Lens control has traditionally left camera assistants either tethered to the camera or adjusting lenses directly on the camera body. While these are generally uncomplicated for camera assistants, they're generally not the best practices in today's movement-heavy workflows, because camera departments will have to be conscious of both the operator’s and AC’s positioning. On shoots that require any kind of mobility in the camera, this will be pretty impractical, especially when it involves movement systems.
With wireless cinema tools getting more advanced, precise and overall more reliable, wireless is starting to become the norm on today’s production sets. In fact, many technologies nowadays like the Teradek Bolt work just as flawlessly as our old cabled friends, having become a permanent part of every major cinematographer’s toolkit.
Wireless lens control is just as important to have on set as wireless monitoring though, and the Teradek RT line of lens control has become an industry favorite in the past few years. Recently playing big roles on Thor:Ragnarok, Pacific Rim: Uprising, and Westworld, the Teradek RT line has been used by professionals to capture some of the biggest films this year. In addition, many small commercial productions and even churches have added this to their arsenal.
So why should you also give wireless lens control a shot?
1. Essential to Movement Systems
Productions small and large these days want cameras to be completely mobile, whether it’s cranes, dollies, drones, Steadicams, or even handheld. Camera mobility, and the wide array of modern camera systems that are available now, allows filmmakers to shoot from compelling new angles that were previously impossible or too expensive to do.
On shoots that demand a lot of movement, it’s impossible to keep a system tethered to the camera. That’s why camera teams have shifted towards going fully wireless.
On the set of Pacific Rim: Uprising, drone cinema company XM2 was brought on to capture background plates for the giant robots that would be added in through VFX. XM2’s drone flew 300-400 feet in the air and up to a mile away, carrying an Alexa Mini. The only way to control FIZ was through a wireless system, which XM2 relied on the Teradek RT to do.
Check out the story on this production here.
2. Save Time On Production
Being tethered means having to not only pack extra cables during setup, but also breaking down and packing after a shoot. Camera assistants don’t want to worry about cabling, especially on run-and-gun and time-sensitive productions where filming can be rushed. Having a wireless lens control means ACs and operators can be ready to go at a moment’s notice without the hassle of worrying about cables.
3. Versatile for Any Production
Even on productions that don’t require movement, the simplicity of having a wireless system that’s just as reliable as a cabled one makes it much more desirable. Like wireless monitoring, having wireless lens control allows camera teams to adapt to any sudden changes or setbacks on production without needing to disrupt the flow on set. Need to change locations on a whim? No problem, the camera is instantly ready to go. Need to mount the camera on a MoVI? Camera assists are ready to pull focus. The versatility this offers gives camera teams one less limiting factor to worry about.
As cinematography gets more mobile and stabilized systems grow in popularity, wireless lens control is becoming essential to camera setups. Whether you work on run-and-guns or studio productions, there’s no better time than now to incorporate systems like Teradek RT into your arsenal.