Category Archives: Videos

How to Survive a 24 Hour Film Shootout

The YPSI 24-Hour Shootout is a popular filmmaking competition that asks teams of filmmakers to produce a short film in the span of 24 hours. At the start of the shootout, several “ingredients” are announced. They may include a line of dialog, a prop, a location, or any other requirement for the film being produced. This element forces teams to think on their feet. As a filmmaker who has participated in two YPSI24 events, I’ve put together a few tips to help you survive this intense experience.

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A pre-determined style or technique will help inform your script.

TESTING THE WORKFLOW
Before each 24 hour shootout, I think about a style that would be challenging to implement in 24 hours. A pre-determined technique will also force you to create a story that will fit within the parameters that you set. At this year’s YPSI24, I wanted to execute a continuous one take shot across multiple locations. This would be extremely challenging without testing so I experimented with a range of equipment to create the right recipe. Too much equipment would bog us down and too little gear would compromise the production value.

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The unsung hero – my cheapo $80 fisheye lens for the GH4.

Our main gear list included my trusty Birdycam Lite gimbal, the Panasonic GH4 and a super cheap $80 CCTV Micro 4/3 8mm f3.8 Fisheye Lens that I bought off eBay. My goal was to shoot 4k with a very wide focal length that I could defish in post if necessary. The lens provided a very interesting image that simulated surveillance footage while also giving off some interesting flaring effects against the sunlight.

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8mm f/3.8 Fisheye CCTV Lens for Micro 4/3 Cameras

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Varavon Birdycam Lite 3-Axis Camera Gimbal

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Sometimes enthusiasm trumps experience when it comes to 24 hour filmmaking – choose your crew wisely.

CREATE YOUR TEAM
As a team captain, you are involved in every step of production but assembling your cast and crew to delegate roles is an important, if not THE most important part of a successful 24 hour shootout. This does not automatically mean choosing the most experienced filmmakers (obviously it helps), but rather, the most enthusiastic group of people who are willing to put in a lot of highly concentrated time into their roles. People who can think on their feet and discover creative solutions on the fly are some of the best folks to work with in a 24 hour shootout.

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For our 24 hour short “The Delivery”, the concept was simple – a heated argument between a couple gets resolved. It’s the sci-fi elements that happen in between which add flavor.

GET TO THE POINT
Telling small stories with a simple conflict helps to streamline your script and give the audience a way to connect with your film without being bogged down by long exposition shots or monologues that don’t move the plot along. Think about classic conflicts in literature – man vs. man, man vs. nature, man vs. society, man vs. self and man vs. technology. Having a basic conflict thought out in advance can make it easier to implement your ingredients and create obstacles that your protagonist must overcome. Don’t let your film be the one that makes the audience check their watches during the final screening. Remember, every minute counts. Don’t waste them!

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Always keep things social and fun, especially when your team is going above and beyond the call of duty.

STEER THE SHIP
How you organize your shoot depends on your script, the equipment and how much experience you have but there’s a few things that can make a set run more efficiently. Always keep things social and fun. Having the cast and crew together will create a natural camaraderie that’s reflected on screen but with such a tight time crunch, you want people around who are great under pressure and don’t lose their cool by the slightest change in plans. Keep the entire team involved and active during the shoot and they’ll be more inclined to chime in with ideas that can improve the script.


“The Delivery” 2nd Place Winner of the 2016 YPSI24-Hour Shootout

FOR THE LOVE OF THE GAME
Participate in a 24 hour film shootout because you want to have fun and challenge yourself. Taking it far too seriously can lead to unnecessary frustration. Sure it’s a competition but it’s more about enriching your current artistic relationships and forging new ones. Get rid of the idea of winning awards and know that your 24 hour movie will always be remembered as a bold experience amongst your peers. Check out our 2016 YPSI24 short “The Delivery” above and remember to always stay inspired!

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Photo Credit: Jessica Bibbee

“Session Error” World Premiere & Live Stream Q&A Panel

“Session Error: The Rise & Risk of Electric Skateboarding” details the emerging popularity of high performance, electric skateboarding and the misconceptions about eboarding risk and safety. On Thursday, September 15th at 7:00pm EST, we launched the World Premiere and Live Stream Q&A panel with the filmmakers at Duo Security’s tech event space in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Session Error: The Rise & Risk of Electric Skateboarding Trailer

On Thursday September 15th, I’ll be live streaming my latest short documentary “Session Error: The Rise & Risk of Electric Skateboarding” followed by a Q&A. For those in the Michigan area who would like to attend the screening you can RSVP for FREE here:

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/session-error-the-rise-risk-of-electric-skateboarding-tickets-27339475106

Synopsis
On June 2, 2016, software engineer Robbie Small suffered a traumatic brain injury while riding an electric skateboard. This is his story.

“Session Error: The Rise & Risk of Electric Skateboarding” is a short documentary film that details the emerging popularity of high performance, electric skateboarding and the misconceptions about e-boarding risk and safety.

Total Running Time: 25 min.
Produced by Rik Cordero & Robbie Small
Directed, Shot & Edited by Rik Cordero
Produced by Arbor Day Pictures & A2ESK8
Doors open at 6:00pm
Screening begins at 7:00pm sharp followed by Q&A with the filmmakers
Food and refreshments will be served

Why I Built a Carbon Fiber Electric Skateboard Mini Cruiser


Shot exclusively with the LanParte LA3D Action Gimbal, DJI Phantom 3 and Polar Pro Filters

My original DIY Electric Mini Cruiser Skateboard still holds up quite nicely even after 6 months of hard riding and natural wear and tear. But as with all things DIY, parts can always be upgraded. One key feature that I wanted to improve upon was weight, so once again, I researched the right combination of components to make an already awesome commute even better. I’ve nicknamed this build – the A2ESK8 Mini Cruiser.

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My original 29″ mini cruiser was the perfect size thanks to the unique design of the now discontinued Jet Spud deck. But I wanted to do something different, which is why I chose the Hi5ber Ion 30 mini cruiser deck. Hi5ber has built a great reputation for manufacturing the best carbon fiber longboard decks available. They are lighter and stronger than typical wooden longboards which create a more controlled, responsive experience for the rider.

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The Ion 30’s design is the definition of stealth with it’s ultra thin rails that gradually curve thicker towards the wheelbase. The added benefit is an enhanced wheel clearance that looks so damn futuristic. Other than the low weight, the characteristics of the Ion 30 include high rigidity, high tensile strength, corrosion resistance and fatigue resistance. And unlike wood, carbon fiber doesn’t warp when exposed to water.

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product information button runplayback Hi5ber Carbon Fiber Ion 30

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Before electricfying the Ion 30, I tested it out with Gullwing Sidewinder II trucks alongside 72mm ABEC11 Freerides and it was a blast. That combination of an ultra lightweight carbon fiber deck and double kingpins was so much fun I was a little hesitant to throw electronics on there. But my curiousity got the best of me so I got to work.

