How the Ace 500 and FOCUS Bolt RX Changed Our Productions Forever feat. DP Will Drey

For many filmmakers, wireless monitoring isn’t always an option on every production. Sure, in an ideal world, wireless video is available on every set and the entire crew can have eyes on the image, but sometimes it just can’t happen with the budget you’re dealt. So what options do you have in these tricky scenarios?

Will Drey decided to get his hands on the newest wireless video system, the Ace 500. Will is a New Jersey-based DP who owns his own production house, Flash One Films. Having always rented or gone without wireless video, Will saw the perfect opportunity to invest in a monitoring set when the Ace 500 was released this month. And needless to say, it’s much better than having clients hovering around you when you’re trying to work!

For those reading about our latest system for the first time, Ace 500 is our most affordable zero-delay wireless video system ever. It’s built with the same wireless performance as our Bolt series and has a max range of 500 feet. But what really makes it special is that it’s compatible with all Bolt 500s, including the ones built into SmallHD’s all-in-one monitor receivers like the FOCUS Bolt.

Working With Artists

“I started out around 9 years ago as a photographer doing different types of events with my Canon 7D. But like a lot of filmmakers, I quickly discovered that there’s a completely different world when you start playing with your DSLR’s video options. Back then, there weren’t a lot of people doing this. So I started making documentaries for weddings, churches, and music videos, which is most of my work now.” - Will Drey.

“Projects kept coming in as word spread from artist to artist about my work. International stars started recognizing me and flew out here to have me shoot their music videos. I worked with Shatta Wale, Richie Stevens, Safaree, Uncla Murda, and a lot of others. We just finished filming a Haitian artist called The Messenger, which in Creole is Mesaje Anonim. That’s where we really got to put the Ace 500 to good use.”

Filming Without Monitors

“As any filmmaker can tell you, one of the more annoying things on set is having clients standing behind you while you’re holding the camera or directing. Also, I typically use RED Raven with the RED monitor which doesn’t have as crisp of a look as a SmallHD does. When clients see the RED monitor, it’s a headache having to explain to them that the final image won’t look like that. So I wanted to give clients something better to look at while I focus on the filming.”

“But it’s not just for clients. I use this for my ACs and Directors as well. On the shoot with Mesaje Anonim, we were doing a scene where he’s selling CDs on the streets of Boston. The sun was out in full force that day and seeing that shot was nearly impossible in the bright sunlight. Since I had the Ace, I was able to have my AC pull focus remotely using our SmallHD FOCUS 7 Bolt RX. Before getting the Ace, I would take each shot several times and choose the best looking one at the end of the day. Now we can nail it the first time, which means I save time and get better shots for my clients.”

Super Affordable

“I’ve always rented any gear I needed, but the Ace and FOCUS combo was my opportunity to start investing in my own gear. It wasn’t going to break the bank, and the best part is that everything is built in. I was originally thinking of getting the FOCUS 7 by itself, but since this version has the Bolt in it, I felt that this would eliminate any cables and extra mounting. It’s convenient and cost effective, the two most important things to me.”

“Now I have a monitor that I can either give to clients, my AC, or anyone on my crew that needs to see it. It means I can move freely with the Raven without worrying on other things, and makes my sets look way more professional.”

Check out more of Will Drey’s work on:

Instagram: @willdrey, @flashonefilms


*Manufactured under licence
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