Unless you’re specifically attempting a sun-flare effect in camera, chances are you want to do everything you can to avoid glare from the sun or any other lighting sources.
Though most video cameras have lens hoods, often they are just not large enough to do the job well. You can bring plenty of gobos and put up light blocks, but this takes time and grips to keep things moving on the shoot. And if you’re using a system with interchangeable lenses, time becomes even more of an issue.
We’ve been using Redrock Micro products for some time. When we heard they were offering a universal mattebox, we decided to try one along with our new RED ONE camera. We expected a good quality product from Redrock and were not let down one bit. At first glance, we knew the system was built on par with the RED, which is saying quite a bit. And what you get for the price is incredible. The closest match in terms of quality is an Arri Mattebox, which will set you back $6,000.
Set It Up
We received our microMatteBox just a few days before heading to Detroit to shoot a music video, so there wasn’t much time to get the rig ready for travel. We ordered the unit with 19mm rods to match the RED ONE mounting system. The system is also available with 15mm rods to fit standard mounting hardware.
The initial build went very smoothly, with all the parts nicely packaged and labeled. The unit was shipped in a well-designed, foam-lined double box, and all parts were in perfect condition. The hard-shell custom case was not yet available, so we used the inner packaging, which happened to fit in our travel case perfectly. There is a snug fit for each part, keeping everything safe and easy to set up.
Setting up the unit is very intuitive, with little need for written directions. And sometimes, visuals are all you need. Images and video tutorials from the Redrock site helped us get the rig together. All of the parts slide on to either the 19mm rods, the custom aluminum mounting brackets, or mount to the main body of the mattebox with ease.
We hit a slight snag when we found that we didn’t have the correct mount for our Redrock follow focus that we have been using on our M2 unit. With more time, we would have ordered the correct part. But since that was not an option, a quick fix worked out just as well. Like an Erector set, there were plenty of options for similar quick fixes; we used one spare nut and the follow focus mount. Our impression was that the unit could be easily customized in the future, through Redrock’s host of accessories, if not some improvisation when pressed for time.
Hit the Road
Our first shoot for the music video was in a full studio environment, and we had plenty of lights to avoid. The set up went quickly, even after only putting the system together once or twice. The unit is all metal and although very lightweight (3 lbs. 15 oz., configured for RED), it’s very strong and well built, down to the last fastener. Quick release thumb screws also help make set up and adjustment simple and painless.
Changing lenses, which we need to do often with a prime lens set up, is made much easier by the swing-away design of the microMattebox. This saves time and made swapping out lenses very easy- it’s also an option you generally only find in top-dollar units. Simply pull up on the swing arm release, and the whole box moves out of the way, giving you plenty of room to access the lens. Swap your lens, fit the correct size rubber light-blocking donut to fit the lens (51mm, 64mm, 76mm, 102mm) to block any light coming from behind the camera, and you’re good to go.
Our shoot included a street scene, so we fitted an NDO.6 neutral density filter into one slot of the two’ stage filter housing, which is easy to access from the top of the unit. Small thumbscrews keep the filters in place and swapping or rotating them is a snap.
Put through its paces, the Redrock microMatteBox has quickly become one of the most valuable additions to our new RED ONE.