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The next step in weight reduction was the battery. My original build contained the 10s3p Enertion Space Cell, a wonderful battery pack, but 30 cells demand a lot of real estate in the wheelbase for a small mini cruiser deck. With a wheelbase of 16.25″ on the Hi5ber, I knew I had to figure out another power solution.

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I ended up creating a custom 12s1p LiFePO4 battery pack with the help of my friend Landon who is an electronics wizard. LiFePO4 batteries are the safest type of lithium batteries as they will not overheat, and even if punctured they will not catch on fire. The cathode material in LiFePO4 batteries is not hazardous, and poses no negative health or environmental hazards. Due to the oxygen being bonded tightly to the molecule, there is no danger of the battery erupting into flames like there is with lithium-ion. We used 12 cells in series for a total voltage of about 36v. Paired with a BMS, voltage display, charge port and power button, the pack ended up having a more compact size – perfect for the Hi5ber deck.

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Once again I designed a custom 1/8″ ABS enclosure using my homemade vacuum former. This time I wanted the buttons to be located on the side of the enclosure as flush as possible. This created a more pleasing appearance that complimented the look of the carbon fiber. The length of the enclosure came out to 11″ and width at 5″. This meant plenty of room to spare on the Ion 30 wheelbase.

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product information button runplayback A2ESK8 Apone V1 Electric Skateboard Enclosure

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Another big upgrade I made was swapping my original Torqueboards 2.4ghz Mini Remote with an even smaller 2.4ghz Nano Remote that features a thumb throttle instead of a trigger throttle. As far as how it feels in my hand, it’s pretty awesome. Granted, I’m not a big guy but it’s the right size for stealth in the city. It’s as if they took the best features of the Yuneec EGO and Boosted Boards remote and put it into a no frills casing. I like the short throw, knob throttle which is a much better design than Boosted’s long throw thumb dial and trigger button. Shout out to Kaly over at ESK8 builders for the hookup on this remote.

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The only components I ported over from my original build are the Ollin Board VESC and the Carvon V2 Single Hub Motor. Because of months of wear and tear and a few moisture issues, Landon and I decided it was best to clean the VESC up with some gentle scrubbing and a coating of anti-corrosion spray. Even so, the VESC is still going strong with no issues or errors – a testament to Ollin Board’s high quality manufacturing practices.

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My Carvon V2 Single Hub Motor was upgraded with authentic 90mm ABEC11 Flywheels and is really the backbone of my entire mini cruiser build. I’ve put the hub motor through the ringer in every harsh road condition imaginable and it continues to perform flawlessly. Carvon continues to push the boundaries of eboard drive trains and I look forward to seeing what they do next with their V3 hub motor design and EVO series.

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Dialing in the VESC settings is critical for creating a safe and fun mini cruiser. My original build was capable of hitting 31 mph but the sweet spot for a board this small is around 15-18 mph – more than enough for carving through a dense city filled with intersections and pedestrians. Also, the 12s LiFePO4 battery delivers a stronger punch than my 10s lithium ion with a more stable discharge and minimal voltage sag. As much as I enjoy releasing the full power and speed from a DIY eboard, there’s something quite satisfying about taming a mini cruiser eboard that has the ability to hurl you but won’t because you’re keeping it on a leash. More importantly, this build never feels like it’s struggling or straining and that kind of confidence transfers into longer range and fun, safer rides.

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Skating the A2ESK8 Mini Cruiser around the city proved to be a blast. On FOC mode with the Carvon V2 hub motor, the sound is nearly silent. The ultra light Hi5ber Ion 30 board makes acceleration from standstill fantastic and it really feels like your riding on some kind of space age material because of how responsive it is. Carbon fiber handles bumps slightly differently than wooden decks but in a good way because vibrations don’t transfer as much harsh energy to your body. Oh and did I mention how light this thing is? Seriously I’ll take carbon decks over wood any day of the week.

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DIY electric skateboard builds have been getting better and better in just a few months yet there are still just a handful of 30″ and under DIY mini cruiser builds. Perhaps it’s a bit of a stigma to purposely limit your top speed on a smaller deck but I feel like it’s our responsibility to be ambassadors of this technology everytime we step on a board. I’ve already seen friends who’ve hurt themselves on eboards and in almost all cases, the problem was either an inexperienced rider or a road obstacle and not a board failure. Going over 25 mph instead of 13 mph on a non electric board meant crashes that have caused broken bones and serious concussions. Believe me, I’ve had first hand experience with this and it’s made me a very visible advocate for eboard helmet safety.

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This mini cruiser was not designed to be a land missile and it shows. It’s become the ultimate conversation starter whenever I ride in the city because I’m seriously just having fun. The weight reduction made a huge difference and carrying it on public transportation is even easier. If you’re in the Detroit area at the end of July, check out this mini cruiser build in person at the Detroit Maker Faire where will have an A2ESK8 booth and demonstrations. For more information on the products I used to create the video above, please check out the links below.

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product information button runplayback Lanparte LA3D Detachable 3-Axis Handheld Gimbal

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product information button runplayback Polar Pro GoPro Frame 2.0 Professional Filter 6 Pack

My New Film “Force Touch” Is Streaming For Free


Force Touch is now streaming for FREE

Check out my latest short film “Force Touch”, shot entirely with the Varavon Birdycam Lite and the Panasonic GH4. Synopsis below:

When four friends discover a smartphone that takes pictures of the future, things go from bad to worse as their darkest secrets are revealed. Written, Shot & Directed by Rik Cordero. Produced by Arbor Day Pictures & Neutral Zone. Executive Produced by Nancy Mitchell.

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Photo Credit: Katie Alexis

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Photo Credit: Katie Alexis

The sold out screening at the historic Michigan Theater was a huge success. The power of independent storytelling, community and inspiration is a potent combo and it was evident from the positive feedback from the audience. A big thank you to our sponsors – Camera Mall, Aspen Mics and Polar Pro for the wonderful raffle gifts, Neutral Zone, Sunday Afternoon Pictures, YPSI24, our photographer Katie Alexis and our friend Jason Buchanan who conducted the interview below about the making of “Force Touch”.

I sense an influence from The Twilight Zone here. In particular, the episode “A Most Unusual Camera”, was that show an influence on you as a storyteller? Could you talk about some of your influences in writing and directing?

Yup that episode of the “Twilight Zone” was a major influence, especially with the voiceover narration that provides just enough exposition to pull you into the story. Charlie Brooker’s “Black Mirror” was also a strong influence as I wanted to explore the consequences of modern technology on a specific group of young people who aren’t very likeable. I imagined these characters had big dreams in college which never fully materialized. It’s like that weird time in your early 20’s when you’re not young enough to be dependent yet not old enough to be jaded by the grind.

My wife Nancy (Executive Producer of the film) and I, moved from New York City to Ann Arbor last July. We shot a ton of music videos and commercials during our time there but the work life balance sucked. Once we moved, the creative quality of our lives improved almost immediately through meeting many diverse folks with common interests.

