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BIG RIG vs. small rig


Justin R Goff
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It is no question that this industry is going through some massive changes from just about all angles...

 

To be more specific on one change would be to address how much the cameras have changed over the years. RED broke the quality boundary between high end film cameras and digital cameras. Since then prosumer class cameras have gotten so good to the point that a lot of professional work can be done with them. The BIG heavy rigs of course are used for big fancy cameras and the smaller lighter rigs are used for the prosumer style cameras more or less.

 

With this growing grey area between the quality of the prosumer class of cameras and the professional class or cameras, it is no question that the prosumer sector of the industry is growing. It's getting more first time filmmakers because they can now afford the investment in the equipment and still get great results. It's getting some existing professional filmmakers because in some cases the quality is "good enough" and/or they maybe in a financial position where the economy forces them to. The growing need for 3D setups is an added factor. It's "presently" very difficult to get around needing a heavy rig for these setups. However, how long will even that last? There are already prosumer style cameras out that shoot 3D. Will the technology get so good some day that the need for 2 cameras will go away completely?

 

So where is this going to end up? I would guess that lighter rigs are going to be more and more popular as time goes on. I am curious to see how you all view this trend. How far do you think this will go? Do you think that some day the need for a heavy rig will almost be gone entirely?

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Well, a dslr with a decent lens plus all the goodies on it needed for it to perform like a real camera will still weigh at least 15 lbs. And there are several threads here where people are fighting to get a production friendly red under 20 lbs. Not sure why "big rigs" will ever go away when they can be configured to fly anything fron 10 to 50 lbs.

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So where is this going to end up? I would guess that lighter rigs are going to be more and more popular as time goes on. I am curious to see how you all view this trend. How far do you think this will go? Do you think that some day the need for a heavy rig will almost be gone entirely?

 

No and here's why. Goodmglass will never be lite weight, you will always need accessories and finally one simple word

 

3D

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I have to agree with Eric. Even a bare Red comes close to maxing out "small rigs."

 

I rather invest in a big rig and add weight to the camera, then try to take weight off... You never know what camera configuration you will be flying on your next project better to be prepared.

 

I personally have a small set and a big set of springs for my "big rig" arm. Plus i just picked up a weight plate!

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The "big rigs" aren't going anywhere as they are very well needed, but the type of market you are in is what should be a driving force in the size equipment you have. For myself, I live and work in an area where budgets tend to be getting smaller and thus camera packages are shrinking. We are using predominately all 5D and RED cameras, and the first Alexa just hit our market. I wanted to get a bigger rig, but looking at the direction our market is moving in it just proved more vital to get an Archer 2. It's a rig that is more appealing to the size budgets we are approached with and it is fully capable of flying our standard camera packages. As time goes by and I grow as an operator, I know a time will come that I will outgrow the weight range of the Archer 2, but until then it is doing a great job for me.

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So where is this going to end up? I would guess that lighter rigs are going to be more and more popular as time goes on. I am curious to see how you all view this trend. How far do you think this will go? Do you think that some day the need for a heavy rig will almost be gone entirely?

 

No and here's why. Goodmglass will never be lite weight, you will always need accessories and finally one simple word

 

3D

 

Eric I couldn't agree more. No matter how good the technology gets to take the chip quality up and camera size down, the high quality lenses can only be made so small. As far as 3D, clearly the professional way 3D is shot now (and for a good while to come) requires a heavy set up. I was more referring to will even professional 3D technology gets small as well? But the fact of the matter is even if it someday does get that small, you still are going to need professional lens and that will add weight. This fact makes me happy actually, because it answers where this trend will probably end up.

 

There will be a maturity to this fast growing change in camera size where things will level off and the setup wont get below a certain weight. Knowing this helps to plan production setups for short term and long term goals. I would not be surprised at all if prosumer class cameras follow the new DSLR setup more and more as this technology progresses. Before this, most prosumer class cameras didn’t have exchangeable lenses, so there was a larger gap between professional cameras and prosumer cameras. Now, this small camera has a huge chip for its size and can handle professional lenses. This is awesome! It’s still a young technology for video, but what this will look like even as short as 2 to 3 years is very interesting to me. The gab seems to be getting smaller all the time between prosumer and professional, how far will this go?

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you can figure that you'll always need (I am sure I am forgetting something)...

-mattebox (1 lb)

-some kind of remote focus receiver/mdr (maybe 1.5 lbs for single motor bfd -- 2.5 lbs for preston single motor and mdr)

-misc bracketry to mount all the above gak (another 1.5-ish?)

-camera plate/misc cables (1 lb)

 

Using the lighter bfd you are at 5 lbs of aks. With a preston and one motor you'll be at 6 lbs. Add a cooke prime and a dslr body and you are at 12/13 lbs

 

Now...do you need to add:

-some kind of transmitter (the camwave is 1.5 lbs, the boxx meridian is a bit more)

-a battery to power all this stuff (1.8 for the hc-90)

-another motor for iris pulls?

-cine-tape (1.5 lbs)

-multiple filters

-ob lights

 

It is pretty easy to get to 19/20 lbs with even the lightest of cameras (assuming a 2lb dslr body) when all is said and done. And the one thing you lose with the smaller rigs is inertia and stability.

 

rb

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This is something I am struggling a lot with here in London. I am seeing a lot of work which would otherwise have been shot on a DSR450 or 900 / leutus adaptor on a big rig slip to Steadicam Flyers at £120 / day and them finding operators for £350 a day. There is now unfortunately a dearth of bad operators now in London to the point where DoP's have recently recounted newer directors moaning at the word Steadicam they have had so many bad experiences.

 

A lot of it is agency led. The advertising agencies here seem to dictate the camera. First they were demanding RED, then the 5D and now the Alexa.

 

The point is that since loosing film Moores Law is well and truly in action on the insides of the cameras. The image quality in the last 20 years has probably doubled every 18 months and now its probably time for the camera to halve in internal mass every 18 months from now on.

 

To do amazing shots. Personally. My optimum camera weight is a tricked out Arri SR3 and I feel great when I have an ARRI LT. Maybe that is what I grew up with but I'll be gluing lead to cameras until i am retired to simulate that.

 

In the meantime I continue to compete with Steadicam Ops hiring in a flyer and going out for £470 a day that pull focus off the barrel on a 5D.

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