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My first paid Steadicam shoot


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#1 Mark Schlicher

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Posted 10 September 2009 - 05:28 PM

Here's a 24 second walk n talk for my first paid Steadicam shoot, a commercial for a local office supply company. Steadicam Flyer (2nd Gen), HVX200.

This is my best take overall, though there are some moments I liked better in other takes. A bit too much headroom in the beginning, and I lost my horizon a little in the whip pan around the corner. Lots of vertical and horizontal lines in the frame so it was pretty unforgiving! The lockoff at the end has more float than I'd like, too. But...client loves it, so "mission accomplished", and on to the next shoot!
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#2 Charles Papert

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Posted 10 September 2009 - 10:35 PM

Congrats on your first gig Mark!

It's good that you are being critical of your work, it's the only way to improve. To the things you mentioned, I would also add anticipating elements such as the tall guy running in at the end, you had to make a much faster move than needed as opposed to starting to counter his entrance earlier, and then your reframe back down to the spokesperson was delayed also.

The Flyer demands such a light touch, it's an extra challenge with horizons and lockoffs--the reward you will have once you master these things on your rig is that you will be that much more adept with a big rig, when you have the chance to fly one!
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#3 Mark Schlicher

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Posted 10 September 2009 - 11:21 PM

Thanks, Charles, for the encouragement and the critique.

At the end of the move I found that it was tough getting the tilt up just right, not just from the pure technical standpoint, but also to avoid tilting too early and telegraphing the actor's entrance. But I decided (rationalized) that since he was an interruption to the spokeperson, that he was taking camera/viewer by surprise, too, and the move could/should be a little "startled"... In any case, the later we went, the more trouble I had with the end...I was losing the light touch and overshooting everything. Plus I wasn't able to hit the same mark at the end every time, so the end framing was improvised a bit each time.

Fortunately I have small hands so the light touch isn't as much of a challenge as some would have. Just need to keep practicing. Lockoffs are kicking my butt.

I'm signed up for the Banning Mills workshop in December. Looking forward to it!

Congrats on your first gig Mark!

It's good that you are being critical of your work, it's the only way to improve. To the things you mentioned, I would also add anticipating elements such as the tall guy running in at the end, you had to make a much faster move than needed as opposed to starting to counter his entrance earlier, and then your reframe back down to the spokesperson was delayed also.

The Flyer demands such a light touch, it's an extra challenge with horizons and lockoffs--the reward you will have once you master these things on your rig is that you will be that much more adept with a big rig, when you have the chance to fly one!


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#4 Sanjay Sami

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Posted 11 September 2009 - 09:14 AM

For a first paid job Mark, that is really good. I'm sure you will find problems with it if you stare long and hard, and as Charles says, thats the way to move forward. But a really good job in my opinion.

Sanjay Sami
www.thegripworks.com
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#5 Kevin Andrews SOC

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Posted 11 September 2009 - 05:13 PM

and I lost my horizon a little in the whip pan around the corner.


I think this was attributed to the terrible dynamic balance that the LE has, and not so much your operating. I can recommend adding some weight to the back of the monitor or monitor support arm to help things a bit. Then you should be able to get more level pans.

My 2. Hope this helps.
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#6 Eric Fletcher S.O.C.

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Posted 12 September 2009 - 04:56 AM

and I lost my horizon a little in the whip pan around the corner.


I think this was attributed to the terrible dynamic balance that the LE has, and not so much your operating. I can recommend adding some weight to the back of the monitor or monitor support arm to help things a bit. Then you should be able to get more level pans.

My 2. Hope this helps.



I'm still trying to find the whip pan, all I saw was a pan, not a whip pan.
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#7 Fabrizio Sciarra SOC ACO

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Posted 12 September 2009 - 05:27 AM

Agreed with Eric.
I would say is a body pan, but certainly no whip pans here

Edited by Fabrizio Sciarra, 12 September 2009 - 05:28 AM.

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#8 Mark Schlicher

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Posted 12 September 2009 - 02:25 PM

Not a body pan. All on the gimbal. Walking backwards in missionary, booming up slightly as talent walks into the closeup, spin the gimbal 90 degrees to follow talent around the corner, stop on my left foot, kiss off the pan to precisely frame the two-shot, step forward on my right foot to get start walking in missionary again, start panning left again to follow the action, etc.

