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A family behind the scenes

Posted: August 21, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: August 21, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Josh von Badinski, left, and his brother Curt of View Factor Studios in Valencia are part of a family-operated business that manufactures camera support products for the cinema and television industries.

 

A family-owned and operated business, View Factor Studios is beginning to see success at the firm’s new location in the Valencia Business Center.

Run by three brothers, the youngest brother, 30-year-old Josh von Badinski, first had the idea for the business 11 years ago. But he didn’t really see his dream take shape until 2008.

Along with Curt, 36, and John, 37, and their mother Carol, who runs the business side of things, the brothers are celebrating their second month in the View Factor’s new home.

Catering to the film and television industries, View Factor focuses on innovation in making high-quality accessories that improve functionality for a camera user. 

The company’s equipment has been used by production companies filming HBO’s “True Blood,” as well as cinematographer Shane Hurlbut and Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Vincent Laforet, Curt said.

Apple also buys from the company, and its products were used in the last season of the television series “24,” he said.
“They got us in under the wire,” Curt said.

Remote products
The company’s very first product was the Origo Start and Stop “button,” a control device that allows cameras to be operated remotely.

With a background and degree in mechanical engineering, Curt is the brains behind a lot of the operation, according to Carol.

View Factor also designed and manufactures, the Contineo power cage.

The cage keeps a camera secure while filming, providing a number of mounting points for accessories and power cables. And it features a remote switch, with a battery meter, allowing the unit to be controlled from a distance.

The cage acts as a platform, with a brace allowing cinematographers and television camera operators to shoot while securely holding the camera in place, eliminating movement during filming.

The idea behind the cage is that by stabilizing it, you can now use the camera to make money, Curt said.

China failure
Along with the change in address, View Factor recently acquired a new machine that will allow the company to create high-volume production.

A $114,000 investment, the injection mold machine was delivered less than a week ago.

It was purchased to make the plastic parts for products that have been on back order for two-and-a-half years, after an unsuccessful attempt to manufacture the parts in China.

Now, View Factor Studios can fulfill all their back orders and presale commitments before accepting any further orders.

One of those products is the Follow Focus Motor, which attaches to a camera, hooking onto the lens, allowing the operator to control the camera from a distance comparable to the remote control of a toy car.

Originally, View Factor was sending their Follow Focus Motors overseas to be manufactured in China, Josh said. It just wasn’t working.

View Factor Studios lost $100,000 in tooling from the work they attempted to do with China. After Curt traveled to China three times to try and sort out the glitches, the firm decided to cut their losses.

That was two years ago.

“Pretty much our mantra across the board is everything (is made) in the U.S. now,” Curt said.

Patent pending
Another setback for the company has been waiting more than four years on a patent for their Mirus product.

The Mirus is a motion control/pan/tilt head that moves the entire camera remotely from a tripod, jib arm or crane or even a vehicle in a movie.

Saving production time and costs, the Mirus is memory-encoded, so a scene can be re-shot from the exact point it was originally shot from.

“Mirus was the first idea, but the profits from the “button” itself are what provided funding to start making Mirus,” Carol said.

Family of investors
The success of View Factor Studios is due to the help and support the founders have received from friends and family.
Everyone made sacrifices.

Carol von Badinski retired and used her retirement fund, as well as cashing in on some stocks, to help get View Factor Studios up and running.

The family also sought out two investors, friends of friends, who put up money for the venture, Curt said.

Curt himself cashed in his own 401(K) to help the company when it was no more than the germ of an idea over a decade ago.

Though it seems like a long time coming, the brothers are now happy with where they are, and where the company is headed.

The next level
Prior to the move into the Valencia Business Center, Josh, Curt and John worked out of a garage in Burbank in the firm’s earlier days.

Then they moved the operation to a location in Valencia and have now graduated to the 10,000-square-foot facility they’re in today.

The hard work and drive was inherited when the boys were just kids, Curt said.

All three of them have a background in construction, thanks to their father who was a masonry contractor. He had them working for him by moving bricks each summer.

Each brother brings a different background and experience to the table.

John is in the reserves, and still ships out for one week each month.

Described as the brains behind much of the operation, Curt brought his background and mechanical engineering degree.
“I’m not a serial entrepreneur,” Curt said. “I have so many ideas. I don’t want to be dead and remembered for making a Follow Focus.”

Josh, who had the initial idea for the business, spent four years working on the set of “CSI” in the special effects department before committing to View Factor Studios full time.

Josh’s reason to start the company originally was to make movies, he said.

The brothers’ efforts are definitely going to pay off. They have just worked too hard for it not to, Carol said. 

“They’re very tenacious.”

View Factor Studios is located at 28231 Avenue Crocker, Unit 90 in Valencia and can be reached at (888) 459-8450 or online at www.viewfactor.net/index.php.

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