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Custom build vs. Name Brand


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#1 Jay Cline

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Posted 03 April 2012 - 03:03 PM

I just wanted to get the opinion from a couple pro's.... How do you guys feel about custom built rigs. I am looking at a custom built rig that appears to me to be very high quality. Has worked on features carrying Arri film cameras, comes with all the goodies like remote follow focus, power distro boxes, cables, monitor. My thinking was that if it performs well and was built well it is fine that it is a custom build and not a name brand but I would be interested in your opinions.
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#2 Osvaldo Silvera SOC

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Posted 03 April 2012 - 03:19 PM

Hey there,
A lot of ops will have A LOT of different opinions about gear and what's what. Their experience will differ from mine, but at least in my own personal experience, My reel and relationships have gotten me work, not my gear. I have heard that some ops have been asked what gear do they own. I have never been asked that. I have been told by the person calling what camera they are using and I tell them "yes or no" as to whether my system can handle it. Sometimes I'll say Yes even though my kit/gear can't handle the camera because of some accessory I don't yet have, at that exact moment I have to decide if I'm going to buy it and have it overnighted, always knowing the job can go away as quickly as it came in.

Many blue moons ago, I bought a custom No name sled from Ramon Engle, and it served me very well for many years. I now have two Hybrid PRO/XCS and PRO/XCS/Steadyrig sleds and they both do the job, which is all any client of mine has ever cared about. Now I know that the stories go that some producers, or AC's or other camera department folks will ask if you own a Preston, or what brand your rig is, but in my case, and it may be the only case in history....I have never encountered that. So buy what will work and what you can get serviced, cause sometimes the ability to get something serviced or repaired in a hurry can make the difference in your current and next job..... Good luck and post pics, we all love to see the Frankenrigs. Especially if they work!

Ozzie
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#3 Jay Cline

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Posted 03 April 2012 - 03:32 PM

Thanks for your input. I think this will work well for me for a while. I will post up some pics of it when it arrives. Nice reel by the way, that is a serious rig your flying. very nice.
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#4 Tom Wills

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Posted 03 April 2012 - 03:39 PM

Jay,

I think a lot depends on who made the rig, and how well it was made. As Osvaldo said, it's great to see people put things together that make their rigs better - I know my rig's been through tons of rounds of mods - but sometimes DIY solutions don't work out. If the rig is well-made, and does everything it should do, then there are only a few concerns.

First off is support. The nice thing about owning a PRO, a Tiffen rig, or most of the other big brands is that if your rig goes down, there's a place to send it to, and they'll have the parts to get it right up and running. If a homebuilt rig goes down, it's your rear end on the line as the AD looms over you asking how long until you've got it back up and running.

Also, with a name-brand rig, you know you can swap parts with other local operators. If my Bartech goes down, I can just run to the rental house and grab another. If my monitor goes down, call up somebody and get one in within the day. It goes on and on. If your rig doesn't follow the industry standards (socket blocks, arm post size, gimbal diameter, dovetail size, and connections on the sled), you're going to have a much harder time sourcing replacement parts when (not if) something goes wrong. Always better to be on the side of being safe, rather than sorry here. Better to have to rent a few pieces from a fellow operator than get replaced by someone else because your gear isn't up to the task.

Best of luck with your purchasing decision! It's a lot of work finding a good rig for yourself, but if you make good decisions now, the rig will be with you for quite some time.
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#5 Jay Cline

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Posted 03 April 2012 - 03:54 PM

Yes I 100% agree with that, i made sure that it was standard, it has an older Steadicam Master series vest, and the vest and arm connectors are Steadicam. I could easily swap the arm out if i had to, which will probably be what i will upgrade first down the road. it also is equipped with a RF Industries wireless video transmitter and a wireless follow focus unit which makes it a nice package. I have seen a lot of footage shot with it and it seems to fly very good.

Edited by Jay Cline, 03 April 2012 - 04:02 PM.

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#6 Jay Cline

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Posted 03 April 2012 - 04:05 PM

Here is the Sled
Posted Image
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#7 Eric Fletcher S.O.C.

