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Beefing up the Pilot


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#1 William Santana

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Posted 15 December 2009 - 12:10 AM

I recently attended a Steadicam workshop with Charles Papert and we got to talking about how to improve the Pilot's stability to better emulate the feel of a bigger rig in terms of handling. We came to the conclusion that adding a foam grip over the extremely thin gimbal handle and a thinker wrapgrip under the gimbal (much like the Flyer) would improve the overall feel. I was wondering if anyone with more experience with modifying rigs could help me find the materials necessary to achieve this and offer advice in properly going about making this a reality.
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#2 Richard James Lewis

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Posted 15 December 2009 - 07:20 AM

Hey William, I added a foam rubber grip to my gimbal handle. Makes a massive difference, no more freezing shoots with a cold metal gimbal, and no more slipping hand! I did wrap tennis grip tape around it initially, which was very comfortable, but looked a tad shite, and I'd imagine would fail quicker than my eventual solution.

I found a company that made up components for tripods amongst other things. Handles for brooms, mops, handlebars etc and they sent me a sample, which , being a cheap kinda person, and not willing to have a run of 200 done, kept and installed! The reason why it's a tad short, but my hand never ventures up that far.

Regarding the wrap grip, i'd imagine if you find an engineer, and took them a picture of something similar to the PRO wrap grip, they could make something up for you, cant imagine it would be dirt cheap, but if it's CNC etc, and you can draw something up...

Rick.




I recently attended a Steadicam workshop with Charles Papert and we got to talking about how to improve the Pilot's stability to better emulate the feel of a bigger rig in terms of handling. We came to the conclusion that adding a foam grip over the extremely thin gimbal handle and a thinker wrapgrip under the gimbal (much like the Flyer) would improve the overall feel. I was wondering if anyone with more experience with modifying rigs could help me find the materials necessary to achieve this and offer advice in properly going about making this a reality.

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#3 William Santana

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Posted 15 December 2009 - 11:04 AM

Excellent! I'd want something exactly like what you have on your gimbal handle; I'd need it to be much thicker though, about three times as thick. What company was it? I think I could use a "sample" of their work as well. :lol:

As for the wrapgrip... Yes it seems like there is no quick way out of it, I am definitely going to have to consult a engineer. That one's going to be the headache I carry over to 2010.

Edited by William Santana, 15 December 2009 - 11:10 AM.

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#4 Mark Schlicher

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Posted 15 December 2009 - 03:38 PM

You can still buy wrapgrips from Pro GPI. Then you can use something low-tech like PVC plumbing pipe or garden hose or any semi-rigid plastic of the right thickness to create shims to make it work. A wrapgrip is roughly $200, probably cheaper than what a machinist would charge to design and make a one-off.

The downside of the additional diameter is that it gives you more leverage on the post, making the rig more fidgety. So you will probably want to use as many of those merlin/pilot weights as possible to give you the maximum increase in inertia, to slow the rig down.

Excellent! I'd want something exactly like what you have on your gimbal handle; I'd need it to be much thicker though, about three times as thick. What company was it? I think I could use a "sample" of their work as well. :lol:

As for the wrapgrip... Yes it seems like there is no quick way out of it, I am definitely going to have to consult a engineer. That one's going to be the headache I carry over to 2010.


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#5 chris fawcett

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Posted 15 December 2009 - 04:43 PM

The downside of the additional diameter is that it gives you more leverage on the post, making the rig more fidgety. So you will probably want to use as many of those merlin/pilot weights as possible to give you the maximum increase in inertia, to slow the rig down.

This is animportant point. The present diameter of the Pilot's gimbal grip is no accident.

Chris
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#6 Bryan Fowler

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Posted 15 December 2009 - 08:11 PM

Try gaff tape sticky side out. For those slippery shots.
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#7 RobVanGelder

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Posted 15 December 2009 - 09:12 PM

Just did 3 days of running around martial arts fighters on a heli-deck rooftop here in Bangkok. Pilot with EX-3 camera.
Regarding the "beefing up", I must say that with this camera with original Sony wide angle adapter, you have pretty much reached the maximum the arm can take!
The rig is capable of more weight, by extending. But the Arm is the limiting factor.

