Sunday, September 21, 2014

DJI RONIN and the SONY F55 How to Mount it.

Well we've asked DJI for the XL Arms a few times and are still waiting, so in the meantime we got it working without them!

FOR STARTERS DO NOT RUN POWER FROM THE RONIN/DJI Battery to the F55. It will error out and drain the battery. Seems to work fine with an F5.

Anyway you look at it it is not a light rig to operate. Remember the RONIN does weigh in 5lbs heavier than the MOVI...We used a modified EASYRIG 500N with a 9" arm to replace the standard 5" arm. Price ouch:$3500.00 at B&H, $4230.00 double ouch,  from 16x9. The 5" arm that it normally comes with is TOO SHORT! Don't bother, PART# ERG500-3-89...The rig weighs in at 26lbs not too bad but too heavy for over 5 minutes for me! There is also a LESS EXPENSIVE rig called the Flycam Flowline for only $890.00 from who else but CINECITY! CAUTION the spec says it max's out at 16lbs but looking at their picture of a fully configured Red Camera on it I would guess the limits were pushed and closer to 20+ lbs (Gimbal weigh in at 9lbs) worth investigating with an F55 fully rigged and we'll let you know if we can get one in-house for testing.

BALANCING:To increase battery life you really want it calibrated no greater than -2 or -3 feedback via monitoring on  the DJI Assistant software. So it takes 10-15 minutes and mainly because the dovetail lock needs improvements on the locking mechanism, camera slips a bit during calibration. Cure:When you flip the lever forward the balance actually shifts so push it back a hair then flip the lever forward and tighten up the allen bolt on it as well to prevent slippage.

Aside from strapping a TERADEK Bolt to the top of the stripped down F55 you can put short 15mm rods on the rear of the dovetail and add counterweights. This brings the camera forward so it easily clears the rear of the gimbal. I used a couple of RED ROCK Micro mounts.Improvise here. Just get the weight up towards the rear of the F55, even washers bolted on top of the F55 1/4-20's worked.

BATTERY SETUP on handlebar:
Mounting a Battery was a simple task. Amazon had these and many more mounts available.
Use this link for Anton Bauer setup  $10.00
or this for link V-Mount-Sony/IDX  $10.00

Both of these battery mounts have a sturdy METAL backplate. Unscrew the backplate and drill a hole in the backplate for 1/4-20's then mount to DJI included handlebar mounts.

They have a ton of plates available for more $$ with power switch and multiple DTaps or barrel connectors from CINECITY. In my setup I have a DTAP on the battery and the one on the mount So I can run my ODYSSEY Monitor and just have one power point going down to the gimbal.

PS Checkout Jacek at OPTITEK if your using EF Lenses. Great stuff and enabled us to have a nice remote focus and iris pulling rig! No FIZ motors etc...

Monday, April 21, 2014

Star Trek Under the Sea


UPDATE 9/21/14: This incredible project is now STALLED due to lack of funding so standby...
OK very cool technology, greenlighted and fully funded this incredible futuristic tool is just what our Oceans need now! It will allow us a better understanding of the impact that humankind has had upon it's underwater world and it's inhabitants!
I will definitely try and get a documentary in the works for this epic and innovative vessel. This may actually make it a reality to gain a better understanding of our oceans and the changes they are going through. As for it looking for the mythical city of Atlantis, I think that should be at the end of their TO DO list...

Even more fantastic news is that Liz Taylor, President of California based DOER Marine, informed me that they will be participating in some of the ROV/DSV design aspects of this incredible project! Sylvia Earle is a founder of DOER!


Well once again it appears that El Nino is building but with one big difference. There are ocean temperature anomalies at 6 º Celcius that have moved across the Pacific at depth pushed by Kelvin Waves. These anomalous temperatures are just starting to rise to the surface in the Eastern Tropical Pacific and they rival or exceed the ocean temperatures that precipitated the 97-98 El Nino which was the strongest in the era of satellite , Argo float, and modern records.

So what's the impact to my neck of the woods here in Santa Barbara as well as the rest of the State? Well it would most certainly end the worse drought in California for over 100 years, NICE! Oh yeah the downside is so much rainfall that our watersheds and water delivery systems infrastructure could be destroyed. I don't know is it me or is it something in the wind that's been blowing our way for quite some time now, yep the infamous GLOBAL Warming wreaking more havoc.  Now days it is clear that the planet's weather in general has intensified and will continue to do so.

