Black Arm Madness

Matisse Tolin


On a cloudy Sunday afternoon, Drone Dudes and director Curt Morgan trekked out to the LA River to do some testing. The equipment we were playing with was Flowcine’s Black Arm 3-axis dampening system mount.

Flowcine’s Black Arm 3-axis dampening system
Photo Credit: Jeffrey Moustache

We love collaborating with Curt. Formerly of Brainfarm, Curt’s new outfit Wolvvs continues to evolve his style of never-before-possible cinematic and virtual reality experiences in remote locations under extreme conditions. Curt loves to push the boundaries of what’s possible, creating custom tech to serve his needs, and so do the Drone Dudes.

As we rigged up the Black Arm on our Subaru using a velocity clamp from Freefly, we outfitted our Panasonic GH5S camera with new NATural filters from Tiffen (which were incredible).

Image of NATural camera filters from Tiffen
Photo Credit: Jeffrey Moustache

Curt jumped in his pickup and took off along the river, driving up and down the slanted walls as we chased in the camera-car.  As you can tell from the video above, the Black Arm stabilized the Movi gimbal and attached camera incredibly well.

For testing days like these, we’re all about creating ideas on the fly and then evolving them. The beauty is that there are no restrictions. It’s an open pallet for us, one where we’re free to come up with new shots as we go and really push the limits of what’s possible with innovative directors like Curt.

Image of Drone Dudes crew member on set at the LA River
Photo Credit: Jeffrey Moustache

We were playing around with a full FIZ kit (focus/iris/zoom). With it, we were able to remotely control all three lens controls from inside the car, on-the-go. Crew members included Christine Adams pulling focus, Jeff Moustache at the wheel, Andrew operating the gimbal head, and Josh piloting the Inspire drone for certain shots.    

That day we also tested Cinegears’ wireless video transmission hardware. Beaming back camera feed to our monitor with zero latency is critical in high-speed filming scenarios like this one, and the Cinegears delivered perfectly.

We were watching on a 19-inch Atomos Sumo monitor, which was bright and had all the functions we needed to get a perfect exposure (which is why we use it constantly).

Drone Dudes crew member using a 19-inch Atomos Sumo monitor
Photo Credit: Jeffrey Moustache

Our glass was a Fuji 18-55 ultra-compact zoom lens. This cinema quality lens is parfocal– great for situations where you don't want your lens breathing or shifting as you adjust iris or zoom, staying sharp the entire time.

The lens was outfitted with a light-weight Bright Tangerine Misfit matte box. A necessary addition for car mounts where cutting down on wind resistance is key.

Rounding out our gear was a fun little Movi smartphone stabilizer we brought along to help get some dope BTS shots, which you can check out more of below. Curt also brought along his fierce little RC truck and we drove alongside it, filming it with the Black Arm like a truck commercial for a scale version of the real thing.

Image of an RC truck
Photo Credit: Jeffrey Moustache

Being able to do all this testing from inside an air-conditioned car didn’t hurt. Except when Jeff forgets to role his window back up and we get sprayed with dirty river water.

You play dirty, you get dirty.