The Revolution Continues…

The Revolution Continues…

Speaking of RED, and more importantly the idea of getting high quality, high resolution image acquisition gear at a modest budget, enter Stu Maschwitz, film-maker, technologist, and author of the DV Rebel’s Guide who has taken this concept to the next level.

That rig on his shoulder (photo courtesy of Stu’s blog Prolost), is capable of recording full 1080p resolution images with 35mm film depth of field at the true progressive film cadence of 24 frames per second (fps) and can be put together for roughly ~$4,000. Yep $4K give or take a few hundred dollars worth of accessories. That’s not a type-o.

The system is what may be the perfect Digital Video Rebel camera rig, for those who want high quality HD images but still can’t afford a RED or Silicon Imaging Rig with all the accoutrements.

What you see here is a Canon HV20 HDV camera. A consumer HDV camera that has an impressive 1920×1080 CMOS sensor capable of recording progressive scan images at 24 frames per second (24P). Street price ~$1000. However as a consumer camera the lens and level of image and exposure control is pretty lax. Enter the Red Rock Micro M2 35mm adapter. Street price around $550 for the adapter, $2500 tricked out with rails and what not. This adapter attaches to the front of the camera and creates a new 35mm sized imaging plane that the HV20 focuses on. Once set, you can use traditional 35mm SLR lenses (Stu is using a Nikor 50mm f1.4 lens here) to enhance the optics and regain the image controls not available on the HV20. So now you’ve got high quality 35mm lens optics with the depth of field that goes with it being sent to the HV20 image sensor and then out digitally to disk or tape. Essentially the same concept as the RED or Silicon 2K, and only maxed out at HD resolution and without variable frame rates. But still, pair it up on Red Rocks’s prototype shoulder rig and follow focus like this:

Or create your own with a Spiderbrace, or DV Multirig, and some rails, and you’ve got yourself one pretty damn nice HD film-making rig. If you hook it all up on set via HDMI to a Mac or PC with a $250 Blackmagic Intensity card you can even record uncompressed HD just like the big boys. Cineform’s even announced support to record directly to their format (via HDMI) just like the Silicon 2K.

Sure there are limitations. [EDIT, Stu defines the nitty gritty of those limitations after the shoot here.]

You still have fairly lousy shutter control on the camera, and unless you shoot tethered to a computer you are recording to HDV which is highly compressed, but still capable of getting stellar results, and a quick YouTube search will bring up a number of examples.

I’ll update this post with Stu’s footage if/when he posts it. [EDIT: No footage but stills are here:]

For more information on the Canon HV20, and to ask real world questions check out the forums at:


Filmmaker. Themed Entertainment Designer.

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