I have been training a group of teens and young adults in both technical theater and live event filmmaking at the Asian Arts Initiative in Philadelphia. At each session I invite local artists to perform in our classes so that our tech apprentices have a real world opportunity to design lights and shoot film. This time we had the Philadelphia Suns Lion Dancers perform their beautiful Chinese New Years dance and we filmed them using our GH2 and indiSYSTEM indiGO-JIB.
I’ve used a jib crane a few times and they give you spectacular looking shots but I personally don’t like using them because they are huge and bulky not to mention take some time to setup. The last one I used I couldn’t get the weights just right so the camera was always too top heavy. So when Tim told me he had created a portable jib arm perfect for smaller DSLR cameras that was easy to setup and light weight I was pretty intrigued.
The indiSYSTEM indiGO-JIB when folded down is only 38” long and can easily be packed in a bag and taken from the streets to the wilderness. When fully extended and with the front camera/monitor plate attached you get a little over 8’ of reach and when placed on your fluid head and a 4’ set of sticks you’ll have your camera up 12′ in the air.
My total set up time took me fifteen minutes to get my camera and tripod balanced and working. One of the big reasons for this is that Tim did a terrific job in creating levels of adjustments on the telescopic arm and at the weight level end to get the jib arm balanced just the way you want it. Typically with a jib crane if you are slightly off alignment its because the floor or your sticks are not level. When this happens the adjustment to get it level is a pain.
With the indiGO-JIB its very easy to get the camera pivoted so its level because you can loosen two top and bottom knobs on the telescopic arm and hand torque the camera until its level and then screw it down. This allows one the flexibility to shoot the camera nose down or nose up. You have a degree and a half front and back movement allowing for quick level shooting and a lot of creative angled possibilities.
Balancing the camera with weights is pretty easy. You can purchase the 4 liter plastic containers that you can fill with water or dirt or use your own weights. Whatever weights you decide to use there are a number of adjustments on the jib arm that allow you to get the camera balanced just right.
The students from my class really just had a ball and were able to setup, balance and operate the indiGO-JIB quite well. We shot the Philadelphia Suns with a Panasonic GH2 and the Navitar 6mm f/1.4 c-mount lens using the GH2′s ETC mode. I’ve already posted about this lens and its wonderfully sharp and a nice pairing with the GH2 and indiGO-JIB. For some of the closeup shots of the Lion Dancers we used the Schneider-Kreuznach Variogon 12.5-75mm f/1.8 c-mount zoom lens. It’s nice and sharp on the tele side but a tad soft on the wide end but still fun to use. The nice thing is that we switched lenses a lot and we easily balanced the rig by unlocking and sliding the weights to the right position in just a few seconds.
This is one jib that I know will be loved by students and pros alike and should be used as a teaching tool from small humble video classes to film schools everywhere because it’s portable, affordable, and easy to setup and you get some amazing results.
The Philadelphia Suns Lion Dancers perform a Chinese New Years Dance that is traditionally done during the Lunar New Year. The Suns Lion Dancers visit restaurants, businesses, homes, and special family functions in Chinatown to give good fortune and blessing for the coming year. Usually, you must provide an offering to the Lion with fruits or vegetable.
In the dance the Lion is offered food but then must spit it out because it can not consume any physical food just the spiritual sense. After the eating ritual, the Lion then sleeps and then fully awakens and ends the final dance by bowing and bringing good blessing to the home.
Main Lion Head and Lion Dance Instructor: Peter Louie
Rear of Lion: Kevin Leong
Schneider-Kreuznach Variogon 12.5-75mm f/1.8