Teradek is working very hard to make your modular RED camera feel like one cohesive system.
The RED "Digital Stills and Motion Camera" platform is all about modularity. It breaks into pieces and can be configured a variety of different ways. That flexibility is a huge bonus for many users, but we are increasingly seeing the pendulum swing the other way.
Most famously with the "RED Xenomorph" filmmakers are starting show a preference for a "pick-up and shoot" camera reminiscent of what it was like back in the 35mm days, when the camera wasn't always tethered to video village and mounted with a dozen accessories. While RED is, of course, working on this project themselves with the RED Ranger, accessory maker Teradek has been on a roll lately building an entire ecosystem of products that are specifically customized for working with the DSMC2 that make it a seamless and sleek experience.
We got a chance to play with the new Teradek ACI, Bolt DSMC2, and the Teradek RT follow focus system, all of which are designed to work seamlessly together (and, after our hands-on time, we got a chance to see them at NAB 2019). We also got to play with one of the earliest FOCUS Bolt's from fellow Creative Solutions group member SmallHD.
The overall impression is kind of game changing for the RED and shows how far accessories have come. While the focus on modularity has been the basis for the entire DSMC body design, the industry as a whole is moving towards more seamless single-use integration. Maybe we're just so used to our sleek phones and all the power they offer, or maybe we're nostalgic for the days of shooting run and gun film, but a "simple" package without a lot of extraneous bits and pieces is clearly something users want, and Teradek delivers as well as the DSMC2 body will allow.
The ACI (assistant camera interface) offers all the control we are used to from an ARRI or a Varicam, and usually have to dig into the menus to get to on the RE. Its only drawback is that you can't control everything you want without adding in an extra jumper cable; if that wasn't the case it would be absolutely pitch perfect.
It's a wonderful little piece of kit that makes the sometimes confusing and hard to remember menus of the RED easier to track and manage, and easier to keep an eye on for assistants. It is one of those accessories, like the original Element Techinca mini-SDI to SDI adapter, that should become a default on DSMC2 bodies. It's even available with integrated connections for external Teradek RT focus motors, though we didn't test that model it would make for an exceptionally streamlined body.
The seamless integration continued on with the DSMC2 bolt. While "bolt" in this case refers to the overall Teradek Bolt system, it could also be thought of as you just "bolt it on." No need for power cables, no need for video cables, it gets all the data it needs from the data ports on the back of the RED, and then passes it along to the body or the next breakout plate along the way. Never a chance to catch a cable on a branch or your fingers while operating. The perfect combination of camera and accessory.
On top of that was the new Small HD FOCUS Bolt, which integrates a Teradek Receiver into a smallHD monitor so you can put a little 5" monitor right on top of the follow focus controller. In fact, focus data can pass through the system and be displayed on the screen. Of course, the most important focus data of all is seeing the shot itself, and having the image, wirelessly streaming all the way to the 1st AC wherever they are, with minimal latency is huge. When we got hands-on time with this in February, it was pre-release, but we saw the final results in person at NAB 2019 and it was super impressive.
In order to connect from the FOCUS Bolt to the Teradek RT controller does require a cable, which is a bummer, but not a deal-breaker. For all the things that are being passed along here, having that one wire isn't going to ruin everything. And that's only for lens data; if you mount a battery to the SmallHD and a battery to the RT you are wire-free.
Our one frustration with the Teradek RT was exceptionally minor, perhaps even nit picky.
In order to change the sensitivity of the knob, you need to take the knob off. That's it. Of course, sometimes you do need to change the knob sensitivity, and there are some systems that allow you to do to that more easily. The big time you need this is when you are working with vintage lenses, some of which have an incredibly long throw and need more torque, some of which are loose and have a short throw.
This isn't a deal breaker for a very professional piece of gear, but it is something to consider if you are a heavier user of vintage glass. If your habits lean more towards newer lenses, which tend to be designed with more consistent focus throws and easier focus movements, you might not ever think about this after the first time you set it how you want it.
This is hands down the future of production. In 5 years, every shoot will be working with integrated wireless video coming out from the camera without extra cables, to follow focus units without power wires, to the receivers at video village. But you can get your hands on all of it now.
- Available in 500, 1000 and 3000 foot ranges
Assistant Camera Interface (ACI)
- For RED DSMC2 Cameras
- Push Button & Jog Wheel Controls
- Redesigned, Intuitive Camera Menu
- Fully Customizable Button Layout
- Integrated LCD Display
- Connects to DSMC2 Camera's Right Side
- Daylight & Interior Display Settings
- Lightweight, Durable Aluminum Design
- Requires DSMC2 Expander with RS-232 port
- 4-Axis MK3.1 Transmitter/Controller
- 3-Channel MK3.1 Receiver
- Includes MK3.1 Motor with Drive Cable
- Customizable Camera Controls
- Approx. 3000' Range
- Expandable with Motors and Thumbwheels
- Includes Hard Case
- 5" 1280 x 720 Touchscreen Display
- Built-In Teradek Receiver
- 500' Wireless Working Distance
- Micro-HDMI Input
- Supports UHD 4K, HD, and SD Input
- 800 cd/m² 10-Bit IPS LCD Panel
- SD Card for Presets and Loading LUTs
- L-Series Battery Mount
- Swipe OS