Whether you’re a busy professional or dedicated enthusiast, many, if not all, video producers have experienced the challenges of trying to create quality work with little to no assistance at one time or another. And some, whether by design or fate, function as a one-person production crew on nearly every project. It is for determined souls such as these that products like the One Man Crew from Redrock Microsystems are designed.
If you’ve ever thought how great it would be to enhance your image quality with beautifully smooth lateral camera moves, while keeping your subject in frame and in focus… and without a dolly, crew, curved track and camera operator, then you’ll want to have a very close look at the One Man Crew. In fact, you can check out Videomaker’s Associate Editor Greg Olson as he demonstrates the One Man Crew in action.
What You Get
The One Man Crew arrives ready to get set up and shooting fast: the unit itself of course, which contains the motorized tracking system, laser alignment system and controls, Redrock’s heavy load tilt head with integrated bubble level, AC adapter with an assortment of international plug adapters and a soft canvas carrying case with shoulder strap and side handle, and a second handle on one end.
Ohhh Yeahhh …
Many products in today’s highly competitive world seem to be just one more in a long line of camera equipment that may all produce beautiful image quality, but don’t really offer anything new, unique or exciting. The One Man Crew defies the norm with genuine utility and plenty of wow-factor.
Once free of its handy carrying case, the One Man Crew may be set up on a stable, flat surface such as a table or raised plank supported by a pair of step ladders or chairs. On the other hand, it may be mounted to a sturdy, heavy-duty tripod using the tapped mounting holes on the underside of the unit. When using a tripod be sure it can handle the One Man Crew’s 14lb. plus your camera, otherwise you’ll want to add support at either side, such as in our case, a pair of light stands.
The Redrock heavy load tilt head accepts nearly any camera up to about 20 pounds. Cameras may be attached using a quick release camera plate or directly to the head, which has its own quick release/tilt feature. Markings on the side of the head ensure repeatable tilts while an integrated bubble level takes care of leveling duties.
Pressing a button on the control panel activates a pair of lasers, then you move your subject until the red dots line up.
Once the camera is in place, plug in the power, or get mobile with battery power using the optional D-Tap power cable. Flip the power switch and you’re ready to place your subject. Optimal placement is about six feet from the One Man Crew, but you won’t need a tape measure. Pressing the yellow triangle-shaped button on the control panel activates a pair of lasers on the front of the unit. You simply move your subject closer or farther away until the red dots line up vertically. This placement ensures that your subject remains in focus throughout the shot for beautifully crisp image quality.
The control panel lives at one end of the One Man Crew and features a speed dial, auto/manual modes, left/right motion controls and the ability to limit the amount of travel in either direction.
The most striking feature of the One Man Crew is certainly the curved slot on top, which reveals the curved track, tucked neatly inside. Following this parabolic arc allows the subject to remain stationary and in perfect focus throughout the full range of motion. The parallax movement of the background against the stationary subject creates a visually interesting image and a very professional effect.
A dial on the control panel allows for speed changes on the fly from very slow to quite fast. At slower speeds, as would be appropriate for interviews, the tracking mechanism is almost completely silent. At higher speeds there is a noticeable increase in the amount of noise, but this shouldn’t be a deal breaker because the faster speeds would be more suitable for B-roll shots anyway. A truly unique piece of camera equipment, the One Man Crew can also be programmed for fully automatic operation at a large variety of speeds including eight hours from end to end for extremely smooth, or even time-lapse, work.
If you would like a more limited range of motion, for product shots perhaps, then use the Limits button on the control panel to set the stopping points at either end of the arc. Regardless of the speed setting, the One Man Crew automatically ramps down for perfectly smooth transitions from one direction to the other. Unlike most other types of camera equipment, once set, you can truly walk away and tend to your other many chores as a video producer.
The One Man Crew may seem like a slider, but is not at all intended as a replacement for sliders and is capable of much more. It is particularly well suited for interview work such as in documentary or corporate video productions and producing beautiful product shots with great image quality. Its cost is easily offset by requiring one less paid crewmember, allowing one person to effectively set up and acquire gorgeous footage from two cameras, with professional slider-like shots, for great cutaways and lots of choices in the edit bay.
A very portable, easy-to-set-up piece of equipment that is capable of producing beautiful moving background shots, while keeping the subject in position and in focus, the One Man Crew from Redrock Micro will surely capture the attention of small production crews everywhere.
Redrock Microsystems, LLC
Track Length: 36”
Custom End Points: Yes
Speed Control: Real-time wheel controlled
Leveling Assist: Bubble level
Automatic Track: Yes
Manual Track: Yes
Maximum Camera Weight Limit: 20+ lb.
Support Options: 1/4” and 3/8” mounts, rubberized corner feet for tabletop or ground
Accessory Mounts: Integrated 1/4” and 3/8” female mounting points on rear
Camera Head: Heavy load tilt head
Alignment Setup: Laser assisted
Power: AC (universal adapter included) or D-tap battery (with optional cable)
Dimensions (DxHxL): 9” x 3.25” x 46”
Weight: 14.5 lb. including tilt head
- Portable, sturdy, lightweight
- Easy, quick setup
- Built-in laser alignment
- Keeps subject in focus and in frame
- Noisy at greater speeds
Contributing Editor Mark Holder is a video producer and trainer.