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Header image for article Nic's "Adrenaline" Accessory Kit for RED DSMC2 Cameras

Nic's "Adrenaline" Accessory Kit for RED DSMC2 Cameras

DSMC2, the latest generation of RED’s camera BRAIN, is not only powerful, but the entire system is extremely versatile. These bodies can house four different sensors: MONSTRO 8K VV, HELIUM 8K, and GEMINI 5K S35, and the new 5K DRAGON-X. A wide range of modules and accessories expand the possibilities even further. We asked three of our Technical Specialists to describe their ideal RED DSMC2 package. Nic couldn't stop at just one kit, however. So, here's a look at what’s in his "Adrenaline" RED kit.

As a child of the 80's, I'm a sucker for any kind of over-the-top, action-adventure movie. I have a few union camera operator friends who've shared some of the crazier rigs they've used, and I've poured over the pages of American Cinematographer and ICG to look at the setups on films like Mad Max: Fury Road. With the modular nature of RED cameras, I've been able to apply some of those high-concept, high-budget rigging ideas to my own operating on independent and smaller budget projects. Here's how I like to set up the camera when I need to create some mayhem with my frame.

 

Camera Rigging

The name of the game here is to keep the camera size small and the weight down. Traditionally, shooting "handheld" means an operator supporting the camera on their shoulder and directing the lens with their hands, rather than actually supporting the entire camera in those hands. However, operators working on music videos, skateboarding documentaries, and other more dynamic content would often shoot with the camera held in front of them, instead of on the shoulder. This was possible due to the smaller and lighter cameras they typically used, compared to the much bigger cameras associated with narrative or long-form content.

Now that high-end cinema cameras like REDs have gotten so much smaller, it's possible to get that immediate, frantic style with them as well. The trick is to not build the camera back up with bulky accessories or too much extra gear. I like to use some basic Wooden Camera accessories (the Easy Rider and Wooden Camera Pass Through Top Plate) to get a good minimum amount of rigging options, without adding too much weight from all the metal of more involved cage systems. A pair of side handles gives us the iconic grip style and allows for really dynamic movement to be imparted to the frame. This visual style can be divisive, and certainly doesn't lend itself to all content, but it's inclusion in modern filmmaking opens up creative options and can allow for shots and angles that would be impossible to get with a different camera rig. Because this style lends itself to action oriented content and vigorous camera movement, I like to use the Outrigger handle from RED instead of their Side Handle that attaches where the Sidekick would go. The Outrigger attaches to the camera in a way that leaves less concern for long term durability with aggressive camera movement in mind.

 

Viewfinders & Monitors

The standard RED monitors are the simplest and best option here, as this style of shooting doesn't tend to work well with an EVF or viewfinder. In this case, the cable-free design of the RED monitor is helpful. I prefer the 7" here, as the 4.7" feels a bit too small from arm's length away. When you are working with an external monitor rather than an EVF with an eyepiece, a hood is a must have accessory as well. There are many competent generic hoods out there, but I find that a custom fit solution like the GlareGuard from Ocean Video is much nicer, as the secure fit doesn't leave me wondering if it is going to become dislodged during a crazy sequence.

 

Camera Interface & Electronic Control

Because this rig has a unique purpose, I looked to other pieces that serve specialty roles for RED cameras. RED already makes a great Input/Output module for another scenario where low weight is paramount: the Jetpack Module, which was designed for drone and gimbal work. The second version with the SDI video out instead of HDMI works much better here, as an HDMI would constantly be getting pulled out and unplugged. This setup allows us to forgo the typical Base Expander module and battery plate combo, which shortens the camera length and lightens the load. It still maintains a minimum of I/O and allows for a wireless transmitter or other video out to be run, without needing to rig an extra monitor or wireless transmitter to the camera itself. In addition, a lens control system from Teradek RT, like the Latitude that integrates directly into the camera body, is ideal for a setup like this. Using the direct thumbwheel controllers allows the operator to control focus or other lens functions directly, or they can be sent off to an AC using one of the many handset options for remote focus pulling.

 

Power & Distribution

In a setup like this, it becomes easy to fatigue quickly if we let the camera get too heavy, so the trick is to get the weight out of our hands and to move it somewhere it won't tire so easily. In big budget feature film, it's often a hapless camera assistant or utility who carries this extra gear in a backpack while they follow the operator around. I've geared this build more for a single operator, but the principle holds: get the weight out of your hands, and you'll be able to carry it much longer, and save more energy for dynamic and interesting camera moves. A generic battery mount attached to a belt clip with a decent length cable moves a good chunk of the weight to a position that's easier to manage. If a wireless video transmitter is needed, this is a good place to rig that as well. Teradek's popular Bolt transmitters can be fitted to a Gold Mount or V-Mount battery plate and sandwiched to the belt clip or affixed on the outside of a backpack. Just make sure not to block the antenna!

 

Camera Support

When shooting crazy action sequences, one thing I find people often overlook is protecting the gear. It's always nice to have a mattebox on hand to fight flares and hold beauty filters. On such a light rig, it may seem like a luxury; however, protecting your lenses from flying debris, mud, and other hazards is a necessity! I like using Bright Tangerine's Misfit Atom clip-on filter holder in these situations. It's feather weight, but can still hold up to two filters. I also like that it doesn't need to use filter trays, as this cuts down on weight and gets the filters extra close to the lens so you can use very wide-angle optics with few issues. The shade being made of rubber is great as well, since it can be peeled off the filter holder in a flash, and it isn't going to crack or shatter on impact. Bright Tangerine also makes some helpful thread adapters that make clipping on to still photo lenses a breeze.

Nic Somera
Camera Technology Specialist, AbelCine LA

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