With more time to focus on storytelling, I came up with the idea of “Force Touch” and my goal was to capture elements of the college culture here from an outsider’s point of view. I’m a college football fan but maybe not to the degree as some of my friends who have lived here their entire lives so I wanted to explore those emotions and how they would bounce off the characters in the story. Also Ann Arbor was a new canvas for me to employ a layer of sci-fi and technology which is another passion of mine.

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Photo Credit: Katie Alexis


Neutral Zone Promo video produced by Arbor Day Pictures

Can you expand on the role that the Neutral Zone played in producing the short? What was it like working with them?

I was introduced to Lori Roddy and Mary Moffett at Neutral Zone through Dug and Linh Song. After getting the tour of the facilities I was instantly inspired to contribute something to their video program that’s run by Alysha Schlundt-Bodien. Once we set our shoot dates, I reached out to Neutral Zone to help produce it. From our script rehearsals with the actors to camera assisting, lighting and sound, we provided some Neutral Zone Teens first hand experience with independent filmmaking. It was a tough shoot, especially since our first day landed on a major snowstorm but we made it through and hopefully some of the kids will stick with it.

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Force Touch pre production meeting at Neutral Zone, Ann Arbor

As a relatively new transplant to the area, what are your impressions of the local filmmaking scene? What do you like? Anything you wish you could find but haven’t?

I met the majority of our cast by participating in last year’s YPSI24 24 hour film competition and it was one of the best experiences I’ve had in a long time. There’s a special sense of camaradrie and collaboration here that’s been missing for awhile in New York City. It’s easy to stay busy in NYC but most video creatives including myself were often stuck hustling multiple gigs just to pay the bills. There’s a better work life balance here that’s very refreshing and reminds me about why I got into this business in the first place – to share stories and stay inspired.

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Photo Credit: Katie Alexis

Can you talk a little about your work with Duo Security?

Duo Security reflects a lot of why the Ann Arbor community is appealing to me. Our CEO Dug Song, Creative Director Pete Baker and Multimedia Specialist Martin Thoburn have embraced my thirst for living a creative life which motivates me to think about creative video solutions for Duo. Things like recruiting videos to brand awareness and case studies are not often big priorities at most tech companies but Duo is unlike any other company I’ve worked for. Our creative team can go toe to toe with some of the best creative agencies in any major city and it’s a testament to the forward thinking goals of the leadership here.

One thing that most filmmakers have in common when it comes to doing the corporate grind is – how much of my artistic integrity do I have to give up just to fit in? I’ve retained 100% of my artistic integrity since working here and that comes from having an office culture that doesn’t force you to conform to tradition.

My value at Duo may not have a direct measurement as someone in Sales or Engineering and while metrics and procedures are important, nothing is more valuable than offering up creative solutions that keep our street cred intact. There’s a reason why our website doesn’t look like an out of the box template or why our videos entertain some of the most successful tech people in the world. We must be doing something right.

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Photo Credit: Katie Alexis

Lastly, are there any video projects in development that you can talk about?

At Duo, I’m working on a huge marketing stunt called “Duo in Space” where we will launch a weather balloon equipped with a phone and prosthetic finger that will perform a Duo 2-Factor Authentication push from close to 120,000 feet above the earth. In my spare time, I’m sharing DIY techniques on my blog runplayback.com and building electric longboards with my crew A2ESK8.

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Photo Credit: Katie Alexis

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product information button runplayback Polar Pro Trippler 3-in-1 Tripod/Grip/Pole

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Varavon Birdycam Lite 3-Axis Camera Gimbal


product information button runplayback Panasonic GH4 4K Video Recording

My Homie Jeff Made A 45 MPH Electric Longboard!

Just wanted to share a new video series I’m developing titled “Duo Meet Your Maker” which profiles local hackers, tinkerers, hobbyists, and the tech-savvy makers to learn about their processes and highlight the things they create. My goal with this series to look beyond the gadgets themselves to explore the people behind them and what makes them tick. My first subject is Jeff Plott, a local mechanical engineer, who built a 45 mph electric longboard! Yikes! If you’d like to know more about how I shot those action shots check out my electric longboarding action rig here.

I Made an Action Cam Rig for Electric Longboarding

After racking up hours of DIY electric longboarding videos, I’d like to share some of the tools that I use for capturing high speed action. If you recall from my original DIY Electric Longboard build article, I was initially inspired to use an eboard as a dolly when paired with my camera gimbal. As I got into high speed riding with eboards I needed a way to capture the action and feel of a ride through inventive, hard to reach camera angles. Here’s a very compact setup that’s easy to handle while in the midst of all the action.

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ACTION CAM
The Xiaomi Yi has been my main action camera for quite some time. At around $80 you get a wi-fi action cam that records 2k videos with natural colors, definition and solid low light ability. The quality is comparable to the GoPro Hero3+ and the best feature is the 1/4-20 female thread on the bottom which allows better compatibility for clamps and rigs instead of GoPro’s proprietary mounting system. The Wi-Fi app is super easy to use for live preview and remote recording. You could pick up three Xiaomi Yi’s for the price of one GoPro Hero3+ which is a value that’s really hard to beat.

Price: $78

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Xiaomi Yi Action Camera with Wi-Fi

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ACTION CAMERA GIMBAL
The Came-TV 3-Axis Action Gimbal is a 32-bit gimbal that features brushless motors with Encoders. Encoders are often used in Robotics for highly accurate monitoring of motor position. This helps prevent motors from losing synchronization and skipping steps, provides important information about frame and camera angles, increases battery life, increases torque and the precision of stabilization.​ The gimbal is constructed from aluminum alloy, weighs in at a very light 300 grams, has a 1/4-20 female thread and is compatible with the Xiaomi Yi.

Price: $300

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product information button runplayback CAME-TV CAME-Action 3-Axis Gimbal

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PAINTER POLE ADAPTER
This DIY Painter Pole Adapter is designed to connect to the top of a standard paint pole and turn it into a very long monopod. It’s made of CNC machined aluminum with an anodized black finish and has a 1/4-20 male stud to fit perfectly with the Came Action Gimbal. Alternately, you can use this with a small ball head for accessories or even as a microphone boom pole.

Price: $15

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DIY Boom Painter Extension Pole Adapter

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PAINTER POLE
The Shur-Line Easy Reach 60″ Adjustable Extension Pole extends from 30″ to 60″ with almost no flex. It also features an ergonomic handle and is great for capturing hard-to-reach shots. With a painter’s pole I’m able to get the camera as close to the action as possible. One shot I like to do is having a rider cut in front of me as I raise the pole from bottom to top to create a booming effect.

Price: $18

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Shur-Line 60 in. Adjustable Extension Pole

TECHNIQUE
Mileage may vary depending on your stance on the eboard but since I ride goofy and use the eboard trigger remote on my right hand – I keep the painter pole tucked under my left shoulder while balancing the whole rig on my left hand. This position lets me use my whole body to maneuver the camera while still being able to lean and carve on the road.

