For a long time I’ve admired this piece of gear from afar with a certain trepidation. The idea of having the weight of the camera distributed and having more freedom to access controls is alluring but the it just looks a bit ridiculous. However function generally wins out over form in my mind and on a recent shoot as an AC on a joint shoot for Filson Clothing and Shinola I had an opportunity to try out what is called ‘The Cameraman’s Original Back Saver Since 1994’, EasyRig.
Director/DP Patrick Kehoe with the RED and EasyRig
The shoot called for a RED Scarlet and a set of CP.2 primes and a variety of Canon L series lenses including the 70-200. The basic camera rig included the tactical plate, top handle and we added a hand grip mounted to the top plate to provide an additional hold point along side the RED side handle. A RED BRICK and plate provided power with the REDVOLT in the handle for hot-swapping.
The Director/DP Patrick Kehoe was as hesitant as I was about the absurdity of the EasyRig but shared my desire for support when it comes to a heavy rig like the RED. We had shot for this client earlier in the year at Taylor Shellfish Farms in Bellingham, dressed in hip-waders and schlepping gear across the mud flats as the tide rolled in. For that shoot Patrick relied more heavily on the sticks and his hand-held moves were reserved to cradling the camera, resolving him to low-angles.
The first thing we realized is that mounting up this rig is a two-person operation. The tension on the overhead cable from the EasyRig is substantial, as it must be to support the weight. Patrick would hold the camera while I locked open the mounting clip by pushing the locking clasp up and screwing down the pin. After a warning, I would pull hard on the cable and place the clip around the handle, unscrew the pin and then re-tighten. This final step is critical – at one point we realized the clip was at the very end of the handle, saved only by the tight spacing between the end of the handle and the battery plate. If there were more space the clip could have conceivably popped off the end of the handle and the camera come loose unexpectedly. If you use this rig, pay particular attention to locking the safety pin on the mount!
Once mounted the weight of the camera is transferred magically (or perhaps by science – it’s one-in-the same to me) to the operator’s back and hips. The rig is adjustable like higher quality backpacks and the user is able to shift the weight between hips and back slightly to limit fatigue on long shooting days.
I was amazed at the stability with this heavy rig in-hand. One is able to brace the camera with the left hand while using the side handle to adjust settings then shift camera support to the right and focus with the left. Or, when an Assistant is available, work with camera settings and framing while focus is handled. In any case, the speed and flexibility of shooting were greatly improved.
The RED is a fine camera suitable in many ways but quite cumbersome at times, particularly when one is used to shooting on smaller, lighter platforms. However with the right equipment and support like the EasyRig, an operator can have the freedom to move about and get the shot without killing themselves.
As technology advances I look forward to seeing what else comes about like the ActionProducts Runner or the L’Aigle Exoskeleton, both equally ridiculous looking and designed to support the additional weight of a camera gimbal.