Learning weighty lessons.
This Dragon on a Ronin M pushed the motors right to failure, but worked for simple tracking moves.
The Alexa Mini shot described below that I learned a "weighty" lesson from.
My most comfortable (and light!) set-up. Ronin M. Sony A7SII. Prime lens. Red Rock Micro follow focus. Cinemilled Pro Dovetail.
I do a fair amount of gimbal operating and have come to consider myself pretty good at it. I own both the full-sized DJI Ronin as well as the small Ronin M. I like mounting them on Menace arm rigs and making a poor man's remote head as well as planning more traditional uses for them. I've executed some tricky moves (mostly flying my Sony A7SII on a Ronin M, which, as you'll see, is an important distinction) and had come to feel confident and perhaps a bit cocky about my abilities. Maybe I was even acting too big for my britches.
That time came this week when I agreed to execute a complex opening shot for a feature utilizing my big Ronin flying an Alexa Mini outfitted with a Preston FIZ, Zeiss 32mm Ultra Prime, LMB5 Matte Box and about 3 pounds of counterweight from a Cinemilled Pro Dovetail and Pan Counterweight...totally free flying, with no extra support. I had (just barely) flown a Red Dragon on A Ronin M, albeit with an EZ Rig, and I thought I could do it.
And I did...
...After 15 (long and embarrassing!) takes blowing the move -- which was a long, slow push in to a man sitting at a bar, followed by a track around him, down to a tight shot of a glass on the bar, tilting up to his face, holding that for over a long reflective minute, and then down again to his phone on the bar. What was I thinking!? This clearly required a Ready Rig for help with the weight, so I could focus on just making the moves and shots what they needed to be for the film. Next time I'll put my ego and best intentions aside and make sure I have the proper supporting tool available. But this is often how we learn. Thank goodness I finally nailed the shot, but it was a humbling process getting there. There is always a next time and though I've never cost a client a job or a day, when I think back on my career I can certainly reflect on how often I have learned vital lessons my making a poor choice, not listening to my gut or my making a simple mistake that quickly compounded. The important thing is to take those lessons to heart, file it away and pull yourself up to operate another day. I hope someone reading this can take heart in knowing that we've all done this and it's part of the process and how we grow into stronger filmmakers.