Compass 20 System Navigates the Wolf Debate
Well let me start out by saying this wasn’t the first Miller Camera support I’ve used to harness smooth worry free operation. I have been fortunate enough to follow my dreams filming unique subject matter and destinations from the Great Moyowosi swamp in Western Tanzania to the Prince of Whales straight in the unforgiving Arctic. I’ve improvised using Miller’s carbon fiber legs with the retractable spikes to climb icebergs, avalanche chutes and raging rivers. Their support systems have yet to let me down in the heat of battle. So when Miller offered me a chance to demo their new Compass 20 system on the controversial wolf issue out West I figured it was what I refer to as a “no-brainer”.
The first phase of the project included filming a three-minute reel for a non-profit organization called Horns N Heritage. Then collect lots of run and gun style interviews with lead ungulate and wolf biologists near my home in Western Montana. My plan was to capture rock solid images of wolves, elk, deer and moose in their natural habitat. I knew that Montana’s terrain and inclement weather would put Millers compass system into the test. It wasn’t long before my new unit arrived on the fed ex truck. Like a kid at Christmas I dove into the rectangular box to inspect my new baby. Right of the bat I noticed how solid the unit was built. It reminded me of a brand new car ready to hit the street for the first time and it even boasted that new car smell. The soft case it arrived in was no slouch either. Inside it naturally cradles the compass head with superior padding and included a tripod sling, warranty card and a wrench for fine-tuning.
I immediately attached the Compass 20 (75mm head) onto the 3 stage carbon fiber legs with perfect familiarity and was pleasantly surprised with many new innovative features I’ve always envisioned on tripod. With a 5 different settings for tilt and pan including a zero setting it was a breeze to dial in the right combination for smooth operation in a flash. I seemed to like number 5/2 for tilt and 3 for panning my go to SONY EX3. The quick release, 60mm sliding camera platform with mini Euro plate locks in your camera to the head with a resounding thunk that said “Time to go to work”! The slidingbase plate has easy to read numeric markings, which helps you quickly find your camera’s “sweet spot”. Also one of my favorite little gems was the lighted level bubble. Gone are the days or drooling on that flashlight that normally graces your mouth while trying to find level in the dark. Whether you’re running a XDCAM or one of the new HDSLR units Miller’s proprietary technology is nothing short of genius. The Compass system recently took top honors from TV technologies editorial staff with it’s “Best in Class” pan and tilt fluid drag. With my new unit in hand I was ready to do a little tilt and pan myself…“guerilla independent” style!
Trying to follow running elk being captured and collared is a tough order to fill. I filmed a group of elk moving across a mountain from a half a mile away in 20 mph wind gusts. What I captured was nothing short of breathtaking. Fish Wildlife and Parks were also utilizing several helicopter crews from both the states and overseas. I was able to stay on my subject(s) even when the rotary bladed beasts appeared out of thin air. The elk and wolf study will continue for the next three years lead by Craig Jourdonnais. Craig is the head biologist and is involved in all aspects of this study. The elk and wolves captured are collared; checked for age, body fat densities and overall health then released back into the wild. He and his team are trying to find out why the elk population has severely plummeted in formally one of the states largest elk herds. Although the wolves and other predators are suspect to their rapid decline, I know that it’s hard to argue with good science.
Being able to film the wolves and elk being captured and released required equipment that has stood the test of time. At one point I had to drop to eye level with the carbon fiber legs to film the wolf looking me in the eye at ground level while in the collaring process. Find me a camera support system that can drop to 9” off the deck, pull level and be filming a wolf in the eye in seconds. They don’t exist! There were no second takes on this assignment. It was a one shot deal! The compass 20 navigated Montana’s wild places and wild things with ease. It’s no wonder ten years have come and gone by since I graced my first Aussi sticks.
CEO KinseyHD Productions LLC.
(2030) Compass20 Solo 3-stage Carbon Fibre System
The Compass 20 Solo DV 3-Stage Carbon Fibre system combines with the new released lightweight Solo DV 3-stage CF tripod and Compass 20 fluid head to provide professional performance for the latest generation of lightweight HDV/DVCAM/XDCAM, P2HD and DSLR cameras.
(1036) Compass 20 Fluid Head
Speed, performance, versatility from DV to ENG
The Compass 20 fluid head with 2-12kg payload range enables a large range of cameras and camera configurations to be used. From HDV / DVCAM to XDCAM / P2HD and DSLR cameras the Compass 20 fluid head is one of the most versatile pan/tilt heads available. The Compass 20 incorporates the best pan and tilt fluid drag range in its class combined with a selectable counterbalance system. A quick release camera mounting system utilising the Euro mini camera plates allows it to integrate easily into existing camera support inventories.