A few weeks ago we had the opportunity to test drive the Varavon Wirecam. The Wirecam is a Cable Cam system that flies a camera over a rope tied between two points. Although the affordability and use of drones are increasing for aerial imaging, there are still many instances in which a Drone would either not work, would be illegal, unsafe, or would be just a noisy nuisance.
Varavon Wirecam Remote Control Wireless Cable-Cam System
Unlike most Drones that could only fly for about 20 minutes, the Varavon Wirecam could go for hours at a time. Not to mention if you wanted to fly a larger camera than just a GoPro, you'd need a fairly large Drone. In our example we were able to fly a DJI Ronin-M + GH4 + 12mm Rokinon Lens + Radian Wireless Video System. Now that we've made our point that Drones can't solve everything, here's a quick montage video (below) of us setting up and operating the system.
Operating the Varavon Wirecam was extremely simple to operate as it only moves either left or right and the entire system weighs only about 7lbs (without camera). Of course this is not a tool you should show up with without some type of practice setting it up. You'll want to get a few hours in getting familiar with tying down the line, mounting your camera system, and any other accessories.
Setting up Varavon Wirecam Cable-Cam System
The most difficult part about working with the system is finding a good place to attach the rope. Our warehouse project had plently of steel beams, but out in an open area is where you'll need to be creative. When attaching the Rope, you should brush up on your knot tying skills, carry a set of ratcheting tie downs, and I highly suggest using a Manual Come-Along to pull the braided rope tight. These will make life much easier, and you'll find that with a brand new braided rope, the braids will tighten and eventually produce enough slack that you would have to re-adjust 2-3 times before it starts settling in.
Manual Puller Come-Along Winch
You can mount a camera directly under the Wirecam, but a gimbal will help to stabilize the horizon. And If you're using a gimbal like the DJI Ronin-M that comes with a remote, you'll also be able to control Pan + Tilt as the Wirecam flies.
DJI Ronin-M Gimbal Stabilizer for Cameras up to 8 lbs
Of course in order to frame a shot, you'll want to stream the video feed back from the camera. In our setup, we used the Camera Motion Research Radian Pro System. So as one operator controlled the Wirecam, a second operator controlled Pan + Tilt on the DJI Ronin-M Gimbal, and both operators shared a monitor.
Camera Motion Research Radian Pro Wireless Video Transmitter Receiver
The Varavon Wirecam is a great option for high flying aerials when a drone system just won't cut it. I could see this cable-cam system being used heavily in sports on the sidelines of a field, lap pool, motocross track, or other events in which the camera needs to constantly repeat a forward / back or left /right tracking shot.
For more information about the Varavon Wirecam vist the product pages at https://varavon.com/products/wirecam.
Varavon Wirecam Remote Control Wireless Cable-Cam System
@Nate - Varavon has an office in Southern California. I would check with them as they have some products in rental around the area.
thanks for this post. Do you know of any US rental places offering this wirecam?
Cheers. Any links to these?
@Tom - I've seen smaller ones that can fly a GoPro, but even those would probably need a manual come-along to get the rope fairly taught.
Hey emm, thanks for the review. Are you aware of any alternative wirecams? This one is a bit heavy and awkward for my purposes, need something I can carry in a backpack.
@kicap - The Radian system has been fine, but I have only used it when we are shooting in one location. I haven't used it for any car chase scenes where the transmitter and receiver would be moving around quickly or changing locations constantly. While on the Varavon Wirecam, we maintained a feed the whole time and we were in an all metal warehouse with tons of people and wireless systems going on at the same time. The DJ on stage used lots of wireless systems we were worried about since we had a wireless remote for the DJI Ronin-M, Varavon Wirecam, and Wireless Video, but everything worked out great with no hiccups.
How is the overall experience using the Radian Pro system?
I have been using Paralinx but it is pricier, so I am wondering if this wireless kit worth a try.
Thanks for the info.
What is the scooter/seqway thing you are riding at 7 seconds in the montage video?
Impressive ! But I do feel like the panning isn't all that great: it's not very smooth at the start and end. But I guess it will improve with the next versions.
@robert - If you string it up a short distance maybe it will only sag a big when it gets to the middle. When we strung it up about 200 ft, it felt like it dropped about 8 feet or more when it got to the middle. So the further you string it up, the more sag you will have down the middle.
But I guess if you used different wire (metal cable), and a good winch you could probably pull it tighter with leas slack.
So the sag itself isn't the problem, it's making sure the sag doesn't touch the ground?
@robert - Yes you can go as long as you want if you can find the rope. The problem though is that no matter how tight you pull the cord, the unit will eventually sag more as it gets to the center. There's no way around that, and the longer your cord, the more sag you will have so you end up having to start each end pretty high off the ground.
Nice work Emm!
This looks great for the situation you showed, as well as live events, huge convention centre showroom floors etc.
Can you do longer runs than the 50m rope provided?