Agreed with Eric.
I would say is a body pan, but certainly no whip pans here


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#9 Eric Fletcher S.O.C.

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Posted 12 September 2009 - 02:31 PM

Not a body pan. All on the gimbal. Walking backwards in missionary, booming up slightly as talent walks into the closeup, spin the gimbal 90 degrees to follow talent around the corner, stop on my left foot, kiss off the pan to precisely frame the two-shot, step forward on my right foot to get start walking in missionary again, start panning left again to follow the action, etc.

Agreed with Eric.
I would say is a body pan, but certainly no whip pans here



It's still far from a whip pan.

as for the rest of your description, well yeah, umm....
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#10 Mark Schlicher

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Posted 12 September 2009 - 03:20 PM

Oops, I meant to say "the two and a half second 110 degree pan following the talent while making a switch, turning a corner, and trying to land on a perfect two-shot."

"Whip pan" just tumbled out, possibly because from an operating standpoint it required the identical technique as a whip pan.

Specifically:

"The proper technique is to let the rig slip through your grip and before the end of the pan, increase your grip to brake the rotation. As the rig slows down, you relax your grip. When the rig stops panning, your grip should be as light as possible." (Holway/Hayball, page 188)

But, whatever. My bad. Thanks for at least taking the time to look at the shot.


and I lost my horizon a little in the whip pan around the corner.


I think this was attributed to the terrible dynamic balance that the LE has, and not so much your operating. I can recommend adding some weight to the back of the monitor or monitor support arm to help things a bit. Then you should be able to get more level pans.

My 2. Hope this helps.



I'm still trying to find the whip pan, all I saw was a pan, not a whip pan.


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#11 Eric Fletcher S.O.C.

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Posted 12 September 2009 - 03:46 PM

Oops, I meant to say "the two and a half second 110 degree pan following the talent while making a switch, turning a corner, and trying to land on a perfect two-shot."

"Whip pan" just tumbled out, possibly because from an operating standpoint it required the identical technique as a whip pan.

Specifically:

"The proper technique is to let the rig slip through your grip and before the end of the pan, increase your grip to brake the rotation. As the rig slows down, you relax your grip. When the rig stops panning, your grip should be as light as possible." (Holway/Hayball, page 188)



It does require the same technique?

I wouldn't go that far, I certainly don't operate a pan like that. A whip maybe but not a normal pan like the pan in your video. I did a 270 degree pan lastnight and I didn't use the technique you describe, I used a combo of normal pan and foot panning, and said pan was at whip speeds, but I wouldn't call it a whip pan

Don't get me wrong, great job on your first paying gig. Just understand that while there are many techniques to achieve a result you can't group all results under one description because you used a specific technique
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#12 Mark Schlicher

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Posted 12 September 2009 - 03:56 PM

Thanks, Kevin, but the truth is that it was operator error in this case.

I have been able to get pretty close DB on my Flyer, dropping the battery low and raising the monitor. In fact, I managed that pan better in several takes, mostly early ones. But the script was long, they just kept cranking up the pace, and I just got "tight" and a bit fatigued. I also DP'd the shoot and this was the last setup of the day.

Here's an example of an early take where I had better control coming around the corner (and arguably better operating overall).

and I lost my horizon a little in the whip pan around the corner.


I think this was attributed to the terrible dynamic balance that the LE has, and not so much your operating. I can recommend adding some weight to the back of the monitor or monitor support arm to help things a bit. Then you should be able to get more level pans.

My 2. Hope this helps.


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#13 Mark Schlicher

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Posted 12 September 2009 - 05:52 PM

I need to ask you, Eric, exactly what do you mean by this comment?

Because without some clarification it comes across as condescending and sarcastic and completely uncalled-for.

as for the rest of your description, well yeah, umm....


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#14 Mark Schlicher

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Posted 12 September 2009 - 05:58 PM

Eric,

I said that it "required" the same technique. Meaning for me. In that circumstance. Given all the relevant considerations, including the rig, camera, space to operate, where the shot was headed next, and yes, my level of experience. And it "felt" like a whip pan given all of those considerations.

Not saying it would "require" it of you or any other specific operator. Just me. Just then.

