Frequently Asked Questions:
When I am shooting from the back of the venue at long zoom it is difficult to control the pan/tilt at low speeds, can I improve the system's performance?
When the camera is at a long telephoto zoom even a small movement of the pan/tilt head moves the image a great deal. The r-three is far more controllable in pan and tilt than other systems, but the joystick only has a short distance and hence a limited resolution. By pressing the pantilt joystick button the speed range of the joystick will cycle through NORM, FAST and SLOW speed ranges. For more controllability at slow speeds select the SLOW range. For faster movement select FAST. Normal operation should be done in the NORM range.
When using the r-THREE on a tall light stand the camera tends to sway when I move it.
Unfortunately there is a trade off between weight and strength on extended camera mount systems. The only solutions are to either increase the strength of the camera mount by using a tall tripod (and adding weight to the equipment pile) or increase the stability of the light stand. The best solution we've seen to date is to get a length of 1/8" nylon cord and tie it to the top of the light stand and tightly attach the other end as far out on the legs as possible. This will greatly reduce the amount of sway even when the light stand is set fairly high. It is also possible to reduce the speed of the pan/tilt so that it has less propensity to sway. Use of the lightest possible camera will also reduce this tendency. An XL-1 on a tall light stand is pretty much guaranteed to sway to a certain degree.
Do you recommend any camera mounting systems for the r-THREE?
The best light stand that we've seen to date is the Manfrotto/Bogen 3322b "Stacker". You will also need to order the Manfrotto/Bogen 3105 5/8" to 1/4-20 adapter for this light stand but it works great in attaching the pan/tilt head to the stand quickly. The links point to B&H ... we like them but your mileage may vary.
When I push forward on the tilt joystick the camera tilts down. That seems wrong to me, why is it set up that way?
About half of all people asked feel that the controller should behave this way, the other half feel that it should operate the other way. Pilots and game players like the default settings because it operates like a video game or airplane. To change the way that the system operates go to the "sys" menu, select "System Configuration" and change the setting to "tilt up".
When recording with an on camera mic the pan/tilt can be heard when moving quickly. Is this normal?
There were several top priorities used to make design trade-offs in the r-THREE. Cost was a primary consideration. The MP-101 pan/tilt is the only mechanical unit that we could use that would allow us to provide as much functionality as the r-THREE contains and still meet the aggressive price point. Running the pan/tilt at lower speeds results is much less noise. Use of off-camera microphones when the faster speeds of the pan system are needed is recommended. Remember that any pan-tilt camera can be distracting (as can a manned camera) if placed in the wrong location. Putting cameras in the plants and such is really a great way to use this system :-)
How can you get such good video quality out of this skinny cable??
In order to keep the cable small and low cost, it was necessary to only send back composite video. This signal runs at the same resolution (number of horizontal lines) as the camera can put out of the s-video port so the only signal degradation is from combining the lumunance and chrominance. Most people will be hard pressed to see the difference. The PTZHead contains an active differential driver to send the video signal up the cat5 cable. Since the reciever only sees the difference in the signals any noise that is introduced on the cable, which effects both wires equally, will be ignored at the reciever. Unlike systems that only use a passive transformer to send the signal ("Balun transformers"), the r-THREE uses an active driver which results in a significantly better signal.
The "Program" feed from the interface box looks a lot like a live switch output, can I use it for that purpose?
Recording the output of the program channel requires the addition of the LS option to an r-THREE. The r-THREE-LS comes with the live switch option from the factory. The r-THREE can be upgraded to the r-THREE-LS, but must be returned to the factory for the upgrade.
I have a DSR-300 (XL2, AG-DVX200 ....), can I use your system?
Cameras like the DSR-250 have the necessary LANC connector but are too heavy to be tilted by the Pan/Tilt head and are not recommended. Running the Pan/Tilt head with a heavy camera will not damage the head, but if you tilt the camera down it may not be able to bring it back up again. Cameras like the DSR-300 don't have either a LANC or Panasonic "remote" plug and so control of the zoom is not possible and aren't recommended. For further information see our Cameras page.
What is the best type of camera to use with this system?
The system was designed with the Sony PD150/VX2000 in mind and will work well with any of the Sony or Canon "Prosumer" cameras. The Panasonic cameras have an advantage that they support more ranges of zoom speed than the Sonys/Canons and will give a better zoom control but they don't allow you to send back information from the camera like time codes and such that the LANC allows. Many "consumer" Hi-8, Digital-8 and mini-DV cameras have a LANC connector, these should all work well with the r-THREE. From a performance stand point the lighter the camera the better. If you have a question about camera choices please feel free to contact us.
Will the r-THREE work with the new Sony HD cameras?
The r-THREE works just fine with the new HDV cameras. Hook into the LANC port and the Composite video outputs of the camera and view on an SD monitor.
I will be shooting in a location where power is not available, can I use the r-THREE?
The r-THREE requires 12 - 16 Volts DC @ 3 Amps. The input is a standard 4-pin XLR connector. Many battery belts can supply that amount of power. Look for a battery that supplies around 14vdc at 5 ah (amp/hours) or 60 wh (watt/hours) for a 1 hour shoot. Using the Grizzly Pro Marshall monitors with the system will allow you to easily power the system from this same battery source. you should run the system first to understand how long the battery will last prior to a shoot but the wattage input to the r-THREE is approximately 24 watts with three heads and two monitors. The r-THREE will flash an indicator when your battery is getting low but will only do so reliably if sealed lead-acid batteries are used. The r-ONE doesn't have the support for battery operation and must be run from an AC power source.