Hydra Arm – A Portable $50,000 Russian Arm for any Car

In case you have an upcoming shoot and you want to up your game in terms of fancy car to car cinematography, this is for you! The Hydra Arm is a modular russian arm system which mounts to any car and it only costs a fraction of a matte-black turbocharged SUV equipped with a russian arm plus crew.

Hydra Arm
The Hydra Arm comes with everything you need. Just add any car with a metal roof, a gimbal system like the DJI Ronin 2, Movi Pro or XL and a camera, of course.

Hydra Arm

We ran into this russian arm device on the showfloor of this years’ NAB and we couldn’t resist asking Aaron Stephenson from Hydra Arm everything about it. It’s actually super cool to have a modular system like this and mount it to any car. Sure, the results may not be 100% on a par with fully fledged russian arm systems but the footage you can see in the video looks very promising! We have to wait for the final product, I assume. The Hydra arm is an actively stabilized system (in contrary to the passively stabilized RigWheels Slingshot, for example) and it is mouted to the car via suction cups. This active stabilization is really a unique feature for a car-mounted crane system in this price range.

We still have to wait a little longer to actually play with this Hydra since it’s still a prototype but the guys behind it have gathered a lot of feedback here at NAB 2018. They claim that the final product will be ready by the end of the year and it will cost just under $50,000.

Hydra arm
This pricepoint makes the Hydra Arm accessible for both rental houses and owner/operators which is really a novelty in this high-end segment of the market. Aaron claims that the whole system can be set up by a team of 2 in just 30 minutes. I’d like to add a few minutes but it’s still a very impressive figure!

The sytem is controlled via a mimic system and the whole setup can be controlled by one single operator. I’m wondering if one operator just for the jib and one for the gimbal itself would be better / safer? But that maybe an option, too.

Hydra Arm

The maximum payload is 55lbs (25kg), which includes gimbal and camera package. Again, this is still under developement but it already looks really cool! Let’s wait and see what the final Hydra Arm will look like by the end of this year. We’ll keep you updated, of course!

Is it Dangerous?

There’s something on my mind, though: Normally you would rent a highly professional crew for this kind of shoots. They bring their own car equipped with a Russian Arm which they know inside out. They know which permissions you’ll need, they know the risks, they know about the possibilities and impossibilities. They know about physics and how the arm behaves in certain situations. And they are super expensive.

Hydra Arm
What happens if everybody can rent such a device? Isn’t it.. dangerous? I think a trained tech is absolutely mandatory for this kind of shoots! Which is why the guys behind the Hydra Arm are establishing a certification program.

Links: Website

Did you ever used such a device before? Would you like to rent (or buy) one if you could? Share your thoughts in the comments below!