For safety, I’d advise wearing full safety protection (helmet, pads, etc) and always keep your eye on the road through peripheral vision. Communication is also key so be sure to direct the rider and let them know if you see something cool. You’ll know that you’re nailing your technique when you forget that you’re filming and are focused on composition.

CONCLUSION
Electric longboards are super fun to ride and combine the feeling of longboarding and snowboarding except you can eboard anywhere with large, smooth pavement. With speeds that hover around 30mph and over, having a compact, lightweight rig is essential to capturing the rush of excitement that comes from eboarding. Also get creative – shoot some drone shots, capture B-Roll of your homies or clamp the action cam on the board itself. If you have any questions or suggestions hit me up in the comments below!

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Carvon Electric Mini Cruiser (Pre-Order)

My New Royce 5’9″ Video Was Shot Entirely with the Varavon Birdycam Lite

Check out my latest music video for Royce 5’9″ titled “Which Is Cool”, shot entirely with the Varavon Birdycam Lite and the Panasonic GH4. The concept is that Royce can hardly contain his honest thoughts which start filtering into the real world through his music. Here’s my treatment for the song:

We open on Royce and his brother walking out of their SUV and into a convenience store in Detroit. Inside the store are various extras – a skinny dude wearing feminine tight clothes, a girl dressed in baggy, masculine clothes, rich businessman, street dude, hooker, etc. Each time he calls out these personality types in his thoughts, we’ll cut to their actions. As this is happening Royce will walk through the store, gathering various items to purchase.

Royce’s performance will be gradual. It will begin as just his thoughts so his lyrics will be translated through his body language and looks which causes him to rap in spurts. The extras will interact with him, offended that they are being called out yet are too afraid to do anything about it.

Suddenly we cut to Royce and his brother purchasing the items at the counter. In the background all of the extras are staring at them in silence, emotionless and offended. We follow Royce and his bro into the SUV. Royce turns the radio on and suddenly we…

Cut to black.

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Varavon Birdycam Lite 3-Axis Camera Gimbal


product information button runplayback Panasonic GH4 4K Video Recording

I Built Another DIY Electric Longboard With More Power

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My original DIY Electric Skateboard is quite possibly one of my favorite things I’ve built so far and the feedback has been phenomenal. Every ride is an opportunity to discover inventive ways to capture the board on video. However, the communal experience of riding with other people is where the real fun begins. The performance gap between my DIY Single Hub Eboard and my Yuneec EGO is too wide so the only solution was to build another board. Do I really NEED more than one? Absolutely not. But the shared experience of riding with others is priceless.

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DOING THE DUAL

I had the option to either replicate my original DIY Single Hub or go for something a little different. Perhaps a single belt drive or a dual setup. I ended up choosing a dual hub motor system. There’s a bit of a perpetual debate on belt drive vs. hub motors and it always comes down to personal preference. The stealth and coasting ability of the Carvon Single Hub is incredible. But the best feature to me is that it can withstand some of the harshest conditions imaginable. Harsh conditions during a Michigan Winter include rock salt, potholes, uneven pavement, snow, black ice, etc. Once I decided on using Carvon Dual Hubs for my next build, choosing the rest of my parts was fairly simple.

CHOOSING THE PARTS

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JET TOMAHAWK “PEACE OUT” DECK
I knew this build would not be a mini cruiser like my last one, but I loved the quality of my Jet deck so I wanted to find something similar but with a longer wheelbase. I ended up going for the Jet Tomahawk because of it’s freeride design and variable wheelbase from 23.75″ to 28.25″. The Tomahawk shares similar wheel wells like my Jet Spud but has more of an aerodynamic, missle-like shape. When it comes to choosing a deck, Muirskate is a great resource for all things longboards. Shout out to Scott!

Price: $79.95

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Jet Tomahawk “Peace Out” Deck

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CARVON V2 DUAL HUB MOTOR + MATCHING TRUCKS + WHEELS SET
As I mentioned, the durability of the Carvon Hub is what did it for me. Jerry at Carvon knew how much fun I was having on a single hub but said a dual would be even more of a blast. Since I pretty much committed to a big boy board, I ended up going with massive 97mm wheels which is recommended for 10s-12s Li-Po packs. Like last time, the Carvons arrived on time with a clean, professional build all around – heavy duty 2250W brushless outrunner motors, 10″ black trucks with matching black anodized motor sleeves and ceramic bearings. There’s been some questions about why the motor isn’t completely hidden inside of the urethane and I would assume it’s to create the actual feel of riding on a wheel as opposed to riding on a motor. I haven’t tried the thin urethane hubs on an Inboard or Stary but I’d be hesitant about riding those anywhere but pristine, paved roads in California. Where I’m from, the roads are tough and I have no hesitation blasting through them with Carvons.

Price: $599

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Carvon V2 Dual Hub Motors + Matching Trucks + Wheels Set

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ENERTION 10S SPACE CELL BATTERY
The Enertion 10S Space Cell has been so reliable and convenient that getting another one was no question. I haven’t had the chance to perform any range tests yet but it’s more than enough juice for a full day of riding on single hub and it will be interesting to compare the duration with a dual hub. The new version of the Space Cell also features an improved power switch and Jason’s customer service is top notch.

Price: $343.38

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Enertion 10S Space Cell Battery

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OLLIN BOARD COMPANY VESC – OPEN SOURCE ESC SPEED CONTROLLER
I doubled down on the Ollin Board Company’s VESC, still the best electronic speed controller created specifically for electric skateboards by Benjamin Vedder. Like I said, I’ve been riding hard in single digit Michigan weather in some of the most adverse conditions ever and have had no problems with the VESC at all. Honestly I don’t even think about it, which is a testament to the quality (heavy duty wiring, clean soldering, military grade, gold plated PCB’s, firmware testing) and is also coated for moisture and corrosion protection. The price on the Ollin Board VESC has gone up a bit but with the warranty and repair guarantee, it’s well worth it. Also be sure to pick up a CANBUS Connector to power the VESC’s together.

Price: $165

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VESC – Open Source ESC Speed Controller

Price: $5

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CANBUS Connector for VESC

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FLITE TEST XT60 POWER Y-HARNESS
This 14AWG Y-Harness comes with presoldered XT60 connectors and is used to connect the dual VESC’s to the Space Cell.

Price: $7

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Flite Test XT60 Power Y-Harness

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TORQUEBOARDS 2.4GHZ MINI REMOTE CONTROLLER
Once again, I went with TorqueBoards 2.4Ghz Mini Remote from DIY Electric Skateboard. I’ve dropped it a few times and it’s still going strong. And it really does seem to last forever on only 2 double A batteries.

Price: $50

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TorqueBoards 2.4Ghz Mini Remote Controller

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MISCELLANEOUS
Some odds and ends that I needed to complete my build.

