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what made u buy your rig?

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#1 robert weldoff

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Posted 12 February 2011 - 01:39 AM


i was wondering what made other operators buy their specific rig/arm/sled etc?

i.e what was the biggest selling point that u felt "i need to have that"
e.g ultra's motorized stage, or xcs's electronis, PRO's modularity etc etc

im not asking to compare rigs (as im sure this has been discussed :) but just wondering
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#2 Mike McGowan SOC

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Posted 12 February 2011 - 02:19 AM

At the time, the PRO was the only rig all the big dog's used, that was 1998. The two I've bought since were because they make me a lot of money and I didn't see any reason to mess with success.
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#3 Tomas Riuka

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Posted 12 February 2011 - 04:17 AM

Mk-V Nexus, mostly because it's future proof with AR, also love the design in general.
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#4 James Davis

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Posted 12 February 2011 - 07:09 AM

Me and my Business partner bought an archer 1, because it was the cheapest good quality rig we could afford that would carry cameras in the weight range we anticipated working within, and it seemed like a good price from a reliable company who we knew maintained their gear well.
So far so good, did my first steadicam job on red with it the other day, good to know the limitations of the rig, how to overcome them, and what to do for next time (without compromising shot quality on the day obviously), so now it looks like we will be doing some minor/major customization to the rig, either a second battery bracket, or a whole new battery hanger, we are undecided at present, probably followed soon after by a gimbal and/or 2 inch post upgrade, and in all likelihood a topstage upgrade too!
The electronics of the camera are perfect for what we do, we never shoot on film or anticipate the need to, and with Red/Alexa/Sony FM3 etc all running off of 12-24v power supplies we think they will probably do us for a while to come, and by that point if we have to upgrade the electronics, at least it will probably make financial sense to do so :=)
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#5 brooksrobinson


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Posted 12 February 2011 - 10:26 AM

I currently own two XCS Ultimate 1 sleds. Before that, I had a Pro 1 that performed well for 11 years. Before that, I had two Cinema Products Model 2’s which flew extremely well after some Bob Derose modifications, but were prone to not turn on when I flicked the on/off switch on the monitor.

I switched from the CP rigs as soon as the Pro was out in the open and a known entity. All of the big-time feature operators had made the switch, and it didn’t require much thought to know what direction to move. Most of the reason for my switch at the time was dependability (obviously), the ability to use a superpost, the ease of using gyros, and customer service that compared to CP, was flawless. G.P.I. was the only logical choice.

When it came time for me to buy a new sled four years ago, there were several major considerations that were vitally important to me: customer service (obviously, this is one of the most important reasons in our field to buy a product or not), a vendor that was located in Los Angeles (that narrowed it down to Tiffen, XCS, and G.P.I.), and a sled that minimized the potential for flex in the post with heavy cameras as well as possible micro-vibration issues. With HD starting to appear, it was also important that the sled be able to handle whatever power requirements I might encounter.

I found with my Pro 1 that if the post was extended to compensate for heavy cameras (I like the rig to be quite bottom heavy, thus a longer post than most operators), the post was prone to flexing. The superpost was even more prone to flex due to its length. This has been addressed in the newer Pro rigs of course, but that was a big issue for me. The other sled issue I had with my Pro 1 was the Donkey Box 2. It was prone to loosening, and there were several times this happened on a job where I didn’t discover the problem until dailies. It was a simple fix, but I didn’t like the idea of the gear bringing my level of operating down…jobs and clients are hard enough to get, only to lose them because the gear wasn’t able to keep up. Once again, this issue has been addressed with the Donkey Box 3.

The Greg Bubb sled seemed to be a perfect match for me – a local vendor with a flawless customer service track record, and an extremely rigid 2” carbon fiber center post. There are also no adjustment points at the top of the sled (upper platform), so there is no way to have vibration coming from the top stage (the side to side and fore/aft adjustments are at the base of the sled).

So far, it has been a great fit for me. The sled works as advertised and is extremely solid in its build. Nothing rattles. Nothing flexes. It just works…with any camera. I haven’t had an issue powering anything (Genesis, F35, Red, Alexis, 435, whatever) due to the sled’s unique power management system, and correct connectors and internal wires that were designed from the beginning to be future proof and more robust than necessary.

