Kaydon Reali-Slim® thin-section bearings supplied by R.A. Rodriguez (UK) Ltd. are delivering both high quality and performance as part of patented body-worn camera stabilisation equipment used in the film industry. With around 200 units already in field service, the bearings have seen action on various blockbuster movie franchises.
Cheadle-based MK-V Omega Ltd has spent the last 15 years since its formation growing into a world-leading designer and manufacturer of body-worn camera stabilisation technology. Selling directly to the industry’s freelance camera operators, MK-V’s advanced systems are now in use worldwide.
The success of the company’s systems is determined by many factors, as Managing Director Ashley Hall confirms: “One of our major concerns is weight, as every gram has to be carried by the camera operator, which means any bearings we select must be light. Rotation is clearly another factor; we’re looking for around two full rotations per second. Although not a huge speed – around 750 rpm – the critical aspect is that rotation must be super smooth.”
This last factor is particularly important in light of the film industry’s adoption of ultra-high resolution screens, where any irregularities in motion are more apparent to the naked eye – something directors are understandably keen to avoid.
“In short, our system, the MK-V-AR, is so smooth that it allows native footage to be used,” says Mr Hall. “Shots can be taken continuously without cuts, from high to low, or when stepping on and off moving vehicles or quad bikes. It can all be done seamlessly.”
The upshot is that footage can go from the camera to the cinema screen, which is important for both the director and the film production company (which can save both time and money).
“The Kaydon Reali-Slim® thin-section bearings supplied by R.A. Rodriguez are an important element in our performance promise,” states Mr Hall. “At the time, we evaluated all suppliers in the market, but our only goals were quality and performance, which is why we chose Kaydon Reali-Slim® for our MK-V-AR [Auto-levelling Revolution] system.”
Many years ago, Kaydon engineers trying to help designers fit assemblies into smaller spaces had an idea: what if the bearing cross-section did not increase as the bore size got bigger? This led to the development of bearings with a cross-section that remained constant: Reali-Slim® thin section bearings. These offer large ratios of diameter to radial section and, therefore, space and weight savings of up to 85%. R.A. Rodriguez has over 350 stocked sizes in four precision classes available.
The particular bearing used by MK-V is 11” in size, made from AISI 52100 steel and of radial contact type. Reali-Slim® radial contact bearings feature a single row of ball bearings and a Conrad-type assembly, which means that they are assembled by eccentric displacement of the inner race within the outer race to permit the insertion of about half a full complement of balls.
“In recent years we have delivered around 200 MK-V-AR systems featuring Reali-Slim® bearings to customers around the globe, and we’ve never had any issues,” says Mr Hall. “Even when the equipment has taken an impact during use on a quad bike, for example, the bearings always remain intact.”
Ultimately, the MK-V-AR is a reliable and lightweight system designed for camera operators everywhere. Indeed, the system came first in the best camera support system category at the 2013 Cine Gear Expo Technical Awards in Los Angeles. The MK-V-AR was selected by a panel of industry experts with an eye towards the latest in technology.
“The Kaydon Reali-Slim® bearings are an integral part of our success,” concludes Mr Hall. “Furthermore, R.A. Rodriguez have proven to be particularly knowledgeable about the products they supply, and their support throughout our relationship has been valuable.”