So, I posted a while back about some issues while using the VF/Brook APU-AB with THE CLUTCH. The fact that the AB battery hangs down below the "step" of the camera makes for a tough fit with THE CLUTCH. With the Clutch in the as-shipped configuration, there is simply no way to get the camera down into the quick release with an AB mounted on the back of the camera. The battery makes contact (read: severely interferes) with the top of the shoulder pad and... well... it just doesn't work. This was frustrating for me initially, but after a night of no sleep, I thought of a quick interim solution, and I'm also posting to note a couple of other tips for using these bits together.
I un-bolted the shoulder pad from the back of the Dovetail QR platform that is the core of THE CLUTCH. I ordered an additional 19mm DSMC Universal Mount and bolted the shoulder pad to that, then slid these bits onto the 19mm rods behind the QR platform. This moved the camera forward of the shoulder pad about an inch, allowing the battery to fall at a lower point of the forward curve of the shoulder pad. With the Dionic 90, the problem was solved. However, with a Dionic HC, the battery would still sit against the shoulder pad and cause for a bit of a tight fit. It would work, but wasn't to my liking. I hate to fumble with stuff on set!
An added benefit:
Now, the cool thing that I found with this interim solution is that it allows you to slide your CLUTCH apart very easily. As noted above, the shoulder pad is bolted to the QR plate, making things a bit more difficult if you really want to break the rig down for either transport or more compact use (I frequently use The CLUTCH on sticks with the handles flipped up, to give myself extra grip points on the camera.)
A couple of twists on the wing nuts of the 19mm DSMC Universal mount, and you can easily slide the shoulder pad assembly off of the rig.
The final solution
I borrowed a friend's VF/Brook FMJ Bottom Plate and FMJ 15mm LW Bracket to test those parts with the O-Connor Follow Focus, and while I was messing with that stuff I discovered another advantage of using these parts. The FMJ Bottom Plate + RED QR plate add the perfect amount of height to the camera so that the battery clears the shoulder pad on THE CLUTCH. Also, the positioning of the RED QR plate when screwed to the bottom of the FMJ Bottom plate actually moves the camera back approximately 1/2", so you're making up for part of the ~1" that the camera was moved forward previously. This was welcome news, because I planned to always keep these parts on the bottom of my camera anyway... so my problem was solved.
As far as I can tell by rough-eyeballing the setup, you could simply put the FMJ Bottom Plate on your camera and it should clear the shoulder pad without the added 19mm DSMC Universal Mount. However, I'm very happy with the setup as-is, and I frequently utilize the ability to remove the shoulder pad assembly from the CLUTCH.
AB Dionic HC pictured
I hope this post has helped a few of you that were initially frustrated by or worried about these parts working together. For the record, I'm really happy with both The CLUTCH and Brook's components, and the rig really is very comfortable and decently-balanced. I do look forward to a solution that will allow the APU-AB to be attached to the rear shoulder pad of THE CLUTCH for a bit more counter-balance, but for now the rig is very manageable and fatigues me a hell of a lot less than any other handheld rig that I've used. I highly recommend the CLUTCH, and I just as highly recommend Brook's battery plates and FMJ components... very well-designed and well-built. Thanks Brook!