Immediately after purchasing Grass Valley™ Viper FilmStream Camera™ systems, Sim Video, one of North America‘s most reputable video equipment rental houses, began the process of SIModifying the cameras to improve usability. Sim Video debuted their modifications at Cine Gear 2007 in Los Angeles where local and international cinematographers alike showed great interest while testing the cameras first-hand.
Camera modifications are nothing new to Sim Video, who employs some of the production industry‘s most coveted video engineers and technicians, many of whom have a wealth of on-set production experience. Sim‘s engineers have worked extensively with many of the world‘s top camera manufacturers to test and improve the design and functionality of cameras and other digital imaging tools, as well as engineering their own modifications to meet client needs.
“When our clients speak, we listen – that‘s what has kept our business growing for over 25 years,” said Rob Sim, President of Sim Video. “When it came down to modifying our Viper cameras, we incorporated a number of standard modifications as well as other custom modifications based on feedback from our clients. As it stands now, there are six major “mods” including those we‘ve made to accommodate the Grass Valley Venom FlashPak systems that were purchased for each of our Viper FilmStream camera systems.”
SIModification 1 – Camera Handle
The original camera handles were immediately reinforced with a heavier duty and more functional handle designed by Sim Video and manufactured by Precision Camera Inc. . The new handle design allows cinematographers to mount almost any camera accessory while working with the Viper camera including on-board monitors and, allows the option to mount the camera to a Steadicam in low-mode without the use of a low-mode bracket.
SIModification 2 – On-board Battery
The introduction of an on-board battery was made for obvious reasons. The on-board battery provides a convenient power option for the camera which doesn‘t require separate cabling, making a significant difference when operating in Steadicam or handheld mode.
SIModification 3 – Dockable Accessory Power Port
The Dockable Accessory Power Port is equipped to power up to five camera accessories offering a combination of connector options. With this modification, operators are now able to plug in an on-board monitor, zoom control, video transmitter, lens light and more.
SIModification 4 – Venom FlashPak – Back Mount System
Since the factory manufactured Venom mounting bracket was removed to accommodate the new accessory compatible camera handle, a “quick release” V-Clip system was created to facilitate back mount positioning of the Venom which also mounts the on-board battery.
SIModification 5 – Copper (BNC) / Fiber Optic Cable Option
In situations where long cable lengths are required to send HD signals from the Viper camera to the Sony SRW-1 HD portable field recorder, the fiber optic cable option is crucial. Camera operators now have the option to easily switch recording from the Venom to the SRW-1 via either copper cable (BNC) or Fiber Optic Cable options. The “Tactical Military Spec” fiber optic cable that was integrated into the design is extremely durable and offers the most reliable way of sending images from the Viper to the field recorder. Operators can easily switch back to copper cable (BNC) to record to the SRW-1 when shorter cable lengths are required for production needs.
SIModification 6 – Toe Piece
The toe piece (front of the camera) has been adapted to facilitate a light-weight rod system, thereby eliminating the need for heavier lens mounting equipment for lens related camera accessories and reducing camera weight overall. The benefit is obvious when cinematographers are shooting in handheld or Steadicam mode.
“SIModifications are just one of the many innovations we implement to ensure we deliver the very best products and services to our clients.” said Rob Sim, “We created these external camera modifications without altering the original camera design or interfering with the internal imaging capabilities in any way. As a result, we are able to remove these modifications at any time, restoring the Viper to its original factory form.”