Can we be better prepared, certainly... I think our country's leaders and politicians need to step up to this real battlefield of the age we are clearly moving into and the one that our children and their children will be inheriting. We can't beat nature but we can be better prepared for it's consequences and not see a repeat of the aftermath that Katrina left in the Gulf. Let your representatives know and demand them to be accountable over your concerns for your safety and welfare...

Some relevant links:
Science, Tech and Environment
NOAA El Nino Prediction
Contacting your Senator
Contacting members of Congress

Friday, January 10, 2014

SONY F5-F55 OPTITECH Manual Optitron ProLock Mark II

Hello Sony F5 and F55 community. We made up a manual we edited from Jacek's notes for those of you with Optitron and ProLock Mark 2. Hope this helps!

 Optitek Optitron Manual

Pictures too!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

A Greener Planet a Greener Conscience

Well it's been an interesting month and it all wound down with a few meetings involving some great alliances and great organizations. OCTOS, NOAA and DOTGREEN Foundation all came together and hopefully with a goal to improve communication as well as recognize and work with environmental hotspots on planet Earth and starting right here in the U.S.

The all too often scenario of environmentally concerned government agencies NOT WORKING TOGETHER is all to apparent these days and one of my missions is to end this paradigm. I firmly believe that 2014 will be a major wake-up call to the world's governments that it's citizens are outraged over the destruction and neglect of our planet.
DOTGREEN Foundation appears to be at the forefront of our planets needed mantra,  "Preservation, Restoration and Innovation" both in harmony with the philosophy of a Green and Sustainable world!

I feel as a natural history filmmaker that my mission is to not only capture nature's plight but also to promote, inform, demonstrate and motivate industry, government and the general public with meaningful films. The current events that have significant impact on the welfare of our planet and ALL that occupy it are the primary subject of the films that we set out to create!

Climate Change-Global Warming, Natural and Human-made disasters like the Gulf of Mexico, Fukashima and more are devastating our environment.

All of these events are disrupting our lives right now.  Radiation is in the food chain in the Pacific and on course for a worldwide tour... The Gulf of Mexico is experiencing health issues and more on the way due to the Deepwater Horizon spill. Rising seas are leaching toxins into our Oceans as well as breaking down the infrastructure along all populated coastal areas. Coral reefs are dying at accelerated rates! We have been warned for decades. The time to act is NOW. Procrastination is over!

Margaret Mead once said "look in your own backyard. " A great philosophy for our planet, a solid mantra for individuals to act and join hands through community efforts as well. One problem, we have gone far beyond a ground roots effort...We are running out of time. The mighty dollar will take a beating so there is no longer any excuse for the Governments and wealthy interest entities to sit back and say everything will be fine. That luxury is over, believe me, it's OVER. It's time to bring a world-wide united effort together to act!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Tropical Storm KAREN and the GULF of MEXICO and the OIL

OK OK, so whatever happened to "Deepwater Rising"with all the Gulf footage we shot. Well we are still reeling over it, no pun intended...had to throw that in to honor good ole Mike deGruy's sense of humour! I have been i contact with many activists in the Gulf including Trisha Springstead, Riki Ott and others still fighting the good fight on our behalf. Recent events ie Tropical Storm Karen
may very well stir up the muck if it hit's the area hard, especially down at Grand Isle. Fact is the OIL IS STILL DOWN THERE in the deepwater so says Dr. Samantha Joye and other notable scientists. It is NOT going away anytime soon as many would have us believe. There are still severe health risks to those who live and partake near the areas that were bombarded by dispersants. Yes it's old news but weather and currents may very well make it todays news so standby....

Hopefully the information we gathered and the footage will be used in a more informative documentary based on the the Gulf of Mexico's history so again standby for that info too and we'll keep you updated...

Heading back to Kauai for more footage on Reefs

Cyanobacteria killing off Brown Rice Coaral
Well it's been a world wind Summer and now Autumn rolling in already! Heading back to meet with locals regarding the latest reef ravaging by hmmm let's see:


The flow of radiation from Fukashima
Looking for a rainbow in here somewhere and will help with a video to address the current situation and the need for testing, ie FUNDING! Looking at a music benefit as well to raise funds for testing. The sooner we determine the CAUSE(s), see list above items 1-6, the sooner we can figure out a remediation plan for the reefs.

