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Which Steadicam to get ???


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#1 Mark MacEwen

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Posted 22 January 2010 - 03:07 AM

Hello everyone,

I am new to this forum and find myself here in need of advice.
I have been a wildlife documentary cameraman for over 10 years based in the UK, but more recently I have found myself working on programs that require some Steadicam use.
I have found myself using a MK-V rig and an Archer, both opened my eyes to a new world of what can be added to productions through using a steadicam. And also that I could do with some training.

But I have several jobs this year that require me to own a rig and I have about £8000 to spend on one but can't workout what to get, it would need to be able to fly panasonic varicams, with matte box, possibly a follow focus rig etc, at a minimum and if it could handle a red as well that would be great.

I have looked at Flyers,Glidecam, floatcam fc12 and fc14 but struggling to find more options I would be happy to look at second hand rigs as well.

I'd really appreciate some advice
All the best

Mark
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#2 Thomas K. Jensen

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Posted 22 January 2010 - 06:35 AM

Hello everyone,

I am new to this forum and find myself here in need of advice.
I have been a wildlife documentary cameraman for over 10 years based in the UK, but more recently I have found myself working on programs that require some Steadicam use.
I have found myself using a MK-V rig and an Archer, both opened my eyes to a new world of what can be added to productions through using a steadicam. And also that I could do with some training.

But I have several jobs this year that require me to own a rig and I have about £8000 to spend on one but can't workout what to get, it would need to be able to fly panasonic varicams, with matte box, possibly a follow focus rig etc, at a minimum and if it could handle a red as well that would be great.

I have looked at Flyers,Glidecam, floatcam fc12 and fc14 but struggling to find more options I would be happy to look at second hand rigs as well.

I'd really appreciate some advice
All the best

Mark


Hello Mark.

The most "big" rigs are in the +25000$ price range.
And if you want to fly with the big cameras, you can't do it with less.
I started with a low-budget rig, and it's really not the money worth,
so if I were in your shoes, and had an 8000£ budget, I would take one of the 6 days steadicam workshops, and then I would rent a bigger system to do my steadicam jobs.

For the money you earn by doing steadicam jobs, you can save up money to buy a bigger rig.

Otherwise I think the only rig in the 8000£ range, is the Tiffen Steadicam Flyer?
And I don't know if that will fly Varicam with mattebox and follow focus?

Thomas :-)
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#3 Mark Schlicher

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Posted 22 January 2010 - 10:49 AM

The Varicam is almost certainly outside the range of the Flyer when outfitted with mattebox (rails?), etc. Technically I don't think you can/should fly a totally stripped Varicam on a Flyer. RED One is also outside the Flyer's range in many configurations that might be thrust upon you.

Might be able to "get away with it" but you would always be bumping up against the limitations of the rig, and making compromises or apologizing to production. Not good.

Archer2 is the bare minimum rig I would consider if I were you...but Thomas's advice is excellent. A Workshop will not only ground you in the proper technique but will give you a chance to try out all of Tiffen's rigs. In the meantime, keep renting.

Don't forget to budget for the cost of accessories.
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#4 Thomas K. Jensen

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Posted 22 January 2010 - 12:17 PM

The Varicam is almost certainly outside the range of the Flyer when outfitted with mattebox (rails?), etc. Technically I don't think you can/should fly a totally stripped Varicam on a Flyer. RED One is also outside the Flyer's range in many configurations that might be thrust upon you.

Might be able to "get away with it" but you would always be bumping up against the limitations of the rig, and making compromises or apologizing to production. Not good.

Archer2 is the bare minimum rig I would consider if I were you...but Thomas's advice is excellent. A Workshop will not only ground you in the proper technique but will give you a chance to try out all of Tiffen's rigs. In the meantime, keep renting.

Don't forget to budget for the cost of accessories.


But the archer2 is well over £8000 - actually it's like twice as much for the basic model w/o accessories.
So yeah, renting the gear would be the best solution.

Edited by Thomas K. Jensen, 22 January 2010 - 12:23 PM.

