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In Conversation with Andi Lucas - Chief of Operations - Dinkum Systems

March 01, 2017

Andi Lucas, co-owner of Dinkum Systems joins John Warkentin from the michaels Social Media Team in a lively conversation about the history of the company and their line of unique products.

Introduction

(John Warkentin)

I’m John Warkentin here from the Michael’s Camera Social Media Team.

Today we’ve got a special guest in the world famous camera museum; it’s Andy Lucas from Dinkum Systems.

Welcome, Andy!

(Andy Lucas)

It is indeed. Thank you, John!

(John Warkentin)

What can you tell us about Dinkum Systems? What have you got?

About Dinkum Systems

(Andy Lucas)

So many things! So many things! We’re company that’s based out of Boulder, Colorado; which you can tell from my strong Rocky Mountains accent that’s obviously coming through during this interview.[Laughs]

(John Warkentin)

Heavy, very heavy!

(Andy Lucas)

I’m originally from Tasmania; so the little island to the south; but I run the business with my partner, John, who is the founder, and the inventor of the products.

John’s been a working cinematographer since he was about 18; first started shooting as an eight-year-old boy, I think, on an old Super 8 camera that his dad bought for him; and worked his way up through the ranks when film cameras were the go.

So did his ten years as an AC, and then moved on to become a director of photography, and has done really well for himself; was nominated for, and has been awarded, an Emmy, and all that sort of good stuff.

So, John specialises in very much action and outdoor reality filming; that’s pretty much what he’s moved into in the last, certainly, decade of his professional life; and when he was on set, he was inventing products for himself to use to solve onset challenges.

So, the origination of our product line came from something as simple as that; a working photographer who was in the field and said I need something that does this thing, and then going and buying plumbing components, and getting some pieces tooled, and cobbling things together; and clamps.

Dinkum Clamps

(John Warkentin)

And clamps! So, I need something to clamp on to this table…

(Andy Lucas)

Exactly right. Exactly right. So, obviously, the reality of budgets being smaller now; crews being smaller; people are expected to be doing more.

So, John was a shooter, where suddenly he doesn’t have an audio guy! So, he’s having to, you know, mic the interview at the same time; so he invented it as a microphone shock mount, so he could do very quick interview set ups.

His tag line, back in the day, was “reducing the mic stand jungle” and it very much is helpful for that.

And then really, the evolution just came on.

He was using the old style matte boxes, and decided that he wanted a lens shade basically that did a little bit more than that; so he used this same concept of the length-adjustable modular hose arm, which terminates either in a clamp, or in a quarter inch, or a flat fixed base mount; depending on whether the shooter wants a vertical or a horizontal arm coming off the body.

So, really, everything that John makes is designed to do more than one thing; so the tops and the bases will pop off on these particular products; everything’s actually length adjustable, so you can literally pop the segments apart and then put them back together again, and the beauty of that is that you can customize depending on what you need in the field. If you need a longer arm, you need a shorter one, a larger clamp, a smaller clamp…

(John Warkentin)

And, sorry to interrupt, but we’ve got the double-sided one.

(Andy Lucas)

You do.

(John Warkentin)

So we can then put two, a clamp on each end!

(Andy Lucas)

Exactly right!

(John Warkentin)

Then, clamp something with the clamp!

(Andy Lucas)

Perfectly correct, John.

No, you’re absolutely right.

So this little piece here, this little hourglass segment, basically just changes the direction of the arm; so you’re exactly right, and then you can basically connect the clamp.

This is a really useful device that basically, so many applications including very secret squirrel business with the US military; which can’t talk about – that’s classified – but, basically, for things like tabletop photography; if you’re holding a bounce card; if you’re just basically wanting to hold something while you’re photographing, that’s too small to be held…

(John Warkentin)

A little reflector or anything!

(Andy Lucas)

Exactly right.

So huge multi-use kits; we sell every single piece as its own individual sort of piece, as a component, and we also sell this amazing high-tech canvas bag; because you can see here, years of product development went into this canvas bag.

It’s just incredible; it’s got clips on the front - they clip into each other like that, it’s amazing; really high-tech.

[Laughs]

And inside this magical bag, our little pockets, and you can basically build all of these things out of the component parts that come inside the bag.

So you’ve got the opportunity to make large lens shades; you can do grip devices; you’ve got the 38s, which reveals the quarter twenty underneath; so you’ve got basically, you know, not limitless, but pretty close to limitless options as far as customizing grip gear when you’re out shooting in the field.

(John Warkentin)

Now, Andy, tell us about the history of the name. Obviously, you’re from Tasmania.

(Andy Lucas)

I am.

(John Warkentin)

And your business partner is from Colorado.

(Andy Lucas)

He is.

(John Warkentin)

So, it’s an American company, but Dinkum Systems sounds Australian. So, how did this come about?

(Andy Lucas)

Yes, I’m blamed for it often, but it wasn’t actually my idea.

A couple of years before I started working with John, he was filming in Antarctica with a predominantly Australian crew or bit of a mix of Americans and Aussies; and John was, as he always does, using his own gear in the field; and basically people were interested, and other shooters were starting to use it as well; and John didn’t have a name, basically, for the line, you know, what do we call it?

He likes the word to dink around; he tinkers with things; you know, tinker toys, that sort of idea of building from component parts; and one of the Aussies said, that sounds fair dinkum!

John really liked the sound of that word; it doesn’t mean anything in America, so he just sort of liked the idea; it’s a Dinkum system, and then, of course, the fates made it that he ended up with a business partner who’s an Aussie.

So I spell it on the phone to the Americans approximately for a four or five times a day.

So, Dinkum systems; that’s what the brand is called and then within that, we’ve got the individual pieces.

(John Warkentin)

Oh, that’s a great story! And, so the full Dinkum Systems line is available Michael’s Camera; and not only do we sell it, some of us use it!

My cameraman today, Matt, he uses them; I’ve used the action pod to shoot some videos for us, where I’ve attached 360 cameras to the handlebar of a bicycle; and tonight I’m pretty certain I’m going to use it to attach a flash or two, to some beams at an event launch I’m doing for a new bar that’s opening.

So, it’s a fabulous system; these are really, really strong.

You can rely on them; they can support a lot of weight; they bend into crazy position, and we like them!

And, it’s a small company and we like to support small companies.

So, wonderful to have you here, Andy.

(Andy Lucas)

We’re very happy to be here.

(John Warkentin)

So, come on and see us at Michael’s Camera; check out the Dinkum Systems line; and hopefully, we look forward to seeing you on some more YouTube videos; and maybe in a day or two, I’ll be able to show you the results of some still photos I’ve shot using flash on the Dinkum systems Action Pod clamp!

(Andy Lucas)

Perfect!

Thanks so much, John.

(John Warkentin)

Take care!