Latest I heard was the EPA received over $7.25 million from fines levied against an offender on Kauai who basically killed off a watershed a couple years ago. So why is the EPA so incredibly non-responsive to what's going on with the Hanalei river and it's overdose of Mud? Why aren't they
removing all the HAU bush along the banks of the river?? For detailed info definitely click here.

I'll let you know how the trip goes...

Monday, May 27, 2013


UPDATE: You can add the Big Island to the mystery as well! Check it out here. The situation that is taking place on the North shores of Kauai reads like a movie thriller or a Clive Cussler novel. Real bad guys, government officials turning a blind eye to subdue the story behind a real pathogen wreaking destruction in the tropics and most certainly it will become a health risk to humans. Anini's reef system is collapsing as you are reading this.

Check out this video:


Kauai's North shore coral reefs are in severe peril, they are under attack and losing the battle at an alarming rate.  The suspects range from the Navy's underwater sonar blasting to leaching and runoff of heavy metals, pesticides, fertilizers and chemicals from previously used agriculture lands to global warming and rising seas! Perhaps all combined and breaking down the Corals resistance.

Terry explaining the situation to me.
A Blue-Green algae, aka cyanobacteria is the organism that is currently destroying the corals and leaving behind dead zones and brown ocean water with a pungent odor. It was first discovered by our local hero, Terry Lilley, a biologist, marine critter "Whisperer" and eco-minded whistle blower! For his efforts he has been rewarded with a beating resulting in a broken arm, shots being fired in his vicinity and the latest a mysterious heart attack. Mind you Terry is an avid surfer and diver in peak physical condition! He has repeatedly subjected himself to daily dives and water excursions in now murky and perhaps toxic waters on the North Shore.

Terry's portable roaming Lab
Almost on a weekly basis now entire coral habitats once thriving with an abundance of sea life and clear blue pristine waters are morphing into dead zones, oxygen deprived regions of ocean due to the die off. The bacteria is pervasive, it has jumped species from one coral colony to another and it even has company. Another bacteria that appears as a black band on the leading edge of destruction mowing down coral as voraciously as the host it precedes! The amount of reef consumed in a month equates to over 10-15 years of natural coral growth!

The story has been in the news and you can see by clicking on the active links. L.A Times, Hawaii Reporter, Garden Island,  on radio, on several network news programs and both NOAA and the USGS are now involved...

Terry's home & HQ
There is far more to this story then proverbial "Meets the eye" and On the Wave Productions is moving forward to seek out the cause along with Terry, NOAA, USGS and more scientists who are coming onboard! So stay tuned for more details! We were there in April, July and August and will return again in October for more filming and investigating!

Please check out Terry's foundation at and donate to this noble cause.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

AERIAL CAMERA COPTERS Cinestar 8, Quadcopter, Black Armored Drone, FlightCopter, Schiebel.

Which one's for you...
Having returned from NAB and seeing an incredible amount of aerial machines,  QUADs Hex, OCTO, ie. 4, 6, 8 & 12 blade copters soaring with everything from GoPro's to Reds to SONY cams I feel inspired, no make that obligated to take a quick look at some of them. Also from a human safety perspective I'd rather have my feet planted on good ole TERRA FIRMA after losing 3 good friends to helicopter filming accidents and let these incredible RC machines go up there and do the work!!

So fasten your seat belt prepare for Takeoff and.... oh yeah... that's right they're heading into the sky not I ! So many options and configurations and should I or shouldn't I BUILD IT! So let's take a look at the RTF, yep you guessed it Ready To Fly offerings:

DLI Phantom Quadcopter $679.00
A great place to satisfy your curiousity and wet your appetite for aerial photography and film. All you need is a GoPro to snap into it's mount and your all set. You can watch the copters flight through the eyes of the GoPro as it transmits it's video to your iPhone or iPad device.   After flying this you may be ready for next steps below...      

CineStar8Freefly Cinestar 8 $10800.00
Now Freefly is quite the innovator as they are the first to allow this type of multi-use technology between their copter and the Handheld camera gimbal the MoVI. At $10,800.00 you get pretty much everything you need. See earlier blog on MoVi.

