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drop time question


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#1 kes

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Posted 18 January 2004 - 02:02 PM

Hi my name is Kes, I do mainly crane jobs but often do some steadicam work with my Elite which I bought recentaly. For months I was practicing the steadicam with 2 seconds drop time and was much happier (and steadier) than the longest 3 seconds drop time. But now I have got this tv show which includes many music acts
and so I would have to do frequent tilts which I find difficult to do with my favourite 2 seconds drop time. Since I have never tooke any workshop I would like to take the liberty and ask you what would be your ideal drop time for music concerts, and in general what is your favourite drop time for most work.
Nearly forgot - I would kill to know what drop time Bill Gierhart uses for the astonishing first season of the Shield. He uses so much zooming and tilts in such a brilliant way. Many thanks. Kes
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#2 Michael Stumpf

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Posted 18 January 2004 - 02:15 PM

Adjust to what's necessary for you to comfortable and accurately get the shots.

I split my drop time right down the middle at 2 1/2 seconds.
I don't find tiliting for any lengths of time difficult at all.

Since you said you "practiced" at 3 seconds, then felt more comfortable with 2 seconds, go with 2 seconds.
If you find you are tilting a lot and your hand gets tired, try 2 1/2 seconds.

Every operator is different. Greg Bubb operates with a neutral balanced rig (meaning no drop time) and Brooks Robinson operates with a very fast drop time (about 1 second).

You just have to see what's comfortable for you.
The question you asked is like asking everyone, "how do you like your seat adjusted when you drive?"

It's going to come down to what works best for you.
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#3 kes

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Posted 18 January 2004 - 02:49 PM

Thanks for replying Michael.
I do love the 2 seconds drop time and so I might stick with it and also will try the 2.5 seconds for tilting tasks - I guess it is just a matter of strengthen my fingers and practice tilts as well. I just can not imagine someone operates with no drop time at all, how fascinating.
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#4 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 18 January 2004 - 04:18 PM

Hi,

For what it's worth, I've always tended towards long since I find excess pendulosity way more of a problem than level horizons - and it isn't like fast drops automatically solve all horizon problems anyway, so...

Phil
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#5 Kenny Brown SOC

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Posted 18 January 2004 - 11:20 PM

I mostly stick with 2 and a half second drop times for most things but my pinkie does get sore on long tilt ups and I often revert to a vulcan death grip for tilting down, so try a 4 second drop and work on your horizons. It also helps if the director wants that banking feel for POV stuff.

Kenny
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#6 kes

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Posted 19 January 2004 - 03:38 AM

Thanks guys for all your replying. This is exactly my problem when operating with 3 seconds or more - that is my horizons suffer a bit, that the sled sways from side to side a bit more and so I have to use my fingers to fix the frame more constantly. With steadicam I mostly think that at the end of the day I would get the exact results with 4 0r 1 seconds drop time, with 3A or Pro, with DSD vest or EFP one and so on... as I found it mainly about practicing and gaining experience . But having said that, I do believe that to achieve the same results with different equipments and techniques does request much more or less amount of practice hours which we do not always have. I mean if I have that tv show very soon, will I master the tilting faster (and therefore beter for that specific date) with 2 seconds drop time working on strenghten my fingers ? or will it be faster to work on my horizons with 3 or more seconds but do tilting much easier ?
This is why in that early career stage of mine is so important to hear other operating techniques so I could save some time and accelerate for perfection faster and sooner otherwise I would have to figure out everything by myself like Garrett probably did...
Thanks again Kes
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#7 kes

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Posted 19 January 2004 - 08:06 AM

I was just practicing the 3 seconds in the past two hours or so and was very happy to see I am picking it very quickly with a much better results with every passing minute. I have noticed I have to use slightly more power with my fingers to keep my horizones but by using the 3 seconds I am also able to do so many tilts and smooth switches that almost open for me a new way of music-operating . Having said that, I do think for a stright operating which does not require tilts I will go back to my 2 seconds or even 2.5 seconds drop time.
Asie
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#8 ericoh

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Posted 23 January 2004 - 01:02 AM

