The new Kessler TLS Slider combines rigidity, portability and a modular design into a professional time-lapse tool. Kessler certainly know a thing or two about tools for creating motion in your shots. Their track record include the mighty CineDrive motion control system, the CineSlider, the Pocket Dolly and, of course, their eponymous product: the Kessler Crane. So what is the new addition to their family of sliders all about? The new Kessler TLS is by no means the only motorized slider by the company. It is, however, designed specifically with professional time-lapse in mind and focuses on overcoming the challenges inherent to this kind of photography. It certainly looks like a very solid piece of gear, adhering to the 80/20 aluminium system for structural framing. There are buildings and cars made out of the stuff so we can hopefully expect no bowing or vibrating along the track. Rail lengths are available in either 3, 4, 5 or 6 feet, or 91 to 182cm for us metric folk. Alternatively, you can procure your own #1030 80/20 rail and knock 100 bucks off the final price. Ka-ching! The T-Rails along the rail allow for easy installation of quick-release plates or light-stand adaptors. This means you have completely moveable mounting points anywhere along the length of the slider, as opposed to fixed threaded holes at either end and in the middle. However, each of these mounting accessories will cost you extra. The Kessler TLS has small rubber feet for when used on the ground. Optional leg accessories come in the form of Outrigger Feet as well as 15mm Adjustable Legs. You can extend these with standard threaded 15mm rods, and can be used to create an incline for the cart. In short: plenty of options to handle the uneven terrain you might encounter during your shoots. The Kessler Second Shooter motion control system is the actual brains of the TLS. Thus, you will need the controller unit to program and operate the slider, and a proprietary MagPak battery to power the system. However, their Magnalink solution ensures both the controller and battery stay neatly in place. Other design features include the Kessler TLS motor being built into the cart, reducing the amount of loose cables. Additionally, the drive belt mechanism seems quite easy to install. The result? A sleek, elegant product that doesn’t look like it wants to kill you. (I’m looking at you, CineDrive…) The optional Second Shooter Pan and Tilt Head adds two more axis of programmable, repeatable motion to your slider shot. Kessler’s modular design idea goes down to the head itself, as the tilt and pan axis can be purchased and used individually. This allows for more practical transportation and a lighter, faster setup. Kessler’s kOS software allows for programming more complex 3-axis movement than with the controller unit alone. A “lite” but still very capable version is available for free download if you don’t want to pay for the full version. While the cost of getting a Kessler TLS up and running may seem quite high to some, it is actually not a lot more than many of the other available options out there that offer this level of professionalism. Granted, the cost of the rail, controller, head, mounting points, support and perhaps the app may seem a bit much. But don’t forget, you will be buying into the Kessler ecosystem, not just a standalone one-size-fits-all product. And as such, it certainly has a lot to offer for the professional time-lapse shooter. Check out the Kessler site for more information. We will post links to B&H as soon as the Kessler TLS becomes available. Do you shoot motion-controlled time-lapse? Do you think the result is worth the cost? Or will you stick to PVC pipe, a piece of string and a kitchen timer?Read more
The festive season is upon us, what better way to celebrate it then cramming a B&H shopping cart filled with gear?! I’ll be doing a trio of articles over the next few days each containing 10 great products that you should have at your disposal, starting with camera kit stocking fillers. All items are sub $100, perfect for stocking fillers if you have any baby filmmakers in the household (or simply want to hand this list over to your better half). We’ll cover the tool box and kit bags in the following two articles, but first lets get started with camera kit! #1 Wide Open Lens Gear – $21 Wide Open Cameras don’t make many products but the niche ones they do tend to be pretty useful. Here are some very affordable and universal lens gears. With a 0.8 pitch they will fit my follow focus systems. What I like about these is the very slim form factor, you can quite happily leave them mounted to the lens when switching to handheld operation. #2 Convergent Design Ultra Slim BNC SDI Cable $24 I never go on a shoot without a hefty supply of spare cables. Add to that spare bulbs, tape, ties etc and your ‘just in case’ bag gets pretty large. These cables are fantastic in keeping your kit small; they’re almost none existent in size. That’s not all, these are the perfect cable for gimbal work as their ultra slim nature adds very little in persuasion to the balance of your rig. Thick cables are a pain, they are easy to knock and can add weight to your camera rig. Keeping them slim and light will streamline