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Cinematographer Shane Hurlbut, ASC (Terminator: Salvation, Act of Valor) partners with camera accessory manufacturer Letus to release a line of rigs for DSLRs, designed to turn them into true motion picture cameras.
Cinematographer Shane Hurlbut, ASC
Cinematographer Shane Hurlbut, ASC
has announced the Master Cinema Series
, a line of rigs created in partnership with camera accessory manufacturer Letus Corporation
designed to turn DSLRs into true motion picture cameras. Hurlbut, who lensed Terminator: Salvation, The Greatest Game Ever Played, Drumline, Semi-Pro
, and Act of Valor,
is known for having been an early adopter of DSLR cameras and has developed methods of shooting with DSLRs with a more traditional 35mm set-up.
"DSLRs are never going away," says Hurlbut, who recently shot Act of Valor
with the Canon 5D. "The new DSLRs that are coming out in the Fall of 2011 and the Spring of 2012 will rock your socks off and we are embracing all of them with our rig technology. These rigs are designed to turn the DSLR into a motion picture camera device, something that cinematographers can look at and know exactly how to operate the camera."
The new gear, which was prototyped and manufactured by Letus, is comprised of 16 individual components that make up Hurlbut's Master Cinema Series (MCS) system. The complete system can be configured in multiple different ways but Letus is packaging them into four configurations that easily morph from one form to another: Studio Cam, Shoulder Cam, Man Cam and Action Cam. According to Hurlbut, over 6,000 engineering hours and more than 18 patents go into the new gear, with every component "field-tested, tweaked and re-prototyped several times over to assure the absolute best product." He gives tremendous credit to Letus Corporation owner Hien Tu Le. "His design is a work of art," says Hurlbut.
"Our mission was to professionalize the DSLR platform," says Hurlbut. "To be able to actually look at it and say, This is a camera system I've seen before...this is what the professionals use. We took from what the masters have been doing for decades, shooting with Panavision
, took a hybrid of both and put the best into the DSLR system."
"For once, you'll feel at one with the camera," he continues. "Whether you use still glass or cinema glass, the MCS rig is balanced, and the entire line features quick release designs that are simple to lock and unlock blindly and with one hand."
A Navy SEAL is engaged in a personnel recovery mission in Relativity Media's upcoming release, "Act of Valor". Credit: Courtesy of Act of Valor Productions. Copyright 2011 Relativity Media, LLC. All rights reserved.
At the same time that Hurlbut notes the rigs will give professional cinematographers a chance to use DSLR cameras as another motion picture capture tool, he also notes that the new Master Cinema Series system will open up a more professional shooting style to others. "This system gives the public an affordable tool that can do the job that--until now--has been done by the pros and was only affordable to the pros," he says. "This equipment is designed and priced for every filmmaker to enjoy, no matter what the budget. Whether someone is lensing a wedding, documentary, music video, commercial or full-length feature, this is their form factor."
Features across the MCS line include modular design; the ability to work with all current EVFs (electronic viewfinders) on the market; the ability to handle Cineroid
and the SmallHD
DP-4 accessories; stainless steel base rods; compact counterweight system; rosetted top handle that can be transformed to be used as pan handle; the ability to mimic the balance of a 35mm film camera; ergonomic and lightweight; custom CNCed and anodized parts with precision Swiss aluminum; and an anti-spinning system that utilizes the camera hot shoe.
The MCS Action Cam
is a nimble, "bare bones" camera rig designed with minimal weight to maneuver on the camera end. All the batteries, remotes, transmitters and so on are stored in the MCS custom backpack. The Action Cam offers the minimal number of accessories to turn a DSLR into a "proper filming machine when in tight situations," says Hurlbut. The rig is also compact enough to be carry-on luggage. "If you're shooting fast-paced action and need to move at a moment's notice," this is the perfect solution," says Hurlbut.
THE MASTER CINEMA SERIES ACTION CAM
The MAN Cam
is designed for more intense shooting situations that require a small camera and is ideal when the camera operator is immersed in the action. With a half-Steadicam/half handheld feel, the Man Cam is the solution when a first-person view is required. It features front and rear t-handles for easy gripping and camera control, and is designed for use with a preview monitor like the SmallHD DP6. The majority of the weight is moved to a backpack, which holds all the battery and MDR support, aiding camera operators with long shoot days. The MAN CAM is also easy to boom up and down while walking.
THE MASTER CINEMA SERIES MAN CAM
The Shoulder Cam
was developed for shoulder-mounted camera work and designed around the shooting methods used on a 35mm Panavision set-up. This set-up is the one that mimics the feel of a true 35mm film camera and is aimed at filmmakers who like the hand-held look. "It allows you to mount a fully kitted out camera system while keeping the weight balance centered on your shoulder," says Hurlbut. "If you want to shoot like the pros in Hollywood have been doing for the past five decades, this is the form factor for you."
THE MASTER CINEMA SERIES SHOULDER CAM
Hurlbut notes that in a traditional DSLR set-up, the camera sits in front of the user, which requires an equal amount of counter weight behind the user, creating a long, awkward rig that's difficult to control. "With the use of an EVF, we are able to reduce the overall length and weight of the DSLR set-up," he says. The system also breaks down into smaller parts, which enables the cinematographer to quickly go from hand-held to tripod and back.
The Studio Cam
was designed for tripod shooting with an EVF. With a patent-pending EVF leveling system, the operator can tilt the camera up and down with minimal movement on the EVF eyepiece. "This is the first EVF leveler designed for the DSLR and smaller form factor cameras," says Hurlbut. "You'll be amazed at how much easier tripod use is when your EVF is not tilting all over the place." The Studio Cam includes other features that aid the tripod use, including the addition of a vertical back handle for a control point for camera movement.
THE MASTER CINEMA SERIES STUDIO CAM
The Shane Hurlbut Master Cinema Series is a work of passion from both Hurlbut and Letus Corporation owner Hien Te Le. Hurlbut relates that Le bought an airline ticket just to be able to get past security and find him at an airline gate to talk about working together. Once Le and Hurlbut sat down, they quickly found out they had a lot in common. "I thought this guy has passion and great ethics," says Hurlbut. "He has the same passion and energy level I have, and it's been an amazing relationship. From drawing on a napkin in June to full production in October, our mission was to professionalize the DSLR platform."
With the passion many operators and cinematographers already have for their DSLR cameras, the new Master Cinema Series is welcomed news. As the new generation of DSLRs hit the market beginning in November with Canon, more creatives--professionals and prosumers--will gravitate to the cameras. The Master Cinema Series rigs are sure to find an ever-increasing pool of potential buyers.