The EVO Pro can be ordered in several configurations, but the version with both the 24″ Carbon rails and the 42″ Aluminum rails is very popular.
It’s 2019, and people are still using sliders? Why, yes, they are! I jest with this opening sentence, of course: People are still using sliders to create cool moves with the cameras.
But it does seem that gimbals are the more popular accessory these days. However, although gimbals seem to be in vogue, especially for younger filmmakers, there are moves you can perform with a slider, like the Rhino EVO Pro, which I’ll be reviewing below, that are difficult or even impossible to perform with a gimbal, like taking time-lapse shots. Let’s take a closer look at the Rhino EVO Pro.
What Is The Rhino EVO Pro?
The Rhino EVO Pro Motion Control system is a fully motorized slider that can easily move cameras and loads up to a 42” distance. The system I purchased was Rhino’s Ultimate Slider Bundle, which includes the Rhino Slider EVO PRO 42”, a heavy-duty long slider; the Rhino Motion, a motorized transport system that moves your camera up and down the rails; the Rhino Arc, another motorized unit that adds the ability to perform motion-controlled pans; a set of 24” Carbon Rails and a 42” Carrying Case. I also ordered a separate carrying case for the 24” carbon rails.
The Rhino website (www.rhinocg.com) offers nice images and demo clips of the EVO Motion system in action as well as comprehensive breakdowns of all of the different ways the system can be configured and purchased.
My purpose in buying the system was threefold: First, I like to shoot tabletop footage of all kinds of challenging subjects, and a motion control slider is the perfect ticket for shooting macro tabletop shots of insects, objects, food, really whatever I can think of to try shooting. Second, I also wanted to brush up on my time-lapse shooting, so a motion-control rig adds a lot of interesting time-lapse camera movement to your shots. Third, I wanted to try using the EVO Pro as a second-camera operator for small-crewed shoots where a slowly moving master shot would look nice when crosscut with locked-off close-ups from the A camera.
Unpacking And Configuration
The Ultimate Slider Bundle arrived at our offices in several boxes. After ripping open all of the boxes, I found that Rhino had included everything I had ordered, and it was all packaged and padded well.
A word of advice: If you order a Rhino system, especially with the Arc but even if it’s just the EVO Pro Motion, order a few spare Ethernet cables. Here’s why: The EVO Motion Pro controller box—a metal box you can place on the magnet clip that will hold it in whatever position you leave it in, which is very handy—houses the batteries for the system and connects to the motor mounted on the slider rails via an Ethernet cable.
Unfortunately, on the first shoot I used the Rhino, the controller box was mounted to the tripod leg I was using. (The system comes with a Velcro and magnet clip setup that you Velcro around one of the tripod legs.) As I was moving the tripod the clip was mounted to, my leg bumped the EVO Pro Motion controller, and it fell.
It didn’t hit the ground since its fall was stopped by the plugged-in Ethernet control cable that went from the controller to the motor. But the force of the fall ripped the end of the Ethernet cable apart. Fortunately, I was shooting at a resort. I made a quick call to their IT department, which provided a replacement Ethernet cable that worked. So, order at least two and possibly three extra Ethernet cables when you order the Rhino.
Putting The EVO Pro To Work
The Rhino arrived just the day before the first big shoot I was going to use it on. So, I charged the batteries on the Motion Controller and the Arc the first night and had it for use the next morning.
The first test I was going to use the Rhino on was to provide a second camera angle on some interviews I was shooting at a Golf Resort in Palm Desert, California. I set up the system, let it calibrate itself and then set up my first shot.
The EVO requires that you calibrate the system by letting it move the camera carriage to the end of the slider, then back to the opposite side. Then, in the controller window, you start up the system. At this point, you’re presented with options for either the 24” slider or the 42” slider. Once you select the slider option, the slider measures the distance and then is ready to be programmed for your move.
The EVO Pro Controller either lets you move the carriage manually so you can vary the speed and distance of the move or you can pre-program in a move and the EVO will keep repeating the move in a Ping-Pong configuration where the carriage moves back and forth until you tell it to stop.
