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Old June 10th, 2009, 12:43 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Nigel Barker View Post
IndiFocus sell both. The IndiFocus starts at $149 whereas the IndiFocus Pro starts at $299.
The original IndiFocus is different than the two they sell on their website: IndiFocus Pro and IndiFocus20.
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Old June 10th, 2009, 08:01 PM   #17
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This thread is not for flaming, it's for finding a solution for focusing on the cheap.
I'm sorry, I thought I was giving useful information for people following the recommendation to check out the freshdv reviews. I didn't notice any flames coming out of my mouth. And I do feel strongly that reviewer's should note when improvements have been made that affect negative aspects of their review. Most reviewers do.

Inidifocus is cheap, and their value is now better because of the new generation. You cannot buy the old generation from them anymore. It is a replacement.
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Old June 11th, 2009, 01:40 AM   #18
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I'm sorry, I thought I was giving useful information for people following the recommendation to check out the freshdv reviews. I didn't notice any flames coming out of my mouth. And I do feel strongly that reviewer's should note when improvements have been made that affect negative aspects of their review. Most reviewers do.
I didn't see any flames either but surely it's unreasonable to expect a reviewer to re-visit an old article & update it in light of the fact that the product gets updated some time after the piece is written & published? Would you expect a print magazine to print a correction in a later issue? A review is a snapshot at a particular point in time which gets superseded when the new improved product gets reviewed. Without another review any notes on improvements would be without evidence & just be spouting the manufacturers line saying they had fixed what was wrong.
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Old June 11th, 2009, 02:21 PM   #19
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OK, I retract my negative comments on FreshDV. I should have just pointed out that the review was out-of-date and the newer one looks pretty good. I've got my eye on it.
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Old June 11th, 2009, 03:00 PM   #20
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Maybe but they are still really expensive implementations of at most 19th century technology. Leonardo Da Vinci could probably have made a shoulder rig & follow focus from contemporary materials. Clock-makers have been making precision gears without play for over 500 years. With computer controlled lathes & the general fine tolerances of modern machines I still find it astonishing that such a simple piece of machinery can be priced at hundreds of dollars. Once the Chinese factories start mass-producing Red Rock clones the price will plummet.
Quoted for truth.

A follow focus, regardless of the price point, is about $0.04 of technology, $8.35 (or less) of materials, and $24.60 of mass production time/machining (or $4.60 if made overseas). The only reason they've been selling at $2000+ is because the lack of demand from the low end of the industry. Now that budget filmmakers are demanding them, we'll probably start seeing a whole lot more options under $300 in the next 2 years. The $2000 market will always be there, since no one will ever put a $300 Indian made FF on their $250,000 35mm system, but demand at a price point will create supply at that price point.

So... bad for the mid range companies but good for all of us!
Anyway, I'm also looking forward to reviews!

Oh, and when DaVinci was making his follow focus, he probably would have whipped up other overpriced low-tech film items such as a crane, dolly, Steadicam, matte box, and Firestore while he was at it.
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Old June 11th, 2009, 10:36 PM   #21
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I disagree utterly and completely with Dylan on this one! Sorry Dillon! The review about to be published by FreshDV with respect to our Durus follow focus will reinforce what I'm about to disclose here. If you look at our follow focus you'll see that it starts with 3 billets of aluminum (like 3 bricks) for the focus wheel, mount bracket and chassis. Each one of those components requires multiple operations and setups (about 11 in total) on several CNC mills, and once this process is complete, they're hand assembled in Thunder Bay, Canada by real machinists earning real North American wages. The chassis itself is align bored to within .001" tolerance and the internal gear set is highly specialized (read custom made) gears made to our tolerance. Each set is manually calibrated along with multiple sealed bearing units in final assembly to ensure near zero lash and perfectly smooth operation under load. Consider that our unit has only two composite parts, and each of these are molded parts. Typical molding costs including engineerring, EDM machining and testing run from $7000 to $25 000 and beyond per mold. Now if we sold FF units at Walmart, that would be trivial...but we don't sell FF units at Walmart and no one ever will due to the relatively tiny demand for them.

