The Real Deal on Redrock’s “One Man Crew”

One Man Crew

Last week, I compared two recently-announced products: Redrock Micro’s “One Man Crew,” and Kessler Crane’s “Parallax.” Based on the information available at that time (basically, just the sales page & promo videos on the respective companies’ websites), it was a little difficult to tell exactly what the distinguishing characteristics of each product were.

I’m pleased to report that, today, I was able to have a very pleasant and in-depth conversation with Brian Valente, one of the partners at Redrock Micro. I asked him some tough questions about the One Man Crew, and I was a little surprised by what I learned.

First and foremost, it turns out that the One Man Crew was NOT intended to compete for share in the slider market which Kessler dominates. Instead, it was designed to accomplish one specific function: to smoothly, silently and automatically maintain a continuously moving shot of an interview subject (or other “talking head”), keeping the subject perfectly centered in the frame, without losing focus at any time during the motion path, and without taking a long time to set up.

Apparently, one of the trends in contemporary interview filming is to have one stationery camera and one moving camera. To that end, the One Man Crew allows solo shooters to do two things at once. While he or she operates the stationery camera, the One Man Crew glides back and forth on its curved, 36″ travel path, gently slowing down and changing directions at each end of the path, so that 100% of the footage is usable. Incidentally, the speed at which it moves IS adjustable.

I asked Brian about what appears to be the main drawback of the One Man Crew: the fact that it only works if the subject is exactly six feet away from the camera. He said that, while customers were initially skeptical about this limitation, they actually wound up liking the fact that they know exactly where to put the rig. And, Brian added, the One Man Crew even has built-in lasers to help people set the distance with absolute confidence.

Another feature of the One Man Crew is that it is whisper-quiet. Kessler sliders, for all their excellent qualities, are not known for their emphasis on silent operation. A little bit of noise is not an issue for b-roll or product shots, but it could be a serious problem for interviews.

Ultimately, though, Brian emphasized that both he and the Kessler team do not feel that their products are in direct competition with each other. The Kessler Parallax is an accessory that adds another dimension of motion to existing Kessler products. The One Man Crew is not for people who want an all-purpose slider; it is a turnkey solution for people who don’t have the time, personnel or expertise to set up and program a motorized camera, but who want to add that element of motion to their interviews. It also allows them to know exactly where to set the subject, and to know that he or she will stay absolutely in focus (as long as the subject doesn’t squirm around too much, of course!).

It was very interesting for me to hear a personal explanation of the rationale behind this product. I really hadn’t gotten the emphasis on silent operation and continuous smooth movement from the promo video, but now that I know that those are key features, it’s pretty obvious!

I’m not as convinced as Brian is that the One Man Crew and the Parallax won’t be in competition with each other, but after our conversation, I’m inclined to think that the advantage may be more to the Redrock side. Current owners of Kessler products are probably likely to simply add the Parallax to their kit, since it is a $399 purchase, vs. the One Man Crew’s $1,500 pricetag, but for people who do NOT own any Kessler products, the decision is a far less clear-cut one.

To build a Kessler rig that would do what a One Man Crew can do would cost at least $1,500 (and perhaps as much as $3,000, depending on how automated you wanted to make it), and it would not be as quiet, or as quick to set up, as the One Man Crew. On the other hand, the One Man Crew can accomplish the basic functions of a slider (with the added advantage of maintaining focus), with the only limitation being a mandatory six-foot distance from the subject.

Several times during our conversation, Brian mentioned that he was less interested in talking about his products than in hearing what other people thought about them. So, weigh in! Leave a comment, and let me (and Redrock Micro) know what you think.

6 Replies to “The Real Deal on Redrock’s “One Man Crew””

  1. I have had a Kessler cineslider for 2 years, and just put and order in for a One man crew. It’s not a “versus” situation.
    Both companies make great products and make what I do, look even better.
    At the end of the day, if the clients says “Wow!” everyone’s a winner.

    1. Joe, I’m sure that’s EXACTLY what both manufacturers love to hear! Do you plan to use the One Man Crew primarily for interviews, or something else?

      1. I’m not sure yet.
        i think it will look great in Reporter pieces.
        I’ll have to have a play with the OMC to see its limitations. Some producers are surprised when you pull a slider out, because they are used to dollies.

  2. I own a considerable amount of Kessler gear (slider, 2 jibs, etc., which I love by the way), and frankly, I don’t really see these products competing. While I suspect that some day i’ll add the Parallax to my kit, I am more excited about the One Man Crew, which I have on order from Red Rock. What really impresses me about it vs my Kessler gear is that it is quick to setup without lots of pieces to assemble (or lose!) and it is quiet. I currently have a second camera operator on my interview shoots, using the Kessler Cineslider for moving shots. The slider works great, but at best I get 80% useable footage because he has to manually slide the camera and pan to keep the subject in the same location in the frame (not so easy, even with a very good tripod head). Can’t automate the shot because the motor that I have for the Cineslider is too loud. The OMC, after seeing it demoed at NAB, masterfully handles this type of b camera shot quietly with minimal setup. And you can even run it off of battery power! (To be fair, you can run the Kessler solution off battery power as well). The OMC is a purpose built piece of kit that, for shooters that do a lot of interviews, will allow them to increase production value without adding time consuming setups to their setup!

    1. Thanks for the insight, Brett! It’s interesting to me that you find the quick setup to be a key advantage. It’s also interesting to hear that you have found the Kessler motor too loud for interview work, but you still have plenty of use for it in other capacities. Essentially, your experience corroborates what Brian told me, which is good news all around.

  3. What if you don’t want your subject center framed? You’d never frame a static b-cam that way (look space). Can you center the slider on a point in front of or to the side of the subject and maintain framing and focus? I understand center framing for simpler engineering purposes but it is artistically limiting.

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