The Ready Rig in use A key aspect of the DSLR revolution has been the evolution of an impressive array of DSLR rigs of varying design and complexity, all of which are designed to facilitate shooting handheld video and audio with DSLRs. While many of these rigs have also been used with smaller video cameras, some of their finer features have not worked as well with some of these cameras. On the other hand, video cameras have gotten plenty of attention from the designers of gimbel-based support rigs such as Steadicam, but not quite as much from the designers of more mechanical DSLR-type rigs designed for video cameras. Alba Camera Support’s Ready Rig is a welcome exception, although it can readily be used with DSLRs as well.
The 12-pound Ready Rig consists of two long adjustable rods connected to a spring-loaded back support and an adjustable camera mount with foam wrapped hand grips. It has a tilt range of nearly 180-degrees, and includes monitor and accessory mounts. Cameras and accessories weighing up to 17 pounds can be supported by four bungee-style springs which attach to an adjustable lightweight frame of machined aluminum. These are well integrated with a tough, but flexibly padded, adjustable corset that evenly distributes all the camera’s weight throughout the user’s upper body.
Camera and cradle are suspended from the adjustable horizontal arms or rods thanks to the tension placed on them from the rear by the bungee-like straps. These attach to the rear end of the arms and exert a downward force, pushing their front end upwards (much as a playground teeter-totter does). This enables the camera to “fl oat” as if nearly weightless, with camera direction and angle controlled by the operator gripping the handles at the base of the cradle. Tension on the bungees can be adjusted depending on which of the threaded holes the aluminum frame is secured to the Ready Rig’s spine. There are also two different spring sizes, with one slightly longer than the other. Using the shorter pair increases the tension on the support rods a bit, but applying both springs increases it a great deal. This would be too much for cameras less than 10 pounds, but may be needed for those that weigh more than 12 pounds or so.
The device’s canvas vest includes several sets of optional pads for the shoulders, belt and lower back which can be attached where most needed by the onboard Velcro strips. In addition to the waist belt, vertical straps extend from the back corner of the frame to the front of the shoulder pad. When partly disassembled, Ready Rig fits into 2-foot long canvas bag that can be worn as a backpack.
The Ready Rig arrived mostly disassembled and without instructions. I assembled its several modules from a photo in about 15 minutes. The camera mount felt comfortable, flexible and buoyant in my hand, even with an eight-pound camera package.
I attached the back frame at the midway point on the spine and the roughly eight-pound camera felt almost perfectly counterbalanced and ready to “walk, run and fly.” The rig’s extraordinary flexibility enabled me to ease into canted camera shooting positions to the left or to the right, and it maintained enough tension to hold the shot for several plus seconds afterwards. Hence, my first set of tests was a series of canted shots mostly at full wide angle, and at high and low angles, and also at waist and eye camera levels. I was impressed with the images captured, as well as the fluid jib-style flying moves that I was able to achieve en route.
Tracking shots was also impressive, even when not performed on level terrain. The rig’s springs absorbed minor vibrations and offered a measure of damping, providing me with some remarkably smooth moves with a few gentle waves instead of jarring bumps. When I first started out with the Ready Rig I tried to execute carefully choreographed moves to minimize errors. However as I became more comfortable with it, and more confident of its capabilities, I simply “went with the flow,” rarely missing the shot I wanted. Call it cameraman’s intuition or just dumb luck, I easily found Ready Rig’s sweet spot for the Canon XH A1 with a long shotgun mic, and was able to fly and even soar with the help of the unit’s simple, but brilliant spring-loaded technology.
Ready Rig has a smartly designed, spring-loaded support system that greatly exceeded my expectations. It’s relatively easy to assemble and use for achieving steady “handheld” shots and basic camera moves. With some practice, it’s feasible to achieve much more with it. It’s amazingly comfortable, easy to assemble and could enable shooting off-tripod for a full day, with little pain or discomfort once it’s properly adjusted for your smaller camera. It could be a news or reality TV shooter’s best friend, with a price tag that’s a fraction of the cost of an equivalent gimbal-based support system. Its extra dual accessory mounts also make it ideal for use with HD SLRs and many cine-style camera systems that require monitors and other accessories.
Carl Mrozek operates Eagle Eye Media, and specializes in wildlife and outdoor subjects. He may be contacted firstname.lastname@example.org.
News and reality show camera operations; all electronic field production
Great flexibility and maneuverability, more than 180-degree tilt range, comfortable operation, lightweight
Alba Camera Support
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