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Los Angeles, California

HomeGearCamera Support Roundup

Camera Support Roundup

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Technology is ever-changing, and who better to notice the rapid-fire innovations than the executives of some of L.A.’s most successful equipment houses? Below, five prominent equipment executives talk about their latest additions and changes in the fields of dollies, lighting and cranes.Bob Kulesh, VP, sales and marketing, Matthews Studio Equipment“We have a new Western dolly—a transport dolly as opposed to solely a camera dolly, though it can be used as one. It will be introduced at NAB. It has a much lighter weight, thanks to an all-aluminum frame, and a much larger platform for placing the camera. It’s a big four-wheel dolly with a pull and push, and has speed rail mounting equipment on it.“In lighting we have a new family of cranks called Crank O Vator stands. It’s a new design of a system we’ve been building over 20 years, and it’s primarily for larger light fixtures in-studio and on location. They feature a lower loading height and the drive system has only seven moving components. There are five new stands in this family.“Another new product is MAX—a menace arm that allows you to position almost any light anywhere on the set or on location. MAX can take a light over 21 feet high and you can extend it up to a 10-foot-high parallel for up to 18 feet.“We have a new little stand called The Link Stands for positioning small lights very low to the floor, or to hide them behind a plant. It tucks into a corner.”Frieder Hochheim, cofounder, Kino-Flo“The things that are popular right now are the Cameo 6 Kit, which comes with Cameo 6 and 6E. Cameo Kit is a ring cosmetic light; since the light comes from around the axis of the lens, it’s a very even, soft fill light. Larger ring lights will actually give you a reflection of a circle in the eye; because this diameter is only six inches, at three to four feet from the actor’s face all you register is the point source, which is really critical for dramatic films. At a closeup in dramatic scenes, it’s very distracting to see a circle in the actor’s face or eyes.“With this unit, we can see the point source. This Cameo Kit is now being used for dramatic situations and newsgathering applications where anchors are reporting from locations. This is the one instrument that actually mounts to the camera lens, but it’s very lightweight and is designed for Steadicam use as well.“The other big item right now is the lighting instrument called the ParaBeam. It is the first fluorescent that projects a beam of light instead of a broad wash. The beam coming out of it is a lateral beam, and by rotating the fixture you can orient that beam horizontally or vertically.“Most fluorescents are a soft source and just have a broad wash. This is the first time we could control a fluorescent beam so well. It has all the benefits of low power, low heat and is now a more controllable softlight.“Microflows are our standby for shooting miniatures. They come in 100 mm and 150 mm in lengths, and they’re very thin—4.5 mms in diameter. They’re available in two color temperatures: daylight and tungsten. KF 55, and KF29 are actual designators. They feature remote balance, 12-volt DC operation and can also work off AC power supplies.”Christine Chapman, Chap-man-Leonard“We have an Amphibian 3-Axis Remote Head, which is new. It is the only 3-axis head that is waterproof and can go from land use to underwater use without any additional housing. With an operational weight of only 75 lbs., it is compatible with most crane arm configurations, dollies and camera cars. Operated with a joystick or wheels, the clutch system allows for free movement of the head, independent of electronic controls. It is proving its value on set of the new Harry Potter movie.“We also have the Chapman Gyro Stabilized Head, which is new, and its compact three-axis head is stabilized with the precision of gyros. This unit defeats vibration with an isolated, remote-controlled camera movement. With an operational weight of only 70 lbs., it is compatible with most crane arm configurations, dollies and camera cars. All sides of the camera are easily accessed during filming, and the head’s profile allows the camera lens to go very low to the ground. It has been used on commercials, especially high-speed car commercials, as well as on upcoming feature films such as Taxi and Mr. and Mrs. Smith and television shows like Without a Trace.“Finally, there’s the Olympian III, a new remote camera crane arm base, which is a self-leveling, electric-powered, mobile vehicle capable of carrying a variety of crane arms, including Lenny Arms and telescoping crane arms. Stage 1 has a maximum mount height of nine feet and can carry up to 4,000 lbs. of payload. Stage 2 has a maximum mount height of 13 feet and can carry up to 2,000 lbs. It operates AC/DC power for silent operation and can be set up to charge in both 110v and 220v. The self-leveling center post has 11 degrees of motion in all directions. The unit glides over the terrain at speeds up to 15 mph, and its total operational weight is 3,200 lbs. Plus it has robotic capabilities, allowing it to be controlled via cable or wireless controls—and is programmable via a computer link.”Frank Kay, marketing director, J.L. Fisher“The Fisher 11 dolly and the Model 23 Jib are both amazing devices at low prices. A lot of people are now shooting with DV and smaller HD cameras and want to do the same moves as film cameras. Their concern is that most dollies are large for a small camera. The dolly dwarfs the camera in a Canon XL1 and they think of camera dollies as these big huge things that you put the camera in.“The Fisher Model 11 is a smaller, compact dolly that works seamlessly with these smaller cameras to give the filmmaker a professional look where they can make the dolly moves using a professional dolly instead of someone sitting in a shopping cart. This equipment is designed to work with them no matter what the camera configuration.“The Model 23 Jib is a sectional jib that goes from six feet to 21 feet and it can be set up in 10 minutes. So you have one jib arm that you can use for various elevations that mounts onto the JL Fisher Model 10 dolly.Jaime Emmanuelli, director of sales, Lite Panels“We have both Lite Panels and Ring Lights, and for both the characteristics are the same—LED technology—and they colorshift 100 degrees from top to bottom, with no heat projection and virtually no power since it uses just seven watts to convey the equivalent of 40 to 50 watts of power.“The LEDs are 50 degrees for Lite Panels but are used best at between two and eight feet. A 20-degree light panel will throw light 10 to 20 feet. It’s the equivalent of 70 watts of power but actually uses seven watts. Both can be powered at AC of 80 volts to 240 volts, or DC 9 to 30 volts. You can use a snap-on battery to plug directly into a camera’s power, and a 30-volt battery belt can last for three days. They also come with accessories to accept DV batteries, which can last 10 hours. “The LEDs are rated at a lifetime of 100,000 hours. They also have accessories to mount on the camera or on a stand, can also be powered from a car cigarette lighter and come with 16-piece filter sets. All the characteristics of the light panel can be mounted directly around the lens of film, HD cameras or in a stand. They use 50 watts, but have the equivalent output of 400–500 watts, plus they are also focused at 20 degrees and can throw light from two feet to over 30 feet.”

Written by Carl Kozlowski

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