There are a lot of companies all over the world that make quality products. This is good because the competition pushes all of them to make innovative products that help them stand out. I would suggest that if you are looking for a sled, talk to other operators in your area about what they use and why. I’d then look at the vendors that are geographically close and see what they have to offer and what their customer service track record is (very, very important). Look to see if their sleds are a match with the kind of operating you do, or expect to do down the road. Try to look for a sled you won’t outgrow in a short amount of time as it is costly to buy new, sell used, only to buy new again. This forum is a great resource of various opinions and knowledge – take all the comments in – they are all valuable, but some may make more sense in your current situation.

Good luck in your decision!

Brooks Robinson
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#6 Robert Starling SOC

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Posted 12 February 2011 - 12:25 PM

I've owned a Flyer, Clipper 2 and Clipper 24 and am on rig #4 at this point.

Now I own an XCS Ultimate, PRO arm and vest, Transvideo 6" HD SBL Monitor.

The vest is a personal fit thing; my Ultra vest was comfy but I wanted less of the padding thickness and I like the conical shaped waistband of the PRO.

The Transvideo monitor had the features, manufacturing and image quality I wanted for HD and live work.

The PRO arm is pretty much the predominant arm by which other arms are compared at least in the LA film and television market.

The XCS is modular, extremely rigid and Greg will custom build / modify it to your specifications. The XCS and PRO rigs / arms are again very much the predominant rigs in the LA market. His service is exceptional but Tiffen treated me great too.

Many of the ops I know have the XCS / Pro combination which has allowed us to share jobs and fill-in for each other easily by either swapping rigs or components. I was needing someone to fill in for me in Vegas in December and they literally flew-in and used my kit on the job.

There is no denying that in LA film and television the AC's have opinions and preferences in YOUR gear and they have a tremendous influence in the hiring process.

None of this is meant to imply the Tiffen Steadicam rigs are necessarily deficient; my jobs grew out of them and so did I, but I did a ton of great work with them. I could have moved up to a Ultra 2, but the commonality of the modular components for XCS / PRO in the West Coast market was a factor in my decision.

In the beginning I didn't know what I didn't know. In retrospect, I should have tested other rigs, interviewed other operators, researched the equipment demands of my market and simply bought what I should have bought to start with.

In my private workshops I see everything in the range of rigs which gives me a good look at what is out there. For the new operator, Tiffen is a great place to start and stick with through your career until such time if ever that your personal preferences, needs and market dictate changes to your kit.

That's what I think and I'm stickin' to it!

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#7 Sanjay Sami

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Posted 12 February 2011 - 12:26 PM

I used to use a 3A. Now I have an Ultra2 and have found this to be an amazing, flexible rig that enables me to do whatever I need to to get the shot. Brooks advice is about the best advice anyone could give you. He says it better than I possibly could, although I do use a different rig.
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#8 Eric Fletcher S.O.C.

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Posted 13 February 2011 - 01:54 AM

Pro Suit because it what feels best for me.

Pro Arm. Best arm in the Biz. totally bomb proof and FANTASTIC after the sale support

Preston Follow Focus same reason's as the Pro arm.

XCS Ultimate Sled. I have flown every viable major sled on the market over the years. In those years I've owned 10 sleds. Started off with a CP Universal Model 1 (It had a 2" green screen and didn't really do low mode) Progressed to a IIIA. Built a few of my own. Went with a PRO II and when HD and the genocide came along I moved into the XCS Ultimate for the following reasons.

  • Rigidity
  • The ability to power ANYTHING and even do it off of one battery
  • Future proofing
  • Support
  • Innovation
  • Integrity
  • Support

Yes support is in there twice because Greg's is truly unparalleled.

I refuse to allow my equipment to limit my work. I want my gear to be transparent in use. Every other rig out there has some sort of limitation that I don't want to deal with.

Bottom line, try EVERY Rig available. If you've just gone to a workshop you owe it to yourself to try other rigs and talk to other operators. Just because you were taught one way doesn't mean that it's the only way. Put support as high on your consideration list as the way the rig flies. Look at what the predominant rig is in your market, find out WHY it's the predominant rig. Buy the best that you can afford, it's not the place to be saving money (It IS a tax deduction after all) You will end up saving money in the long run buy upgrading less.

In the end the rig that feels right to you and has the features needed is the rig you should use.
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