DJI Ronin 2 owner

Well, after years of renting the Ronin 2 for all these jobs I do, I went out and bought one. I wish I had gotten one years ago, as I would have paid it off already, but since I had a 3 week shoot not long ago that needed one, I figured it was a good time to buy as that job would make a nice dent in the price.

It's a pretty useful tool, as I came from a Mōvi background (after initially starting with the original Ronin) as it was lighter weight and therefore the tool of choice for handheld operation. When I got into car plates, the Mōvi Pro just wasn't cutting it and the Mōvi Pro XL was way out of budget, so I switched over to using the Ronin 2. Weight aside, I prefer the Ronin 2 in so many ways: built in SDI cabling; axis locks; more powerful motors; Steadicam style screw adjustments; great aftermarket part support (Cinemilled); superior native power system; and dedicated car mode.

While it was car work that got me into the Ronin 2, I also use it a lot for remote head operation on jibs and dollies. The integration with wheel controls, joystick, or even accelerometer based Force Pro control gives all sorts of operating options. I'm looking forward to putting it to work and excited to see the things we shoot with it!


Pivoting plates

We shot a car stunt scene for the Fox television show Pivoting last year and the episode (episode 2) has aired, so I can finally share some behind the scenes with you. While we normally use a larger camera vehicle (you can see pictures in many of my past posts), this one required some precision driving as there was traffic and a car stunt, so we rigged up a Porsche with three Komodos, two on hard mounts with Zeiss CP2 25mm lenses and one on a Ronin 2 in the center with a Sigma Cine 14mm. Because there was a hard u-turn, which caused the Ronin to swing to the side, we had to be conscientious of our placement so we wouldn't crash the moving camera into the stationary one to the side.

The local PD closed down a few blocks of street for us and we had a stunt coordinator making sure all the picture vehicles were correctly timed. This was nice as it takes some of the load off of our driver, who typically coordinates directly with the PD for our smaller, non-stunt driven shoots. This is also one of the few times we shot with the main unit, as most of the time we are shooting completely separate from 1st unit.

The best part is that the main feature of the stunt (a car skidding to a stop as they cut it off during the u-turn) didn't even make the edit since it would have been visible out the side or rear windows, but they cut to a forward facing shot instead! Oh well. At least the background plates we shot got used for when they're talking inside the moving car.

Please excuse the mediocre quality of my screenshots, as I had to take them off my computer screen with my phone, so they aren't as high of quality as I usually get.


Hacks season 2

Having shot some VFX driving plates as well as some establishing shots for Hacks season 1, we were hired to do some shooting for the second season as well. While season 1 focused on the Las Vegas residency, at the end of the season the characters decide to take the show on the road, which brings us to season 2. For this, production wanted shots of the tour bus driving all over America. So we rigged up a camera car and set out with the tour bus, starting in New Mexico and traveling up through northern Texas and Oklahoma, then over to Tennessee before heading north through Minnesota and eventually ending in Illinois.

It was a lot of driving and, shooting the end of January into February, got extremely cold as we made our way north to Chicago. This introduced some technical challenges that I don't encounter in Los Angeles, mainly that the vibration isolator for the Ronin 2 uses rubber rings that get progressively stiffer as it gets colder, which makes it so they don't remove the road vibration anymore. We ended up buying a bunch of hand warmers that we could strap to the rings and wrap up with insulation to get the rubber flexible again (being careful to keep the rings clear enough that they wouldn't be impeded by the fix). Working in freezing temps always reminds me to appreciate the typically warm weather I enjoy back home.

For gear, we used a new prototype hitch mounted hydraulic arm for attaching the Flowcine Black Arm. The hydraulic arm let us raise the camera from just off the ground to about 9' in the air with a simple remote control. On the Black Arm, we had RED's new V-Raptor flying on a DJI Ronin 2. Lenses were some customized-just-for-the-show Panavision Primo 70 Series primes (we mostly used the 35mm).

You can check out the trailer below: