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


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