 25fps of PAL-land. The beautiful footage we can produce with this camera gets us a lot closer to a goal of ours — the elusive ‘film-look’ that our lovely clients will appreciate.

Our research with the 5D Mark II and a rented 7D quickly lead us to the conclusion that a support rig was going to be an essential for our work. This is the rig we chose.

Canon 7D, Canon EF 35mm f1.4L, Cinevate DSLR Rig with Uno Grips, Cinevate Durus Follow Focus, Cinevate Titan Mattebox, SmallHD DP1 and the Zoom H4n Audio Recorder.

We also have a Canon EF 70-200mm IS USM f2.8L, Tokina 11-16mm f2.8 and an old Canon EF 24-85mm which aren’t pictured.

So, why Cinevate?

It started with our purchase last year of a Slider. When we shot with the 5D over summer, we had used a Glidetrack HD to achieve some short distance tracks. The Glidetrack was a great piece of kit which has the ability to be mounted on just one tripod head, but it can’t always give you the smooth move that you’re looking for.

When it came to buying a slider ourselves, we chose the Cinevate Pegasus Heavy Lifter (now the Atlas 30) offering because it gave us options. It was more versatile than the Glidetrack system. We could mount the camera upside down, on an angle (while still leveling the bowl) and there was the potential in the future for different lengths of track just by replacing the rods. It breaks down easily for transport, it’s virtually indestructible and allows silky-smooth tracking movement with a minimum of force. It is the perfect slider for our work.

It is the strength, versatility and usability that we found in the slider that attracted us to return to Cinevate for our complete rig.

I have to admit, on first assembly I wasn’t sure about the Uno Grips. It didn’t help that it took me a good hour to work out that the orientation of the kip handles could be independently adjusted by simply pulling up and rotating without affecting the tension.

There seemed at first to be too much flex in the construction. And then I gave it some wellie and tightened the Uno links as far as I could before mounting to my rails. With enough tightening, the Uno link beds firmly into the material on the ball joints and creates a rock solid link that seems to get stronger as the minutes pass. The ability to reposition these handles into so many angles and combinations provides a huge amount of flexibility when it comes to supporting the camera as you can position them to wherever is comfortable depending on your rig configuration. Versatile.

The rods themselves are rock solid and look like they can stand up to a beating. Most importantly when you’ve got the kit on your shoulder (or your back) — they’re lighter.

Rock solid. Great response. Virtually no play.

Admittedly, it takes a while to get gears sorted onto all of the lenses. This might not be as easy as the zip gears of other systems – but the Cinevate gears offer 360 degrees should you need it and a rock solid lock between FF and lens.

We were initially a little worried about the unit being mounted on just one rail – but the excellent kip handles let us lock it right down. Add to that the ability to use it on either side, or even upside down. Versatile.

I’m beginning to sound like a broken record, but it’s the flexibility again that sold us on the Mattebox. It’s covered with mounting options for other kit, it’s swing-away, height adjustable and you can even use the support bars on either side as handles or brace them against a wall or table to help steady your shot. The versatility of this design makes it, unsurprisingly, a perfect fit for the incredibly flexible DSLR rig.

So you may have noticed a theme here. We are an integrated agency who offer a really broad range of projects. One week we can be run-and-gun at an event, and the next shooting a period courtroom docu-drama or a TV commercial. We need the support gear we use to be as flexible and adaptable as we are.

The gear Cinevate create seems to echo this philosophy. It can be expanded, upgraded, re-configured. It can adapt with the way we work – and that’s why it’s ideal for us.

This may not be what everyone needs, but it’s definitely what we have been searching for.

  • @clickryan

    Just wondering what the costs were for this whole dslr rig. I’m looking at the Cinevate Uno, but wondering if I get a RedRock Micro Follow Focus v3, if 1 rail will hold. Your rig had 2 rails correct? Any other good learnings you can pass onto us. thxs

  • Hi Ryan – Craig is currently on annual leave and has all of the answers! Keep your eye out and we’ll get back to you shortly…

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