December 17, 2013

The RED 3-Axis Lens Control System: A Versatile Wireless Controller for Your Lenses

Whatever your opinion of the company might be, RED makes some absolutely fantastic products. From their line of ever-improving camera systems (which have become fairly ubiquitous in the industry), to the plethora of unique accessories that have been made specifically to augment and enhance their cameras, the folks at RED are never satisfied with the status quo. On Friday, RED introduced a new piece of equipment that is sure to find its way into the hands of many professional filmmakers. Introducing the RED 3-Axis Lens Control System, perhaps one of the most versatile wireless lens controllers ever created. Check out the details below:

We've talked about wireless follow focus units before, both the professional and DIY variety. The units that we've covered haven't been particularly high-end in terms of their features. Most of the more affordable systems are only single channel/single motor - meaning that they can only be used to control one aspect of the lens (either focus, zoom, or iris) at a time. However, there are several systems available that allow you to use a single device to control 3 individual separate channels. That's the category that the RED 3-Axis Control System fits into.

Here's the description of the system from AbelCine:

The RED 3-AXIS LENS CONTROL SYSTEM is a turn-key wireless lens control kit for driving focus, iris and zoom. This system includes the RED T.H.C. (TACTICAL HAND CONTROLLER), RED W.M.D. (WIRELESS MOTOR DRIVER), and 3x RED LENS CONTROL MOTORS that can fit both 19mm and 15mm rail systems. For ultra-quiet, high-torque lens control, the RED 3-AXIS LENS CONTROL SYSTEM delivers a complete solution that features rotating a drive cable connector, interchangeable mounting brackets, and swappable drive gears (0.8mm gears included). With its modular design and tool-less installation, the RED 3-AXIS LENS CONTROL SYSTEM delivers precise lens control capability for any setup or configuration.

Here are some snazzy product photos of the 3-Axis system:

Screen Shot 2013-12-17 at 12.32.06 PM

Also, be sure to head over to this here Vimeo page to check out the quick-start video, which shows just how easy to use this system is (it couldn't be embedded here).

There are several unique features about the RED 3-Axis Lens Control System. Beyond the incredibly powerful motors and the fact that you adapt the lens control motors to either 15mm or 19mm rods, there's one feature that sets this system apart from all of the competing products on the market. The system injects lens metadata straight into your R3D files. Here's Jarred from RED:

Apart from the obvious features, one of the biggest advantages of using the RED system is that the WMD can inject metadata directly into the R3D files including Lens make, model, and focal length, frame by frame focus zoom and iris readings ( even on lenses without LDS or i Data ).

As expected, the 3-Axis system is definitely not an inexpensive item. For the entire package, which includes everything in the above photograph and a nifty hard case, you're looking at $14,500 MSRP, which pretty much makes this a rental-only item for most people.

Head on over to AbelCine's site to learn more about the RED 3-Axis Lens Control System.

What do you guys think? Have you used 3-axis controllers before? How do you think the RED stacks up against the competition? Let us know in the comments!

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Your Comment

24 Comments

$$$$

December 17, 2013 at 6:15PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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DIO

Great! I'm sure it'll run on batteries that last about 5 minutes, and be just as reliable as their REDmote is! Only $14.5k too!

December 17, 2013 at 6:19PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Tim

It runs on L type batteries, and batteries even on the power hungry prestons last for many many hours. 6 hours at least before a swap.

Also 14.5K? This is less than HALF the cost of a Preston 3 channel FIZ. I know it may blow your mind, but professional level tools cost more than Red Rock Micro prices.

December 17, 2013 at 6:25PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Thom

Yep - professional gear costs quite a lot, and with that price point you would expect to buy a great, working tool.

Want to tell us more about how reliable RED's professional tools are? Go over to reduser.net and see how many Epics have bricked recently (even people's backup Epics). Then let us know how well the REDmote has worked out, as well as the timely delivery on their systems + upgrades.

If you pay a premium "professional" price, it should work well and get delivered on-time; RED isn't some Kickstarter-style company anymore.

December 17, 2013 at 8:03PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Tim

Tim first off slow your roll. This WMD/FIZ is made by Element Technica, who have an exceptional reputation among working professionals.

This kit will be sold in two versions, one branded as RED, and the other as ET. Same kit. This was developed by them before being acquired. It was exceptional at NAB, it was wonderful at IBC, and also being demoed at AbelCIne. I've played with it at all three occasions. If i had 29000 dollars I'd be rolling with a Preston personally, but in absence of that much extra cash this is the next best thing, especially for being as programmable as it is.