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#5 Mark MacEwen

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Posted 22 January 2010 - 04:55 PM

Thanks to all the response, all advice was very welcome.
I am looking into course's and there seem to be several good ones out there, and I intend to get on one as soon as i can.
As for the rigs I can see that for the sort of cameras I'd be looking to fly I would be hard pushed to get a rig to take that sort of weight and I may need to revise my budget and look about for a second hand Archer. For the sort of work I do I feel I'd need to own the kit, as much of my work is in jungles or extreme locations for 4-6 weeks at a time and the rig would only be used for a few of those days, but need to be there for the whole shoot.
Thanks again for any and all advice
All the best

Mark
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#6 Thomas K. Jensen

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Posted 22 January 2010 - 06:49 PM

Thanks to all the response, all advice was very welcome.
I am looking into course's and there seem to be several good ones out there, and I intend to get on one as soon as i can.
As for the rigs I can see that for the sort of cameras I'd be looking to fly I would be hard pushed to get a rig to take that sort of weight and I may need to revise my budget and look about for a second hand Archer. For the sort of work I do I feel I'd need to own the kit, as much of my work is in jungles or extreme locations for 4-6 weeks at a time and the rig would only be used for a few of those days, but need to be there for the whole shoot.
Thanks again for any and all advice
All the best

Mark


Mark.

The Archer2 system is pretty nice. It's very compact and packs up in one hard case.
And I think that the Archer2, even with the G-40 arm, is capable of flying the load of Varicam with mattebox and follow focus.
The price starts at $24900

Try to read this thread by Chris Fawcett.
He has a lot of experience with both Archers.
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#7 chris fawcett

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Posted 23 January 2010 - 02:37 AM

I have several jobs this year that require me to own a rig and I have about £8000 to spend on one but can't workout what to get, it would need to be able to fly panasonic varicams, with matte box, possibly a follow focus rig etc, at a minimum and if it could handle a red as well that would be great.

Hi Mark,

Even the original Flyer will carry that package, but only just, with a clip-on matte box, and a lightweight motor. The limit is just under 9 kg, or around 19 lb. The new Flyers carry a little more, though I can't remember how much (LE owners?) You remove the viewfinder from the camera to keep the weight down, and if it's still top heavy, you find an alternative to the quick-release betacam plate. Search the forum, there's a lot of info here on this subject.

It's a great beginner rig, and the only one in your price range worth considering. Follow the advice to get a workshop. It's not an option.

All the best,

Chris
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#8 Brian Freesh

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Posted 23 January 2010 - 12:18 PM

I have several jobs this year that require me to own a rig and I have about £8000 to spend on one but can't workout what to get, it would need to be able to fly panasonic varicams, with matte box, possibly a follow focus rig etc, at a minimum and if it could handle a red as well that would be great.

Hi Mark,

Even the original Flyer will carry that package, but only just, with a clip-on matte box, and a lightweight motor. The limit is just under 9 kg, or around 19 lb. The new Flyers carry a little more, though I can't remember how much (LE owners?) You remove the viewfinder from the camera to keep the weight down, and if it's still top heavy, you find an alternative to the quick-release betacam plate. Search the forum, there's a lot of info here on this subject.

It's a great beginner rig, and the only one in your price range worth considering. Follow the advice to get a workshop. It's not an option.

All the best,

Chris


Actually, it's the LE with the 19lb limit and the original Flyer was 15. I found it relatively safe, and very easy, to get the original Flyer loaded with 18 lbs of camera, and more if I really wanted to push it. As I'm likely replacing it in the coming months with an LE, we'll see if I'm willing to push it further...
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#9 RonBaldwin

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Posted 23 January 2010 - 02:45 PM

Hey Brian,
Don't know if you remember but tha camera I was flying on Dullhouse was the new varicam. I had it pretty loaded up and it was still under 30 lbs. I can't imagine ever getting this camera less than 20 lbs though (with even a lw lens, mattebox, motor and plate). The quick release plates (especially the pos panavision came up with) are a bit on the heavy side if you're counting ounces and raise the camera much higher than they need to be.

rb
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#10 chris fawcett

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Posted 26 January 2010 - 09:56 AM

Frequent Flyers,

The new Varicams have 4.2 kg (9 lb 4 oz) bodies. I don't think it's so hard to keep the total weight within the Flyer's limits. I stand by that previous max-out figure of 19 lb for the original Flyer. I just flew an SR3 on a 1st generation Flyer with Bartek and a Heden motor (8.8 kg 19 lb 8 oz). There was just enough capacity left over for a clip-on matte box, but we didn't have the right rings :(

You are right to point out the recommended weight capacity of 15 lbs. If you regularly exceed this, you will probably get reported to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Steadicams.

