There are many VDSLR rigs out there. None is perfect and to my opinion, none is really functioning as a “smart rig”, meaning, letting me seamlessly and comfortably work with a VDSLR on the shoulder “documentary style” when needed.

In the above video I’m sharing my experimental VDSLR advanced rig configuration. Far from perfect yet very much functional.

Here is what you will need:
-Canon VDSLR with clean HDMI output and mic+headphone sockets.
-Atomos Ninja 2
-Tascam DR60D
-camera cage
-EVF with additional EVF arm support
-shoulder pad
-hand grip
-Ikan USB controller
-2 slim HDMI and 2 short thin audio cables

Building up the rig:
I’ve replaced one of the Vocas handles with the Ikan USB grip. This will allow me to remotely control the main camera functions like REC on/off, magnify, aperture and even focus if needed without leaving my hands from the handles.

The Tascam DR60D is sadly can’t be remotely activated when pressing the camera REC button, nevertheless, I’m now able to connect professional audio equipment to my camera through it and either use the recorder as a mixer while recording the sound into camera or if wanted, record audio on the Tascam too.
One big advantage, I can listen to the camera return audio sound by turning the Tascam DR60D main knob to “camera in“.

To connect the Canon VDSLR to the Tascam audio recorder, simply do the following:
-Connect the camera “mic input” to Tascam DR60D “camera out”
-Connect Canon’s “headphone input” to the Tascam DR60D “camera in” input.
-Connect the headphones for monitoring the sound in Tascam’s “phones” input.
Recording level control can be done from within the Canon VDSLR by pressing the “Q” button and navigating to the audio levels.

The Atomos Ninja 2 can be remotely activated from the camera and will act as a superior format and colour sampling recorder (Apple ProRes and Avid DNxHD 4:2:2, 8 bit sampling).  It can also be used as an additional low res monitor for any of the crew members out there.

Notes concerning this rig:
-Canon’s VDSLR camera “info button”must be toggled off in order to avoid any data being recorded on the Atomos Ninja2. In result, the image being output to the EVF has no info too so the camera operator can not see relevant info like the red recording dot and aperture settings.
-Ikan’s USB trigger is not very robust and in a way I doubt its build quality. In addition, its button layout are not making the camera operator’s life any easy. It will take you some time getting used to its functionality. Saying all the above, it is the only reasonable USB camera remote trigger out there.
-Canon VDSLRs will usually not output audio through the HDMI connector , meaning, the video recorded on the Ninja2 is without audio (can be synced later in post with the audio recorded on camera)

Research for better connectivity and camera control methods will continue…..

Music: The music bed, Beautiful Day – Instrumental by Joshua Radin

Reply
Daniel Ridicki October 6, 2013

I like this idea of one minute information on professional equipment. Quite enough for the start. Keep up the gos work.

Reply
Johnnie Behiri October 6, 2013

My dear friend, thank you for the thumbs up!.

Take care.

Johnnie

Reply
Derek McCabe October 6, 2013

agree with previous comment, good info in one minute. With reference links if you need more detail.

Keep up the good work.

Reply
Johnnie Behiri October 6, 2013

Hi Derek.
Thank you for taking the time watching the video and commenting. Appreciated!

Johnnnie

Reply
Keith Nolan October 7, 2013

Short and sweet and to the point.
Any thoughts about the same set up
with a Nikon D800E?

Reply
Johnnie Behiri October 7, 2013

Keith, thanks for the thumbs up!.
I guess all can be configured the same but the Ikan USB trigger which is configured to work only with Canon cameras.

Thanks again!

Johnnie

Reply
GfK October 31, 2013

Also D800 doesn’t support HDMI triggers, so you cannot start recording to ninja2 by pressing the camera rec button.
Many other glitches as well

Reply
ZCC October 8, 2013

Is it possible to use the tascam dr 60d as a mixer for the bmcc? In order to get audio straight from the camera

Reply
Johnnie Behiri October 8, 2013

Hi ZCC

Not sure and can not check as we don’t have the original BMCC in house anymore.

Sorry!

Johnnie

Reply
Myles October 8, 2013

Can the IKAN pull off a silky smooth focus rack?

Reply
Johnnie Behiri October 8, 2013

Hi Myles.

I wouldn’t count on it…:)

Thanks!

Johnnie

Reply
Myles October 8, 2013

OK, thanks Johnnie. That’s what I thought.

Reply
Myles October 8, 2013

Also – I wonder why Vocas handles are so expensive. Over 500 USD just for the handles. Ouch. They may be comfortable but are they worth that much..?

Reply
Johnnie Behiri October 8, 2013

Hi again.

Indeed Vocas products are expensive. I had lengthy discussions with the good people over there and apparently they are doing fine despite the high prices and proud in their R&D process+manufacturing technic/quality.
Obviously it is justified enough for some customers…..

Thanks.

Johnnie

Reply
Nightmusic October 23, 2013

Hi Johnnie, you explain that the ninja2 can be controlled by the canon 5D, but does it also mean that the ninja2 can be controlled by the ikan usb controller the same way? Thank you for this video!

Reply
Johnnie Behiri October 25, 2013

Dear Nightmusic.

If I understand your question correctly, then yes, the Ikan will activate the camera via its USB control. The camera then will activate the Ninja2 via HDMI control…

Hope that’s helps.

Johnnie

Reply
Nightmusic October 27, 2013

Thanks Johnnie for confirming this! Is there any delay involved in this remote process? (From the moment when we push record on the ikan, to the time when the recording begins on the ninja?)

Thanks!

Reply
Johnnie Behiri October 29, 2013

Dear Nighmusic, sorry for my late response.

There is NO delay. It is rather instant.

Thanks!

Johnnie

Reply
Eric Meadows November 9, 2013

Great setup! I have a handheld rig that I’m wanting to convert into a shoulder mount system and this video really helped me out with ideas. What is the length of the rods coming from the shoulder pad to the handles? Thanks again for the video!

Reply
Caleb Rasak January 7, 2014

To make this rig really complete you could add a Zacuto Tornado for your left handgrip for controlling focus and moving the Ikan to the right side for controlling camera operations. You would never have to move your hands from the grips. Great video!

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