The moves that the EVO Controller is capable of are amazingly smooth and precise. The sliders themselves are built from heavy-duty aluminum, carbon fiber and steel. During my tests, I found that with the 24” carbon slider, I could mount it on my Sachtler DV-6 SB head, and even with my Canon C200, the slider stayed rigid and precise.
To use the 42” slider, you really need two light stands or tripods, each screwed into the bottom of the slider’s opposite ends. I bought two inexpensive Benro Aluminum legs to mount the EVO system on and have been happy with the results.
The shots I recorded from the first shoot were excellent. It was a 1080 project. So, I mounted my Canon 80D DSLR to a small Manfrotto fluid head, mounted to the Arc, which was also mounted to the camera carriage. I was able to quickly and easily program the system to make a move with the Arc slowly panning my camera as the slider moved the carriage back and forth, while the Arc added the panning move to keep the talent centered in the shot. The clients were very happy with the end results, and I was impressed at the extra production value the shots added to the project.
Time-Lapse Of A Beach Scene
For my next test shoot with the EVO Pro System, I decided to add a few time-lapse sequences to a shoot we were producing for a street fair at a local beach. The area would be crowded, and it was essential that we grab the shots as quickly as possible.
Once we decided on our first location, we set up the camera and system, and programmed the move we wanted, which took about 25 minutes to shoot. It yielded a nice motion-controlled shot of about :30. We utilized the shorter 24” legs with the entire setup rigged on my Sachtler tripod and head.
It’s important to note that the 42” legs really require mounting to two-light stands or tripod legs. This setup works well (I use two tripod legs), but it’s really annoying to move once it’s set up. It’s difficult enough that it takes two or three people to move and level the setup. In contrast, the 24” can be wrangled by one operator, no problem. It’s why I tend to only use the 42” legs at home or for studio setups. For run-and-gun shooting, the 24” slider is great.
I Really Wish…
Although the Rhino Ultimate Slider Bundle comes with two sliders, they only include one set of legs, which are end pieces. These pieces are the components that have geared teeth wheels for running the serrated rubber belt the drive system has through the ends. The fact that the system only includes one set of the end pieces meant that it took about 10 to 15 minutes each time I wanted to change slider length. It would have been nice if Rhino had included two sets of end pieces. Then you’d no longer have to switch out the end pieces each time.
- The end output of the Rhino Pro Motion Control System, whether you’re shooting live video, time-lapse or slow motion, is beautiful and accurate.
- The build quality is good, and the system appears to be very nicely made.
- It’s easy to use. Programming moves is intuitive and simple.
- The unit makes some noise but is relatively quiet, allowing for use on interviews and narrative material.
- Although the Motion Controller and the Arc only have internal batteries, they last for four to six hours when in use.
- Good customer service: I’ve made two or three calls to their offices, and they returned my calls, which was helpful.
- Cable setup from EVO Motion to motor and from Motion to Arc is a drag. If you don’t route the cables perfectly, they can get in the way. The camera carriage can run over the cables, too, stopping the move.
- There’s no battery percentage display on EVO Motion Controller. It’s in the menus, but all you get is a vague, camcorder-like battery symbol in the display.
- There’s no place in the Rhino cases for the EVO Pro Motion Controller, which means you need an extra case for the controller.
- It’s relatively expensive. The Ultimate Slider Bundle is almost $2,000. Although I bought mine when the bundle was on sale for less than $1,500.
- The Rhino Arc battery never reached or showed a full charge. (Rhino is replacing my Arc battery at the moment.)
The Bottom Line
All in all, the Rhino EVO Pro Motion Control System is a winner. It’s a precision piece of gear, capable of incredible moves if you can work around some of its quirks and limitations. The EVO will add another dimension to your camera work and is equally at home shooting time-lapse or live action. If you’re in the market for a motion control slider, the Rhino EVO Pro is worth your consideration.