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Newbie - what is a sensible strategy to fly RED ONE?


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#1 Fabian Alexander Aust

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Posted 21 August 2010 - 06:39 AM

Hi folks,

I'd like to get into the steadicam business and i've figured that it would be a clever move to build a rig that can easily fly a RED ONE, since a lot of jobs in my area and in those genres i'm interested in (commercials, music videos, tv-features, low budget features) are shot on the RED and it's getting more and more and honestly, i think RED is the future; at least for a couple of years to come. ARRI's Alexa has the same sensor as the RED ONE MX but costs double rental rates, SI2K is a rarity here and doesn't seem to attract a lot of DPs, other digital cinema cameras virtually don't exist here.

I guess it's pretty normal that lets say a MB-14 matte box gets replaced with a clamp-on without too much objection from the camera crew. I also guess that people understand they can't have their master zoom on my steady rig. And i guess most people won't object replacing the RED harddrive with my own 16GB CF cards as they give the same performance fps-wise and are only restricted capacity-wise. So what i need to satisfy most productions here is to fly a RED with CF card instead of harddrive, powered from the sled, with at most 2.8 kg lenses (lightweight zooms, RED primes, master primes etc), a clamp-on matte box, a RED lcd, follow focus and video transmitter, basically.

Now i'm pretty open for everything that can satisfy those needs, but in general, i would love to own a cinema products/tiffen rig simply because of the advantage the name gives you and the pro-look on the set. I think i'd also prefer a used, older but bigger/more professional rig over the latest rig brandnew. basically. but, i'm open to all you guys views on these topics.

So in a nutshell, i would love to hear you guys suggestions on what to buy, given the factors above. I'm in germany, so while i understand that it may be standard procedure to buy, resell, buy etc, it's a little bit more complicated for me since the german steadicam marketplace is small and dealing with people in the US is just so much more hustle. Also, i do not have any budget, no number i can give you guys. I'm open to hear suggestions that make sense, and if i see something that makes sense to me and that solution is like 30.000 EUR that just tells me how much i gotta make to make my move.

Many thanks in advance for all your help guys!
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#2 Sanjay Sami

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Posted 21 August 2010 - 09:06 AM

i think RED is the future; at least for a couple of years to come.


I hope not !

For your budget I would consider the Archer 2. But remember, remote focus, transmitters, receivers, directors monitors and lets not forget cables !! these can add up to more than the cost of your rig. Do a search on these pages and you will find a great review of the Archer2 by Chris Fawcett.
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#3 Fabian Alexander Aust

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Posted 21 August 2010 - 09:27 AM

i do not have any budget ;)
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#4 Louis Puli SOC

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Posted 21 August 2010 - 09:41 AM

Hi Fabian
Firstly I would love to be a racing driver , an airline pilot or a fireman But with out doing a workshop how are you going to know if you like what you are letting your self in for. (If you have done one Great)

Fabian this forum has a great deal of information on this very subject .Please read through the forum ,do a full 5 day workshop and then after that
you will have most of the answers you will need to make the right decisions on all of your questions.

As for the RED yes it's hot now (and the 5D)then RED will bring out there next camera and so will Canon and everyone else as well .

Your budget will decide on if you buy new or 2nd hand . Knowing where you see your self with in your market and what your market can afford will
tell you if you will get a good return on your total investment.
Good luck.
just my 2cents.
Louis
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#5 Fabian Alexander Aust

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Posted 21 August 2010 - 10:31 AM

i've read a LOT on this forum... and pretty much everywhere on the net where one can find steadicam information.

i've registered my email with the steadicam workshop folks so hopefully it won't be long until i can attend one of the big courses. apart from that, i've been searching the gdmn web desperately for alternative (non-tiffen) workshops in germany, but i couldn't find anything yet. i realise this is a very imortant.

however, attending a 5 day WS is a costly thing so you could also put that into the "investment" category. now, how do you decide to engage in the steadicam profession BEFORE that workshop? what's the decision-making process to subscribe to a WS in the first place?? correct, it's FEELING that this could be the right kind of job for a person. evaluating all the information, experiences from other filmbiz jobs and finishing it with a good deal of scepticism here and there but some creativity and optimism also. i honestly believe i have proceeded on that route quite a bit already.

now, i definitely want to buy used unless i see a lot of convincing reasons against it. but on this forum, it seems that most people are quite happy with their used gear and, judging from photos in the MP section, people are looking very well after their equipment. what i wanted to express is: i see master series rigs here and they are much cheaper than the modern rigs, i'm talking all used here. i don't know, but i GUESS on a 5 day WS they won't bring old master series rigs would they? i rather think they will try to make you dig their new rigs so they can sell them. that's normal, hey. it would be very interesting to hear opinions about old vs new rigs.