$4.95 – Khiro 1/4″ Shock Pad Large Skateboard Risers

$4.95 – DBS Dank Bolts 1.25″

$6.19 – CCNS Neoprene Sheet 1/4” 12″x12″ Self-Adhesive

2 x $1.18 – 2 x #8-32 x 1 in. Phillips Flat-Head Machine Screws (5-Pack)

2 x $1.18 – 2 x #8-32 Stainless Steel Machine Screw Nut (4 per Pack)

$1.18 – #8 Zinc-Plated Steel Flat Washer (30-Pack)

THE ASSEMBLY

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Like last time, I prepped the Jet Tomahawk deck by sanding away the paint job and spray painting it with glossy black. Covering those raw wooden wheel wells also looks a little better in my opinion.

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Once the VESC’s arrived I programmed it with the BLDC Tool here and tweaked some of the settings based on my previous build. A few things changed when switching over to a dual configuration. Here’s my settings that I used for each VESC.

MOTOR CONFIGURATION
Motor Max: 60.00
Motor Min: -30.00
Bat Max: 15.00
Batt Min (Regen): -12.00
Absolute Max: 130.00

CURRENT CONTROL
Startup Boost: 0.030

APP CONFIGURATION – GENERAL
Controller ID: Input “0” for VESC 1 and “1” for VESC 2
Enable Send status over CAN
Enable PPM

APP CONFIGURATION – PPM
Enable Multiple ESCs over CAN
Enable Traction Control

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Then, I binded the TorqueBoards remote to the receiver. Be sure to bind it properly to enable fail safe. If not, the board will go full throttle when you turn off the remote which is a major safety hazard. Next I added a JST cable to VESC 1 and the CANBUS Connector to connect VESC 1 and VESC 2. I also added some hotglue to all the connectors to prevent the connection from coming loose. Finally I added some velcro on the bottom of the VESC’s and the receiver. This will keep things secure inside of the enclosure.

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Next I prepped the Enertion Space Cell battery by adding velcro to the top. I found three strips placed equally across the length of the battery was enough.

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On the other side I added weatherstripping as a cushion. This side faces the skateboard deck so it’s important to have a little bit of cushioning to guard against vibrations.

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Next I prepped the RunPlayBack enclosure with corresponding velcro strips for the battery, VESC and receiver. I’m really happy with the size of this enclosure and the two piece design. Everything fits like a glove, especially the VESC’s.

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I carefully placed the Space Cell into the enclosure, making sure to align the power button, charge port and voltage display with the corresponding holes and connected the VESC’s with the Y-Harness. I also added a small flap of rubber as a cover.

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The Carvon Hub Motor and wheels were next. I picked up some 1/4″ Khiro shock pads and 1.24″ DBS Dank Bolts to mount the trucks to the deck. Finally, with everything in place I secured the enclosure using #8-32 machine screws, washers and nuts from Home Depot.

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CONCLUSION

Although my original DIY single hub eboard gave me the confidence to attempt another build, moving up to a dual build was no simple task. By doubling the major components, everything had to be bigger and beefier – from the choice of my deck to wheelsize to the enclosure. Once complete, I realized I created a beast – a literal land missle that dwarfs the nimbleness of my single hub board. I’m not quite sure I could use this as a daily cruiser but for the times when I have a lot of open road to let loose, this is the perfect build, especially as a weekend warrior.

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However, no matter how you slice it, moving up to a dual build isn’t cheap. Doubling the price of a VESC and hub motor presents a challenging value for those who are looking to get into DIY. Starting on a single hub build is more affordable and will definitely give you the confidence to move into a dual build if you crave more power.

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In my first article, I said that building a DIY electric board made me a better person and I still believe it. In only 2 months I’ve been able organize a local DIY eskate group called A2ESK8, engage in interesting conversations with the online DIY community as well as local tech and maker folks who find electric longboards fascinating. Right now the big barrier of entry is the price. But like drones and other electric vehicles, once manufacturing costs go down and battery technology improves, eboards will become more accessible. Until then, pushing the limits of emerging technologies is a blast and now that I have a second board, it will make that experience even better. So whose ready to ride? #A2ESK8

The Aspen Mics Belt Clip Completes My Zoom H1 Recorder

I don’t think I’ll ever get rid of my Zoom H1. For the price, it’s simplicity and quality has not really been matched even after all these years. However, the one feature that many Zoom H1 owners have gotten used to is the lack of a belt clip. Sure we’ve used all sorts of clamps, arms, and even the old “drop it in the pocket” method to mount the thing. Now, with the Aspen Mic Belt Clip, the Zoom H1 finally feels “complete”. Where have you been all my life?

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aspen
Aspen Mics Belt Clip for Zoom H1 Handy Recorder

zoomh1
product information button runplayback Zoom H1 Ultra-Portable Digital Audio Recorder

Warm Weather Means DIY Electric Skateboard Cruising

When it hits 57 degrees in February in MICHIGAN, you must take full advantage. 🙂

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Carvon V2 Single Hub Motor + Matching Trucks + Wheels Set

enertion02
Enertion 10S Space Cell Battery

ollinboard02
VESC – Open Source ESC Speed Controller

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RunPlayBack Sulaco V1 Enclosure

Here’s a Manual on a DIY Electric Skateboard

Took another ride with my DIY Electric Skateboard and my buddy Robbie did a manual on the Carvon V2 Single Hub Motor. I had no idea it could do that. 🙂

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Carvon V2 Single Hub Motor + Matching Trucks + Wheels Set

enertion02
Enertion 10S Space Cell Battery

ollinboard02
VESC – Open Source ESC Speed Controller

sulaco03
RunPlayBack Sulaco V1 Enclosure

Varavon Birdycam Lite Gimbal Inverted Mode Test

Here’s a quick field test of the Varavon Birdycam Lite using inverted mode. Inverted mode is a great way to get a higher angle without having to over extend your arms. It’s also useful for getting a clear view of your camera’s LCD screen without the need for an external field monitor. With an already light weight form factor, the Birdycam Lite is quickly becoming my favorite run and gun gimbal. Hit me up in the comments below if you have any questions and be sure to visit the Varavon website for more details on the Birdycam Lite.

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Varavon Birdycam Lite 3-Axis Camera Gimbal

How to Balance the Varavon Birdycam Lite 3-Axis Gimbal


Varavon Birdycam Lite coverage continues with this demonstration video on how to quickly balance your small mirrorless camera like the Panasonic GH4 or Sony A7SII right out of the box. Balancing the original Birdycam was already a quick process and the Birdycam Lite speeds the workflow up by having a more compact, minimalist system. The improved motor encoders are probably the most impressive feature with better stability and smoothness. Hit me up in the comments below if you have any questions and be sure to visit the Varavon website for more details on the Birdycam Lite.

birdycam_lite
Varavon Birdycam Lite 3-Axis Camera Gimbal

Varavon Birdycam Lite 3-Axis Camera Gimbal Unboxing + Assembly

Varavon has finally released their highly anticipated Birdycam Lite 3-Axis Camera Gimbal, a lighter and more portable gimbal for small mirrorless cameras like the Panasonic GH4 and Sony A7SII. With similar weight class gimbals like DJI’s Ronin M, Came TV’s Mini and Defy’s G2x already on the market, Varavon seems to have taken their time with the Birdycam Lite for maximum performance.

