Production Equipment | DIY Canon HV40 Rig

Recently a few people have been showing a lot of interest regarding the current equipment we will be using for productions in 2011. So due to those requests I decided to post a sneak preview for people interested in not only the equipment we have in stock but also the DIY (do-it-yourself) style of filmmaking we will be using for commercials, promotional products, shorts and independent productions. Feel free to click on the image to view a high resolution version of my HV40 rig. For those of you who are tech savvy you can see I am using the Canon Vixia HV40 camera setup with a Raynox 6600 HD attached to the front lens. Originally meant as a high end consumer camera, the HV40 is another Canon model that is taking independent filmmaking to the next level by allowing users to film in 24p.

For those of you who are saying “what the hell does that mean”, allow me to explain. In video technology, 24p refers to a video format that operates at 24 frames per second. Originally, 24p was used in the non-linear editing of film-originated material. Today, 24p formats are being increasingly used for aesthetic reasons in image acquisition, delivering film-like motion characteristics. Some vendors advertise 24p products as a cheaper alternative to film acquisition. In other words, 24p acts as the standard frame rate of film which allows the HV40 user to produce cinematic quality with very little effort. Of course, the user will also need a high quality color correction program to use for post production in order to achieve a true film “look”.

Lucky for myself and other HV40 filmmakers, Canon has been able to take the power of 24p technology and apply it to a consumer model starting in the $700 price range. Granted, the raw image quality is no comparison to DSLR models such as the 5D, 7D or the industry standard RED camera but it is capable of achieving a basic film look that can be manipulated during the process of post production. As you can see from the images posted above there are a variety of differences between my rig and the stand alone HV40. This is where the “do it yourself” part comes into play.

Raynox 6600 HD Wide Angle Lens attachment

In photography and cinematography, a wide-angle lens refers to a lens whose focal length is substantially shorter than the focal length of a normal lens for the image size produced by the camera. In other words a wide angle lens is an attachment that is placed on top of the camera’s lens to help gain a wider image resolution. Films that are shot with a wide angle lens are generally distributed as wide screen films in accordance to how the film is edited during post production. In reference to the HV40, the Raynox 6600 allows my camera to shoot as a 72mm model instead of using the stand alone 43mm lens that comes with the camera. As you can see from the picture of my rig I have attached an XHA1 lens hood to the front of the Raynox to avoid getting dust, dirt and smoke on the glass lens.

Irv Design Focus Ring

As it relates to film and photography, the depth of field is the portion of a scene that appears sharp in the image. Although a lens can precisely focus at only one distance, the decrease in sharpness is gradual on each side of the focused distance, so that within the DOF, the unsharpness is imperceptible under normal viewing conditions. In other words, depth of field is a key factor in regards to gaining the film “look”. With the HV40 model there are a limited amount of choices when it comes to capturing depth of field. The instant auto focus tends to drag from subject to subject while the manual focus wheel located on the camera’s base tends to operate poorly during the process of principal photography. In order to fix this problem I purchased an Irv Design manual focus ring that slips around the lens of the HV40 and uses a dial to turn the wheel at the user’s discretion. Instead of having to use the tip of the finger to focus in short awkward increments, the user can use the wheel to make smooth focus transitions much like a traditional focus ring on higher end cameras.

Azden SMX 10 microphone

In order to achieve high quality audio without worrying about capturing unwanted miscellaneous static and noise I have attached an Azden SMX 10 microphone to the top of my camera. Generally, audio captured from the camera’s supplied microphone can tend to pick up unwanted sounds unintended for the film’s final product. In order to eliminate this issue, videographers and cinematographers will use a separate recording device to capture the audio with the microphone and then apply it to the film once post production is scheduled to begin. Of course users always have the choice of plugging the microphone into the camera’s direct audio source in case a separate recorder is not available.

Cavision brand Shoulder Pad System

With a lot of smaller sized cameras such as the HV40 and the Canon 7D, a steadicam system is required for capturing cinematic style footage you would see in a motion picture. Basically, the steadicam system works as a manual stabilizing mount for camcorders and DSLR models which mechanically isolates the operator’s movement from the camera. A steadicam essentially combines the stabilized steady footage of a tripod mount with the fluid motion of a dolly shot and the flexibility of hand-held camera work. While smoothly following the operator’s broad movements, the steadicam’s armature absorbs any jerks, bumps, and shakes. In the picture of my rig you can see that I have the HV40 attached to the steadicam with a ball head attachment. This is an essential tool for any filmmaker looking to counter the weight between their camera equipment and individual steadicam.

I still have a number of items to add to the rig before it can be at 100% completion so this is not the final showcase by any means. I will be posting updated images of the rig’s progression next week with the addition of my current tripod and fluid head setup.