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Help with buying decisions

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#1 Janice Arthur

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Posted 06 April 2012 - 10:50 AM

Hi all;

I keep trying to put a response to the ever asked question of "which rig do I buy"

Of course Service is screamed far and wide and that's right but the casual reader doesn't get the depth of Service or what it should mean beyond answering the phone and returning emails; that's a given.

Here is my current list of what you are buying/looking for in a rig.

1) Industrial; will it hold up to everyday use and wear and tear?
2) Wiring Harness; Will it accomodate every possible currently demanded configuration without hassle and will the plugs hold up, etc. Every high end rig has that.

(Example, Zephyr, Pilot, Flyer,and any other smaller rig that everyone is trying to put lots of stuff on it but runs up against walls of power, connectors, junction boxes etc and you can't plug in like a bigger rig. Its a price point issue, you can't have a full wiring harness for what you are paying for those rigs.) I've often thought that should be an option with those rigs.

"Do you want the rig with a full junction box? Yes, here is how much it costs (even for a lot of money it would be worth it.) Boy I'd buy that on every one of those rigs.

3)Rigid, will it hold all your camera and accessories securely?

4)Documentation. This is one we all forget to mention. Is there a book or on-line access to how its wired so that I can fix it if a connector fails? Is there a way to ask what is hooked up where and why? (so that I can plug in all those things and know where and how the signal is going.) I was so happy quite a few years back to receive a laminated copy of my rig and all its documentation, even the names/numbers of the connectors in the junction boxes. I was so relieved to have a copy of that and I've used it over the years.

(I recently ran into two ops with the "lesser" high end rigs. No documentation, the op couldn't figure out where the wires went to know how it was all hooked up. It did not exist.
The manufacturer simply did not provide any of it nor did they answer questions. That was why the rig was cheaper. It costs money to provide that!

5) Gimbals clearly got to be up to whatever threshold we all know about. Arms and vests we can talk about all day right now I'm just talking about Sleds.

So I think the next time someone is thinking about buying a rig they should pose the question is there information about the rig that supports and comes with it?

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#2 Nelson Villamil

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Posted 06 April 2012 - 02:48 PM

Hey Janice

Very good contribution. . .

It is common to have many questions to make a good desicion.

The total load capacity (weight) clar is important, as power capacity, and all those details.

But the support and documentation (super detail) is VERY VERY IMPORTANT, for any owner / operator, not always available.

This forum and many of its members also help quickly resolve queries.

Thanks to all friends, colleagues and members.
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#3 Janice Arthur

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Posted 06 April 2012 - 03:39 PM


Weight, that's easy, the arm either holds that much or it doesn't.

I started talking about how to judge a rig, and its basic criteria; but wiring has become a bigger discussion.

You are making my point, the manufacturer should provide lots of this info.

"But the support and documentation (super detail) is VERY VERY IMPORTANT, for any owner / operator, not always available."

I'm saying change the rules, if it isn't available we the consumers are not demanding it.
If this is the new world then manufactures, the ones who haven't been good at service are going to get fewer sales and this is how we define service!!

The world just changed under them! Charge more, figure it out, etc. but the old way won't work any longer.

The buyers can make it clear to them, especially the low-end, bad manufacturers, raise your standards or you won't make the sale.

Buyers should ask and demand a response to the documentation issues. It can be written, help in service or on-line.

(One manufacturer told an operator he couldn't tell him the pin wiring on his rig because it was a secret. The operator was trying to fix his rig in the field because it blew up! It was just a video/power connector. BS!)

If buyers start asking then it makes the manufactures look even better and the buyers know what they are buying and why it costs extra.

We, the experienced ops, can stop the hand holding we've been doing for so many thousands who want to buy and own Steadicams.

We've been doing out of kindness but its time those low-end sellers get some blow-back on their products if they're going to make the sale.

Its a perfect way to make the manufacturers start toeing the line and "servicing" to make the sale.

If your company has been doing a great job of service then they've got only smiles because the bad ones will be even more obvious.

Hey nothing is free.

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#4 Eric Fletcher S.O.C.

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Posted 06 April 2012 - 04:50 PM

Awesome set of Post's Janice!

Folks read this, think about what Janice is saying, think of what you've heard other experienced ops, people with 15 or 20 years of experience who have been thru EVERYTHING.

When steadicam first came out those of us that chose this path had to not only be steadicam operators, camera operators and business people, but also Machinist, fabricators, electronics guys, innovators and physicists. Now anyone can read the forum and surf the net and buy 99% of the parts and equipment that you need to do 99% of the jobs but for those 2% you need to understand and have the skill set to "Put on the Cape and get the job done"
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