budget. as i've mentioned before, i do not have any budget. i'm a normal person, struggling through everyday live with film jobs and i never started putting money aside on a regular basis. why should i? i DO know that steadicam is expensive. i DO know that you always get what you pay for, you don't have to be a genius to know that, it applies to everything. but i also know that i don't want to fly HDV cameras or DSLRs. i just don't want to. so this thread is a step in my personal process of deciding if steadicam operator is a future for me or not. please... don't criticize me because i'm not willing to start small. but i can't help it. i just don't want to. because i also know what kind of projects shoot HDV cameras or DSLRs. and i don't want to make participating in those projects the foundation of my carreer, even if that's just for a couple of years. and if, in the end, i come to realize that steadicam operator on the level i'm talking about will never be reality for me, i got some other options for my future and i will be very happy with them just as well.
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#6 Andrew Stone

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Posted 21 August 2010 - 10:44 AM

Attending a 5 day WS is a costly thing so you could also put that into the "investment" category...how do you decide to engage in the steadicam profession BEFORE that workshop?



You don't. Embarking on a career as a Steadicam Operator will cost you WELL in excess of $100,000. Well in excess, yes. If you are not comfortable with dropping $3,000 to $10,000 on a regular basis, you aren't ready yet.

Taking a $3,000 course can effectively save you $30,000+ dollars should you decide the career isn't for you, right at the start rather than selling your rig, accessories and larger vehicle (that you need to haul the gear) 2 years down the road.

It is clear to me that you have not properly digested the material on this forum and that you need to take a course.
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#7 Sanjay Sami

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Posted 21 August 2010 - 10:47 AM

I'm open to hear suggestions that make sense, and if i see something that makes sense to me and that solution is like 30.000 EUR that just tells me how much i gotta make to make my move.

Many thanks in advance for all your help guys!


I'm sorry but I misunderstood a few things. I thought THAT was your budget. I also thought you were already an operator. I think you may need to analyse whether this makes sense financially or not. As Louis says, the workshop is the first step. But I believe 30,000/- Euro will be the bare minimum you will need to invest to fly serious cameras and accessories. I have never flown a Red or any Digital camera yet (I work in an archaic market where no one trusts digital yet) but the Archer 2 I think will be at least what you need.
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#8 Fabian Alexander Aust

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Posted 21 August 2010 - 10:50 AM

i appreciate your direct words. of yyourse i need the workshop and i want it. sorry i didn't make that more clear...
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#9 Jens Piotrowski SOC

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Posted 21 August 2010 - 11:55 AM

"ARRI's Alexa has the same sensor as the RED ONE MX"

is this a satire piece...?
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#10 Fabian Alexander Aust

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Posted 21 August 2010 - 12:36 PM

that's what a rental person told me. they have a lot of RED ONEs, some upgraded to MX sensor, and they also have Alexas already. seemed to me like that guy knew what he was talking about... if it's not correct, i'd be extremely happy to be educated on this, since neither the RED or Arri digital homepages are telling a lot about sensor technology

Edited by Fabian Alexander Aust, 21 August 2010 - 12:40 PM.

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#11 Charles Papert

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Posted 21 August 2010 - 12:39 PM

Fabian:

When you come to the Steadicam Forum and say "I know everyone does it like this but I'm going to do it differently because I have a plan and want to stick to it", obviously you are going to invite anywhere from criticism to advice to disdain. After all, these are people who have achieved what you are looking to do, and have an understanding of the process and how it works. Further, many have mentored or instructed novice operators and tracked their progress so again--this is going to be a tough crowd to sell!

When you say "I don't want to fly DSLR's and HDV cameras", you must realize that while it is true that while these are the tools of low-budget productions, they (in particular the DSLR's) are finding their way into mainstream production as well. This year I have done many, many jobs as a DP and Steadicam operator with the DSLR's; I'm not going to say they all paid my rate but I did fine, and some of them were quite sizeable in scope and for legitimate production. Being something of a specialist with them got me hired as a go-to guy on commercials, corporates, promos, music videos; I was recommended to some of those jobs as a Steadicam operator specifically because the AC's told the DP that I had it all dialed in. This is very similar to what is going on with those who have gotten into 3D flying; they are getting referrals amongst that world. I have had a few calls that started with "have you done 3D"? and when my response is no, they simply move on. When you turn down that spec commercial on the 5D because you aren't interested, how will you feel when that same director doesn't bother calling you for the good rate commercial he is shooting the next week on the very same camera?

The point of that is that success as a Steadicam operator is a combination of a large number of factors, one of which is the ability to configure and adapt to all kinds of cameras and shooting setups. Ten years ago, that meant you were familiar with and had all the appropriate components and cables to handle film cameras from all the major manufacturers (Arri, Panavision, Aaton, Moviecam) and a generic category of "video camera". Now the video end has exploded into a wide range of digital cameras of all shapes and sizes, and to be ahead of the game you have to be able to handle any of them from big to small.

