“Building Your Camera”

Letus Baseplate
Element Technica Bridgeplate
Zacuto Cage Baseplate
Redrock Baseplate
Arri Baseplate
Now that you have your camera caged, you can start to build it out with various accessories. I would start with a base plate. Again, many vendors make baseplates for your cage – Zacuto, Redrock Micro, Letus, Element Technica and Arri .

The secret is to find one that works with an Arri based system of measurements. WHY? Because this enables all the professional accessories to be at your disposal. When you need other pieces and parts to build your camera out, it is not necessary to buy them. You can rent them when your system is Arri compatible.
Letus BP-9 spacing plate
Arri BP-9
Let’s use the Letus cage as an example. It has a proprietary baseplate and I found that none of their screw holes lined up with Arri. I reached out to GT and Hien over at Letus headquarters and had them design an Arri BP-9 spacing plate.
 This made the cage compatible with the Arri BP-9 or the Element Technica sliding baseplate, which is the industry standard. If you go with the Arri BP-9 Baseplate, you will have to use the large dovetail plate.
Element Technica has its version of a large set up as well. With all of these smaller camera systems coming out, I really love the feel of mini rods and a 15mm rod set, then 19mm and the wide rod spacing.
Element Technica Arri Dovetail 1030-9
Element Technica Arri Dovetail 1030-9 
Element Technica Arri 18” Dovetail
Element Technica Arri 18” Dovetail
Micron Bridgeplate
Micron Dovetail
We thought these were a little overkill, so we collaborated with Element Technica to build a small baseplate that is based on a 15mm mini rod set up and has its own micron dovetail plate. More streamlined and elegant
We have the baseplate all set up now, so let’s add the touch and go plate to the bottom of the mini dovetail. This enables you to quickly clip into your head and stick support system. Whatever your head of choice is, it will come with a touch and go plate of some sort.
Micron Bridgeplate and Micron Dovetail
Micron Bridgeplate and Micron Dovetail
screwing dovetail to touch and go
snapping into head
  OK, we now have a caged camera with a baseplate and it is mounted onto a fluid head. 
Let’s jack it up!

camercamera ready to receive the JACK

“Giving You the Feel of a Movie Camera” 

Next I would add a monitor or an EVF. There are many to choose from – Zacuto , Alphatron , Cineroid and SmallHD DP-4 are my favorites. The Zacuto is lightweight, has an HDMI pass through and you can drop it from 12 feet. They make very durable pieces with a lifetime guarantee. The screen is not bad, will size to fit DSLRs, and has frame lines, which is so useful.


The Alphatron Electronic Viewfinder EVF-035W-3G came out two NABs ago and toted an iPhone display and SDI ports. I like the SDI ports. The screen’s color rendition is not bad.

The SmallHD DP4 was released over four years ago, right after Zacuto released theirs. It is still a great workhorse for me. I love the color space and rugged nature of it. I have made one of our own little innovations on this baby. Grenade pull the pin technology so that you can quickly go from EVF to monitor mode.


How do you attach this so that it works like a film camera? Well, many manufacturers have their idea of how all of this should work. I found that the MCS Letus EVF knuckle/mounting arm as well as the Element Technica EVF Knuckle do it the best.

EVF Mini Clutch-This one works with the Alphatron
EVF Mini Clutch-This one works with the Alphatron

You buy the EVF bracket that fits the EVF that you have purchased. This bolts onto the bottom, top or side of the EVF and it slides right into the Letus or Element Technica Knuckle.

Letus Mounted EVF Knuckle

The nice thing about the knuckle is that it can lock or have friction, which enables you to adjust it more easily. This really helps when you have it on your shoulder or on a dolly where a quick adjustment needs to be made without unlocking and locking again. That requires two hands and you usually don’t have two hands to work with when you are in Shoulder Rig mode. One of your hands has to be holding the camera. These are holdovers from 35mm film and they never go out of style. EVER!

Sliding DP4 into place
Sliding DP4 into place

“If You Like Operating Off a Monitor” 

If you like to operate off a monitor, then this is also possible. There are many displays to choose from. Marshall , iKan , TV Logic , and SmallHD are my favorites.

Marshall V-LCD56MD-O 5.6 Inch MD Camera Top Monitor / Dual
The Marshall 5.6 is a great size on your rig. It has many functions to assist in your operating experience – peaking, false color, zebra, etc. Lightweight and good color space.

My favorite from iKan is their MD7 7″ High Brightness 3G-SDI Monitor. I used this on Need for Speed. Battle tested and a great waveform. Good color space. It does HDMI and SDI, which is wonderful. It is a full 2K monitor and will play back Codex S Recorders so that you can check the proverbial gate.

iKanMD7  |  7" High Brightness 3G-SDI Monitor

The industry standard TV Logic has been guiding the way for many years, always delivering an amazing on board monitor for focus pullers with its peaking functions that put the others to shame. A built in HDMI to SDI convertor. This is HUGE! Not easy to judge contrast or color though.

TV Logic 5.6" LCD HD/SD-SDI HDMI Monitor

For over two years, we have all been waiting in anticipation. The SmallHD DP-7 is finally out and I have to say it takes the best from all of these monitors and packs a wallop. SDI and HDMI. Great waveforms and scopes. Love the touch screen. They offer a Hi-Brite that we used on Need for Speed with the Steadicam. With an SD slot, you are able to input soon to come custom LUTs, with a built in Rec. 709 LUT. That is the bomb!


I used the SmallHD AC-7 OLED on Need for Speed. This was my go to exposure monitor and I was testing SmallHD’s Canon Log LUT and it rocks, so stay tuned for their updates.

Convergent Design Odyssey 7Q Monitor

Convergent Design has made a very good monitor as well that mimics the DP-7′s ergonomics and menu structure. Additional options include supporting ARRIRAW, Canon C500 4K RAW, Sony FS700 RAW, 2K RAW, and Record up to four separate HD streams. Loved the feel of it. Easy to navigate.
There are monitor brackets that mount onto your display and then into the EVF Knuckle just like the EVF did above with the Letus and Element Technica.

SmallHD bracket mounting
Small HD bracket mounting
SmallHD monitor going onto the EVF Knuckle
SmallHD monitor going onto the EVF Knuckle

It gives you the ability to move it up and down. This is particularly useful when you go from a head, then want to go for a low angle on a sandbag. You can just flip the monitor up and you are ready to go.

caged camera on a head with monitor
caged camera on the deck on a sand bag with monitor swung up for operating
caged camera on the deck on a sand bag with monitor swung up for operating

In the next post, we will go into all the necessary little bits that energize your 1DC for video village and get it focus puller friendly.
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Courtesy of Shane Hurlbut, ASC

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