While the original Birdycam is an already compact system, the Birdycam Lite is lighter, more modular, has motor encoders for increased stability, a wireless joystick and detachable handles to mount the gimbal to various rigs. Check out the video above to see what’s included in the Birdycam Lite package as well as a quick tutorial on how to assemble the parts. Stay tuned for the next video where I’ll demonstrate how to balance your camera along with some test footage. Hit me up in the comments below if you have any questions and be sure to visit the Varavon website for more details on the Birdycam Lite.

birdycam_lite
Varavon Birdycam Lite 3-Axis Camera Gimbal

Build a DIY Gimbal Support Stabilizer for Under $100

As camera gimbals have grown in popularity, many folks take for granted how much strength it requires to hold a gimbal, even a lightweight mirrorless one, for an extended period of time. I’ll be the first to admit that I can’t fly my Varavon Birdycam at chest level for more than 1 minute without straining my arms and shoulders. Once I start shaking, my focus shifts away from the composition of the shot to my body endurance which is never an ideal situation. I bought a camera gimbal to create interesting, unique scenes, not to work out my upper body.

Gimbal Backpack

So I searched the internet for some gimbal stabilizing options and the cheapest one I found is the Came TV GS01 for $400. On the other side of the spectrum is the slick Ready Rig for $2,000. Both of these options are beyond my budget so I decided to make my own. While there are a few DIY tutorials on Gimbal Backpack Stabilizers, I thought Cheesycam’s DIY Gimbal Support Backpack and Modest Reaction’s riff were the best options out there. With a few key items from your local Home Depot and eBay, I’ll provide a step by step guide on how to make your very own DIY Gimbal Support Stabilizer for less than $100. You may already own a lot of these items so you may spend even less but the ingredients I’ll list are the best balance of cost, assembly time and performance.

came
Came TV GS01 Gimbal Stabilizer

readyrig
Ready Rig Gimbal Stabilizer

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The first item you will need is the backpack frame. A rigid frame, combined with heavy duty shoulder straps and waist support is the most important element to distributing the weight of the camera gimbal from your arms and shoulders to your entire torso. The best option I found is a U.S. Military MOLLE II system. MOLLE is a modular attachment system that’s been adopted by the US Army. Basically it’s built for troops to carry 100lbs of supplies for up to 25 miles so you know these things are built for serious situations. The frame is constructed from ABS plastic which are known for impact resistance and toughness and the shoulder straps and waistbelt are constructed of 1000 Denier Cordura and nylon threading which is mold and mildew resistant, water-repellant and the same material as the Ready Rig. Since it’s a modular system, you can also add a rucksack to the frame for additional supplies or you can paint it to add a touch of customization.

PRICE: $40 (shipped)

molleii
All New USGI Molle II Frame, Belt and Shoulder Straps DCU Desert Camo COMBO

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Next you will need 4 fiberglass tent poles that are 27″ long and 9.5mm in diameter with metal ferrules. The rods are used to soften the Y axis movements during walking shots to provide a more stable and less jittery image. I found these super affordable Coleman Fiberglass Tent Poles on eBay but they can easily be found at your local sporting goods or camping store. To secure the poles to the frame you’ll need a package of standard 8″ zip ties.

PRICE (4 Fiberglass Tent Poles): $15
PRICE (20 Zip Ties): $2.18

coleman
Coleman Fiberglass Tent Pole Replacement Kit

zipties
Commercial Electric 8 in. UV Cable Tie – Black (20-Pack)

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To connect the rods together you will need 100lb rated metal braided wire used for hanging heavy picture frames and mirrors. The wires are pulled through the rods and together they act like a crane to hoist the gimbal over your chest.

PRICE: $7.48

wire
100 ft. 20-Gauge Multi-Purpose Wire

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Next you will need 2 small washers and 2 150lb aluminum carabiners. These will be attached to each end of the metal braided wire.

PRICE (Washers): $3.14
PRICE (2 Carabiners): $1.96

washer
3/8 in. Zinc-Plated Flat Washer (25-Pack)

carabiner
2 x 150 lb. 80mm x 8mm Bright Aluminum Spring Link

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To protect the exposed metal braided wire I bought these cable covers that are used for organizing computer cables. You’ll need 3/8″ for the metal wire and 1/2″ for the fiberglass rods. These are purely a cosmetic feature but I think they add a more polished look.

PRICE (3/8″ Tubing): $2.48
PRICE (1/2″ Tubing): $2.48

38-flextubing
3/8″ Flex Tubing

12-flextubing
1/2″ Flex Tubing

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The adjustable straps are used to customize the height of the gimbal for framing a scene. I went with these heavy duty Husky Hang-Alls which are commonly used to hold tools, bikes and other heavy equipment. Since Husky has a great reputation for quality and are very common in almost every Home Depot store, this is a much more convenient solution than buying lashing straps and carabiners separately.

PRICE (2 Hang-Alls): $9.94

husky
2 x Husky 18 in. Zinc-Plated Steel Hang-All

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To attach the rig to the gimbal, I used standard 1-1/2″ key rings on the gimbal’s horizontal support secured by velcro straps.

PRICE (2 Key Rings): $1.94
PRICE (Velcro Straps): $3.74

keyring
2 x 1-1/2 in. Split Key Ring

velcrostraps
8 in. Cable Ties (5-Pack)

step01

STEP 1: ASSEMBLE THE BACKPACK
First you’ll need to assemble the Molle II frame to the shoulder straps and waist support. Since it isn’t very intuitive and there are no instructions that come with the package, it can be a little tricky to assemble. Fortunately I found this awesome tutorial that can walk you through the process. Be sure to follow the directions carefully as the rig’s structural integrity is centered on the location and firmness of the straps.

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STEP 2: ASSEMBLE THE RODS
Next, assemble the rods by inserting one pole into another using the metal ferrules. You should now have 2 pairs, each one 54″ total length.

step03

STEP 3: INSERT METAL WIRE & MEASURE
Then, take the metal braided wire and carefully push it through the first pair of poles using a needle nose plier. Be sure to do this slowly so you don’t bend the wire which will make it much harder to push through the pole. Once you get it through the end, let about 12″ of wire hang out of it.

