By Tim Wu on May 11, 2012 in Gear

I have this theory that the “perfect shoulder rig” is just another one of those unattainable things in life that we as a species are just going to have to accept, like Captain Ahab and Moby Dick, humanity and world peace, or me and a 3 am taco that doesn’t make me curse all of humanity the morning after.

I am glad to say though, that I’ve reached a point in the countless iterations of my shoulder rig with which I’m at the very least… pleased. I recently did a shoot with my good friend and fellow cinematographer Alex Chinnici, shooting an ad sales piece for CollegeHumor and IKEA. This is where my Mk XXVIXIIVXIII shoulder rig made its maiden voyage. 

On a completely unrelated note, I finally had IKEA’s $4.99 ribs, AND THEY ARE DELICIOUS. I really have no idea how IKEA’s cafeterias make any money whatsoever, especially when they recently slashed the priced of their breakfast FROM 99 CENTS TO FREE. But I digress… Here’s the Mk XXVIXIIVXIII perched atop the Malm 6-drawer dresser.

From front to back, the handles are, of course, the Shape 15mm handgrips. The monitor is the SmallHD DP6 HDSDI, connected to the camera’s hot shoe via a noga arm. The follow focus is the Red Rock V1 follow focus (um, it’s like, totally vintage, okay?). The baseplate is a Chrosziel baseplate with a generic quick release plate. The shoulder pad is a Zacuto shoulder pad with quick release, and off the back is a generic V-mount brick on a Trusmt battery plate, which actually powers the monitor (and can power the camera body as well if need be).

What I like about this setup is that is that it’s pretty fantastically balanced. The weight of the camera in this setup sits close to your body, meaning the counterweight, in this case the V-mount battery, doesn’t need to extend five feet backwards backwards to properly act as a counter-balance. COMPARE:

The above Zacuto rig Alex was stuck with was probably a solid foot longer than mine. Of course, Zacuto doesn’t advertise the counterweight being so far back in any of their product photos, but this is actually how far back Alex needed to have the weight to make the rig remotely comfortable. 

If there’s anything I hate more than dead weight, it’s dead weight that has as a stupid ironic name, which is why I swear against products like the Zacuto Z-Lite. The way I figure it, if you’re going to put extra weight on your rig, it sure as hell better serve more purpose than just to be stupid and heavy. Although, to be fair, spinning around in place with this rig is the perfect way to say, “GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY WAY, I’M MAKING MOVIES.”

Perhaps I’ll add some retractable version of this feature in the Mk XXVIXIIVXIV.

In the meantime though, I’m racking my brain trying to come up with a single word that describes these rigs I put together while paying proper homage to my Asian heritage… OH WAIT.


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