by Tim Fok | 13th August 2015
Let’s be honest, a bag review is slightly less exciting than a camera one. But bags and cases are a very important part of a filmmaker’s arsenal; they’re often overlooked and can have a dramatic effect on how much kit you travel with and how long it takes you to setup. The latter point is key here; the Portabrace Rig Movi bag I’ve been trying out is part of a range from Portabrace that allow you to travel with a fully rigged up setup. The difference with a conventional bag is a larger footprint but arriving on set with a rig that is setup and ready to go. Usually I’m not a huge fan of this kind of bag; as a solo shooter much of the time I rely on compact kit & few bags that I can move around on my own. My camera setups are also quick to build and break, so a bag that houses a fully rigged camera is usually one that’s wasted on me. Purchasing the Movi M5 was movement in a different direction, like any gimbal it requires a setup time and demands more space than your average tripod based setup. In order for the Movi to work in my current style of shooting I needed to adapt it so that it was quick and easy to move from location to location. The Portabrace Rig Movi bag has been a fantastic solution; it allows me to carry my Movi fully rigged and ready to go, drastically reducing my setup time. Before sharing more thoughts let’s take a step back and take a look at the bag in closer detail. The Portabrace Rig Movi bag is essentially a big square box, it measures 15 x 15 x 16″ (38.1 x 38.1 x 40.6 cm) has a front flap with two internal pockets (with clear windows) and pockets around two of the external sides; there’s no additional material dedicated to the exterior pockets so it’ll only fit paper documents or the supplied white balance card. Inside in addition to the flap you also have two Velcro-removable pockets that stretch the length of two sides. The bag ships with a typical Portabrace heavy-duty suede strap and also two CS-B9 Stuff Sacks and a 4” & 7” lens Cup. The accessories and pockets work out nicely for your usual M5 setup; the 4” lens cup fits 6 batteries side by side no problem whilst the 7” fits the battery charger, tablet charger and cables & additional Toad In The Hole mounted to a Ninja Star. The Stuff Sacks take care of my tablet and monitor respectively, whilst the flap pockets fit additional cables and the top handle nicely; I reserve the long removable pockets for additional cross bar mounts & tools. Additionally I’ve added a Velcro strap in one of the corners that holds my Movi Dock arm vertically, I use this to balance and store my Movi on set and the stand stays in the bag. One thing I’ve noticed is the bag seems a inch too short, the M5 stand pokes out ever so slightly from the top; this doesn’t effect the closing or shape of the bag, but is an interesting quirk considering it’s a bespoke bag. I was going to do a comparison video comparing the speed of setting up the M5 from the original hard pelicase and the Portabrace Rig Movi but there’s little point; the latter is that much quicker. All I have to do is fit the mount handle and re-align my C100 handgrip setup and monitor mount (you twist the latter two back on themselves so they don’t protrude from the lid). The original Pelicase is great but it involves packing the Movi right down to its independent components, which is time consuming to set up. If you’re wondering, yes the Portabrace bag fits the Movi with a camera fully mounted. I’ve done this a few times when moving quickly from location to location, it didn’t greatly benefit me; the turmoil of getting it in there past the Movi stand means you have to re-balance the fore/aft axis which is usually the only axis that needs adjusting upon removing/re-mounting the same setup. Using a smaller setup like a Sony A7s would probably work better here (I use a C100) as it’s smaller footprint would be easier to get in and out of the case therefore less likely to require much re-balancing. There’s no doubt the Portabrace Rig Movi is bulky, it’s too tall for most estate car boots so it’ll always be on show in a standard sized vehicle, it doesn’t have wheels either so it can be tricky to carry around. However even with the Movi inside it’s very light, so not as difficult as one may originally think. I’ve travelled a lot with this bag so far, boats, ferries, trains flights the lot. It’s held up great as hold luggage. The sides are rigged enough to have protected my kit perfectly where other bags on the same journey haven’t been as successful. With the Movi packed down completely flat, this bag can take a lot of kit. For flying I was able to pack my M5, Astra 1X1, IDX battery supply, long power & audio cables, K clamps, arms grips spare clothes; having such a large and rigid bag for flying is great for awkwardly shaped and delicate gear. Portabrace Rig Movi Bag Pros • Carries M5 fully rigged even with camera • Dramatically reduces setup time • Well built ‘soft bag’ Cons • Relatively expensive • No removable wheels • Large form factor I’ve learnt to deal with the larger form factor, a fully rigged Movi kit arriving on set saves me that much time that it’s absolutely worth the extra bit of hassle it take for lugging it around. I was originally going to finish by stating that it would be a good option to have wheels and a pull handle, well it seems since receiving this bag to test out Portabrace has released the PortaBrace RIG-MOVIOR Camera Case with Wheels also, so check this out if you prefer a slightly heavier pull along version.Read more
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