Hi,

Drop time varies for each operator. Most of the time I use a 3 second drop time. It works for most situations but I have had to reduce my drop time to 2-2.5 for certain situations (wind - I don't have gyros). However, I have also used a 4 second drop time. The rig will have a tendency to float more and therefore harder to keep your horizons but I find that it also makes the rig more responsive and "quicker". It takes a bit of practice but it is do-able.
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#9 Larry McConkey

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Posted 24 January 2004 - 07:32 PM

After learning how to balance the Steadicam with your body in order to control it?s position and move through space the way you intend it to, controlling the angle of the post is the next most difficult, and important skill to acquire. First you must learn how to keep the post perfectly vertical throughout every change in direction and speed, and then how to tilt and roll it off level at an intended speed and to an intended angle, then stop this rotation and often maintain the off level orientation as well. None of it is intuitive or easy, and the drop time figures in each of these maneuvers. It?s important and difficult enough that I thought I should contribute something in detail, hoping it will help some operators that are struggling with it.

We can adjust the drop time to suit both each situation and your personal style, but in the beginning there are so many variables to begin with, it may make sense to standardize on an average, overall useful drop time so that you can develop some repeatable skills before trying out more or less. (This ?homebase? configuration should also include the height and length of your sled, assuming you can adjust those as well). As soon as you get comfortable with one drop time, however, it will be very, very useful to master others. The real trick here is to develop through practice, trial and error, mistakes and accidents, the skill to anticipate just how much pressure is required on the post to counteract every change in speed and direction. Every change will cause the Steadicam to swing off level, and exactly the right corrective force will deny keep it perfectly level instead. Manhandling the post, or correcting an error after it is noticeable will inevitably result in a sloppy looking shot. This is difficult to accept with everything else you need to do to execute a shot, but every change in speed and direction should be carefully considered, and then carefully executed with attention to how hard the corrective pressure should be applied, and in what direction and over what period of time as well. Planning ahead is all important (even in a documentary situation where the planning must take place in microseconds) to make this work. The more time spent rehearsing this specific skill off the set the more prepared you will be when you are distracted by everything else.

If the drop time is very long (less bottom-heavy) it won't take much corrective pressure at all, so there is not as much effort required for any kind of move, but it also means that the correct amount of pressure for a small change will be very similar to the correct amount for a large change, and you are not likely to be very accurate in executing either. With a large drop time, the difference in pressure becomes much greater and you are likely to get closer to the right amount in each situation, so shorter drop times (more bottom heavy) will potentially give you more accuracy in anticipating corrective pressures than longer drop times, but the overall effort will of course be greater.

If I am doing a long walk and talk, I use a very fast drop time, along the lines of 1½ seconds. This results in extraordinarily more consistent headroom and a more stable feel to the shot than a more normal drop time of 2-3 secs. I am very careful to keep changes to a minimum and work hard at these changes when they do happen. It forces a certain style as well, which I happen to like. But arguing against this setup would be the need for many abrupt changes, or even worse perhaps, long or numerous tilting requirements during the shot. At a certain point you may find that the difficulty in holding a steady tilt is harder with a very bottom-heavy sled. This can be a pretty subjective area, but I tend to go with a longer drop time (less bottom-heavy) if this is the case. The Ultra with the remote stage answers some of these problems by enabling me to retrim during the shot, so I can now go with more bottom-heavy trim (shorter drop time) more often, and just retrim to eliminate the effort in holding a tilt. One situation that clearly calls for very long drop times, or nearly neutral balance, is any vehicle mount. In this case there is no possible way to anticipate the many changes in speed or direction, and for most mounts, there is the added distraction of the mount changing angles as the vehicle moves over an uneven surface. With an almost neutral or nearly neutral balance, changes in speed and direction have no noticeable effect at all, but there is also no helpful orienting force from gravity to keep you upright, so the post tends to wander all over. Without having to walk with the rig, however, you have lots more mental capacity to watch the horizon and keep it level. Here the practice comes from knowing how much to let the Steadicam move around relative to your body and the mount, and how much to constrain it, all the while keeping you hands in an appropriate relationship to each other to maintain level and to the panning and tilting.

