Dance With Me

Daniel Cawthorne beautifully demonstrates the fluid movement of the Arri Trinity through Swoosh, a contemporary dance film.

Daniel Cawthorne is a DOP and founder of Gear Room, a specialist film equipment rental company based in London, providing state-of-the-art cameras, lenses and motion heads. With over 18 years in the field, Cawthorne is now also an Arri Trinity operator, and can be hired wet or dry through the company.

Like most of us during lockdown, Cawthorne found a new pastime, shooting 16mm film. He’d just purchased an Arriflex 416, alongside the Trinity, an Alexa Mini LF and a bunch of Signature Prime lenses for Gear Room. However, acquiring the film camera wasn’t without difficulty.

“I get all my products through CVP, but the 416 isn’t available for purchase any more and is incredibly rare to find,” explains Cawthorne. “Still, I had hope. If there’s one person who’d track it down, it’s the director of CVP/Arri Creative Space, Aaron George.

“I’ve been going to him for business for years and, through that, we’ve become good friends. He’s incredibly knowledgeable and continuously strives to get me the best gear at the best prices. And, although the 416 was a challenge – even for him – to procure, he pulled through like always.”


As the new owner of a large array of Arri equipment, Cawthorne came up with a unique idea to capture the beautiful, smooth movements and flow of the Trinity – on both film and digital.

“I wanted to showcase what the Trinity could do – and I envisioned a world that is not rooted in reality, but a dream that a dancer is in. I thought the movement where the female dancer seems to throw the camera towards the male dancer could be the transition from digital to 16mm. That’s where the title Swoosh came from.”

Using the Trinity with a film camera was quite unusual, not least because this was Cawthorne’s first experience shooting 16mm for a short. “I’d done some tests, but never anything to that scale. Putting it on the Trinity was a bit of a challenge at first. You’ve got to know how to balance it correctly, because once you start rolling the film, the weight changes over and goes from one side to the other. However, once you’ve figured it out, you are guaranteed the ultimate steady shot.”


There’s a lesson to be learned with the Trinity. “Even if you’re a Steadicam operator, which I’m not, it’s still going to take some time to master. They’re two very different things. Steadicam captures body height, and while you can be high or low, you still have to change over,” he says.

The Trinity, on the other hand, provides five axes of control to enable inimitably fluid, wide-ranging and precise movement, tapping into new storytelling options. This allowed Cawthorne to appear as if the camera was moving with the dancers.

“Unlike on a Steadicam, the camera can be moved from high to low during a shot using the joystick-controlled, fully stabilised tilt axis. Low angles can smoothly transition into an over-the-shoulder shot,” he explains.

“What I love most about it, though, is that when holding the post at 45° and twisting it left or right, the camera can even look around corners, regardless of whether you’re shooting high or low.”

In Swoosh, the camera literally swooshes from the dancers’ feet up to their heads, as it whirls in time around them in semi-circular motions. Cawthorne concludes: “The Trinity enables you to achieve so much more as a creative piece. It’s great for one-takers, capturing different angles, panning incredibly fast and being used as a jib. It provides a whole different class of movement.”

Cawthorne continues to shoot with the Trinity on a wide range of projects, such as music videos. It is available for hire through Gear Room, as a complete package service. And, as with all equipment on offer, Cawthorne will personally provide you with the necessary guidance before you rent.

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