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The Panaglide

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#1 Rich Cottrell

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Posted 30 June 2010 - 02:57 PM

A friend who I used to work with is currently doing a tv documentary for A&E on the movie Halloween.

They have done interviews with Dean Cundey ASC already, but the logistics for interviewing Raymond Stella did not work out.

I got a call from my friend the other day and he had one very specific question, but I am still not sure on the answer, so i was hoping someone [maybe Eric or Erwin] would have this written down someplace.

His question was:
“How much does a Panaglide weigh fully loaded?”

I am not sure how they hope to use this info for the documentary. My guess is they just want to mention the amount of weight that the operator [Ray Stella] had to wear for the opening shot of Halloween.
I dug through my limited stuff, but I came up short…

I found one old post from the 2003 forum that said:
"... from ASC manual & Samuelson's)
Camera Weights
Panaglide 15 lbs. (6.8 kg)"

I do not know if that was meaning the sled or the Panavision camera that was part of the sled. I think that is the weight of the “panaglide” camera with no film or lens and I do not think that includes the sled…

My friend did get a photo of Ray Stella in the Panaglide from the set of Halloween. I do not think this photo has been posted on the net before, so enjoy…
Notice that the monitor is on top with the camera much like that picture of Prince Charles in the panaglide, only now we can see the full sled. It looks huge and long!

I combed through the Steadicam Letters to try to get more info on the Panaglide, but I guess due to the fact that they ripped Garrett and CP off, there is not a lot of into in print. But the fact remains, the Panaglides were used on many, many movies.

I talked with Janice Arthur who flew a Panaglide on a film or two. She remembers using the panaglide on her master series arm with it fully cranked, so that places the sled, lens and camera around 60 to 65 lbs fully loaded.

But now that I have tried to find this out, for archival purposes, I would love to find the weights of:
The sled
The vest
The arm
And what was the weight range of the Panaglide’s arm?

Maybe some of our living masters remember working with the Panaglide?
It seems people did not like the arm or gimbal, but the 24 volt was nice... and the Panavision camera was light too.
So how was the monitor? Did anyone ever take a big spill with one?

Either way, we will soon have another TV documentary to watch about the making of a movie... Halloween.

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#2 Erwin Landau

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Posted 30 June 2010 - 04:24 PM

All my archives are stuck at Customs... but:

Rich, I send you a PM.

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#3 Stefano Ben

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Posted 30 June 2010 - 07:28 PM

Hi everyone!

This is another interesting photo about the Panaglide on "Ghostbusters" Set in 1984 but I think it's another model than the other one, used in Halloween (1978).

Enjoy it!

Your Steve "Slimer" Ben

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#4 nealnorton


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Posted 02 July 2010 - 08:20 AM

Hi Rich:

The Panaglide camera was very light. Along with the sled it was the lightest sound camera steadicam option available then. Without the big 24v battery the sled weighed very little. Many operators had adaptor parts in order to use our own CP gimbals. I never saw the Panaglide arm or vest but I was told they were really bad. The little B&W monitor was tiny.

From memory, the Panaglide camera was far lighter than a LW2 camera. Maybe about the same as a Millenium XL.

Neal Norton
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#5 Erwin Landau

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Posted 02 July 2010 - 09:58 AM

The Panaglide Arm...

Here some pix of the Spring loaded version... I haven't seen the Gas shock one as of yet.

Single hinge, even though it has the ability to be used as a double hinge, but one side is screwed in depending on which side of the operator it is mounted...

No Socket Block, it's mounted directly onto the vest spar...

No cables... in some ways they where way ahead of CP... and in others... oh well

Attached File  Panaglide-Arm01.jpg   162.04KB   301 downloads
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#6 Erwin Landau

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Posted 02 July 2010 - 10:01 AM

And one more....
Attached File  Panaglide-Arm-02.jpg   172.33KB   154 downloads
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#7 Charles Papert

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Posted 02 July 2010 - 01:46 PM

I worked with John Carpenter on a feature last year. For weeks he referred to my rig as the Panaglide--it had a nice nostalgic ring so I didn't say anything about it for a while! Eventually I told John that the Panaglide was long gone, which was a surprise to him. He told me that he and Dean Cundey both tried it on at Panavision before filming of "Halloween" began and neither could manage it--he said it was extremely uncomfortable. No doubt that was due to the design of the vest, which I'd always heard was not good.

Regarding that Ghostbusters still--that's Larry in the rig on that one, right? If I recall Teddy did most of the movie but Larry did the scenes at Columbia. Mr. McC?
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#8 Josip Pavelic

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Posted 02 July 2010 - 07:18 PM

...and that thing seems pretty ugly also, but that doesn't mean that it wasn't used for some great and legendary steady shots (was it and which?). :unsure:
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#9 Russell McElhatton

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Posted 04 July 2010 - 01:30 PM

I worked extensively with the Panaglide as an assistant. I flew it too but don't think I ever made a production shot with it.
Mentor Dennis Smith let the eager young assistant wear himself out doing rehearsals! The Halloween pic with Ray was a prototype
with the Panaglide vest and arm. The arm was a gas shock version to avoid patent infringement. It was a disaster. The spring version
brought the threat of lawsuit from Cinema Products. Vest and arm were discontinued and CP agreed to sell vests and arms to Panavision
for rental. The Ghostbusters picture shows the production Panaglide which was very advanced in terms of packaging. Fiberglass (Carbon?same material as the Panpods) post with a single cable inside the the post. Eight pin (?) Lemo carried camera power (24V), accessory power (12V) and video signal from sled base to camera. No upper J box because all power/signal distribution was through the camera body. The WIRED follow focus (you can see the cable between the assistant and operator in the pic) was a very nice motor bundle (focus/iris) snapped in place of the manual follow focus knob that is still in use on Panavision film cameras today. As you can see in the pic the assistant had to carry power for the system as well as loops of cable for the handset. Highly accurate and powerful, but not fast. The x/y system was a pair of large coarse thread lead screws at 90 degrees to each other (Erwin has this array from Bob's package, perhaps a pic Erwin?) which threaded directly into the base of the camera. Other than being dedicated to the lead screw system the camera itself is nearly the same as the LW2 cameras that we still fly. The original video tap was the large box on the camera door that can be seen in the Halloween picture (sans display). The 2 designation came when the updated tap was changed to an older version (B&W) of the Sony tap that is still in use. It was 12v thus the need for 12v power up the post (follow focus supplied its own power up the cable directly to the motor array). Batteries were a single pack that supplied both voltages in one package. Video and camera power were independent of each other. The small B&W (no green originally, later greenscreen) stand alone monitor powered off of the 12V side of the battery through the sled and had an electronic level. I liked the gimbal others did not and brought their own. The other common personal accessories were a Sietz frameline generator velcroed to the sled base and a 5" wrap grip. The monitor mount was an odd arrangement that supported from the sled base itself. Some operators brought their own CP type that grasped the post and I believe Panavision eventually offered their own. When Panavision discontinued the Panglide thay bought 3A sleds from CP and added a second Steadicam battey to the back to supply 24V to the camera. I did fly these, quite piggish. I think it was about this time I bought my own rig!
I am told Panvision eventually destroyed the Panaglide sleds. RIP
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