Another similar adjustment is the overall length and height of the sled. Greater length will increase inertia and again require a different amount, and usually different length of time for corrective pressure to stay level. It can get pretty confusing if you are changing these also, but it is a worthy goal to be comfortable with varying all of them for every shot at some point in your career. I have found that after so many years of screwing it up, I can dial myself in pretty well to any combination with a simple exercise before each shot: after setting the drop time and length and height of the sled for the particular requirements of a shot (mostly learned by doing it wrong over and over again) I make a quick series of push-pulls with the sled, shoving it very fast forwards and backwards with the yoke while playing around with how much corrective pressure I need on the post to keep it vertical. This is easy to detect by watching the top frameline and trying to keep it aligned with something horizontal in the frame ? you have it right when there is no tilting or rolling. Once I feel comfortable with that axis I do the same thing from side to side. I may also do a slower series. I keep at it until the right corrective pressures are programmed into some part of my brain that will function without too much conscious effort.

I still get it wrong often, however, and I rely on my video recording to check how I did after every take. Wherever I made a mistake, I try to figure out if I used too much corrective pressure, too little, applied it too early or too late, or left it in too long or not long enough. The next take, I reevaluate and make more mental notes for the next take. Hopefully I get it all corrected before the actors? performance is good enough to move on! I don?t think there are any real shortcuts to this process ? if you don?t deal with it on this level, it will be a long time before you get really good at it. It will be a long time in any case, so don?t be too impatient with yourself when you struggle with it, we all do!!

I mostly do features, but I also work in documentary situations, live video, commercials music videos, and whatever else comes along. The more specifically you can anticipate what you will need for a shot, the more exactly you can set up the rig, so features are an ideal environment for learning this stuff which is why the workshops tend to concentrate on actors and predictable, rehearsed shots. Otherwise, if you don?t know what will happen, or the shot will be very long and varied (live, unrehearsed broadcasts being the most extreme version) you should learn to rely on a setup that can function as your ?homebase? of comfort and experience - a configuration with which you can do most things well. This probably is a longer drop time of about 2-4 secs, with a short to moderate post length and the sled length fairly short as well. This will allow faster response, less conflict with obstructions and certainly should allow you to place the monitor in the optimum viewing position as well as in perfect dynamic balance. On the minus side will be less stability and more difficult lock-offs. Ultimately, there are always compromises, but as the equipment becomes more versatile, and the operators get comfortable with the changes in response this versatility demands, the compromises get smaller.

Larry
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#10 kes

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Posted 25 January 2004 - 02:07 PM

Thank you Larry for the wonderfull replying - it leaves me much more knowledgable about the whole issue.

Gratefull to you
Kes
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#11 Lawrence Karman

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Posted 25 January 2004 - 07:59 PM

Thanks for the insight Larry. I always get something useful out of your posts. Like the tip about the quick learning exercise you do before takes.

Lawrence
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#12 kapil verma

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Posted 29 July 2006 - 03:49 AM

hey guys....i've been operating since 5 years in bombay india...is it true tht there are different drop time for scenes and different for action sequences?...and can anyone tell me the technique of how to operate longer shots without geting much pain in the back...coz i always get pain while m operation longer shots... any suggestions plzz...



kapil verma.
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#13 David George Ellis

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Posted 29 July 2006 - 01:05 PM

Hey Kapil,

Click Here for search results!!

Dunno if you tried it, but I found some interesting convo's, G. Scroll through the threads and you should find the words "drop" and "time" highlighted.

Some tell you a lot of things. Some tell you what you need to know. Enjoy!

ONE
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#14 Erwin Landau

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Posted 29 July 2006 - 03:20 PM

Wait...

That's the time from the moment the Gimbal jumps of your arm till it hits the ground, right?
Always a second unless it bounces a couple of times till it dies...

I wish I had pictures of every crash I made so far...


Erwin"I'm full of it..."Landau
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#15 Imran Naqvi

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Posted 29 July 2006 - 03:36 PM

Wait...

That's the time from the moment the Gimbal jumps of your arm till it hits the ground, right?
Always a second unless it bounces a couple of times till it dies...

I wish I had pictures of every crash I made so far...


Erwin"I'm full of it..."Landau


"Erwins Big Book of Steadicam Crashes"

I'd buy a copy!

As for the original point about operating longer, many swear by (some just swear) Back mounted vests like the Klassen and the DSD, but how long is a long shot for you? 10 mins? 20? 30? 60?
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