Review

Wooden Camera Director's Monitor Cage V2 Review

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

When I received my Wooden Camera Director Monitor Version 2 (DMCv2) I was excited to see its vast number of improvements. I've had the first version for several years. So when I found out Wooden Camera had a newer version that was priced the same as the first, I decided to check it out.

In the video above, I point out three of my favorite improvements. In this post I'll cover a few more things I was impressed with and suggest how to configure this DMCv2 best. In case you didn't watch the video here are my favorite improvements: 

  1. Strap - it's thicker and more comfortable to wear around your neck. Plus, the strap now attaches at four points to the cage. This keeps the monitor facing up even when you are not holding on to the grips.  
  2. Swing away plate - WC made a huge design improvement by creating a swing away rear plate. This allows you to access the back of the monitor and make all of your power and signal connection with ease.
  3. New handles - you can now choose between wooden or rubber handles. It's always nice to have choices.
Photos by Rachel Mathew    On occasion I had to pull focus for our camera operator. The  DMCv2  allowed me to do this thanks to the newly designed strap that connects at four points to the cage, which keeps the monitor facing up. I like to call it "a hands free design."

Photos by Rachel Mathew 

On occasion I had to pull focus for our camera operator. The DMCv2 allowed me to do this thanks to the newly designed strap that connects at four points to the cage, which keeps the monitor facing up. I like to call it "a hands free design."

OTHER IMPROVEMENTS

There are a couple of changes I didn't address in the video for the sake of time. I really like that Wooden Camera is now including a sun shade with the cage. I think the best part of this is you can use the shade as a protective cover for your monitor when it's not in use. When I'm in a hurry and rushing from location to location, I don't have time to throw everything I'm using in a case. With the hood covering the monitor I'm comfortable throwing the DMCv2 in the front seat of my vehicle and going. It's a major time saver.

Another added improvement is the wireless receiver mount. It's made specifically for the Teradek Bolt, but works fine with my Cine Gears Ghost Eye system. Any transmitter with a 1/4 20 mount on the bottom should work with this mount.

Being able to look at the monitor without having to hold on to it can free your hands up to pull focus if needed.

Being able to look at the monitor without having to hold on to it can free your hands up to pull focus if needed.

Mounted on the back plate is a Gold Mount battery plate and a Cine Gears Ghost Eye wireless receiver.

Mounted on the back plate is a Gold Mount battery plate and a Cine Gears Ghost Eye wireless receiver.

The design of the cage is universal and will work with a myriad of monitors and recorders. In fact, you can configure the DMCv2 as a dual monitor cage. Check out the video below to see different options and how to assemble the monitor cage.

CONFIGURATION

There are several ways to configure the DMCv2, but this is my favorite way. I use a SmallHD 702 Bright with my monitor cage and highly recommend purchasing the LEMO to D-tap kit so you can run the monitor off of a Anton Bauer, or whatever battery you use, to avoid using small batteries that you have to swap out every four hours. This way you have one power source for the monitor and the wireless receiver. It just makes life easier on set.

You also need a Gold Mount or V Mount Dual D-tap mount for the back for the monitor cage. They go for $125 and are not included with the kit. One of these battery plates is a must if you want to configure the DMCv2 correctly. 

The price of the DMCv2 is $299 and with the added cost of the LEMO kit and a battery plate you are looking at a total of $703. If you skip the LEMO kit you save yourself $280. I think the cost is worth the ease of powering from one source, but budget is reality.

To track with our talent during a jogging scene we used a golf cart. Our camera operator was using a Movi and I directed with the help of the  DMCv2 . See the short film below to view the scene.

To track with our talent during a jogging scene we used a golf cart. Our camera operator was using a Movi and I directed with the help of the DMCv2. See the short film below to view the scene.

FINAL THOUGHTS

I find that when using a gimbal I need a wireless monitor solution and I think the Wooden Camera Director's Monitor Cage Version 2 is the best way to go. When you don't have time to set up a studio monitor or if you are on location shooting where there's not a power source for a monitor the DMCv2 is really handy. I'm getting a lot of use out of mine.

