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Where is step number 2?


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#1 MegSchrock

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Posted 17 March 2005 - 03:24 PM

For about a year now I've been thinking about becoming a steadicam operator. I've looked in to work shops, browsed the forums, and talked to steadicam operators while working on different sets.

So I've for "step 1" down in the guide-to-becoming-a-steadicam-op: Deciding to be a steadicam op. (seriously, I HAVE decided. I've posted before and everyone has been like "are you sure you want to be a steadicam op? are you sure you have the desire? because it's not worth it if you don't have the desire" and my answer is "yes, hell yes!")

What I can't figure out is what step #2 is?
I'm pretty sure the next step is not "buying a rig" as that would be a very risky investment for never having done it. I think the next step might be "going to a workshop" But again, that's a $2000 investment (not nearly as much as the rig, but still substantial). Are there any other ways to test the water with out putting down the big bucks? Like perhaps shadowing a steadicam op for a day or something like that?

I guess I'm pretty much curious how everyone gets started. I'm guessing that most people were behind the camera as a DP before they bought their first rig, but I'm not sure. I've been doing grip/electric work and some AC work. Is it possible to jump into the steadicam world with mostly grip/electric experience? or should I spend another year or so working in the camera dept?

Any advice?
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#2 Michael Stumpf

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Posted 17 March 2005 - 04:39 PM

Yeah, step 2 would be taking a class. But if you think spending $2000 on a workshop is "big bucks" and "substantial" and aren't willing to do that to see if you really want to become a steadicam operator...you really don't want to become a steadicam operator.

I would also HIGHLY recommend you become a camera assistant first too.
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#3 MegSchrock

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Posted 17 March 2005 - 05:28 PM

Yeah, step 2 would be taking a class.  But if you think spending $2000 on a workshop is "big bucks" and "substantial" and aren't willing to do that to see if you really want to become a steadicam operator...you really don't want to become a steadicam operator.

I would also HIGHLY recommend you become a camera assistant first too.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


don't be mean. I really DO want to become a steadicam op, I'm just dirt poor at the moment. I mean, I wish I had $2000, but I don't. I'm anxious to get started but I'm still not able to afford the workshop and I was hoping that someone could give me some helpful advice. Your suggestion that taking the workshop is the next step (despite it's resentful tone) is very helpful. Thanks for your advice, I'll just be patient and save up the money. Still, I don't appreciate being insulted just because you don't think that I truly want to be a steadicam operator and you HAD to take time out of your busy "advanced member" schedule to answer some silly kid's questions in the steadi-newbies forum.
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#4 charlesneufeld

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Posted 17 March 2005 - 06:43 PM

Meg,

I will jump on Michael's defence (I don't know him either). I don't think he meant that reply to me mean :huh:

I do think he was saying that in this biz 2K is "relatively" cheap to get some good hands on experience from experienced instructors. If you don't want to personally invest in that first, you may make a HUGE mistake taking out a loan for a complete kit. As $2000 probably not even cover your initial downpayment for a rig... it may buy you a handful of power and camera run cables though. And there is really no otherway to know if you want to do this without taking the workshop. But as you mentioned it would be good for you if you could find an OP in your area to help you out...

Heck, I would love to be a pilot but I would get some training before I purchase a plane... you just never know :blink:

STEP 2 = workshop and save, save, save

Good luck ;)
~C
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#5 LeighWanstead

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Posted 17 March 2005 - 06:48 PM

Yeah, step 2 would be taking a class.  But if you think spending $2000 on a workshop is "big bucks" and "substantial" and aren't willing to do that to see if you really want to become a steadicam operator...you really don't want to become a steadicam operator.

I would also HIGHLY recommend you become a camera assistant first too.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


don't be mean. I really DO want to become a steadicam op, I'm just dirt poor at the moment. I mean, I wish I had $2000, but I don't. I'm anxious to get started but I'm still not able to afford the workshop and I was hoping that someone could give me some helpful advice. Your suggestion that taking the workshop is the next step (despite it's resentful tone) is very helpful. Thanks for your advice, I'll just be patient and save up the money. Still, I don't appreciate being insulted just because you don't think that I truly want to be a steadicam operator and you HAD to take time out of your busy "advanced member" schedule to answer some silly kid's questions in the steadi-newbies forum.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


I think that you need to get two things done.

First get to watching a startup steadicam training video.
Second wear the stablizer and practise walking.

I don't know how you can get both. I live in New Zealand and there around two steadicam operators in New Zealand and you live in USA(right?) and there are thousand steadicam opeatrost, so you will have more opportunity than me.

Regards
Leigh
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#6 RobVanGelder

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Posted 17 March 2005 - 07:43 PM

Meg, to my belief you have not even done step 1!

Why? Basically you have answered it in your first post already.
Being a Steadicam operator means that you are in a position that yoy do de work of some other people as well. You are gripman, focus-puller (or focus-keeper), camera-operator, even in some way director and DP as you alone make the frame and everybody else can only watch you.