All the best,

Chris
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#11 Brian Freesh

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Posted 26 January 2010 - 11:56 AM

Frequent Flyers,

The new Varicams have 4.2 kg (9 lb 4 oz) bodies. I don't think it's so hard to keep the total weight within the Flyer's limits. I stand by that previous max-out figure of 19 lb for the original Flyer. I just flew an SR3 on a 1st generation Flyer with Bartek and a Heden motor (8.8 kg 19 lb 8 oz). There was just enough capacity left over for a clip-on matte box, but we didn't have the right rings :(

You are right to point out the recommended weight capacity of 15 lbs. If you regularly exceed this, you will probably get reported to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Steadicams.

All the best,

Chris


Thought you were talking about Tifffen's limits. If you're talking about actual limitations, I suppose it's subjective until it breaks! I had an SR3 on my 2nd Gen Flyer on Thursday, weighing in about the same (with a clip on matte box and filter) and had another 5-6 lbs before hitting my limit of balance/arm tension. However, just cause I COULD do a 25lb camera, didn't mean I wanted to.

Ron,

I'm not familiar with the show you're speaking of (maybe you just spilled lisigav on the keyboard?), but I do remember you using a Varicam on another show recently. Though i've never made claim to be able to get a Varicam under 20lbs, I agree with Chris, it's certainly possible, as the body weighs the same as a Red One. Clairmont has a plate you'd probably love as well, for flying ENG cameras. Light, thin, strong, and doesn't wiggle.
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#12 RonBaldwin

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Posted 26 January 2010 - 01:28 PM

I was just flying it at about 28/29 lbs for five months and I guess I just can't see shaving 9/10 lbs off that thing and it still being useable on a set. I understand that by losing the camwave, idx battery, preston motor/rods, cinetape, arf + filter, lens support bracket and clock-it box might shave off 7...maybe 8 lbs with a full moon -- then going with a lighter zoom or using primes might save another 2 to 4 lbs) but it's a naked camera with no aks...

However, I will have to defer to you guys with how light the varicam can be...you have way more experience with it than I do (and hopefully a better experience). It's a camra I will no doubt be seeing again and I will have to experiment with going ultra light and aks-less.

I'll have to check out some of the mounting plates mentioned in this and other threads. The Panavion plate was solid and relatively light weight, but raised the camera about an inch higher than it should have been (another consideration for smaller/lighter sleds)

rb
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#13 William Demeritt

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Posted 26 January 2010 - 02:38 PM

Mark, out of curiosity, are you saying you currently have £8000 cash available to purchase the rig? Or is that the expected take at the end of your jobs?
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#14 Jerry Holway

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Posted 26 January 2010 - 04:53 PM

Mark,

Do you have 8,000£ available in total or can you use most of that as a down payment and pay off on the rig you seem to really need?


I suggest looking into financing as you seem to have a filmmaking career and income, and the real risk of buying a bigger rig is rather small, especially if you buy used.

You can always sell it if either your career takes off and you need/desire something else, or if you no longer can afford the payments. (How many rigs has Mr. Starling gone through - already)... If you do well, you can also pay off the loan faster, reducing the real cost of the rig.

Regardless, good luck. It's always a big decision.

Jerry
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#15 Brian Freesh

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Posted 26 January 2010 - 05:14 PM

I was just flying it at about 28/29 lbs for five months and I guess I just can't see shaving 9/10 lbs off that thing and it still being useable on a set. I understand that by losing the camwave, idx battery, preston motor/rods, cinetape, arf + filter, lens support bracket and clock-it box might shave off 7...maybe 8 lbs with a full moon -- then going with a lighter zoom or using primes might save another 2 to 4 lbs) but it's a naked camera with no aks...

However, I will have to defer to you guys with how light the varicam can be...you have way more experience with it than I do (and hopefully a better experience). It's a camra I will no doubt be seeing again and I will have to experiment with going ultra light and aks-less.

I'll have to check out some of the mounting plates mentioned in this and other threads. The Panavion plate was solid and relatively light weight, but raised the camera about an inch higher than it should have been (another consideration for smaller/lighter sleds)

rb


From your perspective, I totally see why it seems odd. It indeed would have to be pretty naked to use on a Flyer or Flyer LE safely. Without weighing anything, my assumption would be: Camera, prime, clip-on matte (maybe with a filter), BFD (or other one channel wireless motor set-up), and maybe an SD video transmitter. And that last bit might even go at the bottom of the rig with cables running to it. I've had to do this kind of set-up now for Red One, SR2, and SR3. While I'd certainly prefer to have more gak to make the shoot easier/shots better/etc.., I'm in a lower budget market for now and they can't afford it, so don't expect it anyway. Meanwhile, my body thanks me for now.

Also, Mark: what Jerry said regarding financing, it's something I'm thinking about right now as well.
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