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STEP 4: SECURE CARABINERS & MEASURE
Next, using a pair of needle nose pliers, take the metal braided wire and wrap 2 tight loops around the small end of the aluminum carabiner then wrap it back around itself several times to secure the loop. Snip off any extra wire with a wire cutter and bend the end of the wire with the pliers to avoid any sharp points sticking out. Measure 12″, edge to edge, from the top of the pole to the end of the carabiner. This distance should be exact so if you accidentally tug on the wire, just re-measure and adjust.

step05

STEP 5: SECURE WASHERS & MEASURE
You’ll want to secure the other end of the wire using the metal washer. Measure 6″ from edge of the pole and cut the wire. Next, measure 1″ from the edge of the pole and bend the wire at that point. Place the washer at that bend and wrap one tight loop around it using the needle nose pliers. Again, wrap it back around itself several times to secure the loop around the 1″ length of wire. Snip off any extra wire with a wire cutter and bend the end of the wire with the pliers to avoid any sharp points sticking out. Repeat Steps 3-5 for the second pair of poles.

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STEP 6: SECURE RODS TO FRAME
Next, take an assembled pole and secure it to the left side of the Molle II frame by inserting it into the bottom two straps of the waist support. You may want to loosen these straps to get the pole in and tighten them to secure it. The edge of the pole should rest against the bottom plastic ridge with the metal braided wire and washer hanging off to the side. Then, secure the pole to the frame with the zip ties. I chose to secure the pole on every other strap opening all the way to the top. Be sure to have the zip tie ends facing inwards and tighten all of them evenly once the pole is fully attached. Make sure each zip tie is tight then snip off the ends using a wire cutter. Repeat this process for the right side of the Molle II frame.

step07

STEP 7: ADD HUSKY HANG-ALLS
Add the Husky Hang-Alls to the poles by connecting it from the strap to the aluminum carabiner. The Husky carabiner should hang from the bottom and will be used to connect to the gimbal.

step08

STEP 8: ADD FLEX TUBING
Next you’ll add the flex tubing. Uncoil the 3/8″ flex tubing and stretch it across the exposed metal braided wire to measure the distance. Cut the 3/8″ tubing and wrap it around the wire by using the slit in the middle. Repeat this for the other side. Next, take the 1/2″ tubing and stretch it across the top fiberglass pole. Again, measure the distance from the top of the Molle II frame to the end of the pole, cut it, and wrap it around. Repeat for the other side. In my opinion, this looks more aesthetically pleasing than exposed tent poles and picture wire.

step09

STEP 9: ASSEMBLE KEY RINGS TO GIMBAL
Add the key ring to the end of the gimbal upper support plate near the handle and secure it using the velcro strap. Loop this a couple of times through the key ring as tight as possible to keep it secure. Repeat this with the other side.

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STEP 10: TEST THE RIG WITH GIMBAL
Finally, put the Gimbal Support Stabilizer on and adjust the shoulder and waist support straps to a comfortable level. Everything should be tight but not uncomfortable or constricting. To attach the Gimbal Support Stabilizer to the camera gimbal, carefully bend down and maneuver yourself to a proper angle that makes it easy to attach the Husky carabiners to the key rings. Grip the handles on the gimbal, stand up and everything should feel stable and secure. You will have to adjust the Husky Hang-All straps to get the proper height but otherwise, everything should be good to go. With all of the weight now distributed across your torso there should be an immediate feeling of lightness with the gimbal. You’ll still have to move like a ballet dancer but with the ability to properly frame a shot and rehearse a move without getting tired, there will be a much deeper creative connection with the camera gimbal.

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CONCLUSION
This is by far one of my favorite DIY projects ever. Although you’ll get a lot of funny looks and comments in public, it makes using a camera gimbal a breeze. I can literally hold it for over 20 minutes straight without fatigue. This gives me more time to block a shot and really think about the creative composition of the scene. I would totally encourage anyone who owns a gimbal to give this DIY project a shot. Hit me up in the comments if you have any questions and please share any ideas to make this DIY Gimbal Support Stabilizer even better. Thanks!

The 24 Hour Shootout Survival Kit

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Last week Arbor Day Pictures aka Nancy Mitchell, Hannah Mitchell and myself participated in YPSI24, a 24 hour shootout competition where we won second place amongst 40+ entries. It was an awesome experience to witness so many filmmakers of all levels express themselves using a variety of video techniques within experimental and narrative storytelling.

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However, with a 24 hour time limit and a 3 person crew including myself (2 of whom were acting on camera), it was vital that I assemble an equipment package that worked for our story. Too much gear and I’d risk a lot of unncessary setup and breakdown time. Too little gear and I’d lose the visual storytelling that was essential for characterization. We were super honored to win an award and it may not have happened without our 24 Hour Shootout Survival Kit. So here’s how we did it.

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THE STORY
A few weeks before the shoot, we bounced around some preliminary ideas, some that either proved too difficult or too time consuming. Finally, the night before YPSI24, Nancy assembled all of our initial ideas into a creepy story about supernatural revenge. Next, I fleshed out the summary into a rough, 5 page script which would be our blueprint for the day. We all agreed that the concept would remain loose in order to incorporate the YPSI24 “ingredients” that we would be given. Creating a script as a guide for our shotlist/schedule was definitely a critical part of our planning.

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THE SUPPORT
For Camera A support I went with the heavy duty yet light and portable 8.5lb ProAm Heavy Duty Tripod Legs which are typically built for jib cranes but work great with a Manfrotto fluid head and Konova K3 slider as they can hold up to 80 lbs. It even has a super convenient mid level spreader for added stability and adjustable rubber or spiked feet for all kinds of terrain. At $120 shipped, the ProAm Heavy Duty Tripod Legs are an exceptional deal for the quality.

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proam
product information button runplayback ProAm USA PROAMFT Pro Tripod Legs & Bag Kit

manfrotto
product information button runplayback Manfrotto MVH500AH Fluid Video Head with Flat Base

konova_k3
product information button runplayback Konova Slider K3 100cm (39.4-Inch)

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THE LIGHTING
Lighting was very minimal as we were mostly daylight dependent. For the ending interior shots we used a pair of budget friendly ePhoto 600 CN600HS LED Lights with Kayo Maxtar V-Mount Li-Ion Batteries. The Kayo Maxtar is a new addition to my kit and one of the best V-Mount battery options out right now. Fully charged, the Kayo can power these lights for up to 6 hours straight. Very impressive!

ephoto
ePhoto 600 Led Dimmable CN600HS Video Photography Light

kayo
Kayo Maxtar 177Wh(12000mAh/14.8V) V Mount Battery

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THE SOUND
To keep our sound kit as light and simple as possible, I went with the Zoom H1, Rode Micro Boompole, Rode VideoMic Pro, Aspen HQ-S Lav Mic, P&C Handgrip and an audio extension cable. Our rule was that whoever wasn’t on camera would be the Sound Recordist. With some easy to remember sound recording basics and having a kit this simple ensured that no one would have to be a pro to capture quality sound.

zoomh1
product information button runplayback Zoom H1 Ultra-Portable Digital Audio Recorder

rode
product information button runplayback Rode Micro Boompole – 3-Section Boom Pole

rode
product information button runplayback Rode VideoMic Pro Compact Shotgun Microphone

aspenmics
AspenMics Lavalier Microphones

p&c
product information button runplayback Dot Line P&C Handgrip

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THE CAMERA A KIT
Having some early success with the latest Panasonic V-Log color profile, I decided to use my workhorse GH4 mounted with a Metabones Canon FD Speedbooster and classic Canon FD glass – 20mm, 28mm, 50mm and 35-105mm. This combination would create a vintage, lived-in look that I thought would be perfect for a horror film.

