OK it’s been 3 weeks since NAB and I had to get some work done but I wanted everyone to know that one of of the coolest updates at this past NAB was hidden well inside the central hall and was one of the most promising products I have seen in years. If you have ever tried to repeat a pan then tilt with a fluid head in the same manner over multiple takes you quickly see how limited most tripod heads are built.
The Gearnex Head with an HVX200
At last year’s show Gearnex showed off the first affordable gear head that most of us had ever seen. Instead of the Arri model that sells in the $30-$40K range, the Gearnex Gear head as an MSRP of only $7500 USD. I got a close look last year at the head but was given a peak at the 2010 update and all I can say is WOW. The Gearnex team has taken all the suggestions users have sent them and redesigned their product into a wonderfully easy, full function production tool.
Just so everyone understands, a gearhead allow an operator the ability to smoothly move or track and object in a repeatable fashion. If you are working on a standard fluid head on a tripod, you traditionally use either your body or your hands to pan and / or tilt. The problem with that methodology is simply inertia, moving any mass means that you need to apply an equal but opposite amount of force to slow or stop it, resulting in hits or bumps as you try to repeat the action over multiple takes.
With a gearhead, since you are controlling the movement by turning wheels orthogonally to the camera motion, it becomes far easier to control the camera movement when starting or ending a pan or tilt, all because you are not moving in the same direction as the camera is, and therefore less inertial mass is propagated to your camera movement giving you a much smoother control. I used my demo on a number of cameras from an HVX200, a fully tricked out RED and on full size HD cameras like my varicam all with great success. I personally felt the heaver the camera the better the original model worked, but I must say the updated model showed non of the issues I ran into with the lighter camera models, and it appeared to handle just as well with Prosumer cameras as it did for me with a full blown ENG package mounted on it.
This shows a full Varicam package on my Gearnex Head
Gearnex includes a training chart and laser pointer in every kit to facilitate a faster learning curve with regard to accurate camera movement and control. I watched a number of times at the Red UserGroup meeting during NAB when camera operators that had never worked on a gearhead became absolutely astounded at how quickly they were able to recreate incredibly complex camera moves in a matter of minutes.
There is nothing better than a test chart, especially when it comes in the package.
Find them here http://www.gearnex.com/