Personally, I do not have problems with the thin post. Sure it is different from my Masters rig, but after some practice it feels just as the Big Rig.
The main problem is it's sensitivity to wind (on a heli-deck....).

I saw the material yesterday. there is some rolling sometimes, but considering my high speed moves around these 2 fighters, I was pleasantly surprised about the steadiness and framing. This little Pilot has all the good characteristics of a good Big Rig, but with its low mass it was possible to do things that would be out of reach if I had done this on my converted Master with a Red One or a HDCam camera.

And for sure it saves my back, knees, ankles, etc! :D
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#8 William Santana

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Posted 15 December 2009 - 10:28 PM

Thanks for the advice everyone, I really appreciate it. I guess my logic was backwards when it came to adding a wrapgrip. I figured a thicker grip would improve the stability of the rig by dampening my influence on the post... it seems my hypothesis was wrong. But what about increasing the the thickness of the gimbal handle?
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#9 William Santana

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Posted 15 December 2009 - 10:58 PM

Sorry Rob I suppose the thread title was a bit misleading; when I said I wanted to "beef up" the Pilot I was referring to making the gimbal handle thicker and placing a wrapgrip under the gimbal. I'm happy to hear a pro speaking highly of the Pilot. In a sea of super rigs I was starting to feel... inadequate. :) I'm still a greenhorn so I guess I should continue to train and become more accustom to my rig before I decide to make any modifications.
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#10 chris fawcett

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Posted 16 December 2009 - 05:29 AM

But what about increasing the the thickness of the gimbal handle?

You mean the yoke handle? The part that fits on the arm post and is connected to the gimbal? Sure, beef that up by all means if you like.

Wish I had a Pilot too.

Chris
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#11 Mark Schlicher

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Posted 16 December 2009 - 09:49 AM

William,

If the idea is to make the rig fly more like a big rig, then by all means experiment with increasing the diameter of the gimbal grip. Just add inertial weights fore and aft to make the rig fly like a much bigger rig. This is one of the most brilliant facets of the Pilot design: by adding light weights far from the center post you create the intertial affect of much more weight/mass.

The flip side of the "physics" argument against a larger grip is that, when operating a smaller diameter grip, you have to use a fingertip technique, which you will have to unlearn when going to a bigger rig.

Also, since you're using a different set of muscles operating a small grip (mostly fingers) versus a larger grip (mostly wrist), the argument about leverage is somewhat moot in my opinion...it's an apples to oranges comparison, since the muscle groups assert force differently.

I would encourage you to experiement with inexpensive PVC pipe split down the middle and taped to the post with gaff tape. If you like the feel, then make or buy something more elegant and permanent.

Thanks for the advice everyone, I really appreciate it. I guess my logic was backwards when it came to adding a wrapgrip. I figured a thicker grip would improve the stability of the rig by dampening my influence on the post... it seems my hypothesis was wrong. But what about increasing the the thickness of the gimbal handle?


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#12 Richard James Lewis

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Posted 16 December 2009 - 04:05 PM

The flip side of the "physics" argument against a larger grip is that, when operating a smaller diameter grip, you have to use a fingertip technique, which you will have to unlearn when going to a bigger rig.

Also, since you're using a different set of muscles operating a small grip (mostly fingers) versus a larger grip (mostly wrist), the argument about leverage is somewhat moot in my opinion...it's an apples to oranges comparison, since the muscle groups assert force differently.


I agree with the post diameter changing influence depending on the nature of the rig, but I wouldn't agree that an operators use of fingertip control changes, and I wouldn't say any unlearning would occur switching between smaller and bigger rigs. My fingertip control is just as delicate switching between my 2" post and the time I tried a pilot.

Rick
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#13 William Santana

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Posted 16 December 2009 - 07:44 PM

William,

If the idea is to make the rig fly more like a big rig, then by all means experiment with increasing the diameter of the gimbal grip. Just add inertial weights fore and aft to make the rig fly like a much bigger rig. This is one of the most brilliant facets of the Pilot design: by adding light weights far from the center post you create the intertial affect of much more weight/mass.

