Both the Blackmagic Pocket 4K and 6K cameras have been a hot topic in the indie filmmaking community in the last few months. The reason is quite simple: they give you a great bang for the buck you spend. But this great value has a cost. Clearly, it’s not a manifest and economic cost: it’s a hidden cost.
These cameras, like all similar devices, can be squeezed of every little drop of filmmaking juice only if rigged out to exploit their capabilities to the limit. James Matthews has been tackling the matter while devising a nice lightweight configuration to take advantage of the camera, but without either breaking the bank or his back. Let’s take a look at this convenient and portable solution.
First and foremost, here are all the components you’ll need for this setup:
The reasoning behind the choice of this super light and fast rig is pretty simple. Often times you can be faster, and most of all inconspicuous if you use a smaller rig. Big cameras are noticeable, they draw attention, and in a run and gun situation, that means losing time.
Even if you do have all the permits to shoot, you’ve got to stop the recording, switch different accessories and so on. That’s why James opted for a super-light unconventional rig, that could get him from handheld to gimbal in a matter of seconds.
So, at the heart of this rig, is as always, the cage… Wait a moment. There is no cage around the camera! To keep the whole structure quick and lightweight, James has used a NATO Rail by SmallRig as the only addendum on the camera body: that will be the piece where all the optional bits will attach to.
The first part to go is the side handle. It slides on top through the NATO rail, simple and sleek. James had to trim down the handle height-wise since it was a little bit too long and the camera was not flush while sitting down. On the rail, there’s also a cold shoe that can come handy to attach a mic or another small accessory. And if one cold shoe is not enough, then a small bracket mounted on the handle will give you exactly what you need.
Taking advantage of the USB-C port on the Pocket is the way most filmmakers go since the cost of CFast cards is still over the top. This setup uses a couple of adapters and a ribbon cable to neatly carry the signal on top of the handle.
There a simple strip of velcro keeps in place a Samsung T5 SSD. If you may not feel too comfortable, as most of us will, with such a risky mounting option, SmallRig offers many cheap drive holders that can screw onto the rail.
One common complaint about the Pocket 6K is that the otherwise beautiful screen is stuck in a place without the ability to rotate or flip. There’s a very expensive mod you could use, but most will go with a simple external monitor. Taking advantage of the cold shoe mentioned earlier, you can mount it exactly over the camera, well centered as per weight and ease of use.
If you’re smart enough, you can power the monitor with a Sony NPF battery, but not any battery: you should choose one like this that has a DC output and wire it to the camera DC input. The 10,000mAh of this little beast can power the monitor and camera combo for three and a half hours. That is insane! And it solves another great critical issue on the Pocket 6K, that is the battery life. Two birds with one stone!
This setup is really simple and easy, there is really nice and smart thinking behind it. And the cool thing is that if you need to be even more discreet, just re-routing the SSD and sliding one single rail will give you a basic handheld configuration.
The handheld version can slide easily on a gimbal, completely changing your whole system in a matter of seconds. If you still need the beefy juice from the bigger battery, a small plate like the one by Blind Spot suggested in the video will get you covered.
Well, that is a nice and easy setup, it’s dirt cheap, discreet, and effective. Kudos to James for thinking of such a clever solution, now it’s up to you to try and replicate it, or even improve it.