In the world of photography or videography you’re always looking for that little bit extra.  It could be anything.  A little bit of fill light, a slightly larger softbox, some men and women dancing around spitting fire into the air while birds and bee’s circle the subject wearing a space suit in the middle of Antarctica when all of the sudden the guys from top gear bust through a glacier driving a Corvette…….  You know; that extra little bit.  Christopher Walken referred to this one time as something needing “More Cowbell”.   Spinal Tap only uses their amp that “Goes to Eleven” because it provides that little bit extra.  Sometimes that little bit extra can be something incredibly simple, but astoundingly effective.  Enter the Cinevate Atlas Slider.

(Photo Courtesy of Cinevate)

So here’s the deal.  Simple as pie.  Store bought pie even, you don’t even have to make the pie, just eat it.  I had two video assignments at the Indianapolis Star newspaper that I felt needed a little extra push to eleven if you will.  I called my friends down at Roberts Camera and asked begged to borrow their floor model Cinevate Atlas Slider.  The first thing they told me was not to break it; which usually dooms me.   The device however  is incredibly well built, yet incredibly simple.  Primarily it’s just a set of rails with a tripod mount so that you can give your camera a bit of very smooth, very even, very minor movement to add a bit of production quality to your video.  Is it worth it?  Absolutely.

(Video shot with Canon 5D Mark II on a Manfrotto Fluid Head attached to a Cinevate Atlas Slider, edited in Final Cut Pro 7 on a Mac Pro 2009 model)

That 15 second video isn’t the final video that Ran for BreBeuf Prep school here in Indianapolis, but it was the one that I preferred of the two based on cosmetic reasons.  This is the 1st Final proof as I like to call it, which for me means that there was a set of changes after this that created the Final Video.  For all intents and Purposes though, this is how I intended it to run before the client decided to move a few things around.  Their video was just fine, I just liked this one better.  The video was to run as an interstitial video on the Indianapolis Star’s website meaning that you would visit a page and when prompted you could watch the 15 second video in HD right on your screen on top of whatever you were looking at before.  User initiated sound, so you weren’t getting ambushed or anything, but still it was pretty prevalent on our website for a while.  I digress.  The video is significantly better with the bit of motion going from side to side, and it was an exceptionally thing to add using the Cinevate Atlas.  Literally all I had to do was put my Fluid tripod head onto the regular tripod head mount on the slider, and I was in business.  No crazy screw sizes, no funny converters, and no being pigeonholed into using a proprietary head.  Wonderful.  There is only one thing that I would change about this slider, and in the end after thinking about it, it’s not even something that necessarily NEEDS be changed.

  (Video shot with a Canon 5D Mark II, on a Manfrotto Fluid Head attached to a Cinevate Atlas Slider,  Audio recorded via Senheiser G3 lav mics and a Marantz Solid State audio recorder, all edited in Final Cut Pro 7, Soundtrack  Pro, and Adobe Audition on a 2009 Mac Pro)

This second video was shot for MARSH to start off the 2012 Light the Night walk for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society here in Indianapolis.  Really cool event actually, I’m sorry I missed it.  A ton of people show up to Victory Field here in Indianapolis and watch this video before going to walk through downtown Indianapolis carrying lit up balloons to honor those who have survived a fight with, are fighting with, or were lost to Blood Cancers.  Also for those of you who missed it.  Recently our new Colts coach, Chuck Pagano, was diagnosed with Leukemia; so this hit close to home for a lot of sports fans out there.  I digress though, as the video went over incredibly well and other than this blog you can’t see it unless you went to the walk that night and saw it on the BIG screen at victory field.

SO.  What was the one thing I might have changed about the slider?  The attachment points on each end.  I ended up having to use two light stands, one attached to each end of the slider with the middle attached to a regular Manfrotto Tripod in order to keep it level during shooting.  The first video I wasn’t prepared and that’s why if you watch closely you can see a slight tilt in the footage.  That being said, the slider has the correct screw sized holes for mounting vertically, or horizontally; but I don’t have a copious of ball heads available to me for if I want to use it at an angle of some sort.  With the ball heads I could have attached a tripod at each end and made it move to any angle.  This is fine, and in retrospect probably the best for stability; but not having extra ball heads, it made doing anything that wasn’t level a lot more difficult.  I didn’t attach the slider to anything for a Vertical up and down shot, but the mounts were there and it seemed pretty straightforward.  Overall I’d say it’s a must for anybody that does a ton of video and it’s something that I’ll definitely be adding to my kit sometime in the future.  I just don’t do enough personal video to justify buying it for myself, which means that I’m going to have to annoy the powers that be at the newspaper about buying me one.  Roberts Camera here in Indy carries a bunch of the Cinevate stuff, and it all looks really good.  You can also do a lot cooler stuff with sliders with a few extra things, and a timelapse with a slider looks really effin cool.   Just ask Tom Lowe of Timescapes.  He’s got the market cornered on timelapses and such.  If you’re looking to buy one of these sliders, (or anyting camera related for that matter), Check em out at Roberts.  They will even let you play with it in the store before you decide.  Don’t drop my name though, they might charge you double….. Ok maybe not double, but they will probably roll their eyes.  More Soon.