Flightcopter FC12-950 HexaKoax-Cinema   $24,900.00 
At this price point rest assured that it's configured with EVERYTHING you would ever need to fly and shoot except for the camera of course.The FC12-950 HexaKoax-Cinema as well as the Octo Cinema are certainly our most high-end products. It gets cameras with a weight of 4kg (8.8 lbs)  airborne and still has ample reserve power. With its 12 motors it has the sound of a Formula 1 car and also provides a high degree of redundancy.

It icludes a 2-Axis Head (only Pitch and Roll) or for an extra 400.00 they'll add a 3-Axis Head (Pitch, Roll, Pan) and you will need a second cameraman

Black Armored Drone $53000.00
Who are these guys?"We googled them and got only one hit?? We spotted it at NAB 2013 hanging from above in RED's booth!

It's truly an awesome looking machine but $49000 base price ? No camera gimbal system or video downlink included, chalk on another 4000.00 to get it fully functional. Seems a bit ridiculous to me looking at the price to functionality ratio. Their website has no useful information not even a spec sheet...How about some payload discussion people...From the website:"The payload capacity is extraordinary – professional camera and lens combos with filters and follow focus (e.g. RED Epic + Masterprime + rods + follow focus + filter)." How about the actual weight in LBs, KG for payload...

 They're asking twice the price of their nearest competitor, which can support almost 10lbs, RED, SONY F55 etc...or 5 times the price of the Cinestar 8!
OK they were in the RED booth, RED=CLOUT !?!?V  ery surprising that they have no marketing collateral to backup from their brief description what must be the most incredibly built copter to date. Yes I am purely basing this assumption on the price point. They're website does not have enough information about the product to explain why it would be so worthy of this kings ransom. Why is that? so in summary, well, we really need more info from your company. How about it...

SCHIEBEL CAMCOPTER S-100 ! Wow way out of my league and I'll assume yours but so worth looking at and mentioning the Schiebel Camcopter S-100. Highly versatile and reliable. Come on we can all dream BIG! Yeah that's what I'm talkin about! Rent it for 400.00/hour!

OK so here's a checklist to help you with making your purchase decision.
  1. Can I fly it? Am I qualified. Training?
  2. How many operators required to fly & operate camera
  3. Overall Ease of use, assembly, pack up and repair
  4. PAYLOAD-What can it safely carry like my dog or cat...oh yeah the latest greatest camera
  5. Motors-Wattage, more can mean higher payload
  6. Airframe:Larger Carbon fiber arms needed for bigger loads
  7. Remote video downlink included, extra?
  8. Flight Range Altitude (Vertical) & Distance (Horizontal)
  9. Flight time
  10. Low Battery Warning
  11. GPS return to liftoff point, hands free operation
  12. SAFETY RECORD...Hey it's got my 10,000.00 camera hanging on it. OK I don't expect a report from the FAA or NTSB but what is the MTBF, mean-time-between -failure
  13. Replacement parts
  14. Balancing, calibrating, navigating etc...
Hopefully you now have some tools to better determine the PRICE to FUNCTIONALITY/VALUE ratio for your specific needs.

Oh yeah, that's right, you can just go out and rent any of these from Aerial film companies from $1000.00-$3500.00/day... Here's a few:
BRAIN FARM...everywhere
Mi6 Films in So Cal.
Skycam USA in NY

Just go out and rent a Schiebel at 400/hour !!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

MōVI M10 Camera Gimbal takes flight

Camera Gimbals have been around a LONG LONG TIME...You've seen them on the RC Helicopters slinging DSLR's underneath them high into the air for those great aerial shots. Well now a company has taken that mechanism and turned it into a handheld system that can support up to a 12LB camera ! Meet MōVI M10 from Freefly. Good old Vincent Laforet knows something revolutionary when he sees it.

Just as he did for the Canon DSLR with his film Revell he's worked close with Freefly with the same dramatic flare as his Canon DSLR campaign to introduce this "GAME CHANGER" to the world of Indie filmmakers! Bravo Vincent! Rather than write a detailed story regarding the MōVI product just check it out here on Vincent's blog!

This product only weighs 4lbs far less than the cameras it flys 12lbs!! Think of all the support gear you use to make the same shots this can make! Kind of like Fusion vs Fission, in this case you really do get back more than what you put in, lol...Off to NAB!