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Old January 23rd, 2010, 03:55 PM   #1
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A Universal Off-The-Shelf Mounting Solution?

I've seen quite a few posts about how everyone is mounting their nanoFlash on their camera. One thread mentioned BEC plates... I like them too and I have been designing a nano rig around them. I figured I'd share...

First, some background. Unlike most of you, I don't own a camera. I am a P/D/E. I usually pick up crews & gear wherever I go. Presently, my favorite camera is the HDX-900 with AB batteries but I sometimes have to be flexible. So for my rig, I needed a mounting system that would work with pretty much any camera/battery system.

I have found that the common element with most situations is the ability to attach a side wireless plate to the camera... most guys have the bracket... or can easily put one on. So I started there. The first pix is of the basic components:
- AB Universal Backplate (for someone who doesn't have one)
- BEC side plate (BEC-ABSPU) with BEC Right Angle Adapter (BEC-RAA)
- a second BEC side plate
- The monitor L Bracket with Manfrotto 482 Head (more on the Bracket in a bit)
- All the outside facing surfaces of the plates are cover with Velcro.

The second pix shows it all assembled. I tested it (minus the monitor bracket) on a HDX-900 and even the largest AB Hydron batteries fit easily in the opening created by the plates.

The third pix shows the corner detail. That monitor "L" bracket was quite a find! I got it from a laser light show supplier I found on the web. (Laser Light Show Hardware) I got the long one that was 3/8" thick... very beefy! (They also have a 1/4" thick one.) I screwed it right into 2 open holes on the back of the first BEC side plate as shown... snugged right up against the BEC RA adapter perfectly. I had to get the screws at the local hardware store... metric... 4mm x 1/2" long, I think. The short end of the "L" held the Manfrotto head perfectly but needed a slightly longer 1/4x20 screw than the one that came with the head. The brackets' long slot/screws combo even gives a few inches of height adjustment for the bracket. I usually have it all the way down but it sticks out the bottom and the whole rig wouldn't stand up properly when I was shooting it on the kitchen counter. ;-)

The fourth & fifth pix shows it with the gear attached... nano on the back... D-Tap 4-way & my video assist transmitter on the side... and the monitor up top. The D-Tap splitter powers everything from the AB plate on the camera but I also have NP-970 batteries and adapter sleds for everything, just in case. The Velcro gets a bit crowded... and the camera a bit heavier... when the batteries have to be used.

The fourth pix is what the rig would look like when the camera was attached to a tripod or dolly. But what about shooting handheld from your shoulder? That monitor sticking up in the air wouldn't last long! I determined that the monitor would be a pain to keep taking on and off so that's why I decided to go with the Manfrotto head. It allows the monitor to fold flat, as illustrated in pix six and seven. With rig rig mounted on an old Betacam 400 (that's all I could find in the middle of the Rocky Mountains that day), the corner of the folded monitor did stick out about an inch+ on the operator side of the camera... but with my head in the eyepiece, it was easily about 3-4 inches behind my head. YMMV with your camera.

A note about weight and handling: I also spent 15-ish years as a DP. I "shoulder tested" this rig on that old Betacam and, using the D-Tap splitter for power, the difference in weight with and without the nano rig was negligible... because the nano rig was back loaded. With the the 3 NP-970 batteries, while not A LOT heavier, did make the whole set-up seem "bulky". With the camera on your shoulder and the monitor folded flat, the height of the rig is about even with your head, so careful when there is a low ceiling or beams to duck under. And remember, a rig like this adds length to your camera, so careful as you swing around in tight quarters. "You are taller and longer than you think" is what I told my shooters when it was just my video assist stuff back there. Now it's a couple inches more.

Sorry for not having pix with some sort of camera attached... that old Betacam and its owner were busy today. This nano rig will be pressed into service in early March with a HDX-900 that uses AB Li-ON battieries. I promise to take pix with all the cabling shown,in both the tripod and shoulder configs, and post them.

Overall, this is an off-the-shelf solution that is solid, stable and only has one point of contact to the camera... the wireless bracket... and wires easily together. Maybe not for everyone but if you are shooting with cameras like the HDX-900, it might work for you. Opinions absolutely welcome!
Attached Thumbnails
A Universal Off-The-Shelf Mounting Solution?-01.-components.jpg   A Universal Off-The-Shelf Mounting Solution?-02.-assembled.jpg  

A Universal Off-The-Shelf Mounting Solution?-03.-corner-detail.jpg   A Universal Off-The-Shelf Mounting Solution?-04.-gear.jpg  

A Universal Off-The-Shelf Mounting Solution?-05.-gear-cu.jpg   A Universal Off-The-Shelf Mounting Solution?-06.-monitor-fold-1.jpg  

A Universal Off-The-Shelf Mounting Solution?-07.-monitor-fold-2.jpg  
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Old January 24th, 2010, 02:57 PM   #2
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I like your solution. It's very nice indeed. I was hoping for some pictures of it attached to a camera and then I remembered that you don't own one.

Next time you get it on to a camera, I'd love to see some pictures of it.
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Old January 24th, 2010, 05:34 PM   #3
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I may be able to score my buddies old Betacam for a few quick pix.
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Old January 27th, 2010, 01:16 AM   #4
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Has anyone in their travels seen a reasonably pricing 15mm rails device that allows you to attach a nanoFlash to the BEC plates? The only solution I have found is Zacuto's and it's plus $400 solution.

Very elegant (simple) solution you have created Bob. This solution is the direction I would like to go in mounting the nanoflash to the camera package, however, I don't need the external monitor affixed to it though. I will be using the rig both on sticks and on a steadicam rig.
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Old January 28th, 2010, 08:11 PM   #5
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More Pix

Here's a few more pix of the rig mounted on an old Iky45/Beta package. The battery plate is AB with an IDE adapter. Plenty of room for the battery and changing it. My buddy declared the weight, "not bad at all, very doable". I still need to work on the wiring to make that cleaner and neater. As always, comments welcome.
Attached Thumbnails
A Universal Off-The-Shelf Mounting Solution?-01.-front.jpg   A Universal Off-The-Shelf Mounting Solution?-02.-back.jpg  

A Universal Off-The-Shelf Mounting Solution?-03.-folded-front.jpg   A Universal Off-The-Shelf Mounting Solution?-04.-shoulder-side.jpg  

A Universal Off-The-Shelf Mounting Solution?-05.-shoulder-back.jpg  
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Old March 19th, 2010, 05:29 PM   #6
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nano on HDX-900...

Hi all,

I promised some pix of this rig mounted on an HDX-900. Here's a couple of quick snaps. The camera operator's comment about the added shoulder weight was "I wouldn't want to do it all day but it isn't too bad." From this guy, that's a rave. ;-) We shot all but a few shots on sticks.
Attached Thumbnails
A Universal Off-The-Shelf Mounting Solution?-nano-hdx900-1.jpg   A Universal Off-The-Shelf Mounting Solution?-nano-hdx900-2.jpg  

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