your setup. #3 Zacuto Zicro Mount $28.50 These mounts work alongside 15mm rod systems (more on that further down) they bypass the need to constantly use the stock thread making the mounting/dismounting of accessories much quicker and safer. Tired of spinning your valuable monitor around and around to get it on/off your camera? Stick one of these in the middle (plus a ZUD below) and you’re good to go. There’s also the larger Zicro Mount with placeholders for larger accessories to limit spinning. I use these on all my monitors and sound kit, I have a 15mm stud on the end of my boom pole permanently so I can quickly adjust my mic shock mount via the Zicro lever. #4 Zacuto ZUD, 15mm stud $46.55 So I’m breaking the costing tier with this one but as it’s relevant to number 3 so I’ll list this next. The Zacuto ZUD is simply a short 15mm stud with female thread receiver. You put this on the mounting side to match up with the Zicro Mount. For example the ZUD would sit on the top of your ball head, and the Zicro mount on you monitor. The ZUD also comes in 3/8″ thread form, what’s great about the ZUD over cheaper 15mm studs is the option of a removable male thread. You also have a tension allen on the side to help lock the ZUD in place; I’ve got many a cheaper 15mm stud stuck on accessories in the past that don’t have this feature. #5 Tera Grand Super Slim HDMI Cable $29.50 It’s no secret, I love my super slim cables. Like the above BNC, this HDMI cable is perfect for gimbal work and keeping your camera setup hassle free. I have a plethora of slim HDMI cables in my kit, ranging from Type A to B to C. This particular one is type A to type, good for full size applications like the Sony FS7 and Canon EOS Cinema Line. It comes with an adaptor for micro enabling compatibility with the Sony Alpha cameras too, however for long term use of the latter camera format I’d suggest a native micro cable; a cable adaptor is one more thing to go wrong! #6 Cinevate Universal Accessory Mount $30 This has to be my favourite accessory mount to use. More versatile than a ballhead and less faff than a articulating arm. With a 1/4″ thread on either end it’s highly compatible, mine often lives with a ZUD on one side. It’s very strong which means it gets the nod over longer arms for me, plus with the addition of a few other accessories from Cinevate it can be used for a variety of applications. #7 Manfrotto Nano Clamp $38.95 Ah the Manfrotto Nano Clamp, second probably only to the Super Clamp (it’s bigger brother) as one of the most versatile bits of kit on set. This thing will get you out of trouble in a lot of situations (pictured left with a ZUD). Many a time I’ve brought my monitoring accessories to a shoot to use with a hire camera, only to find there’s not a thread mounting option in sight. Enter the Nano Clamp, it’ll mount to anything with a diameter up to 35mm. You’ll find me using this to attach accessories to various different broadcast cameras (with top handles) and tripod pan handles. It has both a 1/4″ and 3/8″ thread on the top for versatility, the one I’ve linked comes with a male adaptor thread also to get your started. #8 Manfrotto 492 Micro Ball Head $59.88 I’ve used a tonne of micro ball heads in my time and this one is definitely the best I’ve come across. Micro ball heads usually follow with a retainer of being unstable and taking a small amount of weight; this one is a tank in comparison. All other micro ball heads I’ve owned have deteriorated over time, I have a handful of these, the first of which purchased nearly 5 years ago and they’re still going strong. The 492LCD version comes with a hot shoe mount attached. You can convert this back to a 3/8″ later down the line, but the 1/4″ to 3/8″ thread adaptor often becomes stuck inside proving hard to remove. #9 Wooden Camera Nato Lock Kit $79 This kit works in the same principle to the Zacuto ZUD and Zicro mount, it sits between accessories and their mount to make them much quicker and safer to attach/remove. This may appeal more to some (over the 15mm stud) as the nato rail is scalable in length; you have the ability to have a much wider base for a variety of setups. You could place a Nato rail the length of the bottom of your monitor or the top of your camera giving you variable mounting points for your accessory. It’s less universal than a 15mm rod however, I’m surprised on a regular basis on what a 15mm stud/rod is compatible with. Good example of this would be my Cinevate Hedron Slider, there’s a 15mm hole on one end that when couple with a light stand with ZUD on top it made the perfect additional support that is quick to adjust. You’ll seldom get these surprises with the Nato lock kit; it has wide universal support but less stuff ‘just so happens to have’ Nato support. Pick which system will likely work better for you. #10 Redrock Rhino Mount $99 The Redrock Rhino Mount is perfect for adding 15mm rail support whilst keeping your camera setup small. For small and compact setups, accessories that require rail support like a follow focus system can be off putting as much by the presence of a baseplate than by the accessory itself. The Rhino Mount comes in a range of lengths and utilizes the hot shoe on the top of your