The flip side of the "physics" argument against a larger grip is that, when operating a smaller diameter grip, you have to use a fingertip technique, which you will have to unlearn when going to a bigger rig.

Also, since you're using a different set of muscles operating a small grip (mostly fingers) versus a larger grip (mostly wrist), the argument about leverage is somewhat moot in my opinion...it's an apples to oranges comparison, since the muscle groups assert force differently.

I would encourage you to experiement with inexpensive PVC pipe split down the middle and taped to the post with gaff tape. If you like the feel, then make or buy something more elegant and permanent.


I see... Well, I'm going to take you're advice to try out the PVC pipe and see how that feels. If it turns out to have adverse effects on my handling then I'll be content with the stock post diameter. To be honest, the priority was the really thin gimbal handle. I gotta make that thing thicker!
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#14 Mark Schlicher

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Posted 17 December 2009 - 04:55 PM

What I mean is that with the Flyer (1st/2nd gen) the small diameter virtually requires you to grip mostly with your fingertips, since your hand would wrap too far around with a more full-on grip. The light pan inertia of the rig allows this technique to work well.

When I attended the Eastern Classic recently, I found that I was constantly being reminded to "unlearn" this technique, and wrap my hand more fully (though lightly) around the 1.5 inch post. So the grip that works best with the Flyer is a grip that was frowned on by Workshop instructors for a big rig.

In re-reading and thinking about my post, I probably mis-stated things a little when I said "mostly wrist." Nevertheless, the grip and control technique is subtly different on a bigger post. My own personal experience was having to unlearn some grip technique going from Flyer to big rig...

The flip side of the "physics" argument against a larger grip is that, when operating a smaller diameter grip, you have to use a fingertip technique, which you will have to unlearn when going to a bigger rig.

Also, since you're using a different set of muscles operating a small grip (mostly fingers) versus a larger grip (mostly wrist), the argument about leverage is somewhat moot in my opinion...it's an apples to oranges comparison, since the muscle groups assert force differently.


I agree with the post diameter changing influence depending on the nature of the rig, but I wouldn't agree that an operators use of fingertip control changes, and I wouldn't say any unlearning would occur switching between smaller and bigger rigs. My fingertip control is just as delicate switching between my 2" post and the time I tried a pilot.

Rick


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#15 Brian Freesh

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Posted 17 December 2009 - 06:50 PM

What I mean is that with the Flyer (1st/2nd gen) the small diameter virtually requires you to grip mostly with your fingertips, since your hand would wrap too far around with a more full-on grip. The light pan inertia of the rig allows this technique to work well.

When I attended the Eastern Classic recently, I found that I was constantly being reminded to "unlearn" this technique, and wrap my hand more fully (though lightly) around the 1.5 inch post. So the grip that works best with the Flyer is a grip that was frowned on by Workshop instructors for a big rig.

In re-reading and thinking about my post, I probably mis-stated things a little when I said "mostly wrist." Nevertheless, the grip and control technique is subtly different on a bigger post. My own personal experience was having to unlearn some grip technique going from Flyer to big rig...

The flip side of the "physics" argument against a larger grip is that, when operating a smaller diameter grip, you have to use a fingertip technique, which you will have to unlearn when going to a bigger rig.

Also, since you're using a different set of muscles operating a small grip (mostly fingers) versus a larger grip (mostly wrist), the argument about leverage is somewhat moot in my opinion...it's an apples to oranges comparison, since the muscle groups assert force differently.


I agree with the post diameter changing influence depending on the nature of the rig, but I wouldn't agree that an operators use of fingertip control changes, and I wouldn't say any unlearning would occur switching between smaller and bigger rigs. My fingertip control is just as delicate switching between my 2" post and the time I tried a pilot.

Rick


From my own experience and other ops I've talked to, it seems to be personal preference. You're right that on a flyer, even an LE (at least for me), you can't really get your whole hand around the grip. But on rigs where you can, it's a matter of preference whether you want to or not. I operate a big rig the same as my flyer, as far as how I touch the gimbal grip in general. There are exceptions for particular shots and whatnot.
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