That means you need EXPERIENCE in possibly all of these professions, know about the set-etiquette and really, that takes years.
Looking at people and browsing is just a very minimum basis to start this.

Michael is not mean, he is very realistic and his remarks about money are very true.
Your initial investment will be FAR MORE than that $2000 for the workshop.

And the most important thing of all, in my opinion is that you need some YEARS beside and behind the camera as AC and operator to get the feeling for framing, lenses, focus and movement choreography.
After this you must ask yourself if you also have the physical strength and posture to handle one of the most demanding jobs in the film-biz

That is so easily forgotten because almost everybody (!!) can "manage" or "handle" a full size steadicam rig after a week workshop, but it doesn´t say anything about the pictures you deliver!

Not mean, just with 2 feet on the ground!
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#7 Nicholas M. Chopp

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Posted 17 March 2005 - 11:30 PM

Are you a good camera op already? Are you a good DP? Can you control light, do you know how to direct others? Are you in good shape, physically? If so, you might be ready. Personally, I bought a Steadicam V-8, and it's been a hell of a learning experience for me. I've been running it for a year now, and while yes, it's cheap, it's not that great, and it's certainly not up for true Steadicam work, it's taught me a LOT about the fundamentals. I haven't gone to any workshops, although I hope to have the opportunity to do so down the road. Basically, I'd say - go for it. If you really want to make it happen, you will.
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#8 David George Ellis

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Posted 18 March 2005 - 12:47 AM

Hey Meg,

I'll try to keep it shorter this time as per the last time I replied to your post. No promises, though.

In defense of Meg, I've worked with her before and she is a good kid. Just hungry to make a difference in her life and the life of the production. Hands down Meg, the best thing for you to do is take the workshop. Everyone else has posted already that it is the most useful investment you can make at this stage in your career. Not only that, but the personal relationships you can form are breathtaking. The people and references I have developed came initially from two people outside of taking the workshop and became solidified after such. I know you respect those of us operating at the present and I respect your decision to want to be an operator, but that becomes an experiencial mutual respect after you take the workshop.

I hope you can understand why Rob, Eric, Michael and others here will make stong, yet true remarks. I don't know them personally, but I'm sure they are honest, hardworking guys. And you have to understand they are protecting the integrity of what so many before us established. They are here to give you the real shit. Yes, you may attract flies with honey, but shit works just as good. Anyone can give you sweet words about what we do, but this isn't a sweet industry.

One of the things you get from taking the workshop is belief from the community that you are serious about performing your craft correctly from the start. You get that not from seeing ops on set and having them give As to your Qs, but from being there, breaking your back for week and getting a sense of what it's like to be part of the fraternity/sorority of operators. Even though I buried myself in the Gran Prix shot, Jerry was there to keep me from falling down to complete the shot. That is what taking the workshop is all about. This forum is a virtual extension of the workshop, but it is not the place to get the answer to what is inside you burning to be a Steadicam Operator.


You do what it takes. This becomes your life.


Another thing about the workshop is that you're immersed in the objectivity of learning to feel yourself in the rig and becoming one with the "movie making machine" (low southern drawl). You're there with 10 - 15 others, learning from your and their mistakes and the instructors are there to keep you flying right so when you are able to get your own rig, you have the basic principles to do it. Plus, if there ever is down time and you are working with Steadicam on a set, the operator may be a little more inclined to allow you to step into the rig and check it out knowing you took the workshop. That's where settiquitte comes into play. Results may vary.

I'll leave you with this. Take everything with a grain of salt. You know the Internet is a cold place. You need tough skin. Sympathy can not be displaced by sensitivity. These guys have been where you are. And they made it through to become some of the most respected crew members on the set. You will make it if you keep that tough skin and persevere. You can't feel insulted by what people write here. When the DP grabs your sled without your permission to "tell" you where he/she wants his/her frame to be is when you get insulted.

Until then, save up for the next workshop and you will not be disappointed. And if you are, then you didn't spend months, years scratching to get up enough for something you ended up unsatisfied with or overwhelmed by. Good luck

David
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#9 BJMcDonnell SOC

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Posted 18 March 2005 - 01:59 AM

Hey Meg,


I won't write too much but I can tell you this......DON'T RUSH! Take the workshop. See if you are comfortable in the rig after taking the workshop. Step 2 is buying a rig. If you are dirt poor right now then work your butt off and become the ultimate penny pincher. It took me two years to get a rig up and running and that was a solid two years of saving money like scrooge. And just when you thought your rig was complete......WRONG!!!!.....you will want to upgrade all the time and new and cool stuff is comming out and it is all very expensive. I am still buying stuff left and right blah blah blah!!! Set a plan and take your time. I told David Ellis the same thing when he approached me about becoming an operator and he is doing great! Most of us in this community are very nice and approachable so don't be afraid to ask questions. I know my post is as redundant as the ones above but I just wanted to drop my two cents. Take care and take your time.