I personally want the ET marked one, and will buy that version, since I'd like to be able to use this on our Epic, Alexa, and the occasional Phantom without crossing the streams.

This product has not disappointed other than just not being out yet. Most FIZs are out of the range of most personal purchases. This one isn't.

December 17, 2013 at 8:36PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Thom

amen!

December 18, 2013 at 1:15PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Lee

The motors are cheap too! Exactly half of my NON-digital M-One on my Bartech. This isn't expensive...for E-T stuff, this is downright cheap, but I guess they've planned that since they're entering a new field, dominated by Preston and Arri controllers.

Also, I don't think the article mentions it, but you don't have to buy the whole system at once. You can start with the FF and then buy a second or third motor for iris and zoom and bring the prices down. It's a very specialized world where you would need all three motors.

December 21, 2013 at 9:55PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Daniel Mimura

But the next question: can it work with my t2i?

December 17, 2013 at 6:30PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Tyler

If your lenses have hard stops built in then yes! We've used Prestons on 5Ds if using real geared cinema glass.

December 17, 2013 at 6:36PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Thom

Great! I'm sure it will work amazingly on my 18-55mm kit lens!

December 17, 2013 at 8:29PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Tyler

Ha!

December 17, 2013 at 11:36PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Edgar

The metadata aspect is brilliant for VFX-heavy workflows!

December 17, 2013 at 6:45PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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WillS

THC and WMD? Sounds dangerous. The main ingredient in cannabis and weapons of mass destruction. Of course Red made this product.

December 17, 2013 at 7:09PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Caleb

I see 2 negatives to the Hand Remote if your doing ENG style work with red:
1) It has a zoom specific control, but no Zoom rocker. (Ouch)
2) It has no place to mount the hand unit to something like a tripod.
3) Varizoom VZTOC-ZFi3 is cheaper. But not by much.

December 17, 2013 at 7:09PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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David

Feeling the need to start this post with the statement, "Whatever your opinion of the company might be", is a clear case for why this blog needs comment mediation. There is too much negativity in comment threads toward not only Red but also toward some other camera makers. I understand that since no video/audio tool is perfect constructive criticism is needed. But juvenile bomb throwing is not.

December 17, 2013 at 7:50PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Gene

Actually, I found the second half of that sentence kind of unprofessional. I mean, usually when one begins a sentence with "Whatever one's opinion of [subject] may be," the next clause usually responds with a concrete fact rather than the author's opinion of the subject. Otherwise, the sentence sort of reads as if the writer is dismissing others' opinions in favor of their own.
Now, it's clear to me that nothing of that sort was intended, so I'd label it more as a sentence logic error (sort of like how some say "could care less" instead of "couldn't care less," when they really mean the latter). I'm really anal about this stuff, though I recognize it's not a huge deal.

To your point, though, there does tend to be a lot of negativity in the comments of this blog (and many others) whenever Red is mentioned. Most will find similar levels of partiality amongst any industry wrought with fanbases and expensive purchases. Coming from over a decade of wading though the depths of hell that are gaming message boards, to see this here seems fairly normal, though no less immature.

December 18, 2013 at 12:21AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Mr Blah

This really looks awesome, the price is obscene but it's not for my league.

December 17, 2013 at 8:33PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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maghoxfr

So, is this a third-party rebrand?

December 17, 2013 at 11:36PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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DLD

It was originally an Element Technica product, then RED bought ET. It'll be released as two versions. An ET marked one, and the RED marked one.

December 17, 2013 at 11:40PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Thom

RED discussions are always so "interesting" lol.

December 18, 2013 at 2:07AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Price is for the whole packages, if you want only 1 motor (focus) and don't need all those bells and whistles, the price is actually OK. Certainly if you know these are motors that are much more reliable and much stronger than the RRM's.

December 18, 2013 at 3:47AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Henri

December 18, 2013 at 11:20AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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DIO

Wow
So Hipster
Such Analogue Medium
So very organique
Wow
Helping Kodak stay in business
Despite such overpriced products

WOOF

December 18, 2013 at 7:17PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Natt

I'm a 1st AC who got the chance to use this system right before it came out and all I can say is that I was blown away with how great this piece of kit is. It is well worth the price and I would recommend to any production that is looking into a remote follow focus system.

August 10, 2014 at 9:10PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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