View Full Version : RED ONE Rod FAQ
01-27-2008, 05:01 PM
For those that are new to professional equipment, understanding rod standards can be tricky. Even for those who have worked in the film industry for decades, many often forget that there is more than one support "standard" out there. Everybody assumes that the standard they are used to is the only standard out there... and react as you might expect when one piece of equipment doesn't work with another.
Since I started working with the RED ONE roughly five months ago, I can't tell you how many times I've heard "What? You mean it doesn't work with the Arri standard!?" The thing is, there are three major Arri standards... and about half a dozen other rod spacing standards that people don't often come across.
Everybody will insist that their local standard is the only one that people mean when they talk about the "Arri standard," but that's usually just frustration talking. They will get huffy and mighty in an instant, demanding to speak with whoever designed the camera. It's really remarkable... and quite amusing after the first dozen or so times. If you ever want your camera to work with your local rental houses, you must first place a few phone calls and determine what the local standard is for your area.
I won't touch on every rod spacing standard there is in this thread - only the three major standards that you have to be concerned with. I will ignore Panavision's standards, as you're not likely to ever have to put Panavision accessories on a RED.
The three rod standards I will cover in this FAQ are as follows:
Arriflex 15mm Lightweight Standard [sometimes referred to as "video"]
Arriflex 15mm Studio Standard [sometimes referred to as "offset"]
Arriflex 19mm Studio Standard
01-27-2008, 05:04 PM
Arriflex 15mm Lightweight
Also known as "video," "video spacing" and "60mm spacing"
The Arriflex 15mm Lightweight standard is made up of two 15mm rods that are 60mm apart and 85mm below the optical axis of the camera. The rod spacing is symmetrical: each rod is 30mm from the center on either side of the optical axis.
While this standard was originally introduced for film cameras, it has become the "video" standard. If you own accessories designed for a video camera , your accessories are probably based on this standard. To those that are stepping up to the RED from a video background, this standard will seem quite familiar.
Know that if you decide to base your own personal system off of this standard, many film accessories will not fit on your camera. Only recently did film accessories also include spacing for "video" rods. If you want to buy film accessories to use with this standard, you will either need to look at very old Arri gear [back when this was a film standard] or at very new Arri gear [like the FF-5 or MB-20, for example] that includes "video" rod channels in addition to the "film" rod channels.
Also note that some larger film zooms and even some large film primes will never work with this standard. If the maximum outside diameter of the lens is greater than roughly 166.2mm, the lens will be too large to clear the rods. Lenses this large are extremely rare, but it's still something to take note of.
If you expect your camera to work in a "film" environment, I do not personally recommend this standard. Many will disagree with me, but the 15mm Lightweight standard is not always taken seriously by the "film" crowd. The word "video" usually comes with some disdain.
That said, what if you do want to go with this standard? Lets say your gear is already set up for "video" rods - how do you make it work with the RED?
If you look at the diagram, it's clear why there are no RED baseplates designed around this standard - it's physically impossible with the RED's design. The rod channels would have to cut through the body of the camera in order to work.
As a result, there are adapters on the market. In general, there are two kinds of adapters: channel adapters and plug adapters.
There are adapters that will go from either 15mm Studio or 19mm Studio to 15mm Lightweight on the market. You should choose your primary base plate based on the local standard of the area in which you work or based on your preference for one standard versus another. You should not base that decision on the available adapters... as there are both channel and plug adapters for both Studio standards.
A channel adapter is an adapter that mounts on your lower rods [either 15mm Studio or 19mm Studio] and rises up to create new rod channels for 15mm Lightweight/video rods. While they all vary in design, the concept is largely the same:
The blue represents a theoretical 15mm Studio to 15mm Lightweight channel adapter. As you can see, it mounts on the 15mm Studio rods and creates new channels for 15mm Lightweight rods at the appropriate height. A channel adapter from 19mm Studio to 15mm Lightweight would be the same concept with 19mm Studio rods instead of 15mm Studio rods at the bottom.
Such adapters are generally tightened down by thumbscrews and are quite inexpensive.
RED makes a 19mm Studio to 15mm Lightweight channel adapter of their own. To make the adapter, you must purchase a [u]RED Universal Mount (http://www.red.com/store/product_detail/52) and a RED 15mm Adapter (http://www.red.com/store/product_detail/72). The RED 15mm Adapter attaches to the top center of the RED Universal Mount with a 3/8-16 screw.
