I've just spent the weekend shooting at a large travelling circus with the FR7. The circus is a contemporary travelling circus that tours around the southwest of the UK between February and November every year. They perform in a traditional Big Top tent and have 2 different shows. Funtasia is a family oriented show with comedy acts, dance acts, a very impressive laser show, fire, stunts and some high wire and rope acts. On Saturday evenings there is an adults only show with cocktails, wine and beer called Cirque Du Vulgar that starts as soon as the doors open with the cast secretly mingling with the audience so well that the audience no longer knows who is a guest that might of had a bit too much to drink and who is part of the show. In the main part of show there are risqué acts including a beautiful aerial ballet full of romance and passion. Plus many staged interruptions from seemingly drunken audience members that are cast members that have been hiding in plain sight in the audience since the doors opened, some of these are hilariously funny as the audience no longer know whats part of the show and what is not. I've filmed circus before and it can be challenging to cover well. Being a travelling circus performing in a tent the main acts happen in a ground level ring. So a cameraman and tripod anywhere near the ring is going to spoil the view of some of the audience. The FR7 however is so small and compact that it can be placed on the ground at the front of the ring without getting in anyones way. After covering the show from this position I moved the FR7 up above the ring and hung it from the lighting truss. This allowed me to get a very different view of the acts, especially the high wire and rope acts. There are some great shots of the aerial artists swinging towards the camera and screaming at it. I ran the FR7 off a battery pack to save running power cables across the ground. Like most of the Cinema Line cameras it needs 19.5v so I made up a power adapter to go from a 14.4v D-tap to 19.5v You can't use the adapters designed for the FX9 etc as the FR7 takes quite a bit more power if you pan or tilt rapidly, you need 19.5v at a peak of around 4 amps. Using a single thin CAT5 cable I was able to control the camera and see a low latency live feed on my laptop. There is a bit of delay in the video feed over the CAT5 cable, maybe 3 or 4 frames and this did make following fast moving action a bit of a challenge. In retrospect I should have either taken a direct SDI or HDMI feed from the FR7 to a monitor or used a very low latency wireless link. However I am still delighted by the footage I got, as were the circus who have never seen their own acts from these different perspectives and in such high quality. I shot using S-Log3 and CineEI using the 28-135mm power zoom.
Alister, those are some great looking images. I'd love to see some footage of the performance if you are ever able to post anything.
What options do you have for focusing the FR7? I assume it must have Face/Eye detect, but what about full manual, touch-tracking, or push-auto? Can any of those be done remotely? What device are you using to operate the camera?
I will be posting some videos in due course.
You have a tremendous amount of focus control. If using the IP500 control panel you have a focus dial to manually focus or you can use AF and there is a push auto button. If you have a tablet or computer as I did you can use touch to focus (via the track pad or mouse if you don't have a touch screen). You have the same touch tracking, face and eye AF and all the same zones and response settings as on the FX6. These can be set very quickly and easily from the web interface.
Looks great, and how fun for the troupe to see their acts from this vantage point for the first time! I'm currently developing recommendations for a theatrical space with live performances wanting something like this. Based on your experience with this circus show, if you were going to have a second camera angle, would you go with two FR7s?
The FR7 allows you to get otherwise impossible angles and it is very responsive to the control inputs. But you still don't quite have that direct connection that you get with a traditional directly operated camera. I would still prefer a directly operated camera where possible. But it's not often that you can put a camera man up on a lighting truss or at the very front of a stage, so this is where the FR7 really comes into its own and I would have no hesitation in using the FR7 whenever something like this is needed. I will probably add one to my own kit for use as a B camera for things like this as well as interviews and all those other situations where traditionally I would have used a locked off camera. At least with the FR7 you can remotely re-frame if the talent shifts position. You can even control it from a phone if you connect the FR7 to a router with WiFi. When I went up the big ladder to change cards between performances I was able to use my phone to format the cards and check everything was working as expected before coming down and putting the ladder away.
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