And to be crystal-clear: I'm not trying to defend a claim that it is a "true" whip pan just because I used a whip-pan operating technique. Or as you put it, to "group all results under one description because you used a specific technique." I was simply clarifying why I used that word originally. I was (loosely) labeling a moment in _my_ operating for the sole purpose of self-critique of a mistake I made at that moment.

Finally, to be frank, if you really think it was important enough of a gaffe on my part that you needed to call me out on it, a simple statement would seem to be appropriate. The forum guidelines specify civility and and strongly discourage sarcasm, which I'm sure you know as a moderator. Your original response reads as very sarcastic, as does your response to me in the other subthread here. Is it important to have full and vibrant conversations in the forums, including (or especially) the newbie forum? Or is this a closed club after all, where the newbies are spanked, chastised or chased off at the first slip-up or dumb question or statement?

Eric, thank you for your "great job for a first gig" comment. I know that you are a highly talented and experienced operator. I am keenly aware that I have much to learn. I am a newbie at Steadicam but have 20+ years of experience working professionally in video and film. I work in a market where you have to hustle, wear a lot of hats, often work with fewer resources and still deliver decent results in order to have a successful career. I work hard, I care about the art and craft of what I do. I have no problem with honest criticism. I can truly say that I learn from every shoot I'm on, and that is part of the joy and thrill of this job. I respect what you have accomplished and I would hope that you can extend respect and courtesy to a fellow professional.

But regardless, I am loving the challenge of learning this new "instrument" and I will offer any help and encouragement I can to fellow newbies on this forum.


It does require the same technique?

I wouldn't go that far, I certainly don't operate a pan like that. A whip maybe but not a normal pan like the pan in your video. I did a 270 degree pan lastnight and I didn't use the technique you describe, I used a combo of normal pan and foot panning, and said pan was at whip speeds, but I wouldn't call it a whip pan

Don't get me wrong, great job on your first paying gig. Just understand that while there are many techniques to achieve a result you can't group all results under one description because you used a specific technique


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#15 Charles Papert

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Posted 12 September 2009 - 06:55 PM

This is sort of coming down to semantics, but then again we are in a business that relies on common terminology for efficient communication. If a director or DP requests that I make a whip pan, I know what to give them; likewise, if I offer up a whip pan when we are talking through a shot, they (hopefully!) know what I mean by that. Obviously the first time we rehearse the shot, it will become apparent if we are talking about two different things and will make whatever adjustment is necessary, but as operators we like to be the ones using the proper terminology regarding camera movement, and are forced to be patient with those who don't (classic example: director asking us to "pan up")!

In the worst case scenario, this can result in a serious miscommunication that can be quite costly time-wise. Once I was shooting a party scene at a house and the director and I walked through from the front door to the back door as he defined the path of an actor, saying "we follow him through here, around here, into the living room" etc. I set about lighting the space which was extensive.

A good hour and a half later, we put the Steadicam up for the first time and started moving behind the actor, the director yelled "Cut! Cut! What's the deal? You're shooting the back of his head!"

I said, "I'm following him, as we discussed".

His response: "I meant following him from the front!"

Grit teeth, smile and nod; 45 minute relight and we were back on track. You get the point.

On this specific issue: I too would not characterize a type of camera move based on what technique was required to achieve it. My definition of a whip pan is fully in the eye of the beholder--it's a fast pan, fast enough that the image between the beginning and the end is pure motion blur, fast enough that you could make a cut or short dissolve in the middle of two separate takes and never see it. Whether it is achieved on Steadicam via gimbal pan or body pan, or whatever technique is used is purely the operator's concern and the decision is based on personal preference and how one gets into and out of that section of the shot.

Based on watching your piece, Mark, I think that most operators would opt to make the move around the corner as a body pan, since the camera is pointed the same direction as the operator in the sections preceding and following the pan i.e. missionary backing up to missionary pushing in. Trying to unravel your description of the physicality you used, it sounds like you landed with your body rotated to the left, then panned on the gimbal and pulled the rig around the side of your body before pushing off again, which seems comparatively awkward. Even worse would be panning on the gimbal while still facing in the original direction, which requires pushing the rig away from the body then having to race around it before moving in the new direction. I checked your avatar to see if you were goofy-foot (apparently you aren't) as that would make a bit more sense--the rig doesn't have to cross the body with that configuration.

Long response here. I'm sitting in a hotel room, bags packed and waiting out the hours until the wrap party, so plenty of time to noodle on the computer...!
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