HD Rig: John-Marc Hamilton

This is my personal HD rig, built over the past few years to accommodate my shooting style. This is the “Big Rig”, because it’s heavy, and includes all the tools for on-the-run shooting, with multiple microphones, and even a secondary monitor for a director. The “Small Rig” is simply the camera and the monitor, which can easily be hand-held or stabilized. The rig is the HandySLR (now known as Edelkrone) and optional shoulder mount. It is very stable, has a strong top handle for low shooting or carrying, and has ample room to attach all my devices.

Besides the camera itself (pictured here is a Canon 7D with a vintage FD 35-105 f3.5 lens), on the front of the rig I have a Swivi 5.6″ LCD monitor with sun shade, which provides me with direct visual feedback of what I’m filming. It attaches via the mini-HDMI port on the side of the camera, and has an HDMI through port that allows me to passthrough the same information to my secondary monitor (if needed). On top of the rig, I have mounted two Audio-Technica AT-8015 shotgun microphones (these are fantastic mics, and capture both speech and live music equally well). The mics are fed directly into the XLR inputs of the Zoom H4N 4-track recorder (recording in 4-track mode limits me to 24-bit / 48kHz, which is more than acceptable).

On the left side of the rig is a BeachTek audio interface to handle two more channels of audio. This unit takes the sound from my two Sony wireless receivers mounted on the back of the rig, and outputs the sound to the other two channels of the Zoom H4N recorder. The two Sony UWP wireless systems allow me to mount remote microphones (either the included lavalier mics, any dynamic mic, or a line level) anywhere at the location for a non-roaming sound source.

On the right side is the secondary monitor, which is a SmallHD DP1x, a 9″ LCD screen. This monitor is big and bright, allowing high visibility from a distance, so a director can see what I’m shooting. I don’t always include this, but it’s a nice feature to have available in tight spaces, and saves me from having a director peering over my shoulder to see what I’m filming. Because the Swivi monitor has a passthrough HDMI port, it’s an easy option to add the second monitor, but I could just as easily add a wireless feed to a remote location as well.

Also mounted on the rear of the rig is a large 12v battery, which directly powers the SmallHD monitor, as well as (through a
custom-built power breakout box, not shown) supplies continuous power to the HD camera and the Zoom recorder, meaning I can roam and record for at least 3 hours straight without having to change batteries. It also provides some ballast weight to the back of the rig, helping to balance the front load.

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