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#1 Scott W Warren

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Posted 09 August 2011 - 07:09 PM

My name is Scott Warren, and I am somewhat of a new operator. I have owned a Glidecam X-22 for about a year, but have never taken a workshop. I have been getting asked to do a lot more work with my Glidecam, but everyone keeps asking if I can fly the big rigs that can hold the big boy film cameras. My Glidecam of course only support 25lbs max so I have been very limited and have had to turn down jobs even with the Red camera, because they want to have a whole bunch of extras that I can't support. I have also been asked if I have a certification from the higher end jobs and when I tell them I don't they give me the cold shoulder. I wanted to know if the Eastern Classic is the type of certification that these guys are looking for? I also feel it could be beneficial to use some real equipment. I would have to say, I haven't been the biggest fan of the Glidecam x-22 and want to move over to Steadicam. I really want to be a steadicam OP in the industry because I love having the freedom to do what I want with the camera. I think I am ready to take the next step. Just really wanted to know if the Classic is worth all of the money?

What would be the steadicam system you would suggest that could fly the bigger cameras like the red and film cameras? I know a lot of the operators own their own equipment. I would like to by a rig to fly these bigger cameras, suggestion would be great, and if anyone knows of used gear for sale that could move me up to the next level it would be great. Is it easier to land the jobs once you have certified and own a big rig? I have found it extremely hard to get jobs in Utah, because no one wants to pay for anything out there. They all want it done for like $25 a day and I have told a lot of people no. I can't feed my family for that and I also spent a lot of money on my equipment. Sorry that this is a long and somewhat scattered post, but I have a lot of questions. Thanks again. Scott
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#2 Mark Schlicher

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Posted 09 August 2011 - 08:22 PM

Scott,

Welcome. This forum is a rich source of information and much of it is contained in the archived posts. Stroll through the old threads and use the search function liberally. There you will find answers and informed opinions on many of your questions.

I'll tackle a couple of your specifics:

There is no "official" certification, though a few operators have marketed their workshop experience as such (it's frowned upon). There are excellent workshops put on by Tiffen, which feature top-notch instructors including Garrett Brown, Jerry Holway, Peter Abraham and others. The Eastern Classic is one of them. Other manufacturers and organizations also put on well-regarded workshops. Is it worth it? Subjective question, but certainly it is a very high-value, intensive experience, and it is the universally-recommended path for serious beginning operators.

Nearly every operator owns their own rig. It is mandatory. The answer to "are you certified" should be "I've completed the (insert specifics here) training program."

Everyone has their favorite brand of rig and opinions are as varied as they are passionate. Used rigs can be a great value, and often they already contain many of the extras you will need. Be prepared to spend $20,000-40,000 or more for a used rig. John Perry (American Idol, Dancing With the Stars, So You Think You Can Dance) is selling one of his rigs on the forum right now, for the mid-20's. It is very complete (except for batteries, and some "mandatory" accessories like a remote focus control). It's an excellent example of a well-maintained, affordable older rig.

The tougher question that you've alluded to is "can I make a living"? I have no idea if there are enough jobs where you live to support you and pay for your equipment. The going rate for a big rig operator is substantial, but so is the investment. Make friends with operators near you and ask about local rates and the amount of work available. Once you become a big rig operator you need to respect big rig rates.

If you haven't already, get the "Steadicam Operators Handbook" and devour it. It is required reading before a Tiffen Workshop, so it will pay to get a head start.

Hope this helps.
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#3 Scott W Warren

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Posted 10 August 2011 - 10:46 AM

Scott,

Welcome. This forum is a rich source of information and much of it is contained in the archived posts. Stroll through the old threads and use the search function liberally. There you will find answers and informed opinions on many of your questions.

I'll tackle a couple of your specifics:

There is no "official" certification, though a few operators have marketed their workshop experience as such (it's frowned upon). There are excellent workshops put on by Tiffen, which feature top-notch instructors including Garrett Brown, Jerry Holway, Peter Abraham and others. The Eastern Classic is one of them. Other manufacturers and organizations also put on well-regarded workshops. Is it worth it? Subjective question, but certainly it is a very high-value, intensive experience, and it is the universally-recommended path for serious beginning operators.

Nearly every operator owns their own rig. It is mandatory. The answer to "are you certified" should be "I've completed the (insert specifics here) training program."

Everyone has their favorite brand of rig and opinions are as varied as they are passionate. Used rigs can be a great value, and often they already contain many of the extras you will need. Be prepared to spend $20,000-40,000 or more for a used rig. John Perry (American Idol, Dancing With the Stars, So You Think You Can Dance) is selling one of his rigs on the forum right now, for the mid-20's. It is very complete (except for batteries, and some "mandatory" accessories like a remote focus control). It's an excellent example of a well-maintained, affordable older rig.

The tougher question that you've alluded to is "can I make a living"? I have no idea if there are enough jobs where you live to support you and pay for your equipment. The going rate for a big rig operator is substantial, but so is the investment. Make friends with operators near you and ask about local rates and the amount of work available. Once you become a big rig operator you need to respect big rig rates.

