Resources: Tech Series
This is the DJI Ronin. It’s what we use on shoots to stabilise our Sony F5, but to do that, we had to make a few modifications because the Sony F5 is just a big camera. So first of all we added the extra long arms from DJI. This helped give us an extra bit of clearance; as you can see the previous arms were much smaller. As well as that, we added the Cinemilled extension bracket; this gave us an extra bit of height clearance and back clearance that allows us to mount the F5 camera.
So let’s get the camera on first of all. As you can see we’ve got the DJI Ronin plate that has some little markers that help when you’re moving, to indicate where you’ve moved backwards and forwards. What you do first of all, is get a rough tilt balance; so that’s the forwards and backwards balance of the camera. Once we’ve done that, we simply lock it in place.
On here we’ve got a locking mount. I find this sometimes comes a little bit loose, so if you want to keep the alum keys handy, you can tighten it up at a later date. What you want to do, is make sure everything is mounted and plugged in as it will be when the camera is running. The last thing you want to do, is get the set-up made and then forget that you’ve not plugged in a cable and that completely sends everything off balance. We use a flexi SDI lead; we found the standard SDI BNC cables were really stiff and taught and actually didn’t allow the camera a free movement. As well as that, we’ve got the power cable for our monitor. So it’s just the monitor, the BNC and the power cable on here.
What we want to do now is set the balance. Now we’ve done that rough front and back balance which is the tilt, we want to get the tilt balance when it’s pointing upwards, because that means that the Ronin can help balance the camera in whatever position it’s in and it doesn’t stress out any of the motors. To do this, we simply unlock the vertical tilt bars and get the camera so it’s pointing directly upwards. As you can see, it’s leaning back a little at the moment so we simply move the bars back as you can see, a really small adjustment just completely throws the camera off, so you have to be really finite with these adjustments. Sometimes I find that with a heavy camera like this, even tiny adjustments means that the camera can move backwards and forwards.
So, there we go, I think we’ve got a rough forwards and backwards balance there. Obviously, with a bit more time you can spend fiddling and getting these as perfect as possible, but I tend to spend about 10 minutes on a shoot getting this balanced and let the Ronin do the rest.
Once we’ve got that balanced, we’ve got the front and back, so what we need to do now is the roll. The roll is controlled by these two nuts here. You simply unlock these here and as you can see, there’s lots of markers to help you gauge how much you’ve moved the camera on the Ronin left or right. If we hold the camera, at the moment it’s fairly flat but if it wasn’t, like that for example, it would simply roll off axis. Then what you do is adjust, and as you can see it’s tilting a little bit to the right, so once we’ve done that, we move it back to the left and for purposes of this, we’ve got it roughly balanced there. Once you’ve done that, you simply lock those two nuts in place. All of these are keyless, but you can use an alum key to tighten up even more.
Now we’ve got that set, we want to set the front and back balance a bit more precisely. We did that at the start by moving it forwards and backwards, so what you have to do is unlock it again and move it backwards and forwards. Now I find this to be probably the hardest one of all. Once you’ve got everything balanced, getting this front and back balanced perfect, because even slight movements that you can barely detect that you’ve moved it can send the camera forwards and backwards.
Once you’ve got the camera balanced, the last thing you need to balance is the pan. Now to test this, all you have to do is tilt the Ronin left or right and as you can see it’s balanced there, but if it wasn’t, you’d tilt it and it would simply move one way or the other. To do this and adjust it, on the back we’ve got a couple of locking nuts here. So the back pan adjustment has a little geared mechanism which allows you to move really in tiny amounts the back pan adjustment. Once you’ve got it to where you think it might be, you tilt it, but as you can see it’s tilting away from us so if it’s tilting away, simply move the gear system forward. Now these both control the same gear inside here, it’s just a locking mechanism. So now I’ve made that adjustment, if I go like that and as you can see it now coming towards me which means I’ve probably gone too far on that, so I move it back a little bit more. If we try it again now, once again it’s a really finite thing. Once you’ve adjusted this and got it into place, you just lock it into place with the two clips on the side of the pan mount.
Now one thing that we ran into with the Sony F5 and having all these extension arms and extra bits, is we found that the standard stand that comes with the Ronin actually isn’t good enough any more because this comes too far back, which means we can’t adjust this pan because it simply hits the back of the stand. So what we’ve done, we’ve mounted it to a lighting stand which just gives us that extra clearance we needed to mount it.
Once we’ve got the Ronin all balanced up, simply fire it on. You will see the Ronin kick into gear and the camera will stabilise. Okay, so once you’ve fired up the Ronin normally you power up the app and you go on to the autotune stability, but the problem is with a camera of this size and weight, I find it doesn’t really work very well, it overpowers the motors and the motors just make a really loud whirring noise until they shut off. So what I do, is I manually put in the settings myself and just basically adjust that until the motors aren’t making too much noise and you find that you can fire the Ronin around without it shutting down. So let’s get this off the bars and, as you can see, the Ronin is really nicely balanced now it’s not working too hard. You do get some really nice shots and I think sometimes the added weight does help with the stability of the camera on the Ronin.
And that’s pretty much it, you’re good to go.
VPoint TV Resources: Tech Series
‘DJI Ronin Setup for the Sony F5’
Presented by Dale Fallows