Maximum Geezahrelli – A Kessler Crane Pocket Jib Test & Review…

The following footage was shot with the 5D Mark II, using a Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM lens, on a Kessler Crane Pocket Jib.

The Pocket Jib…

The idea behind this clip was to test out the new Kessler Crane Pocket Jib by filming a very basic scene in a production environment. If you’re not used to operating jibs and cranes, you’ll find the Pocket Jib takes a little getting used to at first, but I’m by no means an expert and am already pretty satisfied with the results. The Pocket Jib is a very robust piece of equipment, made from an aluminum that is pound for pound stronger than STEEL, but light enough to carry by yourself without breaking any body parts. The jib must be mounted to Kessler Crane’s 100mm “Hercules 2.0” head, by way of two tooless bolts, and can be placed in any 100mm bowl. However, it is highly recommended and advised that you use the Pocket Jib / Hercules 2.0 with Kessler Crane’s K-Pod System, which is an *extremely* heavy duty tripod with a payload of up to 500lbs, and will be sure to keep your Pocket Jib grounded at all times. The K-Pod, with additional accessories, can also be configured as a ride-on dolly, and can be used as a normal tripod for when you decide to film something out in the blast radius of a detonated nuclear bomb.

Kessler Crane Pocket Jib

The Pocket Jib has a maximum reach of five feet, which, in my opinion, is just the right length for anyone who doesn’t own, have access to, or who generally doesn’t want to deal with remote controllers, such as remote follow focuses and the like, yet long enough to add that extra je ne sais quoi to their footage. At full reach, the Pocket Jib is very susceptible to the slightest knock or jog, and if your AC is pulling focus, either by the follow focus’ knob itself, or with a whip, you will want to operate the jib from the front to help reduce any vibrations that will almost certainly be introduced. I prefer operating the jib from the camera-end anyway, as it offers me more control and maneuverability.

The Pocket Jib comes with the painfully named “Ball Relocator”, which is a device that bolts onto the end of the Pocket Jib, allowing you to mount a 100mm fluid head (or a 75mm fluid head, if you purchase the additional adapter) to the Pocket Jib, if you so desire. Personally, I prefer using a lighter weight flat-base fluid head, as it mounts directly onto the end of the Pocket Jib, has a lower center of gravity, and reserves far less of the Pocket Jib’s weight capacity, allowing me to use a heavier, more feature-packed camera rig.

Fully extended, the Pocket Jib has a payload capacity of around 30-35lbs, and 50lbs in its compacted form. I have found that it performs a lot better if you keep well below these numbers, so make sure you keep track of how much your fluid head, baseplate, rods, camera, lens, follow focus, matte-box, etc, weighs, or else you could go over the limit and end up with a whole bunch of shots that aren’t as smooth as they could be. Also, the payload capacity refers to the optimal performance of the Pocket Jib, and not how much it can *actually* hold. So don’t worry, it’s not going to snap in half if you overload it a little… Hell, it’s made by KESSLER CRANE, for Christ’s sake! Don’t know what that means? It means it’ll withstand anything you throw at it, then laugh at you, and say “Is that all you’ve got, you little punk?!”.

Annoyances & fixes…

For a while after I purchased the Pocket Jib, it kept squeaking whenever I’d tilt the arm… This quickly drove me round the bend. So I isolated where the squeaks were coming from, which was from each of the three bolts that held the camera carriage to the jib’s arm, and noticed that there weren’t any washers! To rectify this situation, I installed FOUR Drylin washers, one on each of the three bolts, and for added measure, one on the bolt that holds the smaller of the Pocket Jib’s arms to the jib’s base, and hey presto! No more squeaking. Having since spoken to Chris Beller at Kessler Crane about this problem, it would appear that this issue with my Pocket Jib is an isolated incident, so shouldn’t affect others. However, should it affect yours, now you know what to do.

The Pocket Jib’s tilt-braking mechanism doesn’t lock the jib down hard enough for me. This could probably be resolved with more Drylin washers, but I’ve run out of those… Chris / Eric??? I’ll have some of the BIG washers, please!

In the various videos of the Pocket Jib on the Kessler Crane website, the jib is shown mounted to the Hercules 2.0 in a way that makes it unlevel throughout the full 360 degrees of rotation. This is due to the Allen bolts on one side of the Pocket Jib’s base resting on top of the Hercules, and the other side not touching the top of the Hercules, resulting in the Pocket Jib being at a slight angle. So, like most things in life, I do it differently. The way I mount the Pocket Jib to the Hercules, is in the opposite direction to the way the Hercules tilts. Why? Because then neither side of the Pocket Jib’s base touches the top of the Hercules, making it level… and also because doing it this way is FAR more gangsta.

The weight bar at the back of the Pocket Jib comes with two collars to secure your counterweights in place. However, it does this by screwing a rather roughly cut bolt into the weight bar, thus scratching it to f**k. If, however, you’d prefer to keep your weight bar looking spick and span, use a pair of spring collars instead. Make sure you get the standard sized weight collars, and not the Olympic ones!

To summarize…

Okay, so I think I’ve pratted on long enough about the Pocket Jib. In conclusion, it’s probably THE best jib in its price range, and quite possibly better than jibs that cost five times its price. It’s compact, requires only one guy to set it up, holds quite a bit more weight than the competition, comes with a lifetime guarantee, and is made by a company that knows how to treat their customers properly. What more could you want? Buy it, love it, and tell them I sent you!

The video…

Alright, so the 48 second clip you’ve already watched was actually going to be a lot longer, and with more things going on, but being that it was around 3am by that time (possibly even later), and we were freezing our nuts off, we decided to call it quits and pack up after the take used in the video above. All sounds before the record scratch are in fact Foley effects that we recorded separately after the shoot, then later synced in post using the audio the 5D had captured as reference. The 5D’s H.264 source files were edited directly in Vegas Pro 9, colour corrected with AAV ColorLab, graded in Magic Bullet Looks, rendered to Cineform HD, then compressed back to H.264, but at a more suitable data rate for internet distribution, using AVS Video Converter… And yes, Ant is indeed wearing Nigel Billing’s wardrobe from my yet-to-be-completed film “Payne & Redemption“.

Huge thanks to my AC, Ben Dean, who did a fantastic job pulling focus wide open, and of course Mr. Antonio Geezahrelli, who endured the bitterly cold temperatures of the British winter for the few hours Ben and I faffed around setting up shot. Last, but certainly not least, many thanks to Kessler Crane for making an awesome piece of camera equipment that will sure to bring a lot of fun and versatility to future productions.

Fergle Gibson,
Writer, Director & Cinematographer.

P.S. The idiot you hear laughing in the background of the video is Ben. He has problems controlling himself.

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