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BVFF Follow Focus System

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#1 Ricardo Casco

Ricardo Casco


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Posted 23 April 2011 - 10:45 PM

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This is a quick review for the BV Follow Focus (BVFF), the wired version I purchased cost 700$ with approx. 90$ shipping from Denmark to Houston.
Lets take it step by step:

The shipping was great, the package came nicely wrapped, it looked like it could have been hit by a gasoline truck and survive.
It came from Denmark all the way to Houston in about a week and a half, which is pretty great considering some people mentioned it could take a month.

The Outside:
The hard case it comes with is great! Very tough, made out of metals and plastic. It is also lockable, you will find the keys inside for each knob.
The foam cut is great as well, although pretty hard to position the cable and strap behind a flap that allows you to hold different colored markers, and other accessories, it works great.

Once you open it, you will find the following items inside the hard case:
  • Remote
  • Motor
  • XLR Cable
  • Neck Strap
  • 2x Marking "Disks"
  • Dry Erase Marker

<sarcasm> Overall the dry erase marker is the key item in this whole package, you might as well buy this just for the marker. It writes very smoothly and in a thick black color. I've already made another hard case specifically for this heavy duty plastic marker </sarcasm>

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The Remote:

The remote is made out of metals and some plastic parts, the knob is nice and big on hand. The marking disk which slides on and off without having to screw anything is great, but it is also pretty small (About and inch of marking area from bottom to inner area) Although since it slides on and off, I'm sure the makers of this could make a bigger marking disc that can slide on the knob.

Also a cool little thing, the remote comes with batteries. So set up in minutes and ready to go. The motor doesn't use any batteries, the power is fed through the xlr cable from the remote. The remote takes in 6 AA batteries, which you may think is a lot, but not only does it last for ages, it also gives the remote a little bit more weight to feel heavier and tougher on your hand.

The remote has an XLR female input on the bottom, and on the side a keyring to attach the neck strap to.

The neck strap is vey nice and soft, it is also at a perfect length to let it hang while you turn the knob on the remote.

Now the remote has some buttons, I'm still trying to figure these. I'll be contacting the guy who makes these for all the instructions, and maybe add them to this tutorial.
The buttons are (from left to right) Limit, Speed (Hold for ON/OFF), 1,2,3,4. The buttons don't stick out, and have a nice bump to them. And also make a satisfying click when pressed.

The back part of it is just the battery holder, the battery cap comes off very easily to replace the batteries.

Here is the information given to us by Vladimir:

Supply: 6 pieces 1,5V AA type batteries.
Manual gear-turn limit setting.
Manual control function with damped focusing hand-knob.
5 programmable fixed focus positions.
Speed limit setting.
Battery low voltage indication.
Missed link to motor indication.
Dry wipe marking ring is lighted for easy use in dark.
It will remember last settings when batteries will be changed.

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The Motor:

Some people have been saying that the remote is very loud, heavy, big and clunky, but I must disagree. The motor is pretty decent sized, although it may be bigger than normal, its not big enough or heavy enough to need to re balance a sled.
The gear on it is easily replaceable, I'm sure BV will release bigger or smaller gears in the future.

Speaking about loudness, since it is a servo motor, it will make noise. The faster you turn it, the more sound it makes, but at normal medium-speed moves its not so loud. Of course it would be captured on the onboard microphone, but its easy to deal with.
Specially how I mainly shoot music videos, I never find audio to be a problem since we aren't capturing any.

It is surprisingly strong, so it can turn any lenses. Even big telephoto ones

It clamps on to 15mm rods and has two pivoting points: The clamp to the 15mm rods, and the clamp to the motor plate which has another screw. So you can set the motor to be low at the bottom area of the lenses, or high on the top area of the lenses.

At the bottom of the motor there is the mini-xlr male input. Remember this uses an XLR to mini-XLR cable, the one it comes with is 5 meters, and you can easily extend or decrease length by purchasing another one.

The only part I don't like about the motor is that it only tightens to one rod, not two. So often I find myself having problems of the motor sliding off the gears on the lens. I fixed this by just getting a small bungee cord and putting pressure on it from the opposite side, so the gear doesn't fall away from the lens. Now I have a small bungee cord in the case at all times.

Here is the info by Vladimir:

BVFF high accuracy digital motor can turn cine lenses.
Torque: up to 13 kg/cm.
0,3 ° gear turn precision.
Gear pitch: module 0,8 (32P).
Gear turn angle: 240 °.
Adjustable motor bracket for 15 mm rods.

Response time:

I was actually surprised how good the response time is, I've used some higher end focus models that the lens turn before you even touch the knob, and some other ones that the delay is so long you might as well tell everyone to take 5 just to wait for the signal to reach the motor. Although it was pretty good on this particular system, I'll try to make a video showing the reponse time in different speeds. You'll be able to see the speed calculated by pixels with a piece of tape on the end of the knob and gear. Coming soon!

Overall: I like it, a lot. Its very durable and its great for its price: 700$. Its great even at its first released model, and we've gotten word they are working on some other models, including a wireless one.

Check out their site: www.bvff.dk

Happy focus racking!
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