The resulting adapter takes up a significant amount of space on the 19mm rods [as the RED Universal Mount is over an inch long]. It also requires removal of the entire unit to adjust the 15mm rods, as the 15mm rod channels are locked with 1/4-20 screws instead of thumbscrews like most adapters. The fact that it uses screws instead of a thumbscrew also necessitates using a separate tool to adjust anything. There is no keyway to keep the RED 15mm Adapter square to the RED Universal Mount, so it is possible to mount the 15mm rods out of square. Furthermore, the entire unit weighs several times what 3rd party adapters weigh.
If you are looking for the most compact, lightweight or easy to use and adjust solution, RED's is not it. I personally recommend buying a 3rd-party equivalent channel adapter.
If you buy a channel adapter, you will only need one per camera. Channel adapters are not the most elegant, as they result in two rod systems on one camera [the studio system you are adapting from and the lightweight system you are adapting to]. Channel adapters are the low-cost solution.
Plug adapters, on the other hand, require one adapter for each 15mm Lightweight accessory you wish to mount. They are very similar to channel adapters in design, but vary in that instead of rod channels for 15mm Lightweight rods, there are little "plugs" or miniature rods that are approximately 1/2" long. You mount your "video" accessory onto these plugs on the adapter in a semi-permanent manner.
In this diagram, the green shape represents a 15mm Lightweight accessory semi-permanently mounted to a 15mm Studio to 15mm Lightweight plug adapter. On this camera system, there are no 15mm Lightweight rods - only 15mm Lightweight accessories adapted to 15mm Studio using plug adapters.
Here is a plug adapter made by Chrosziel to adapt 15mm Lightweight accessories to 15mm Studio rods.
Any movement of the accessories happens on the 15mm Studio rods. You essentially "forget" about the 15mm Lightweight part of the equation and treat the accessory like it is a 15mm Studio accessory.
Obviously such plug adapters are available for 19mm Studio rods as well.
This is the desirable solution for adapting 15mm Lightweight accessories to 15mm Studio or 19mm Studio rods. For all intents and purposes, you turn your 15mm Lightweight accessories into "film" accessories. The clearance issues with 15mm Lightweight rods still exist, but that is the only real practical downside to a system like this.
The other downside to this system is that you must buy a plug adapter for each and every one of your 15mm Lightweight accessories. It will cost more money as a result, but your 15mm Lightweight accessories will be more accepted as "film" accessories. This, of course, is only important if you want to work in a "film" environment. Everybody has their own goals... figure out what yours are before purchasing anything.
01-27-2008, 05:15 PM
Arriflex 15mm Studio
Also known as "offset" and "100mm offset"
The Arriflex 15mm Studio standard is made up of two 15mm rods that are 100mm apart and 118mm below the optical axis of the camera. The rod spacing is asymmetrical: the rod center is offset 17.25mm to the right from the optical axis of the camera.
Why offset? The Arriflex 15mm Studio Standard was introduced when film cameras still had huge motors off to the side of the camera. In order to keep the cameras balanced on the dovetail plate, they had to shift the camera's optical center over to the left to keep the camera's center of gravity between the rods and over the dovetail. While this standard is old and outdated from a technical perspective [modern film cameras are appropriately center-balanced], it stuck in certain major cities.
Years ago, when the newer 19mm Studio standard was introduced, all of the big rental houses in Los Angeles met and decided that they were not going to switch to the new standard. As a result, certain cities [Los Angeles being the most notable] are still stuck on this old 15mm Studio standard. If you expect your camera to work with accessories from any Los Angeles rental house, you need to have a 15mm Studio baseplate for your camera. There is no adapter from 19mm Studio to 15mm Studio.
Los Angeles is not the only city that still uses 15mm Studio equipment. I once again recommend that you call your local rental houses to determine what rod spacing standard they work with.
If you are an individual who owns film equipment that is more than a few years old, it is most likely set up for the Arriflex 15mm Studio standard. If you are not certain, get out a ruler and check.
The good news is that there is an easy solution for those that use 15mm Studio equipment: the RED ARRI 15MM Base (http://www.red.com/store/product_detail/43). This baseplate is manufactured by Element Technica (http://www.elementtechnica.com/) and sold by RED.
The Element Technica/RED Arri 15mm Base puts properly spaced 15mm Studio rod channels on your RED. It also has a channel for the standard Arri dovetail on the bottom - another film industry standard that many people will expect to find on your camera.
If this is your first camera of this kind, you will need to buy an Arri or Arri-style dovetail to mount to your tripod head's quick release plate. A quick look at the picture of the RED ARRI 15mm Base I linked to above will explain why - there is a female dovetail channel on the bottom of the RED ARRI 15mm baseplate, but no dovetail in sight! These dovetails are standard and can be purchased from just about anywhere - including from Element Technica.