Below is a short film I recently directed. I used the DMCv2 on all of our gimbal shots.

BEHIND THE SCENES OF LEFT TURN II

O'connor 1030D Review

I had the opportunity to use the O'connor Ultimate 1030D tripod system on a recent short film I DP'ed and directed. I needed a beefier system for my current camera set up and I will say this system did the job and more. The current price of the system I was using is $9,134.25 at B&H.  

This tripod was showcased at NAB 2012 so it's nothing new to the market. I just haven't seen very many reviews and thought I'd share my experience with it. You can get all the tech specs for the system on O'connor's site.

C-27.JPG

The build quality of the 1030D is top notch, and that's what I expect from O'connor. You don't have to look too far to find vintage 1030's all over the place. This is a testament to how well built O'connor's tripod systems are. This latest version of the 1030 borrows a few features from it's bigger brother the 2575. The main one being a step less counter balance crank, which is located on the back of the head. It's simple to use and you can dial in a counter balance from 0 to 30 lbs. This head will work with the lightest mirrorless camera to a mid-weight camera like the Canon C300 MkII.

C-140.JPG

I love putting the 1030D head on a dolly. My current tripod head doesn't really support the payload of my current camera set up, but this head can handle the weight with no issues. Plus, because this head is so easy to operate making complex dolly moves are made so much easier. The 1030D comes with a 100mm bowl base, but can also accept a Mitchell base or 150mm ball base if needed.

C-95.JPG

This is by far the best tripod I've used for narrative film work. I could see some documentary DP's using this tripod, but there are probably lighter systems out there that would be better suited for faster setups. I highly recommend this tripod system for anyone shooting a cinema style.

Below is the film where I utilized the O'connor Ulitmate 1030D. I'm guessing 85% of the shots were done using the O'connor system.

Zacuto Gratical Eye Review

I've been using the Zacuto Gratical Eye for about a year now and thought I would give it a quick review. I've really enjoyed using a number of Zacuto's EVF's. I had the Gratical X for a while, but when I upgraded to the Canon C300 MkII I decided to upgrade my EVF. The Gratical X is great, but I liked the smaller design of the Eye and I no longer needed HDMI, which the Gratical X offers but the Eye does not.. I also like to power my camera and accessories off of one source. The Eye uses a  Lemo connection so I'm able power it off of an Anton/Bauer battery.

Features

The Gratical Eye is loaded with features. I'll list the ones I use most, but if you want a comprehensive list you can visit Zacuto's site

I love that I can have a waveform and histogram always active when I look in to the viewfinder. That way I'm not searching through a menu to find the most essential tools to help me make correct exposures.

I also use redline peaking when I find it hard to focus. I just have to tap the top joystick once to the right and this feature turns on. And to turn it off you just tap again. There are four presets you can program the Eye to have at the touch of a finger using the joystick. This is a big time saver.

I also us the custom LUT feature. Zacuto has some preset LUT's included with the Eye, but you also have the option to load your own LUT's into the EVF. Since I shoot in CLog most of the time it's nice to use a LUT to bring back some contrast into the image I see coming from the camera.

Proximity Sensor

A unique feature of the Gratical Eye is the proximity sensor. The Eye does not have an ON/OFF switch. In order to prevent screen burn in of the OLED screen this sensor will turn off the OLED when it does not sense movement near it. You can adjust the time the sensor uses to turn the screen off. Mine was set to 5 seconds when I received it, but I found that was too short a time and the screen would shut off while I was shooting. I've since adjusted the time to 30 seconds and have had no issues since.

Who's the Eye for?

The Eye accepts an SDI signal. If you want to use it with a camera that only has HDMI out you will need an HDMI to SDI converter, which is doable but not ideal. But it's perfect for cameras with SDI out like the Canon C300 MkII, URSA Mini, Sony FS7, etc.. If you own multiple cameras or rent different cameras for various projects I think this is a great EVF to invest in. 

Here's a recent project I shot using the Gratical Eye.