by Richard Lackey | 12th January 2017
When Brandon Hoe first envisioned the Helium Core, a truly professional-grade iPhone case for mobile filmmakers, he knew he’d have to create it from scratch. “The Helium Core was born out of my desire to make the iPhone a better photography and filmmaking tool.” The Helium Core is the result of two years of R&D and prototyping, incorporating feedback from inside and outside the industry. The result is a beautifully designed, engineered and finished product which should tick a lot of boxes for many mobile videographers looking for a professional solution. One of the defining requirements was that this not be just another marginally useful iPhone case marketed at filmmakers. The Helium Core is designed for professional use, and this meant a commitment to fulfilling some key goals: Reliability Minimal setup time Precision Ergonomics Simple design Durable Versatile and customisable Brandon has gone into detail explaining how he has met these goals in a recent post on the Helium Cine website. I’d like to just pick up some highlights that are particularly important. Design It’s not often that an accessory which primarily needs to fulfil a utilitarian function also manages to look good at the same time. With a high-end premium feel and finish, machined all-metal construction, and a solid build the Helium Core seems to go more than a few steps beyond the average plastic case with a lens mount. Materials Machined from aerospace grade 6061-T6 aluminium in two parts, Helium Core completely encapsulates the iPhone while providing all the necessary cut-outs and access to buttons. In Brandon’s words: “If the material can handle the stresses of flight, it will be able to hold up in this use case (no pun intended!)” This is one light-weight but heavy-duty iPhone case. Utility The Helium Core is a lot more like a chassis than a case. It is thick enough to ensure anything screwed into one of the many 1/4”-20 screw holes around the edge is not going to go anywhere. This opens up the possibility of almost any configuration of handles, hot-shoe mounts, magic arms and other attachments. In addition, it facilitates the easy use of support gear such as a tripod, slider, jib or gimbal. The threads are strong enough that there is no worry of stripping them, and the solid machined case will take the stress that any accessory might put on the mounting point without any of the flexing you find with plastic cases. Precise Lens Alignment The design and material choices combined ensure that the Helium Core provides a solid and precise alignment and mounting of any standard 37mm diameter lens and lens accessories. This helps ensure that the full optical performance of premium glass such as the Exolens Pro with Optics by ZEISS, and the Moondog Labs anamorphic adaptor are fully realized. Outlook on Smartphone Video Shooting At cinema5D, we will put more focus on reviewing smartphone cameras in the near future, because they are becoming valuable tools with surprisingly good quality, when no better camera is at hand. Stay tuned for the first reviews soon. For more information visit the Helium Cine website and Helium Core product page.Read more
by Tim Fok | 10th January 2017
Steadicam has used Kickstarter as the platform for their latest product, the Steadicam Volt. It is self-proclaimed as The Best Electronic Handheld Stabilizer, with original inventor Garrett Brown saying it offers “the inertia and the feel of large cinema systems”. Its use? Smartphones. Yes, the latest revolutionary product from industry giants Steadicam is a Kickstarter campaign for an electronic handheld stabilizer for your smartphone. The response on Kickstarter alone is testament to just how relevant this product could be, smashing their $100K pledge within 3 days of release. The Steadicam Volt is an electronic stabilizer for smartphones, but differs from handheld gimbals like the Osmo in that it doesn’t rely on motors for stabilization all: its counter-weight system allows you to perfectly balance the Volt without any batteries. The impressive thing about the Steadicam Volt is this “inertia and feel” that Steadicam legend Garrett Brown talks about. The responsiveness of the Volt really is really quite impressive, just check out the video below where it’s compared to a handheld gimbal system. A trade-off is that you’re now competing with the poor read/reset timing of the CMOS sensor on most, if not all smartphones, so you may suffer from rolling shutter artefacts. Steadicam may have a solution for this, however, in the Volt’s dual Sport and Movie modes. I assume the latter decreases response time for user input to allow a slower move: Sport Mode assists in capturing fast moving moments more easily and professionally. Movie Mode gives you more freedom in creating cinema like movements. The Steadicam Volt is compact, folds down to fit into large, over-sized pockets, has 8 hours of battery life and takes any smartphone with case-combo from 100 – 200g in weight and 58 to 80mm wide. Steadicam Volt – Tech Specs Lightweight folding design that enables easy storage and transportation Accompanying iOS & Android APP allows for precise balance and tuning Haptic control utilizes Simulated Inertia Dual operating modes for beginners and experienced users Uses long-life rechargeable Lithium Ion batteries Accommodates phone sizes with or without case from 100 – 200g in weight and 58 to 80mm wide Bluetooth enabled Works in manual mode even after your batteries are depleted Pricing: Current available Kickstarter rewards get you a Steadicam Volt for $139. A higher pledge includes a workshop experience to increase your stabilization operation knowledge. I see this as getting most of its use in the consumer world, working with an existing device that everyone already carries around in their pocket. People will just need to bother to take the Volt out with them also. From this point of view, ease of use and setup time will be critical. In the professional world? That’s a question for how seriously the industry takes Phonematography (I’m coining that, lolz). It could prove useful for reference videos on recces and location scouts, and hassle-free Behind the Scenes footage where the “instant share” nature of the smartphone content is coupled with an easy-to-use and stable system like this. Sound useful? Let us know in the comments section below!Read more
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