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Posted 03 April 2012 - 04:35 PM

I just wanted to get the opinion from a couple pro's.... How do you guys feel about custom built rigs. I am looking at a custom built rig that appears to me to be very high quality. Has worked on features carrying Arri film cameras, comes with all the goodies like remote follow focus, power distro boxes, cables, monitor. My thinking was that if it performs well and was built well it is fine that it is a custom build and not a name brand but I would be interested in your opinions.


It's all about the gimbal, stage, arm and battery rack. You want something that can be serviced and that there are parts for. Having seen the photo of the rig I would skip it based on the gimbal alone
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#8 Jay Cline

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Posted 03 April 2012 - 04:54 PM

what specifically is bad about the gimbal. What are the key things to look for. And as far as service, what usually need service, and what are the weak points that might break or need repair.

Edited by Jay Cline, 03 April 2012 - 04:55 PM.

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#9 Osvaldo Silvera SOC

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Posted 03 April 2012 - 05:21 PM

Hi Jay,

Is the post 1.5"? As this would be the most common size out there, Getting your gimbal serviced every few years is key in maintaining it smooth and usable. Bearings get dirty when you work at the beach or in dusty, rainy conditions.
If the box at the front of the sled is the wireless focus receiver, that powers the Motor, like a Preston MDR, Scorpio or BFD Receiver. make sure it's FCC approved for use in the US, or wherever your going to mostly be operating. All you need is to interfere with some Govt. agency's walkie system and you can kiss that box bye bye.

I've seen several sleds recently for sale, even a 3A sled, I believe it's Tammy's. That would make a good starter sled than can be upgraded little by little.

If I were buying a sled and Arm that were not brand name, I'd want to try it myself for several hours to get the feel of it and see if I thought it would last. You mentioned a master vest, good start. How much are you spending on the Vest, Arm and Sled combo? Cause if it's something like $3K for everything, then Fine, work the jobs till you make enough to upgrade the arm for a used 3A which can be had for under 6K, then buy a used 3A modified Sled for another 3K.... and so on and so on...

I started operating steadi with an SK at a TV station, but my first owned rig was a Model 1. and that was just fine for almost 3 years... Alot of modifications were done thru the years, but everything was standard, 1.5" post, Anton Bauer plates, Fore/Aft/Side to side plate, 3A arm and 3A vest, etc..

Look around the forum, I'm sure you can get a much better Starter sled for a great deal. Isn;t there an EFP vest for like 1300 on here?
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#10 Jay Cline

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Posted 03 April 2012 - 05:30 PM

Thanks again for all the good advise, and it is a 1.5 post, not Anton Bauer it is Vmount, but that works cause i have a bunch already for Epic / Scarlet. I think I will pick up parts as I can, is the 3A what you would recommend for a good match between quality and price?
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#11 Alec Jarnagin SOC

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Posted 03 April 2012 - 07:19 PM

Jay,

You seem to have changed your display name away from your real name. This is in violation of our rules on this board. Please change it back immediately or you won't get our fine answers!

The heart of the system is the Gimbal and arm. That said, the monitor is your window to the world and bad wiring causes power problems. A bad top stage will cause vibration as will loose parts and wobbly center posts.
Its my opinion that you should use an industry standard gimbal and arm. I'd add the top-stage to this list else you are asking for trouble. The center post and battery module can be homemade if the quality is there. That said, virtually everything I use now is from a major manufacturer because the stuff is so good now, its not worth reinventing the wheel. In addition, assistants are familiar with it so they can build it.
Good luck.
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#12 Alec Jarnagin SOC

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 01:37 PM

Look:

http://www.steadicam...t=0

Its a real gimbal, top stage and center post. And at that price, you can't beat it. You can use the monitor and electronics for a bit and then throw them out when you find something better and you are still ahead.
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#13 Eric Fletcher S.O.C.

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 01:39 PM

Look:

http://www.steadicam...t=0

Its a real gimbal, top stage and center post. And at that price, you can't beat it. You can use the monitor and electronics for a bit and then throw them out when you find something better and you are still ahead.



I was just about to post that. Looks like he could get the sled, suit and arm for ~$10K

Much better than the rig he posted
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#14 Jay Cline

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 06:34 PM

I didnt realize that, I am trying to change my username back but it will not let me, it says you can only change your username every 90 days and since I changed it I cant change it back. That setup looks nice. I definitely want to get headed in the right direction from the beginning. One post said based on the gimbal alone they would pass, what do you see wrong with the gimbal.
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