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Absolute Steadicam Newbie


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#1 Phil Thomas

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Posted 23 February 2011 - 10:36 AM

Hi All,

I'm at UK based camera operator who had a go on a Steadicam (it was an Archer I think) on the Tiffen stand at Broadcast Video Expo in London earlier this month and I loved it!!! I spent only about 5 mins with it on but it seamed to fit me and the way I move well and I had a good time wandering around with it trying not to take peoples faces off with the camera at the busy expo. Anyway so I really want to learn more and get into the steadicam way, after spending all day so far reading various threads on this forum I've ordered the Steadicam Operators Handbook and want to get myself on a course, preferably quite a comprehensive one. I think I'd like to do live broadcast with a steadicam, sports etc so would be using it with racked OB camera rather than film cameras.

Do you guys have any suggestions of good courses to take in the UK for steadicams upto the range that could take a OB camera with wireless? I'm not sure on weights etc whether the Archer would be suitable or if you'd need one of the bigger ones. I've read on this forum that operating all of the mid and large sized rigs are pretty similar skillswise but if I were to do a course I'd obviously like it to cover the range that I'd be most likely using, for setup and fimiliarity purposes.

Also how long would the steadicam operator generally be expected to wear the rig for without a break? Say if doing sports, if being pitchside cam for a football (soccer) match, would the operator generally wear it for the whole 45mins plus match intro/celebrations with only a break during half time, or would they take breaks during the half? Like I've said I've only worn one for about 5mins so have no idea how the fatigue would manifest itself.

Thanks for your help and any other tips and advice for an absolute beginner would be much appreciated.

Cheers
Phil Thomas
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#2 James Davis

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Posted 23 February 2011 - 12:44 PM

Hi All,

I'm at UK based camera operator who had a go on a Steadicam (it was an Archer I think) on the Tiffen stand at Broadcast Video Expo in London earlier this month and I loved it!!! I spent only about 5 mins with it on but it seamed to fit me and the way I move well and I had a good time wandering around with it trying not to take peoples faces off with the camera at the busy expo. Anyway so I really want to learn more and get into the steadicam way, after spending all day so far reading various threads on this forum I've ordered the Steadicam Operators Handbook and want to get myself on a course, preferably quite a comprehensive one. I think I'd like to do live broadcast with a steadicam, sports etc so would be using it with racked OB camera rather than film cameras.

Do you guys have any suggestions of good courses to take in the UK for steadicams upto the range that could take a OB camera with wireless? I'm not sure on weights etc whether the Archer would be suitable or if you'd need one of the bigger ones. I've read on this forum that operating all of the mid and large sized rigs are pretty similar skillswise but if I were to do a course I'd obviously like it to cover the range that I'd be most likely using, for setup and fimiliarity purposes.

Also how long would the steadicam operator generally be expected to wear the rig for without a break? Say if doing sports, if being pitchside cam for a football (soccer) match, would the operator generally wear it for the whole 45mins plus match intro/celebrations with only a break during half time, or would they take breaks during the half? Like I've said I've only worn one for about 5mins so have no idea how the fatigue would manifest itself.

Thanks for your help and any other tips and advice for an absolute beginner would be much appreciated.

Cheers
Phil Thomas


Would highly recommend these guys for equipment purchases/rental/workshops, www.opticalsupport.co.uk

Absolutely fantastic in all respects, tell Marina James and Matt recommended you :)
Can't recommend them enough for all things steadicam, there's nothing they can't do/fix/help you with, their knowledge is exceptional, and their workshops are fantastic, and of course if you are willing to spend the money you can get:
Pete "Academy award winning atonement steadicam shot" Robertson in for a workshop, who is by all accounts a rather awesome steadicam operator.

Edited by James Davis, 23 February 2011 - 12:44 PM.

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#3 James Davis

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Posted 23 February 2011 - 12:54 PM

Oh as for your other questions I honestly wouldn't know for a football match as I have never done one, but generally I try to dock the rig and take rest opportunities wherever possible/feasible, or rest the sled in the "rest position" on my shoulder to alleviate the load on the muscles you use, depending on the type of shots that I am expected to do, stair shots for instance are really tiring.....especially if you are running.... or moving fast then you want to make sure you take adequate rest between takes where possible, but for slow speed tracking shots for instance, I would say you can do numerous takes without getting too tired, depending on the complexity of the shot.
Overall I think fatigue, tiredness, etc is totally dependent on your level of fitness, technique, payload on the rig, and the amount of time you have been operating, so its really difficult to give much specific feedback on that to be honest.
When you do your first workshop it will give you a feel for how tiring an average days work would be as you will spend a lot of time in the rig, and you will know or should know at that point if you want to take things further.

James
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#4 Robert Wall

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Posted 23 February 2011 - 11:42 PM

Would highly recommend these guys for equipment purchases/rental/workshops, www.opticalsupport.co.uk

Absolutely fantastic in all respects, tell Marina James and Matt recommended you :)
Can't recommend them enough for all things steadicam, there's nothing they can't do/fix/help you with, their knowledge is exceptional, and their workshops are fantastic, and of course if you are willing to spend the money you can get:
Pete "Academy award winning atonement steadicam shot" Robertson in for a workshop, who is by all accounts a rather awesome steadicam operator.



Also with those folks is the "other" Peter at the workshops, Peter Cavaciuti, who must surely be one of the best operators in the world, I've had the pleasure of working with him, and I don't even live in the UK!. So it seems you couldn't possibly go wrong with stopping by.
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#5 Phil Thomas

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Posted 25 February 2011 - 03:27 PM

Hi,

Thanks for your advice, I had been looking at courses from Optical Support, so it's good to know that they run ones that are worth doing. If anyone else knows of any other courses in the UK that are worth looking into as well that'd be great.

As for amount of time in the rig, I completely understand the variables of fitness, technique etc can have on fatigue so I'm going to get going on fitness training concentrating on my core muscles. However, if anyone out there has done any sports work with a steadicam I would be still interested to know what was expected of them from the producers/directors in terms of length of time in the rig and how long they actually spent in it, or where they found to take breaks.

Thanks
Phil
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