Reviews: Tilta Nucleus-M Wireless Follow Focus

So this is the second gear review I’ll be posting but the first post entirely dedicated to a review.

This past two weekends I’ve had the pleasure of working with the Tilta Nucleus-M Wireless Follow Focus on a job so I thought I’d give it a review.

The unit is easy enough to set up but in prep we had an issue with the motor switching it’s direction when turning the focus wheel even slightly which was very odd but doing a factory reset on the handset and re-syncing the devices solved the issue.

Tilta Nucleus-M Wireless Follow Focus set up on an Alexa Mini LF
Tilta Nucleus-M Wireless Follow Focus set up on an Alexa Mini LF

The unit aims to keep things compact by having the transmitter built into the motor, this makes the motor itself quite chunky and at times made it awkward to mount depending on what kind of lens we were using. When switching from zoom lens’s back to primes it meant that we had to re-rig the eye piece to accommodate the bulky motor. This issue was partly because we had decided to mount the motor from the top but could have been avoided if we were able to switch the gear to the other side of the motor which you can do on most units but it is not an options with this device. You can remove the 15/19mm clamp front the motor and position it four different ways but cut switching the side the gear was on is an option I missed. The re-rigging didn’t take much time and it didn’t leave us under pressure but it was a little annoying.

The menu system was not intuitive and changing settings required a bit of research, for example changing the motor channel was not an option in the menu, you triple tap the arrow buttons up or down on the motor to the left and right of the display to change the channel. But the motor was light for its size and not having a separate transmitter would be handy for gimbals

Tilta Nucleus-M motor set up on an Alexa mini LF
Tilta Nucleus-M motor set up on an Alexa mini LF

The handset is small and light but by no means feels cheap, the build is certainly solid and I was quite impressed with the action on the wheel which feels really nice. Being on the end of a 290mm lens wide open trying to follow a sports person playing a match is no easy feat but I can honestly say there were no issues with the units performance from a focus point of view. It was responsive, smooth and reliable.

Alexa mini LF fitted with 290 zoom lens, teredek blot 300 and Tilta Nucleus-M
Alexa mini LF fitted with 290 zoom lens, teredek blot 300 and Tilta Nucleus-M

I did not have the opportunity to get to use the zoom or iris functions in this instance but I did like where the zoom button was placed. It falls exactly where your thumb rests when using the unit and felt solid. The iris wheel I’m not sure about it seemed to be in an awkward spot and a little flimsy but I did not use it.

Overall the system reminded me of Sony cameras, practically very good but with an over complicated menu system.

For under a grand you can’t really argue with it, a single motor unit can run you €662 while a full kit comes to around €1200 and for the price it is an excellent piece of kit. Given the choice (and no financial limit) I wouldn’t choose it over a WCU-4 or a Preston but if the money was coming out of my pocket it would definitely be on my short list.

Alexa 765 65mm Shoot

So the past week I have been in Birr Castle, Co. Offaly assisting an amazing camera crew shooting on the Alexa 765.

Arri 765 loaded with 1000 ft magazine
Arri 765 loaded with 1000ft magazine

It was amazing to get to work with this camera, there are only seven of them left in the world and only five working.

This camera is certainly a challenge to work with, aside from the extra stress for the focus puller shooting on large format with these lenses it weighs a whopping 38kg when loaded with a 1000ft magazine. Normally this would limit the way you would shoot a film because aside from the weight it is top and front heavy but we still managed (just about) to shoot a scene hand held.

I like the precision shooting on film requires, every decision has to be deliberate so there’s no ‘lets just roll on that for a few minutes’ cause those few minutes will cost you around 2k. But there is also the downside of having to constantly take light meter readings and make tweaks and adjustments to stops, filters and lights. It is definitely not a format to pick for speed.

The Location was absolutely amazing, the castle is home to a giant telescope that at the time it was constructed would have cost the equivalent of one billion to build. It was also home to a few little visitors that came over to the camera to keep us company.

I have to say a big thank you to out DP Halyna Hutchins, Focus Puller Ivan Vountidis, Camera Tech Sascha Mieke I really learned a lot from them and it was great craic working with them. And of course our trainee Nathan Campion was a massive help. It’s back to shooting digital next week, I don’t think I’ll get to see 65mm film again soon but I look forward to working with film again.

Bridge on Birr Castle grounds
Bridge on Birr Castle grounds

For anyone that’s interested here is the playlist we listened to while we were wrapping the camera gear after wrap. I took us till around half one in the morning.