Kessler used to call themselves “Kessler Crane”, but when they really became famous for their very well-made and popular range of sliders – so they dropped the “Crane” from their name at some point, and rightfully so.
If there is one tool that adds a lot of production value without a lot of effort, it’s without a doubt a slider. I bring my Kessler CineSlider (3 foot) to almost every shoot (here’s my original CineSlider review video “Awakening” shot almost 3 years ago). I have shot countless establishing shots of documentary scenes, entire corporate films and interviews with it, and clients love the look. If it’s not motivated by the story it at least adds perspective to otherwise dull shots – and that’s something you have to deal with in corporate environments day in and day out.
You end up using a slider especially for product presentations and interviews a lot. But there’s a catch: You need to keep your subject in the middle of your frame in order to “present” it properly. That means that you need to use a fluid head and pan while you are moving the slider along the track. And that’s not always easy, very much dependent on the speed, weight of the camera, friction and so on.
So effectively I perfected my panning skills on the CineSlider over the past few years. While being good at it by now, it’s still a pain in the behind to get it right every time – especially during interviews when there very often isn’t a “second chance”.
When I heard about Kessler’s Parallax system, I was therefore immediately intrigued. There are other companies who have custom solutions for the problem, but none of them has convinced me so far – they are dedicated solutions that are either forced to pan/circle a subject by its very design, or only work with a motor which always introduces noise to the sound recording.
The nice thing about the Kessler Parallax is the fact that it’s a purely mechanical add-on for Kessler’s existing range of sliders. There are different versions of the Parallax for the different sliders, and the first one Kessler released is the CineSlider 3ft. version, which my friend Alexander ‘Bobo’ Boboschweski bought- so we decided to give it a spin and test it out.
It’s surprisingly easy to put onto the slider by attaching it via a few screws, which takes around 3 minutes. After that you can change the radius in which the camera should pan around the subject by determining the distance and angle of the Parallax unit on both sides of the track. Done! You can configure it to do outward and inward panning shots, while inward panning shots are probably what you will need the most – and when ideally configured, the subject will remain in the center of your frame regardless of the camera’s position on the track. (This entire Minute Review was filmed using the Kessler Parallax.)
The good thing about the Parallax is that there is not so much to say about it – it just does what it says it does, and it simply works very well. There are only two minor downsides: For one, the Parallax itself can’t stay on the CineSlider if you use one of their bags or cases, it’s too big – so you need to take it off. That’s not a big deal though because you can put it on within minutes with very little effort. Secondly, it adds around 1.5 inches (or 4 centimeters) of height to your camera setup, which can cause stability issues if you use it with a high hat adapter. I recommend using it with Kessler’s Low Profile Ball Head or simply screw on a fluid head directly using the flat mount adapter (like I do).
So to sum this up: If you have to pan around persons or objects while using your Kessler slider regularly, this is a definite must buy and will make your life much easier.