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#1 invalid username

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Posted 27 February 2011 - 11:11 AM

After spending the past year testing the waters of the Steadicam world, I've made my choice. Being a steadicam op is really what I want to do! So I've spent the last month and a half doing market research, contacting other operators in my area and the likes, and have decided that I'm willing to start out putting $25,000 into everything as a whole.

Now I need the help of you experienced operators to help me figure out exactly where to put this money. What kind of rig (obviously looking at bigger used ones vs smaller new ones), focus system, accessories, workshops and marketing, etc.

I'd like as much upward compatibility as possible so that when I someday move into the big rigs, I won't have to buy everything new.

My market is going to be entirely video cameras (no 35mm here), and it'd surprise me if I ever saw a complete RED ONE w/accessories find it's way into my current market.

Thanks for all the advice! Here's hoping that someday I'll get as good as you all!
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#2 Christopher T. Paul- SOC

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Posted 27 February 2011 - 03:33 PM

This question has been asked and answered here thousands of times. Read up a bit and you'll find what you are looking for.
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#3 Mike McGowan SOC

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Posted 27 February 2011 - 04:16 PM

buy one of the great used rigs being sold right here on this forum.
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#4 Nicholas Davidoff

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Posted 28 February 2011 - 03:54 PM

This question has been asked and answered here thousands of times. Read up a bit and you'll find what you are looking for.


Agreed. All of your questions have been asked and answered dozens of times over. Spend several hours and read all the threads on operating, newbies and rigs. My advice as always, unless you have a specific niche market lined up, don't get into steadicam. If you've done thorough market research, you'll notice there are many more "operators" now than there are job demands. Hence all the great rigs for sale on the forum.

As far as your startup costs, $25,000 is a very meager budget. As you know, you will be limited to flying only lightweight video cameras. I don't know your geographical area, so perhaps light video is a thriving marketplace where you are, but I don't see anybody making a living flying DSLR's and handicams.

Just some friendly advice that I learned on my own. Work is very hard to come by and if you think that other operators in your area will be supportive and excited that you're entering the playing field, then think again.

If, after knowing this you still wanna do it, then more power to you.
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#5 Andrew Stone

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Posted 28 February 2011 - 05:01 PM

Hi Alex,

I know this is going to sound like a broken record but take one of the 6 day workshops. There should be an SOA workshop coming up in May if the enrollment warrants it.

6 months of jonesin' around this forum is not actually all that long to get a sense of the Steadicam biz. Asking the questions the way you are indicates you aren't quite ready, at least in my view, to make some big decisions about how to drop your investment into gear, training, marketing, etc.

Buying used certainly is the way to go. Frankly, if you don't have a smaller rig yet, I think you should seriously entertainment your entrance with one of those but first and foremost is taking a course before you drop money on a rig and then spend some time assimilating what you have learned and then think about serious investment.

You will read this kind of recommendation time and time again in the archives.

What the seasoned Ops before me have said about entering into the big rig Steadicam world should be taken very seriously. Spending $25 grand on what you outlined will have you scrambling to make more big purchases should you start to get big rig work.
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#6 Tom Wills

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Posted 28 February 2011 - 10:31 PM

Agreed. All of your questions have been asked and answered dozens of times over. Spend several hours and read all the threads on operating, newbies and rigs. My advice as always, unless you have a specific niche market lined up, don't get into steadicam. If you've done thorough market research, you'll notice there are many more "operators" now than there are job demands. Hence all the great rigs for sale on the forum.

As far as your startup costs, $25,000 is a very meager budget. As you know, you will be limited to flying only lightweight video cameras. I don't know your geographical area, so perhaps light video is a thriving marketplace where you are, but I don't see anybody making a living flying DSLR's and handicams.

Just some friendly advice that I learned on my own. Work is very hard to come by and if you think that other operators in your area will be supportive and excited that you're entering the playing field, then think again.

If, after knowing this you still wanna do it, then more power to you.


Nick,

I do certainly respect your experience, but as someone who's been trying to climb the ladder, I don't think it's quite as bleak as you do.

First off, in terms of money, I just bought a used rig myself. All told, I'm in for a little over $20,000, including a BFD and motor set up (that I actually rent from a friend of mine, but I'm including it in the price estimate to be more realistic). Add on insurance, SOA membership, and a few other things I've invested in for my business, and I'm at $22,000 or so. My rig is a PRO sled with a Master arm, and certainly isn't limited to lightweight video cameras. So, it's certainly possible to make that money stretch. However, there are a few big caveats here - obviously, I don't have the newest, or prettiest gear out there. Also, I had to search for about 2 months, haggle on prices, and then deal with shipping gear from overseas to get these deals. It's not exactly a good path for the faint of heart!

I do agree with you (and Andrew too) though that there needs to be a lot more consideration before dropping this kind of money. I've been debating for a quite long time about upgrading rigs, and finally making a step into professional operating. I've met up with countless operators, listened as much as I could, flew some of the best rigs out there, and talked to some of my current clients, to see if they could use it if I bought it. If you really want to do Steadicam right, it has to be a business, along with a craft. You have to realize that if you're going to have a rig, you need to work with it. If nobody in your market can use it, it's no good to you or them, and it's going to be a very expensive set of unwieldy boxes in the corner of your basement. Do a lot of thinking on this, do a lot of call-making, and see if this is something you really can do.

Also, Alexander, as Eric Fletcher says, never let your gear limit your operating. Just because today you don't ever think you'd see a RED, it doesn't mean you never will. Think about it all in advance, before you've put down the money on a rig, especially if it could mean having to put down a big amount of money a second time.

I hope that my experience helps you out a little. If you've got any questions that I could help out with, let me know!
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