It took nearly 2 years, one abandoned project (with 100 units made and never sold) followed by another 6 months of 3D design and prototyping the new design here in Canada to get to the current Durus design. Designs are routinely stolen by other manufacturers meaning a patent lawyer is required to kick off the patent processing. We can all guess what this costs. Now factor in that we're running a business with employees who answer the phone and overnight parts to folks in need, that we pay liability insurance, wages, benefits etc. and the true cost begins to surface.

Those who use these devices daily know that the issue is not that it's a complicated machine. The problem is that creating a properly executed unit is very expensive due to the fact that internal tolerances need to be in the order of +- .0001" for the gear set (which on our case are matched sets of steel, helical cut units) to work perfectly smoothly under load and with virtually zero lash. The professionals we work with demand an FF unit that they can use every day, has the correct feel, turn ratio..and is fully supported by the manufacturer. We're confident enough to provide a life time warranty with our product.

So if anyone thinks our unit is over priced at $1000, or should be around $100....I offer the above as a humble reminder that what appears simple is not always so. In truth, in conventional manufacturing practice our FF should be in the $2000 range. Btw, we could easily make an FF out of plastic that you could use for a year or so and then throw away, selling it under $200. However, the single thing that I've learned with Cinevate over the last four years is that our customers want professional quality equipment that is fairly priced and nicely executed. Products like our Proteus carbon rails, the Durus FF and Pegasus Heavy Lifter are prime examples of this philosophy. If you search around a bit for customer comments on these products, you'll find that our customers are very, very happy with their investment. Few work as hard for their money as people in this industry and nothing makes me feel worse than finding out hard earned money has been wasted on marketing hype or misinformation. Again, I'd encourage folks to look for that FreshDV review when it drops in a week or two :-) Like all of our products, the Durus FF has it's own video in Cinevate's Video University.

Cheers (and thank goodness this post is over :-)
Dennis Wood
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Old June 11th, 2009, 11:56 PM   #22
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Great post, Dennis!

As usual, things are often simple in theory, and generally more challenging in practice - especially if you want things done with high quality and professionalism at all levels.

It's unfortunate for us filmmakers that there isn't some off the shelf part in a speedometer or electric drill that has the dimensions, gearing, and tolerances needed to build a top follow focus. If the volumes were high enough, they'd be available cheap.

At least we're not trying to kit together Formula 1 cars. Those budgets make specialty camera gear prices look like bargains!
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Old June 12th, 2009, 12:27 AM   #23
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I disagree utterly and completely with Dylan on this one! Sorry Dillon! The review about to be published by FreshDV with respect to our Durus follow focus will reinforce what I'm about to disclose here...
Note to readers: before reading the following, please know that I consider the Durus follow focus a professional product, albeit at a professional price point, not a consumer/prosumer level product, which the original poster was describing, and thus consider it a bit of apples/oranges comparison when discussing getting a $200 follow focus. No one should expect to get a Ferrari for the price of a Mustang... but my point is... most of us don't need a Ferrari for daily driving.

And now... my counterpoint to Dennis. :)

The only reason they are costing you so much is because you are hand building them instead of having them mass produced. Since I the consumer am the one who is ultimately paying that price, though I love Cinevate, I can't have that much sympathy. Not because I don't respect your efforts to make a top notch product, which I absolutely do... just that ultimately, I'm not going to get $900 worth of value out of a $900 follow focus, and really, I like extra money in my pocket whenever I can.

So, for the rest of us (the vast majority of medium market shooters).... Build a design that works (you did), find a way to streamline the build, outsource the construction to a full scale machining factory, buy a large enough quantity to push the retail price point down, hire a good salesteam to get them in every pro video camera store in the world...
...and make Durus to FFs what Steadicam is to, well... steadicams.

Now earlier, you mention lack of demand... No one wants them because they are too expensive, and they are too expensive because no one wants them! My local camera store (Leos Camera) has ONE FF unit, stuffed behind an old Canon XL2 that's still sitting on their shelf. I don't think it even has a price tag on it, probably because they know they'll never sell it to a video prosumer because they all laugh when they tell them what it does for a cool $1699...