It is simply not good foresight to assume that RED is going to be your bread and butter, because life has a sense of humor and the unexpected is more likely to happen than not! Your first big job may just as easily be a 7D, or an SI2K, or a 435, or just about anything else.

Be open-minded as you plan your attack. When you are starting out, you will need tons of practice (no getting around that); not just walking around your house but being on set, working as a Steadicam operator and learning the ins and outs of solving problems one shot at a time. "Starting small" is actually quite important; the jobs may be crappy and the pay even worse but you will need time to make mistakes and learn your craft, and that's a good place to do it, where the stakes are lower. One of the worst things you can do is jump into a higher-end job before you are ready, because you can make a bad impression that will close a door (or multiple doors--consider a DP, director and production company all crossing your name off their lists) forever. Relationships are the cornerstone of building a successful career.

There are many options for you in full-size rigs. Tiffen's current ones are great; older Steadicams have their pros and cons. Plenty of other possibilities out there as well. Yes, buying overseas is a pain (as is selling) but if you want your Euros to go as far as possible, you might want to consider it.

BE OPEN-MINDED.
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#12 Fabian Alexander Aust

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Posted 21 August 2010 - 01:07 PM

please ignore my last post it was an attempt to edit another post going awry...



i see all those points. i really understand that. however, i have spent some time in the biz and i'm a late bloomer in what i do now anyway, so i really gotta hurry, no matter what professional route i may choose to focus on. it's not that i would never ever do a DSLR job! i just don't want to be limited to that, because my rig can't fly anything else. and as a matter of fact, even the most underbudgeted projects are shot on RED here, so it is in a way a must to be able to fly that thing. that's simply the big consideration in my head.

i know that what i'm writing here may annoy some people, but i just can't help it, that's what i'm feeling and i believe one of the most important things in our biz is to love what you do.

some may think i'm not an open minded gyu, but in fact i am, very much. your posts definitely affect me and make me think... that's EXACTLY why i posted this thread! but you won't hear me recap politically correct statements that i've read somewhere, knowing they will bring me respect of the community or something like that. i'm just telling what's on my mind, straight. and if someone shows me that i'm totally wrong, by giving convincing arguments, i'll be the very first to bow and change my mind and accept all that...
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#13 William Demeritt

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Posted 21 August 2010 - 08:12 PM

however, attending a 5 day WS is a costly thing so you could also put that into the "investment" category. now, how do you decide to engage in the steadicam profession BEFORE that workshop? what's the decision-making process to subscribe to a WS in the first place?? correct, it's FEELING that this could be the right kind of job for a person.


I would disagree, since my interest in pursuing Steadicam wasn't just an infatuation I developed looking at photos of operators wearing their rigs, nor something I developed watching my first Steadicam operator work. Granted, I hadn't worked in the industry for long (I'm still probably a baby), but I had gone through film school, graduated as a DP, interned at Panavision Florida, and operated on student projects (film and digital). Everything came together when I simply asked a Steadicam operator I was working with (the talented and generous Phil Martinez... it's all his fault!) if I could fly his rig (Clipper 24 with a Panavision Elaine).

Only after wearing a rig did I decide where I wanted to be.

The investment costs tens of thousands, be it a lightweight rig or a full package. Bigger deal = bigger investment. Compare that cost to a $3,000 week-long workshop. Perhaps even a 1 day Merlin or Pilot workshop costing a fraction of that? Investment isn't always to make you money. Sometimes, it's to save you money by educating you and saving you from making another bad investment.

So, I'd offer this option as a strategy: why not contact a Steadicam operator somewhere nearby, and ask to come assist him for a day (for free), and as compensation, he show you the ropes? Let you wear the rig and see if you "catch the bug".

Also, in regard to the RED, I just want to remind you that, even in the slimmest configuration that still "works", it's still a heavy camera. The minimum you're looking at is an Archer2 or something comparable with a 20-30lbs payload.
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#14 Thomas K. Jensen

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Posted 22 August 2010 - 01:15 AM

I know that there is a 5 day workshop comming up in Denmark, Copenhagen.
And I Think that it Will be Mr. Holway who will be the main teacher, along with some other fine steadicam operators.
You can try to contact the Danish dealer, JPM Hofmann - www.hofmann.dk
They are the ones who are setting up the workshop.

Thomas
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#15 Fabian Alexander Aust

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Posted 22 August 2010 - 07:07 AM

So, I'd offer this option as a strategy: why not contact a Steadicam operator somewhere nearby, and ask to come assist him for a day (for free), and as compensation, he show you the ropes? Let you wear the rig and see if you "catch the bug".

that sounds like a great idea!

I know that there is a 5 day workshop comming up in Denmark, Copenhagen.
And I Think that it Will be Mr. Holway who will be the main teacher, along with some other fine steadicam operators.
You can try to contact the Danish dealer, JPM Hofmann - www.hofmann.dk
They are the ones who are setting up the workshop.

Thomas

that sounds good too!

thanks guys!
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