BURBANK, CALIF.—We do a lot of run-and-gun work on “West Coast Customs,” a Fox Sports show on customizing vehicles. To capture the action without interrupting the workers in our garage/studio we do a lot of handheld shooting with the camera in a rig. The SmallHD 502 monitor—when combined with the Sidefinder optical loop eyepiece—helps me work quickly. The image is so right-on that I can often set exposure just by looking at the monitor.
SmallHD 502 monitor mounted on camera during “West Coast Customs” shootCLEAR AND SHARP
The first thing I noticed about the monitor was how clear and sharp the picture was compared to our previous on-camera monitor that wasn’t HD. As my eyes get older, I appreciate how much SmallHD helps me do my job shooting. In Sidefinder mode, it provides the highest resolution image I’ve seen on any eyepiece. You can read all of the 502’s menus and can swing the monitor out from the eyepiece to view it directly.
For an upcoming episode, we shot the installation of a stereo into a Slingshot three-wheeled vehicle we’re customizing for Shaquille O’Neal. I used the Sidefinder when I could get the camera up to my eye, but a lot of the installation went on under the car. So I quickly swung the 502 out from the eyepiece and articulated the monitor to see my pictures when holding the camera under the car; I did the same thing shooting with the camera overhead. You can change the configuration so fast that you don’t miss a beat. And since everything I viewed was full HD, it made it easy to focus.
The Sidefinder mounts so solidly on the 15mm rails on the rig that I can press my eye firmly against the rubber cup around the eyepiece and use it as an additional point of support.
The 502 has a great feature set, with exposure and focus assist tools I can call up on the screen. The monitor’s “Pages” feature lets you group several on-screen tools into a preset, which you can quickly access with a flick of the joystick. I use the peaking and zebra bars often to judge exposure, so I’ve got them on a Page. I also like to view the audio levels on the screen. When our DP Kristoffer May picks up the camera I’ve been using, he can call up his own Pages preset so he can work the way he likes to.
I’m excited about the use of 3D LUTs and the ability to run downstream monitors from the 502’s output. Next time we shoot a commercial with our RED, we’ll be able to show the client what the picture will look like when it finally comes out of post.
The 502 monitor/Sidefinder can cover every camera on which we shoot. With both HDMI and HD-SDI in and out, I can use it on the RED, Canon 5D, or Sony EX3.
And last but not least, the 502 uses LPE6 Canon batteries, which we already have. I can put two of those batteries on the monitor when I start to shoot in the morning, and they last all day. So I don’t have to worry about turning the monitor off between shots. I just leave it on, and when I pick it up it’s ready to go.
Kara Stephens is the producer/director of “West Coast Customs,” Fox Sports’ cable channel show featuring the work of the luxury automotive restyling center. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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