You see the Catch 22 here, which is why I think that whoever mass produces these and gets them cheaply into camera stores, will own the mass market. The percentage of high end video camera users who use FF's is tiny, and sure, these few buyers will still pay $1000-$2000 for a top line product. But why not aim for the BIG slice of the pie? Guys like toys, and secretly we all want our cameras to look like as tactically pro as possible... (which explains why probably 80+% of people who buy matteboxes don't even own filters for them). At under $200, assuming it works, a follow focus becomes attractive to the average midrange user as an impulse buy instead of a long, thoughtout, cringe as the credit card melts, type of buy.

People are already making FF's of so-so quality at this price... Eventually someone will make a great one for the price. We've seen it happen with matte boxes recently. Ten years ago, could you get a high quality matte box for less than $2000? Now there's many great choices at around, oh say... $626.18...
Why? Because the big slice of the pie demanded a quality matte box at a more affordable price, and people sprung up to build one.
Now, since the big slice of the pie is hooking up with 35mm lenses setups in one form or another, they are going to be demanding a more affordable priced follow focus. Someone IS going to make one.

Again... most of us just need a Mustang.
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Old June 12th, 2009, 12:55 AM   #24
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I think he'd also need a steady stream of thousands of customers wanting to spend money on a follow focus unit. There are only so many of us.

Maybe if it also made strudel...
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Old June 12th, 2009, 02:10 AM   #25
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I think he'd also need a steady stream of thousands of customers wanting to spend money on a follow focus unit. There are only so many of us.

Maybe if it also made strudel...
There are a steady stream of hundreds of thousands of customers who want to spend money on a follow focus unit... it's everyone who owns a video camera with a lens that a follow focus will work on! :) They just need:
1) to be told why they need one
2) to be offered it a price that doesn't cause them emotional stress

Putting them in cameras stores with good sales people will help with #1, as at the right price, selling a follow focus with a camera purchase would be like selling fries with a Big Mac.

But, no matter how good the sales pitch, or how much they'd like to buy one, you can't expect a prosumer level user to pay professional level prices, regardless of how well the product is made... (and the prosumer market is the big slice of the pie.) So ultimately, the market is there, waiting, getting a taste of sub $200 follow focuses, getting hungry.

Also.... Mmmmm..... struuuudel....
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Old June 12th, 2009, 02:40 AM   #26
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The problem isn't the lack of consumers, there are hundreds of thousands of shooters who will drop the coin at the right price...
The TAM (total available market) is still pretty small. Assume 100,000 people would buy one every ten years. That's only about 800 a month. At $200 apiece, it's a $2M/year industry - gross. That's not enough to pay for mass marketing, let along mass production at tight tolerances. Even if you scale this up by ten, it's a niche industry.

That said, I agree with your sentiment. Conceptually, its ridiculous to pay many $100s, if not $1,000+ for a simple right angle gear mechanism. I too would like a nice follow focus unit, but don't own one, due to the cost/value/quality proposition.

Unfortunately, the reality is that the good ones are expensive. Hopefully, the market will improve, prices will come down, and we'll both win the lottery. :)
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Old June 12th, 2009, 02:53 AM   #27
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The TAM (total available market) is still pretty small. Assume 100,000 people would buy one every ten years. That's only about 800 a month. At $200 apiece, it's a $2M/year industry - gross. That's not enough to pay for mass marketing, let along mass production at tight tolerances. Even if you scale this up by ten, it's a niche industry.
That's a great counterpoint. I have no idea what the real numbers are, so let me put a different spin on it and talk about a very similar product instead.

External microphones, camera mounted, prosumer quality. Everyone who buys a mid range video camera (say over $2000) does or should buy at least an external mic in this price range (say $200-$300). Everyone who buys a video camera in that range is probably a good candidate for buying a follow focus as well, in the same price range. So there are half a dozen good mic manufacturers making competing products, and mics are probably more expensive to mass produce than follow focuses (based on complexity). But the market exists and thrives, and the market for FFs should work in the same way.

