RED V-Raptor - Wildlife Camera Rig Parts
In this article I show you my wildlife RED V-Raptor Rig used on my latest jobs for Disney+ and National Geographic!
Tripod - Sachtler Flotec 100 & Sachtler Video 18 S2:
As this set-up weighs around 12kg, I needed a fluid head which will be able to carry up to 22kg. Considering the weight of the Canon CN20 50-1000mm lens, I needed a future proof fluid head and decided to go with the Sachtler Video 18 S2. As we are not always filming from cars, I also needed a solid and light weight tripod. I wanted the newest technology and therefore I went for the Sachtler Flotec 100.
On the last shoot I had some problems with the older Sachtler tripods when it came to the time you need to adjust the tripod legs and level the head. With the Flotec 100, I can adjust the height of the tripod in seconds! The Sachtler Speed Level Clamp is also amazing as it allows to level the fluid head in a very short time. Which is crucial especially when filming from a car. In some situations you have only a few secounds time to level the head and start filming. With the new Sachtler Speed Level Clamp, leveling the fluid head is lightning fast, every wildlifer filmmaker's dream!
Zacuto Kameleon Pro EVF & Zacuto Axis Mini EVF Mount:
On my first shoots in the bush I realized that the DSMC3 Monitor is ok, but struggled sometimes with harsh light and it mirrows a lot in bright conditions. Not ideal if you want to pull precise focus! Therefore I had to get an EVF for the RED V-Raptor. As RED itself offers no solution at the moment, I decided to go with the Zacuto Kameleon Pro EVF. The viewfinder itself is high quality made and has an amazing OLED display.
The power and SDI cable is from Zacuto itself and it is a little bit long for my taste. But it has an on/off switch which allows to switch the EVF on and off. Very helpful as well in the field while waiting for something to happen on a sighting. As a mounting option I choose the Zacuto Axis Mini EVF mount. To mount the Axis Mini to the camera I have used a Small Rig 15mm rod adapter which is then mounted on the Tilta RED V-Raptor Top Plate.
Spider Crab MA5-6 - DMCS3 Monitor Mount Solution:
The original RED monitor mount was clearly not ideal for wildlife shoots. There was no way to tilt the monitor in a way usable to angle other than shooting straight forward out of the camera door. Therefore I was looking for a solution where the monitor can be used in all different tilts and angles. After spending long hours in research I came across the SPIDER CRAB MA5-6. A rock solid articulating arm with quick release mechanism. So you can quickly remove the monitor and arm if needed in secounds.
The Spider Crab MA5-6 is mounted to the Tilta RED V-Raptor Top Plate and to the side of the DMCS3 Monitor. Both ends are, as mentioned before, on a quick release module.
Small Rig Mini Follow Focus & Nitze Lens Mount Support & PolarPro Basecamp Matte Box:
As a follow focus solution I went with the Small Rig Mini Follow Focus. It is a light weight and easy to use follow focus which does it's job. For bigger focus through I also bought the bigger M0.8-65T gear as well.
For the bigger and more heavy lenses I bought the Nitze 15mm lens support. A great bit of gear, high quality made and it works with all my lenses I am using for wildlfe and run'n'gun IRIX Cine Lenses. Check out my other blog article for more details about the Nitze Lens Support!
As the RED V-Raptor has no inbuilt ND solution you need to use a matte box or screw on filters for your lenses. In my case I had already the Polar Pro Basecamp Matt Box. It fits on my main SIGMA 120-300 f2.8 lens as well as other lenses up to 110mm diameter. The Basecamp Matte Box is a lightweight, high quality matte box with interchangable filters. As the light can be quite harsh in Africa, I own the ND2-5 as well as the ND6-9 variable ND filters. These will cover all light conditions!
Batteries - Bebob 150wH Micro / Bebob 98wH Micro / REDvolt 98wh:
I was using 150wH Bebob micro batteries and they last around two hours. As you leave the camera on most of the time while filming wildlife, this is a point to consider! With all my batteries available (2x 150wh, 4x 98wH) I would reach a maximum runtime of around eight hours. But that means you need to charge the batteries on the spot while filming or you need a lot of chargers... I might consider getting more 150wH bats to have a bit more runtime over the day.
Metabones Mount-Rod Support Kit / Metabones RF to Nikon:
The V-Raptor had in the beginning a problem with the RF mount and therefore I wanted to make sure that I will not run into the same issues using heavy lenses. I was lucky that my RED had already the new lens mount and therefore the problem was not there anymore. But I wanted some more security when using heavy Nikon lenses. As these are my main lenses I am shooting at right now.
It took me forever to find a solution! But at the end I bought the Metabones Mount-Rod Support Kit. A smart piece of gear which is mounted onto the 15mm rails. It then connects the bottom of the Metabones RF to Nikon Adapter. A rock solid solution and definetly enough support for the lens mount.
Microphone & Sound Solutions:
Internal sound was always an issue with RED cameras. But I have found a work around for scratch audio for wildlife productions. To be honest almost all the sound in Natural History Documentaries is done in post anyway. The sound on the shoot itself is rarely used in post. If I don't have a sound recordist on the shoot, I run a Sennheiser MK600 microphone with a Camvate 3-pin XLR to 5-Pin Lemo audio cable into the V-Raptor. I power the mic with phantom power and set the in camera gain to +18. This sounds a lot but it is absolutely usable and not noisy at all.
If I have a sound recordist available, I am sending wireless sound from the sound recordists into the 5-Pin Lemo input. The gain is then controlled by the wireless module and it works like a charm. Timecode is sent to the camera using the RED Expander Blade. With the latest firmware update, the TC is now always up to date and it works perfectly with the Ambient NanoLockit units.
Well, it took some time to find the right parts for this wildlife production camera, but I am happy with it. The rig performed very well in rough conditions, shooting for different productions for Disney+, National Geographic and some other production companies.
I might consider buying the Kippertie Revolva or the Strata PL-ND. But depends on the lenses used in future production. The other thing I might get in the future is a shark fin to extend the runtime of the rig and have a hot swap option. But I will wait till I can test some of the shark fins available before making the final decition.
If you want to get more information and feedback about the RED V-Raptor 8k VV and filming wildlife, do not hesitate to drop me a mail: firstname.lastname@example.org