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Humble introduction with questions


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#1 Torben Greve

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Posted 14 June 2011 - 06:58 AM

Hi guys,

and thanks for letting me roam around a bit ;)

First a few words on myself and what I'm looking to do. I'm another one of those still photographer guys who's turning video... I do this out of ambition rather than need. I've always been a film geek and if I could go back and tell myself what to do with my still I would have persuaded myself to become a film/tv photographer rather than a still photographer.

Anyways, I lost my video virginity last year through 3 music videos and an instructional video. All was shot on Canon DSLR, mostly handheld but later also with tripod and then the homemade t-shaped stabilizer (the one made from metal pipes and weights in the bottom). And man... did that video work ever grow on me! During the post and the next shoot and the next, I started thinking about how the whole steadicam univers worked. How could I get more stable video, that had more production value than these homemade things and ultimately eliminate the need for extensive tracking etc. in AE and the likes.
Currently my accessories only amount to (please dont laugh :S) a homemade IKEA shouldermount, and a homemade slider that I made from an old Manfrotto 231 and a set of Rigwheels.

So here I am... a year later, and finally got myself together to start asking knowledgeable people questions about this. Recently I got in touch with our local Steadicam pusher and putting it like it is:

I'm a 5D owner, I only own 2.8 L zooms (24-70 and 70-200) and a 100mm L and while I have an idea of what I want my worklife to look like in 5 years, I can't tell for sure. I mean, I wouldn't mind being able to shoot on a RED if the opportunity came along, or atleast something bigger/better than my 5D.
I'm looking to invest in a rig, but I need guidance in what to get.


He called me up and wanted to have a chat. He had two types of steadicam that I could think about, but in regards to price they are north and south. The ones he suggested was the Pilot and the, twice as expensive, Zephyr.

My target areas are:
corporate videos, event videos (not weddings... but backstage and social events and so on), small business advertising, music videos, documentary and news covering.

Which model would be reasonable to look more into?
He invited me in to the store to have a look at both models, but I haven't had the time yet to do that.
The next camera investment after a steadicam would probably be to improve my lens setup, all though I'm not entirely sure if I need primes at all for anything other than the extra 1 aperture or so.

Thanks for taking your time to read through this.

Kindly
Torben

Edited by Torben Greve, 14 June 2011 - 07:00 AM.

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#2 Fabrizio Sciarra SOC ACO

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Posted 14 June 2011 - 07:36 AM

Hi, Torben,
welcome to the forum.
Best investment for you (like for anybody else starting out) is a workshop. After that you may have a clearer idea of what your future path may be. After all, you may not like it!
So save yourself some times and few bucks and book a wokshop in your area. You won't regret.
Best of luck
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#3 Torben Greve

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Posted 14 June 2011 - 07:46 AM

Hi, Torben,
welcome to the forum.
Best investment for you (like for anybody else starting out) is a workshop. After that you may have a clearer idea of what your future path may be. After all, you may not like it!
So save yourself some times and few bucks and book a wokshop in your area. You won't regret.
Best of luck


Hi and thanks for replying.

Yeah, I see that advice a lot, and have paid attention to it. That was also one of the first things the guy from the store mentioned. I think they had Garrett Brown come by a couple of times, but that it would be another great guy that would hold the next seminar (which was sold out already :( ). So I'm looking forward to next year, where I might join that class.

In regards to the pilot and the Zephyr are the differences in operation as far apart as the price?
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#4 Fabrizio Sciarra SOC ACO

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Posted 14 June 2011 - 09:37 AM

Well, if you have to wait a year, you could get hold of a copy of the Steadicam Handbook. You may find tons of answers there while waiting for a workshop.
On the Tiffen website you should also find both rig's pdf illustrating the different features.
Operating is pretty much the same. Different feedback due to the inertia, but pretty much the same physics apply.
Cheers
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#5 Mark Schlicher

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Posted 14 June 2011 - 10:02 AM

Pilot vs Zephyr:

First and most important difference is "payload" aka "net camera capacity." Each has a range, a minimum and a maximum. I believe that the Pilot's max is 10lbs but not sure. No way you can fly a RED One. The Zephyr can reasonably fly up to 23lbs, good for most broadcast cameras and a range of RED configurations. But it has a minimum payload of 9lbs (there is a lot of old sales literature out there that says 5lbs, but that is incorrect.) So you will need to add Tiffen or third-party weights to the top of the sled to bring it to that minimum weight. I've flown a 5D on a Zephyr with a 6.5 pound weight plate plus Viewfactor cage and 2lb Anton Bauer battery. It felt great.