On a completely different note, I was just thinking about how many I myself might buy in a 10 year period... I own more matte boxes than I do video cameras to mount them on... weird.

So back to the topic... If Sennheiser can make the MKE400 mic for $200 and make it worth selling to the mid range market, someone else can do it with follow focuses.

Ok, I know it's not the best comparison, but hey, it's almost 1am. :)
Anyway, let's start mass emailing Dennis Wood until he makes the Durus-lite for the rest of us.

C'MON DENNIS! DON'T MAKE US BUY CHEAP INDIAN KNOCKOFFS! :D
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Old June 12th, 2009, 04:33 AM   #28
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Btw, we could easily make an FF out of plastic that you could use for a year or so and then throw away, selling it under $200.
Dennis that product sounds like a great idea. You would make a lot of sales. At that price point I could afford a FF for each of my cameras. It still wouldn't stop you selling your premium line precision all-metal units for those who want the highest possible quality.

Look at the market in power tools. I would love a big SDS rotary hammer made by Bosch or Milwaukee but cannot justify the price tag of $500-$1000 so I have bought a cheap no-name Chinese-made one for $50. I had to throw the first one away after I wore out the gearbox making some post holes in 2' thick reinforced concrete but didn't feel bad spending another $50. If money were no object then of course I would buy the top of the line but to be honest I don't need a rotary hammer or a follow focus that will last me a lifetime. Of course if I were 30 years younger the Cinevate 'Lifetime Warranty' would be worth a lot more to me:-)
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Old June 12th, 2009, 11:49 AM   #29
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While there is a lot of function packed into a follow focus, I wonder if this is more form over function. It seems to me that we could achieve similar focusing capability by having a focusing lever attached to the lens. I once devised a set up once that used a nail, two common clamps, and a shaped piece of wood in which whole for drilled to set stops. Looked very ugly, but worked great to repeats focus moves, and kept focus within a range.

But who here would put it on their camera.... not many.... because it wouldn't look cool.

With a the alumininum flat strips and tubing available at Home Depot, you can devise just about any mount, shoulder brace, or other peraphenalia you want. It will function well, and be fit to your needs, and not the percieved need of the manufacturer. It will be cheap. But it won't look cool.
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Old June 12th, 2009, 11:51 AM   #30
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I have one of those India made copies here and it's a terrible piece of work. For a hobbyist, great becasue they might not care if it falls apart, and they don't care if the lash is 10 degrees (which it is). What we find with our customers for example is that they'll hire a focus puller who may bring their own FF, but with cameras like the RED, our 19mm Durus may be the only thing available that works. What we've found is that professional focus pullers love our follow focus and are comparing them to units 4 times the cost. This comment is based on a growing volume of feedback from the shooters that we work with. We're not the ones who've set this high standard..you have!

95% of our customers are paid for what they do...and a cheap FF would be (and has been btw) categorically rejected. Keep in mind that we made the $400 follow focus already...100 of them, and I refuse to even give them away. There will always be cheap knock-offs and folks to purchse them. We don't pay our people $1 day and never will. I also refuse to sell disposable equipment with goes to our company core values. Follow focus units have the potential to be a lifetime part due to the fact that focussing will always be a manual art in the professional realm. Regardless of what high tech camera platform you end up with, pulling focus manually will always be part of the workflow. So knowing this, how much sense does a disposable follow focus make? At the end of the day here's what I'd expect to see as soon as folks realize what a steal our FF is right now.

1. Person buys FF for $1000
2. Person decides they don't need an FF and sells it for $800. It cost them $200 and they didn't throw anything out. They also got to use a bulletproof professional tool.
3. Person keeps it for their shooting career, passes it down to someone they love :-)

Is this convential marketing which suggests we should have you coming back every two years becuase your fill-in-the-blank broke, wore out or rusted away? Nope. Are we ever going to be that company? Nope :-)
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