If you ever hear somebody refer to the "Arri 15mm baseplate," the "E.T. 15mm plate," the "ET/RED 15mm base," the "15mm offset baseplate," the "15mm Studio baseplate" or anything similar to that, they are referring to this base plate. Element Technica makes it, RED sells it.
The 15mm Studio baseplate also has a single rosette on the right side for mounting an accessory such as a handle.
But what about handheld? None of RED's handheld accessories [from the shoulder pad to the handles] will work with this baseplate. How will you go handheld with it?
This standard has been around for decades. RED's handheld system is but one of many that are available. Frankly, there are more handheld solutions for 15mm Studio and the Arri dovetail than any other standard. If you're going 15mm Studio, you're not going to want to buy RED's handheld system. Just try out a few 15mm Studio handheld solutions, pick your favorite and buy. And don't stop with Zacuto... they make great video accessories, but the RED's not a video camera. This is not a shot at Zacuto in the least... just take the blinders off and look beyond what RED and Zacuto make. Look at some film camera accessories [yeah, it's not a film camera...] before you buy. Chances are the handheld setup you use with your favorite film camera will work with the RED using this baseplate.
Remember, a city that is built on 15mm Studio accessories will not know what to do with a 19mm baseplate or accessories. Element Technica also makes 15mm top mounts for the camera, to replace RED's 19mm top mounts. If you want to go 15mm Studio, I recommend going completely 15mm - both with your baseplate and with your top mounts.
01-27-2008, 05:51 PM
Arriflex 19mm Studio
Also known as "19mm@104mm" or "19mm centered"
The Arriflex 19mm Studio standard is made up of two 19mm rods that are 104mm apart and 120mm below the optical axis of the camera. The rod spacing is symmetrical: each rod is 52mm from the center on either side of the optical axis.
The 19mm Studio standard is the "new" world standard for film cameras and accessories. Any new Arri gear will be set up for 19mm Studio by default. RED made the appropriate decision by going with the 19mm Studio standard for their accessories, as it is the new standard going forward.
If there was one "standard" in the world, this would be it. As it is the most modern standard, built around beefier rods and centered spacing, it is the most logical for designing a new camera system. That said, it is also the heaviest of the standards. Furthermore, it will be next to impossible to find older film accessories based on the 19mm Studio standard, as it has not been popular as long as the 15mm Studio or 15mm Lightweight standards have. Los Angeles's ignorance of this standard hasn't helped its popularity much as well.
There are some older film accessories based around the 19mm Studio system - some older Arri cameras used this standard in the 1980s - but not many. Most of those accessories are coupled with the cameras they were originally designed for. If you're going to purchase all 19mm accessories for your camera, you will likely find yourself looking at new accessories.
So should you go with a 19mm Studio baseplate? Call your local rental house and find out. If renting equipment is not something you're planning on [or if you live in a 19mm city], go for it! As RED has selected 19mm Studio as their accessory standard [and several thousand RED ONEs are going to be flooding the market this year...], you'll probably find a lot more 19mm accessories popping up at different price points.
As it stands, there are two ways to go 19mm Studio with the RED.
One is to buy the RED BOTTOM PLATE (http://www.red.com/store/product_detail/47), which is set up for 19mm Studio rods. This is RED's own base plate and is a part of the Basic Production Package. It is designed to work with RED's own proprietary dovetail, which you can find on their Shoulder Pad. You can also purchase the RED Cheese Plate to mount to the RED Bottom Plate to eliminate the dovetail.
Once again, the RED Bottom Plate's dovetail is proprietary and will not work with an Arri dovetial. Even if you machined the Bottom Plate out to match the Arri dovetail, it would not work as the RED Bottom Plate has a nonstandard locking mechanism.
If you wish to use an Arri dovetail, you should purchase the RED ARRI 19MM Base (http://www.red.com/store/product_detail/45). This base plate - designed and manufactured by Element Technica but sold by RED - has 19mm Studio rod channels and a female dovetial for the standard Arri dovetail plate.
It shares all of the same features and relationships as the RED ARRI 15mm Base which I detailed in the 15mm Studio post above. It will function with all of RED's accessories, including the Side Handles, which bridge the gap between the 19mm Studio rods and the 19mm rods that can be inserted into the RED Top Mounts.
01-27-2008, 05:53 PM
So which should you go with? That is completely up to you, your accessories, your rental houses and what you plan to use your camera for. At a personal level, I'd recommend having all three rod standard options available... depending on the city or country you're working in.
I hope this helps to clear things up. PM me if I've missed something or made a typo.
I will be adding pictures when I get around to taking them.
Also, to prevent confusion, what I call a "baseplate" many call a "bridge plate."
The pictures have been eaten by forum upgrades over the years, unfortunately.