If you haven't already, get the "Steadicam Operators Handbook" and devour it. It is required reading before a Tiffen Workshop, so it will pay to get a head start.

Hope this helps.


Thanks Mark for the reply. I think it would be good to go to the classic just for a better understanding on the big rigs, that I don't have any experience with. I have read the Steadicam Handbook and love the book and it has helped me a ton in my operating. I will look at the used rigs for sure. I really do like the steadicam name and what the professionals have said about these rigs. I don't know if I would choose any other brand. Thanks again.
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#4 Mark Schlicher

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Posted 10 August 2011 - 11:50 AM

In the US the universally-respected big rig alternatives to Tiffen-Steadicam are XCS and Pro-GPI. Very high quality, modular, upgradable, excellent reputations for customer service. Favored by many top operators, and older models come up for sale from time to time. Generally similar in cost to their Tiffen counterparts, from what I've seen.
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#5 Scott W Warren

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Posted 11 August 2011 - 11:02 AM

In the US the universally-respected big rig alternatives to Tiffen-Steadicam are XCS and Pro-GPI. Very high quality, modular, upgradable, excellent reputations for customer service. Favored by many top operators, and older models come up for sale from time to time. Generally similar in cost to their Tiffen counterparts, from what I've seen.



Thanks for the info Mark. Like your website by the way. What are thoughts on Actioncam? I have heard some good things about their products.
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#6 Adam Eden

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Posted 11 August 2011 - 02:51 PM

Hi Scott

I just completed the Tiffen steadicam course with Garret Brown / Jerry Holway and a few other expert trainers in Australia.

That was about 2 weeks ago and all I can say is that my flying technique and shot composition has improved by 1000% My back isn't sore anymore either as I have been properly taught how
to stand correctly and wear the vest properly and also various grip techniques. I used to be a whoopie cushion! (If you read the Jerry Holway book you will know what i mean)

I had my Archer 2 for about a year also before attending and I was pretty good at flying the rig (well i thought anyway), but now I think about setting up the shots and what I can actually do with the subjects rather than
just running around trying to keep the camera level.

The only thing Garret and Jerry couldn't knock out of me is I fly goofy! Believe me they tried....

The other good thing about the course is meeting other operators and increasing your industry contacts. Our industry is very small and it is great talking to other people about shots, gear etc.

Good luck

Adam
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#7 Mark Britton

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Posted 11 August 2011 - 09:38 PM

Do take a workshop if you can fit it in. The Steadicam Operator's Handbook is a great resource, but it's definately worth having experienced instructors help you with your technique. You should find the Eastern Classic to be a worthwhile experience.

If nothing else, you'll have many fond memories and meet several interesting people. One of my most memorable moments from a 2-day Flyer workshop back in '07 was receiving a package from Peter Abraham after the workshop. I'll never forget. Inside was a Steadicam T-shirt, a certificate and a piece of cardboard. At first, I set the cardboard aside while I examined the other items I had received. But slowly, I became aware that the piece of cardboard had a picture of a toilet lid on it. To this day, I can't say that I've divined the meaning of that piece of cardboard. Was it a message from Peter? Was it merely that Mr. Abraham had changed out his toilet seat recently, and the piece of cardboard just happened to be at hand?

You never quite know what you'll encounter at a workshop, but my experiences are that you'll get more than you bargined for!

Mark
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#8 Scott W Warren

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Posted 12 August 2011 - 10:27 AM

Hi Scott

I just completed the Tiffen steadicam course with Garret Brown / Jerry Holway and a few other expert trainers in Australia.

That was about 2 weeks ago and all I can say is that my flying technique and shot composition has improved by 1000% My back isn't sore anymore either as I have been properly taught how
to stand correctly and wear the vest properly and also various grip techniques. I used to be a whoopie cushion! (If you read the Jerry Holway book you will know what i mean)

I had my Archer 2 for about a year also before attending and I was pretty good at flying the rig (well i thought anyway), but now I think about setting up the shots and what I can actually do with the subjects rather than
just running around trying to keep the camera level.

The only thing Garret and Jerry couldn't knock out of me is I fly goofy! Believe me they tried....

The other good thing about the course is meeting other operators and increasing your industry contacts. Our industry is very small and it is great talking to other people about shots, gear etc.

Good luck

Adam


That is what I was thinking Adam. I can fly the rig and make it look good, but at times I am in pain during and after shooting. Plus I am for sure that I could getting shots a lot better and telling a story better then just trying to keep it balanced, because that is always my worry. It should be a muscle memory thing and I really should be focusing on how to tell the story through the shot less then trying to just keep it balanced and my subjects in frame. I feel that's were the workshop could really help. It is expensive, but if this is what I want to do full time I think it would be a great investment.

Also what is the over all feeling about Actioncam. I have heard decent things, or would you all say Steadicam all the way? Thanks again guys
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