BJ McDonnell

YO DAVE WHADDUP SUN?!
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#10 Mikko Wilson

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Posted 18 March 2005 - 07:20 AM

Meg.

Just my 2 cents form a college student who has only been dooing Steadicam for a few monthes.

I'v been operating camera for about 7 years now.

I'd beeing thinking of steadi for a a while, and I managed to save and beg (grandparents are generally supportive of educational andeavours) anough money together for a workshop. And for ?3000 and I signed up. It was cancelled soon after.
So in september I found and signed up for the Optex workshop in the UK for considerably less. - after all, it is a shorter workshop.

I spent ?400 on going down to IBC in amsterdam for 3 days where I actully put on a rig for the first time, infact i tried all the rigs there. I also met Garrett and Co.
While ther I cancelled my place at the Optex workshop and signed up for the SOA workshop in PA in Oct. and it was WELL worth it! I'd do it again if I could afford it.

So there's my (still short) story for now.

And I'll just echo the advice again:
While you are saving for a workshop; Learn camera first. Once you can use the thing well on sticks, in your hand, on a pedestal, etc.. Then take a workshop.
Then you will have allready know what is next. "Practice Practice Stand-up-straight! Practice"

Good luck!

- Mikko
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#11 Charles Papert

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Posted 18 March 2005 - 09:48 AM

I don't believe I've ever heard someone who is working as a Steadicam operator and who took a workshop early on say "wish I hadn't bothered with a workshop--that was a waste of money!" Quite the contrary. The only thing that I would recommend is finding a way to get some time in the system before you take the workshop, at least get to play around for a bit to get the very basics down; this way you are likely to be able to absorb more of the finer points i.e. have to learn to walk before you can run--literally!
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#12 SanderMuller

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Posted 18 March 2005 - 12:08 PM

As a totall newbie on the steadicam part (camera for many years) i would like to tell you as one newbie to another... be patient...

I also would love to go to sleep and wake up as one hell of an operator the next morning but you know as well as i do that this isnt going to happen.

Get the right feeling with all different kinds of camera's on and off set. Be someones cable carrier or assistent. Get acquaintant with operators in your neighbourhood. You really need to have that on set experience. i am lucky enough to have an employer that has the means of equipment and time to let me practice practice practice. do some low budget work: be a camera operator for a student project. and stick to your original plan... "become that steadicam operator". But be patient.

A famous statement on the forum is: When you own a steadicam it doesnt mean you are an oparator instantly.
I am working my ass of as an camera assistant to pay for my workshop..... I can take a DVCAM camera apart and put it back together with two fingers in my nose working as an technician, but have no mentionable steadicam experience at all.

Hope you will stick to your plan and maybe in several years you can say, and i quote hannibal from the well known "A-Team"



I Love it when a plan comes together!
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#13 LeighWanstead

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Posted 18 March 2005 - 03:07 PM

I can take a DVCAM camera apart and put it back together with two fingers in my nose working as an technician

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Hi Sander,

Can you give me some hint how to learn to take a DVCAM camera apart and put it back together? I have a JVC gy-dv5000 and a Panasonic GS400. Both are minidv cameras. I am interested to learn inside of my camera, maybe do some mod. But I worried that I damage my camera.

TIA

Regards
Leigh
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#14 Daniel Stilling DFF

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Posted 18 March 2005 - 06:00 PM

My .02 are a litlle different.
The workshop is incredibly important, but before you do that IMHO I believe that you should be a good camera operator before deciding on becoming a Steadicam Operator and doing the workshop. All you learn about framing and everything around it should be 2nd nature before you put the rig on because, believe me, your brain (and body) will be swamped with new information and techniques, so it's very important to be a good regular camera operator to start with.
After some time doing that, you probably worked some and were able to save money to go to the workshop. DO IT!!
Believe me, Steadicam = expensive. 2K is not much compared to the valuable information and networking you get.

Good luck, and be patient...

Daniel
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#15 SanderMuller

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Posted 19 March 2005 - 04:00 AM

I can take a DVCAM camera apart and put it back together with two fingers in my nose working as an technician

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Hi Sander,

Can you give me some hint how to learn to take a DVCAM camera apart and put it back together? I have a JVC gy-dv5000 and a Panasonic GS400. Both are minidv cameras. I am interested to learn inside of my camera, maybe do some mod. But I worried that I damage my camera.

TIA

Regards
Leigh

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Hi Leigh,

My advise.... don't open up your camera and try to modify it.. for instance you need exploded views and specific technical knowledge

I am trained and schooled in fixing and repairing that sort of camera's. You can imagine that if you open up your dv5000 the parts will come flying around your ears. Even with my experience of cleaning and service i sometimes have difficulties with specific repairs or services. If you really want to keep your cam's in good condition i would suggest that you leave it up to a trained technician. If you really want to learn this you could try and work alongside a tech that repairs camera's in your neighbourhood. This is how i learned the tricks of that trade. Maybe this is something for you to consider?...

Hope to have informed you well,

Best regards

Sander Muller
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