camera, keeping a setup with rail support as small as it can physically be. This is a great tool for use with gimbals (if you don’t need the hot shoe for a top cage) when you want to keep the setup small a light. Other setups like helmet cams, lightweight jibs etc will benefit too where you need rail support for your accessories but don’t want the added size & weight of a big baseplate. That’s my top 10 stocking fillers for camera kit, next up will be my favourite products for your tool box and kit bag. As it’s the first article here’s a bonus number(s). Every operator should have an odds and sods bag filled with those get out of jail free items when you’re down to the wire and you can’t get A attached to B. Never mind the chocolate money or the candy canes in that stocking, good old nuts and bolts are much more fun! I have a pouch filled with threads, screws bolts and spigots just in case, I respect any other operator far more who has carries the same. Here’s a list of odds and sods to get you started: Male 1/4″ to 1/4″ Male 3/8″ to 3/8″ Male 1/4″ to 3/8″ Female 1/4″ to Male 3/8″ Female 3/8″ to Male 1/4″ 1/4″ to 3/8″ Thread adaptor Double End Spigot with 1/4″ and 3/8″ ThreadRead more
With NAB just around the corner, lots of manufacturers quieten right down with news, waiting for the doors of Las Vegas Convention Centre to open before unveiling new releases. Some however offer sneak peaks and Wooden Cameras new NATO Lock systems have caught my eye. A very small announcement (both in the physical and relative sense), but one that tackles a very important and often overlooked issue that us filmmakers endure; attaching accessories to cameras by the way of screws and threads. It’s something we go through on a daily basis, accessory A attaches to accessory B by the point of a 1/4″ or 3/8″ thread. As filmmakers we master the art of spinning our monitors round in circles, slowing down just at the right time to release the magic arms screw from connecting thread. It’s actually a complete pain in the backside. Compact rigs leaves little room to unthread accessories, it takes time and can be dangerous if you’re not careful. Quick release is your friend, Zacuto had a light bulb moment when shifting over to levers and 15mm studs. The system is faster, safer sturdier than screw to thread. However it hasn’t had quite the knock on effect I certainly would’ve liked. Only until only now has another manufacture come up with a different quick release option. Wooden Camera uses the NATO rail throughout their systems, so it’s no surprise seeing it again here. And usefully so as it means wide spread compatibility with all WoodenCamera accessories as well as some other manufacturers. The ultra short NATO rails and clamps connect between your accessories by the form of 1/4″ or 3/8″ thread and counter sunk screws. This gives you a quick release mount between camera and accessory. The new releases from Wooden Camera include a NATO lock Magic Arm, NATO Lock Ball Head and NATO Lock GoPro Kit meaning you can pretty much assign all accessories with a quick release mate. Comparing to the Zacuto 15mm stud system, it has the ability to be more widely used throughout other accessories, as the length of the rail is up to user, as well as slightly slimmer profile when comparing both quick release components. I’ll update with purchase links when they become available. If you’re attending NAB be sure to check out Wooden Camera at booth C9948.Read more
Here we have 7 different EVF mounts, or viewfinder mounts, also used as monitor mounts. These dear pieces of equipment are utilized to hold your EVF in the correct place when working with a handheld rig. Not all of them are great. Here’s a review that shows you the functionality and usefulness of each of the devices.Read more
We thank our sponsor B&H who has made cinema5D’s news coverage of NAB 2012 possible. Get your gear through B&H to support this platform: www.bhphotovideo.com The so called “cable camera” dollying technique (invented by an Austrian by the way) is one that has been very expensive so far and hasn’t entered the realm of low cost HDSLR gear yet. Here’s a company that tries to bring us the benefits of a wired camera setup at an affordable price. Does it work? That’s a question we hope to find an answer to in the near future. The setup Jeff Medford used has a very loose cable and thus the camera slide is very sensitive to the operators movements. Jeff told me that they’d soon offer a crank to tighten the cable. This sounds like a good idea, but will the suction cups hold the additional force from a tightened cable? It’s a unit worth testing and at $349 it can be done. There’s another crank, a pulley system included to control the camera movement and the total length can be 50 feet (15 meters) to make some impossible shots possible. For handheld shooting support I’d suggest going with an EasyRig, they provide a lot more flexibility and don’t require setup time, but for everything else the CineZip looks a like a very interesting new approach to dolly movement. You can get the CineZip at a pre-sale price of $324 on Delkin Devices’ website. At this time they offer it without the cranks. LINKRead more
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