Today we are taking a look at the second generation follow focus by PDmovie called the PDmovie Live Air 2s which has the smallest wireless controller in the world and has a number of tricks up its sleeve.
PDmovie is a Chinese company with some innovative lens control solutions. They are also working on an integrated motion control system using some of the wireless controllers we’ll look at today.
The PDmovie Live Air 2s follow focus – works even without a cage on the Sony A7 IV
PDmovie designs wireless motors that can be synchronized with a single controller and incorporated into different specialized systems, like stereoscope video rigs.
The Live Air 2s that we’re looking at today is a newer and smaller iteration of PDmovie’s already compact Live Air 2. The system is made up of a wireless electronic motor and a tiny Bluetooth controller.
In the Box
PDmovie ships the system in a semi-hard pouch that holds the motor, controller, focus puller handle, proprietary batteries and charger, a rod-mount system, an adjustable lens gear, cables, and mounting accessories.
Some of the parts that come in the case
One of the main features of the Live Air 2s system is its compact size. The controller can be set up in any position with its ¼’’ screw. The motor is lightweight but packs plenty of torque and power. The Bluetooth adapter can work over 100m, so this is perfect for remote systems and focus pullers.
The controller features a multi-function single button that turns the unit on and off, sets A and B points, performs lens calibration, resets BT pairing, changes motor direction, and switches the motor mode from focus to zoom.
Thanks to its tiny size, multiple controllers can be setup to work with multiple motors and axis rotors to create a motion control system.
The smallest follow focus controller in the world
The setup is really simple. PDmovie includes a rod system with a cold shoe holder and a rod clamp. The motor goes on one end of the rod, and the clamp holds the controller and installs on the opposite end.
Both the controller and the motor are powered by batteries. There are two sets of batteries included in the kit. The controller battery is charged through the micro USB port on the side of the controller. Even though charge-while-in-use is supported, since the port moves with the dial, it wouldn’t be ideal.
PDmovie claims that both the controller and the motor battery have over 8 hours of runtime, so you shouldn’t have a problem with running out of power, especially with a replacement battery. There is a micro USB double motor battery charger in the kit that provides a full charge within 2 hours.
When the battery is inserted, the motor comes on automatically. There is an indicator light to show battery and connection status. Long press the controller button to turn it on. When both indicator lights quit blinking, the connection is secure.
The lens throw needs to be calibrated before use. Click and long-press the controller button until the motor starts turning to find the lens’ hard stops. If your lens has no stops, it needs to be calibrated manually by moving the lens gears to one end, then to the opposite end, then to the middle. The motor will record the positions.
A typical cage setup with the controller on the handle
The beauty of this system is its versatility. It’s tiny enough to be used on any camera, but could also be set up on a cage or a gimbal. With the included Remote Air Rig, a focus puller can easily assist in getting the perfect shot.
The focus wheel comes with a handle, but can also be disassembled and installed on the tripod. The handle itself has a number of mounts to hold a monitor and other accessories. To install the controller, position it screw-first inside the wheel and turn clockwise until the hard stop.
One of the biggest advantages that a wireless follow focus has over a mechanical one is automation. Live Air 2s allows you to set A and B points and automate focus travel between the two.
Turn focus to the A point and click on the controller button to set it. Turn to the next point and click again to set. Clicking again will start the automatic travel between the points. Turning the wheel changes travel speed. To exit this mode, click the button again.
PDmovie also offers an iPhone app that can control the zoom, iris, and focus motors at the same time. Since there is no Android app, we weren’t able to test it. We downloaded the app to our MacBook Air, but it wouldn’t connect to the motor.
In conclusion, the Live Air 2s system is tiny and versatile, and also offers integration with PDmovie’s upcoming motion control tools. It’s straightforward and easy to set up. The only thing missing at this time is an android app, and we can only hope that this will come later on.
As for pricing, the Live Air 2s kit sells on the company website for $429.