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#1 Vicki Smart

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Posted 05 August 2009 - 03:02 PM

Hi there.

Well, my name is Vicki and hopefully soon I will be learning how to "fly" as you guys put it. I am a Media Production student and my university has just invested in some kind of rig, I'm not sure if it's a Steadicam or some other type (is it OK to mention other brands here?).

Anyway, I'd really like to ask a few questions, and get some advice. I'm 19 years old, 5ft 2 and about 13 stone, if that has any impact on this. I am also visually impaired, and this is limiting in the fact that I highly doubt I'll ever become a full time camera operator, because of the problems I sometimes have with focussing and fine detail. However, just because I probably won't do it, doesn't mean I'm going to go down without a fight!

I guess the university will provide training, but what will this entail? Do you think it will need to be modified to take my sight into account and do you think I'll take to this or am I just going to fall at some hurdle or other. I have a rig of my own, well, it's not a proper rig, more like a simplified version, but I find that hard to use because I have small shoulders and it's a setup where it sits on one shoulder, so it moves all the time.

Also, what are the key things to remember, should I ever get the chance to operate outside of this training? Will I need to consider anything extra sight-wise? I have limited peripheral vision so that does worry me somewhat. I find that I am a worrier (makes risk assessments fun! not!) so reassurance and kind words, or a reality check would be much appreciated.

Also, can anyone tell me any commonly used acronyms or slang/"in" jokes/words that I might comes across?


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#2 Jerry Holway

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Posted 05 August 2009 - 07:44 PM


Welcome. Get "the book" form Focal Press and some training ASAP- that will tell you what you ned to know.

Robin Thwaites of Tiffen Europe is a great resource both for info and training - not sure how far away he is from you.

Good luck; at first blush, it seems like you have some issues that would make full time/big rig/big budget work more difficult, but your spirit and the wide variety of equipment and work nowadays means you can make your own way. Only experience will tell, and there's no harm in trying, especially at 19.

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#3 Mark Schlicher

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Posted 06 August 2009 - 01:06 PM

I'd add that the "EFP Training" DVD from Tiffen is an excellent resource also, especially when paired up with the Book. With the DVD you can really visualize the necessary basic skills, preparation, exercises and precautions. Then you can refer back to the book for more details on each topic.

Invaluable in combination.
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#4 Ken Nguyen

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Posted 06 August 2009 - 04:03 PM

Visually impaired may be your weakness, but you can overcome it by concentrating on good framing and smooth movement of the camera. Team up with a focus puller who also can spot you.
Strengthen yourself physically so you can carry heavy load for a reasonable period. Put more training on the weakness part of the body.
I found out that most person, who lost or impair one sense, have at least one other sense which is better than a normal person.
I sometime fly the steadicam blind. Most of steadicam operators do.
Back then before I got a good daylight monitor, most of my outdoor shots were haft-blinded. I just barely saw the frame on the monitor. That's why Jerry always advice us to practice line-dances with our eyes closed.

You can do almost anything if you put your heart, your mind, and time into it.
Don't over-force yourself. Take a small exposure at a time.

Edited by Ken Nguyen, 06 August 2009 - 04:04 PM.

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#5 Kevin Andrews SOC

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Posted 06 August 2009 - 04:39 PM

Vicki, you can do anything you can dream, right up until the point that you doubt yourself. There and only there is where the road will end.

You can outfit your Steadi with a larger monitor if it helps, or even mount it a little higher on the sled so it's closer to you.

Tiffen makes a compact vest that may fit you better depending on what arm/socket block you are using.

If you can find out what brand of rig you will be using, it will help the folks here with their input.

I recommend the book and efp dvd as well. Both available on Amazon I believe. Mandatory for newbies. Also, click around the net and this forum and read read read. Look at other operator's websites too.

Go get 'em.
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#6 Alec Jarnagin SOC

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Posted 06 August 2009 - 09:32 PM

"I find that I am a worrier (makes risk assessments fun! not!) so reassurance and kind words, or a reality check would be much appreciated."


I find this more troublesome than the other issues you feel you face. While it is true that exceptional peripheral vision is traditionally a great ally to Steadicam ops, Nicola Pecorini (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0669797/) is blind in one eye.

5"2???? Ask Serena Ferrara or others.

Yes, you have circumstances that may not be considered "in your favor," but they are only that... circumstances. It is what you make them mean that will limit you. Today's film/video world has more jobs at more levels than EVER before. Do what you will with that.

Oh, and buy the book and take a workshop.
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#7 Vicki Smart

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Posted 07 August 2009 - 03:27 AM

Thank you everyone.

It's so nice to hear it from those practicing in this industry- that I can do this! There are a lot of doubters, but you know what? This is me, this is something I want to do so I'm going to do my best and see where it takes me!

As for workshops and things, as I said, the university must be providing that, so I'm guessing they'll get someone in who knows what they're doing! The only reason I know that we've got some kind of rig is that one of my lecturers/technical instructors is on Facebook and has put up lots of pictures of the new gear. I think I heard Glidecam used somewhere so maybe that's what we're getting. I don't know if there're any huge differences but I'm sure someone on here will have (possibly) had some experience with one and be able to answer any of my future questions.

I just hope none of my classmates has a mishap when we're able to book this thing out! Our university policy is basically "You break it, you bought it" so could get expensive!

Should be fun, whatever the rig though. Looking forward to it!


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