6/8/2011 10:45 AM
Oxygen DCT has introduced a new range of features to the GearNex geared camera head, a unique product from CineToys LLC that is designed to give film makers access to Hollywood-style geared heads without paying Hollywood prices.
Today’s cameramen face the challenge of operating cameras adorned with monitors, matte boxes, power packs and focus-assist products, all of which can make them heavy and unwieldy. What GearNex offers is the ability to smoothly pan and tilt, even when the camera is loaded with additional equipment.
The GearNex geared camera head is already gaining plaudits from the film industry and was most recently endorsed by Director of Photography Robert Reed Altman, son of director Robert Altman, who says: “I fully endorse the new GearNex Head. I used the GearNex head on a Short film that I shot using the Canon 5d system. There is nothing better than a nice mini gearhead for these new cameras. I am excited that a new and perfect affordable gearhead is now available for all of these new camera systems. I am sure many people, including myself, will purchase the GearNex head to complete our camera packages.
Thanks to new features launched at this year’s NAB exhibition in Las Vegas, GearNex has become even more versatile. These features include the Big Tilt, which allows the camera to tilt 90 degrees up or down in a 70 degree range, and a new swing arm that allows more access to the tilt wheel.
Altman adds: “I am excited about the new tilt plate and tilt gear extension for the GearNex head as this will make it perfect for the Red camera and larger cameras like Arri 16sr. I look forward to seeing the new head in production and in use on all of the film productions around the world.”
Steve Hathaway, managing director of Oxygen DCT, who are responsible for distributing GearNex in the UK and Europe, says: "We've had great success with the GearNex head and it is proving to be very popular with 'in-the-know' producers, directors and cameraman who are using it as a creative tool for beautiful, super smooth camera moves."
Hathaway adds that geared camera heads are the Hollywood film cameraman’s best kept secret because they allow much smoother panning than fluid heads.
“GearNex, which can be used with any heavy duty tripod system, crane or rostrum, provides cameramen with an affordable tool for any production set, whether they are shooting a motion picture, a music video, a short film, a commercial or a corporate video,” he says.
Launched in 2008, GearNex was developed by former Hollywood cameraman Bret Allen in response to a significant gap in the market for affordable geared head technology. Oxygen DCT has been representing the company since its launch – and indeed was one of a group of early investors that allowed Allen to develop the product for market.
He explains: “Hollywood cameramen are very protective of their geared head expertise because it does require practise to learn how to use one properly. During the early 1980s I was working as an assistant on The Master, a Jet Lee movie, and my job was to drive the camera truck to the set. At weekends I used to set up the camera and practise doing figure of eight’s with a flashlight until I was really proficient with the geared head. This skill led to promotion and I ended up as second unit director of photography on a large number of film and television projects.”
In the late 1990s Allen left Hollywood and began working on smaller films, corporate videos and commercials where there wasn’t always budget available to hire a traditional geared camera head.
“That’s when I decided to make a small, inexpensive geared head,” he says. “No one was making anything like this so I got a machine shop to help develop it. It took a year to make the first prototype, which I took to NAB. I was introduced to a few people and was fortunate enough to get my product onto a few booths, including Panasonic. Customers were so excited by the idea that they bought in advance and that helped me pay for the R&D. Oxygen DCT was part of that early group – they all waited a year for their goods but by paying upfront they helped us out and enabled us to complete the development process.”
Gearnex was back at NAB the following year and won two prestigious awards including a Best of Show and a Creative Cow Blue Ribbon Award. Among the many film makers who have spotted the unit’s potential is director Robert Altman Jr, who used Gearnex with a Redrock DSLR Cinema Bundle on a recent shoot.
Allen and his business partner Joe Mendoza are now working on new motion control features for GearNex, which should be available within the year. These include Motion Assist, which will allow for much smoother pan and tilt, and Motion Replay, which will allow cameramen to programme the head and record and replay their exact movement sequences.
“Computer control is definitely the way our development process is going,” Allen adds. “These new features will be retrofittable to any existing GearNex product and will allow the head to be used for virtual shoots using green screen backgrounds. This will open up new markets for us and take us into new areas, including post production.”
Oxygen DCT is the only company in the UK currently stocking GearNex. For more information please visit www.oxygendct.com
About Oxygen DCT:
Oxygen DCT is a solutions provider with a deep knowledge and understanding of the broadcast and professional media markets. Oxygen DCT has over 2000 carefully designed broadcast and production products that represent the pinnacle of engineering excellence. Its comprehensive website ordering facility gives industry professionals the convenience of immediate online pricing and saves time by providing customers with a 'one-stop-shop' where they can prepare their own quotes and place orders online with immediate order confirmation. Oxygen DCT also provides advice, support and expertise to ensure that customers get exactly the right product for their requirement. www.oxygendct.com