July 25, 2016

Watch: New Tech Meets Old with a Film Camera in a Gimbal

Flying a 235 on a gimbal
With the double helix from Letus, flying 35mm in a gimbal is now a reasonable activity.

When Letus announced the 60 lb. weight capacity of the Helix at NAB this year, flying 35mm film cameras was one of the first applications to come to mind. While much of the industry has moved to digital capture, there are still many projects shot on 35mm film, and the ability to bring the mobility of a gimbal to the world of 35mm is an exciting one.

In this video from Mr. Helix, we see a Letus Helix rigged with an ARRI 235, using an Eko Mk1 exoskeleton from L'aigle to help support the weight. As opposed to a Steadicam, where the arm helps provide some of the stabilization, the primary benefit of an exoskeleton is helping to hold the weight, while the gimbal provides the stability.

https://vimeo.com/176045437

It's no surprise that the 235 is the camera used for the test: at 7.7 lbs. for the body, it's among the lightest modern 35mm cameras ever produced, and comes with a whole host of features to make it easier to fly. One of the most important is the vertical magazine: as you shoot your way through a roll of film, the feed side gradually loses weight, while the take-up side gains weight. If the magazine is horizontal or even diagonal, this results in a gradual change in the position of the center of gravity, which can throw off the delicate balance of a Steadicam or gimbal.  With the 235's vertical magazine, the center of gravity still moves, but mostly up and down, with just a little front to back, requiring less compensation as you shoot through the mag.

Have any of you used the Helix?  How did it treat you?     

Your Comment

12 Comments

I remember seeing a prototype like this some months ago. Definitely awesome. Minus the stereotypical "I'm a filmmaker" beard dude haha. I think the steadicam system is still the best for track shots

July 25, 2016 at 2:18PM

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very cool looking rig and all but it gets in the way of the operators magnificent beard...we just can't have that now can we...

jokes aside as someone pointed out on facebook, fact that its a film camera and not digital is irrelevant. if it fits a rig it fits a rig...can we agree on that?

July 25, 2016 at 5:18PM, Edited July 25, 5:24PM

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Arturo Dickson
WEAR ALL HATS
1

You know, I think it is relevant. Maybe not for you or 90% of the people who see it, but I like when people do things like this. Its not necessary that they used a film camera, but they did. And now that memory is stored away in my brain and down the road, it may help me solve a problem on set in the future. When people do things that are out-of-the-box we should hang on to those memories and see if it inspires something in our own work.

July 25, 2016 at 10:41PM

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Ricky
Director/DP
247

Good choice to show the footage small and the "making of" footage large. Wouldn't want people to actually be able to see the results of using expensive camera with the stabilizer. F.

July 26, 2016 at 1:25AM

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Jake
383

Slowly the whole idea of the gimbal is getting a backseat. Do anyone of of you remember that little piece from freefly that started the whole craze? It was the opposite to the Steadicam which made this new device so intriguing. It is a very small device which could used for those shots where the Steadicam just didn't fit, be out that it is too complex, heavy or large. With this odd thing from the 5foot-beard-guy it's kinda "worse" than the Steadicam, especially with larger cameras. Just look how insanely far he has to extend his arms and how restricted the range of movement is with the camera. But at least to me these whole exoskeleton things perform not quite well - I just recently saw a music video shoot with exactly this device and it looked underwhelming. Shaky and badly framed...

July 26, 2016 at 3:19AM

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Gerard M.
1250

"Slowly the whole idea of the gimbal is getting a backseat."

Hahahaha.... this made me lough so hard :-)

July 26, 2016 at 4:28AM

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JeffreyWalther
Steadicam Operator/Owner
1631

Happy to hear! :-)

July 26, 2016 at 4:51AM

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Gerard M.
1250

The first comment on Vimeo is written very well. Full support.

July 26, 2016 at 4:29AM

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JeffreyWalther
Steadicam Operator/Owner
1631

This thing is so bloody sick!

July 26, 2016 at 7:03PM

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Did I miss it? How much does it go for?

July 26, 2016 at 7:03PM

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I read something about like 10,000 euro for the set, but maybe they come in different versions

July 28, 2016 at 4:56AM

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No Film School
CEO at Yes Film School
161

You're close. The rig shown appears to be a combination of:

L’AIGLE Exoskeleton “G” MkI:
http://shop.laigleparis.fr/index.php?id_product=123&controller=product&i...

Letus Helix PRO:
http://www.letus35.com/letus-helix-pro/

July 29, 2016 at 7:11AM, Edited July 29, 7:11AM

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