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I kitted out my GH4 shoulder rig with a Varavon Armor Cage, Aputure V-Screen field monitor, Fotga follow focus, Ikan Tilta V-Mount Plate and a Kayo Maxtar BP-GL175 Li-Ion Battery. With the Kayo, I was able to power the Aputure monitor and use it as a counterweight for the GH4. There’s also a convenient USB port located on the side which kept my iPhone charged at every location.


product information button runplayback Panasonic GH4 4K Video Recording

Metabones Canon FD Speedbooster GH4
Metabones Speedbooster Canon FD Lens to M43 Adapter

armor2
Varavon Armor II GH4 & GH3 Cage

aputure
Aputure VS-3 V-Screen 7″ IPS Field Monitor

fotga
Fotga DP500IIS Follow Focus

ikan
ikan Tilta TT-C12 HyperDeck Shuttle Mount with V-Mount Plate

kayo
Kayo Maxtar 177Wh(12000mAh/14.8V) V Mount Battery

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THE CAMERA B KIT
Our story included many scenes of walking through the woods so I wanted to incorporate gimbal tracking shots without having to spend any time balancing or breaking down the Camera A Kit. For this situation I went with the Ikan Fly-X3 Gimbal paired with the Xiaomi Yi Action Camera aka the $80 Chinese GoPro. Since these walking shots would include both Hannah and Nancy in the shot, it would leave me as the Sound Recordist. The Ikan Fly-X3 doesn’t have a 1/4-20 thread so I rigged a Joby GorillaPod to the handle and fitted it with a Rode VideoMic, Zoom H1, an audio extension cable and a pair of lightweight Auvio Headphones. With the shotgun mic I was then able to capture realtime location sound while also performing stable gimbal shots while walking backwards through the woods. Trust me, it’s not as easy as it sounds.

flyx3
product information button runplayback Ikan Fly-X3 Plus 3-Axis Smartphone Gimbal Stabilizer Kit with GoPro HERO3/4 mount

xiaomi
Xiaomi Yi Action Camera with Wi-Fi

Joby Action Clamp GorillaPod Arm
product information button runplayback Joby Action Clamp with GorillaPod Arm

auvio
Auvio Black Ear-Cup Foldable Headphones

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Another interesting rig we built was an Indy Mogul style DIY 3rd person POV action camera backpack. Designed with cheap PVC pipe from Home Depot, we mounted an Oben Mini Ballhead and the Xiaomi Yi on the rig to create the over the shoulder look during the “search” scenes in the woods. With the Xiamoi’s Wi-Fi app, I would be able to monitor the shots while giving direction to Nancy. We wanted to present an unusual sense of vertigo during these scenes since her character would become more desperate as day turned to night.

oben
product information button runplayback Oben BD-0 Mini Ball Head

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THE CAMERA C KIT
For a 24 Hour Shootout, it would be tempting to use the DJI Phantom 3 Professional as a shortcut for production value but we didn’t want to go that route. Our initial thought was that an aerial would take up valuable time that we could put towards characterization. Also, because of the hazardous weather conditions on the shoot day, flying a drone would prove too risky. However, nature was on our side when we had a small 10 minute window of clear weather. It was a tricky manuever as I had to fly through a 10 foot clearing in the trees towards a height that revealed just enough of the forest without showing any residential homes or highways. I fitted the Phantom 3 with a Polar Pro Polarizer Filter to prevent glare off the water and was able to get the shot in just two takes. However, flying the drone back to home point was nerve racking as I clipped a few small branches due to the wind and unstable GPS lock. Luckily I had Nancy and Hannah as my spotters on each side of the clearing to prevent the Phantom from going down into the water. The shot was definitely worth it as it created a vast sense of exploration for the Alice character, establishing the forest as a kind of supernatural playground.

phantom3
product information button runplayback DJI Phantom 3 Professional Quadcopter with 4K Camera and 3-Axis Gimbal

polarprofilters
Polar Pro DJI Phantom 3 Professional Filter 6-Pack

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THE POST PRODUCTION
We finished our last shot at about 11:30pm and after ingesting all the footage in Adobe Premiere, post production began at 12 midnight. By this time, I was exhausted but not completely tapped out. I knew that once I got past the hump of assembly I would go into creative mode, driven by pure adrenaline. With the help of a large iced coffee I finished assembly by 2:00am and edited straight until 9:00am. The GH4 V-Log setting was especially helpful in color correction for each clip. After dropping in the Panasonic Varicam 35 LUT, I simply adjusted exposure within Lumetri Color and did my best to match the Xiaomi Yi and Phantom 3 footage.

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As the sun started to rise and the 10:00am delivery deadline looming, I did a few last touches and exported the file onto a flash drive. Since the YSPI24 rendevouz was a half hour away, I wasn’t able to do a final preview. At this point, I was completely delirious and just grateful that we completed our film.

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THE EXPERIENCE
YPSI24 was an insanely inspiring good time. From the cordial and energizing meetup with our fellow filmmakers to the hack-a-thon like shooting experience to the final screening at the 500 seat venue, YPSI24 reminded me of why I got into video in the first place. It wasn’t to win awards or make commercials. It was to tell a story using a language that didn’t require an army of people pontificating about the laws of Cinema. It’s a relief to know that the DIY spirit that’s shaped both my personal and professional life has never left me. Hashtag #setlife is not enough. Old traditions and new technologies are not enough. It’s the communal experience of being vulnerable with people that I care about which matters most. Check out our 2015 YPSI24 short “Always Alice” below and remember to always stay inspired!


Always Alice (2015 YPSI24)

The Ricoh Theta S Wants To Be The Most Popular Device At Your Social Gathering

The first generation Ricoh Theta 360 camera was a fun yet novel device that delivered low res, noisy images. This was around the time I was experimenting with Virtual Reality and the Ricoh was one of the first consumer grade 360 camera available at the time. As I predicted, Ricoh will be launching it’s next generation Theta S camera which has much better features such as 1920 x 1080 30 fps video plus compatibility with Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Google Maps and YouTube which all support 360 content. The app now has the ability to manually adjust camera settings and with an upgraded WiFi module, image and video transfer speeds are now four times faster than the original. Overall, some really cool upgrades but what is up with their promo video? If it isn’t captured in 360, did it really happen? For more information on the Theta S visit Ricoh’s company site here.

ricoh
product information button runplayback Ricoh Theta S