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Newbie looking to get into Steadicam, but what system?


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#1 Sarah Thompson

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Posted 02 August 2011 - 03:32 PM

Hi folks,

I'm looking to get in to Steadicam operation. The camera I'm using is a Panasonic AG-HMC150, which weighs 4.7lbs before any extras. (For reference, the HMC150 is an AVCCAM 1080p 24 with decent audio ins. The video out is HDMI and I think there is also a component/composite out).

This seems to be within the weight range of the Merlin, though the HMC150 is pretty light for its size. I'm also concerned that adding the larger battery, a microphone, maybe a radio mic receiver or two, would push it up or over the Merlin's weight range. Has anyone out there used one of these on a Merlin? Am I crazy to even consider it?

Looking at the Flyer spec, the Panasonic seems to be at the lower end of the weight range (sans extra hardware). Advice? Suggestions?

One thing I should say is that I'm not really interested in the arm/vestless version of the Merlin -- I have some issues with my tendons due to arthritis, and running that camera with a few extras on a fig rig is about my limit, so doubling up the weight with counterweights would probably mean I wouldn't be able to shoot for any useful length of time.

Also, budget is a bit tight, so any advice for picking up second user equipment would be gratefully appreciated -- what should I expect to pay for a Flyer in reasonable condition? Also, the battery/monitor options are rather bewildering, so any pointers there would be useful too.

Thank you in advance,
Sarah
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#2 Peter Mozingo

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Posted 09 August 2011 - 10:06 PM

Hi folks,

I'm looking to get in to Steadicam operation. The camera I'm using is a Panasonic AG-HMC150, which weighs 4.7lbs before any extras. (For reference, the HMC150 is an AVCCAM 1080p 24 with decent audio ins. The video out is HDMI and I think there is also a component/composite out).

This seems to be within the weight range of the Merlin, though the HMC150 is pretty light for its size. I'm also concerned that adding the larger battery, a microphone, maybe a radio mic receiver or two, would push it up or over the Merlin's weight range. Has anyone out there used one of these on a Merlin? Am I crazy to even consider it?

Looking at the Flyer spec, the Panasonic seems to be at the lower end of the weight range (sans extra hardware). Advice? Suggestions?

One thing I should say is that I'm not really interested in the arm/vestless version of the Merlin -- I have some issues with my tendons due to arthritis, and running that camera with a few extras on a fig rig is about my limit, so doubling up the weight with counterweights would probably mean I wouldn't be able to shoot for any useful length of time.

Also, budget is a bit tight, so any advice for picking up second user equipment would be gratefully appreciated -- what should I expect to pay for a Flyer in reasonable condition? Also, the battery/monitor options are rather bewildering, so any pointers there would be useful too.

Thank you in advance,
Sarah


Hey Sarah,

I'm actually selling my Steadicam Flyer (HERE). Having used it for my Panasonic HVX200...it was a perfect match. I even had a Redrock adapter attached to it and flew it just fine!

The Merlin is made for smaller cameras like a bare bone 5D or similar.

If you have any questions, please let me know!

Thanks,

Peter
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#3 rodney pike

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Posted 15 September 2011 - 12:10 AM

Hi Sarah,
I found that I had a similar choice: My camera was just in the weight range, but it is a physically big camera. SO I contacted Tiffen technical who advised that although the camera was just in, its size meant that it would not readily be handled by the Merlin. They recommended the Pilot which I now have.This also gives the versatility to go up-spec in weight at a later date.

It may be worth dropping them an email to just clarify. They are nice helpful people and saved me from a costly mistake! hope this helps.

Rod
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#4 Tom MaCoy

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Posted 27 September 2011 - 08:40 PM

Hey Sarah,
I happen to also be looking to sell my Flyer LE at the moment (check out some pictures at http://www.trmacoy.c...eadi/flyer.html) and now that I've had my shameless plug I might also be able to answer some other questions.
If you're looking to become an operator (assuming you've already grabbed the Steadicam Operators Handbook and maybe taken the two day workshop) I think the Flyer/Flyer LE/Scout systems are really the minimum you need to get work with. The 10lb weight limit on the smaller models like the Pilot sounds fine until you start adding up accessories and suddenly the arm is bottoming out. Also (at least this is my experience) the lower weight rigs by definition have much lower inertial mass while flying, which translates into the slightest off touch sending your shot askew. A large heavy rig is much more resistant to a slight twitch of the hand or errant gust of wind wrecking a shot.
Discounting one option on the Pilot that uses a dozen AA batteries (avoid at all costs) your battery options basically consist of IDX Style V-Locks, or Anton Bauer 3 Pin bricks. Function wise they're about the same (so far as I know), and adapter plates even make them interchangeable with each other. I chose V-Lock for my rig just because I already happened to own a few. A google image search for 'Anton Bauer Battery' or 'IDX Battery' can give you a quick look at the mounting hardware. Monitor wise you usually have choice of HD or SD, and my impression (anyone feel free to correct me) is it's usually better to go with SD and put the price difference into an upgraded monitor of your own choosing. As far as picking up second hand equipment, I'd say you've already found one of the best places to look.
Good luck!

-Tom
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#5 James Davis

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Posted 28 September 2011 - 05:58 AM

I would say look at your local markets and see what kind of cameras and jobs everyone is working on.
If you're never going to go bigger than an the typical sony XDcam tv camera then a flyer may well cut the mustard, but the second you start drifting towards Sony F3, Red camera, Alexa and into live broadcast territory your rig will very quickly become redundant and this may well happen a lot quicker than you might think.
I would say do a workshop or two first, a training course or something similar just to make sure that you definitely want to do it.
Befriend a local hire house or operator and try and get time on a rig if possible after you've done this, then you'll be informed enough to know what kind of rig you want, what cameras you might be working on etc etc.
If you are working on the larger cameras then I would highly recommend an Archer or Archer 2 if you have the funds there, very versatile rigs that will work with lighter weight cameras up to Red One, Epic, Alexa size builds, but honestly what system becomes a kind of irrelevant question until you know what cameras you need to accomodate etc.

Also don't forget to account for a wireless follow focus, batteries, cables, a wireless video link of some kind and most likely a down converter dependent on your rig/monitor set-up.
Most people starting out don't realise just how much all the accessories can quickly add up to...
For instance in England even if I went down the relatively cheap but good quality route of say:

Bartech wireless FF system with digital receiver and relevant cables
4 IDX v-lock batteries and charger
Red power cable (useful to help keep the weight down)
Marrell wireless video link (modulus would be the american equivalent I guess)
Redbyte down converter
Miscellaneous cables
Some basic tools
A sturdy stand to balance on

The cheapest I would be likely to purchase all of the above accessories for would be well over £6000 if I picked everything up brand new. However keep an eye on second hand bargains, there is some good value well looked after kit out there.

Also the new Hocus Focus Professional wireless FF might be one to look out for when it gets released, it's pretty well priced.

Regards

James
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