Most will say that a heavier sled is better (more intertia means easier to keep moves steady and fluid). However, a lighter sled will sure feel good after a long day of documentary or music video shooting. It's a different feel, like the difference between playing a violin vs. cello.

The other differences between the two rigs are many, but their importance depends on what your needs are.

The Zephyr vest is far superior. The Zephyr has more power and video connectors and is wired for HD-SDI. Upgrading to HD is as easy as changing monitors. Longer arm reach. Stouter post and bigger gimbal diameter. Designed for expandability (extra batteries and 24V, tally, etc.)

You didn't mention the Scout, which is right in between (replaces the Flyer.) Holds up to 18 lbs, down to 5 I believe. Better arm and vest than Pilot. Not HD. Can probably hold a stripped-down RED and can hold lighter broadcast cameras. More expandability than Pilot but not as much as Zephyr. Worth considering if price is an absolute roadblock. $2k cheaper than Zephyr.

Advice falls generally into two camps: 1) buy the rig you can afford (Pilot) now, as you can resell when you are ready for a bigger rig. 2) buy the rig that can handle the biggest cameras you plan/hope to fly in the next couple of years, so you are not limited or forced to constantly upgrade.

Both approaches are valid and neither is absolutely right or wrong. You'll just have to decide. Good luck!
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#6 Tomas Riuka

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Posted 14 June 2011 - 10:11 AM

Pilot vs Zephyr:

First and most important difference is "payload" aka "net camera capacity." Each has a range, a minimum and a maximum. I believe that the Pilot's max is 10lbs but not sure. No way you can fly a RED One. The Zephyr can reasonably fly up to 23lbs, good for most broadcast cameras and a range of RED configurations. But it has a minimum payload of 9lbs (there is a lot of old sales literature out there that says 5lbs, but that is incorrect.) So you will need to add Tiffen or third-party weights to the top of the sled to bring it to that minimum weight. I've flown a 5D on a Zephyr with a 6.5 pound weight plate plus Viewfactor cage and 2lb Anton Bauer battery. It felt great.

Most will say that a heavier sled is better (more intertia means easier to keep moves steady and fluid). However, a lighter sled will sure feel good after a long day of documentary or music video shooting. It's a different feel, like the difference between playing a violin vs. cello.

The other differences between the two rigs are many, but their importance depends on what your needs are.

The Zephyr vest is far superior. The Zephyr has more power and video connectors and is wired for HD-SDI. Upgrading to HD is as easy as changing monitors. Longer arm reach. Stouter post and bigger gimbal diameter. Designed for expandability (extra batteries and 24V, tally, etc.)

You didn't mention the Scout, which is right in between (replaces the Flyer.) Holds up to 18 lbs, down to 5 I believe. Better arm and vest than Pilot. Not HD. Can probably hold a stripped-down RED and can hold lighter broadcast cameras. More expandability than Pilot but not as much as Zephyr. Worth considering if price is an absolute roadblock. $2k cheaper than Zephyr.

Advice falls generally into two camps: 1) buy the rig you can afford (Pilot) now, as you can resell when you are ready for a bigger rig. 2) buy the rig that can handle the biggest cameras you plan/hope to fly in the next couple of years, so you are not limited or forced to constantly upgrade.

Both approaches are valid and neither is absolutely right or wrong. You'll just have to decide. Good luck!


i would only add if going option no 1, then buy used Pilot, will loose less money reselling it later. If not planning to to upgrade or have possibility to buy rig for bigger cameras at the start, go for it.
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#7 Mark Schlicher

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Posted 14 June 2011 - 10:23 AM

Good point, Tomas. Pilots come up for sale from time to time for a reasonable price.

Also, buy the EFP Training DVD. Not a substitute for a workshop but far better than trying to figure it out from a book alone.
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