Preston Light Ranger 2



Light Ranger 2 from Preston Cinema Systems could be the most important invention of the year for motion picture production.

Although FDTimes tries to follow the National Geographic style of subdued enthusiasm and avoidance of incendiary adjectives, this new focus tool is revolutionary. No focus puller will leave home without one…for each camera.

Preston Cinema Systems Light Ranger 2 is an innovative tool that  graphically divides a monitor into zones and intuitively guides your focus pulling in the correct direction.


The system consists of two units. The sensor unit sits atop the camera, preferably above the lens. Using parallax correction found in the on-screen menu, it can be placed anywhere that’s convenient. A quick setting calibrates the offset.

The Video Interface box attaches easily to the back of almost any monitor. It receives focus information from both the Light Ranger 2 and the Preston FIZ HU3 Hand Unit.

A beam of infrared light emitted by the Light Ranger 2 bounces off the objects and subjects in the scene, and is captured by the detector array behind the unit’s lens. It’s safe infrared. There are no lasers, no ultrasonic signals, no transponders attached to actors.

Light Ranger 2 works in harmony with Preston Wireless FIZ system HU3 hand unit and MDR3 motor driver. Plug the Serial port into your MDR3, power it up, aim, calibrate, and shoot.

You still control focus the way you always did. The same skills developed by years of muscular-neurological memory are applied. You still control speed, point of interest and splits.

The Light Ranger 2 divides the monitor into 16 zones, like a bar graph. Rectangles above the horizontal line show areas behind your established distance. Rectangles below are in front.

Things that are in focus are shown in green. The genius of all this is how intuitive it is to pull focus, because it graphically shows which way to turn the knob of your wireless FIZ hand unit. As Zoran Veselic, camera assistant (see cover) said, “this is a tool that can help, and we welcome any help we can get.”

Howard Preston invented the original Light Ranger and patented it in January 1990. It was used on “Without Limits,” “Thirteenth Warrior,” “The Mighty Ducks,” “Spiderman,” “Benjamin Button”, “The Patriot” and many commercials.

Preston Cinema Systems Light Ranger 2 is patent pending. It will cost under $10,000, and should be ready to ship this September.

Free PDF Download of the 4-page cover story from our June 2014 issue of FDTimes.



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