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Steadicam Operator/Experienced Skier


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#1 Greg Wheeler

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Posted 30 December 2012 - 07:16 PM

Hello All,

I'am currently in the process of planning a shoot sometime this winter and was looking to see if there are any operators that are experienced skiers. I am looking to do some high speed shots following,leading, and tracking a snowboarder. If anyone has any insight or is capable of this I would love to discuss in more detail. You can contact me at greg@brainfarmcinema.com

Best,
Greg
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#2 Eric Fletcher S.O.C.

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Posted 30 December 2012 - 07:49 PM

Hard mount to a snow machine would be your best and safest bet
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#3 Alex Kolb

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Posted 30 December 2012 - 08:05 PM

I agree with Mr. Fletcher on this one. I'd also contact Rob Vuona (he's a forum member). I was hired a the DP on a commercial for a goggle company recently, and Mr. V referred me to the guy who designed the follow-camera stabilizers for the X games. It's actually a totally different design than Steadicam, but allows for very smooth shots (relying on the natural smoothness of skis on snow to take care of some of the shakes). If you're working at fast speeds, I'd highly suggest taking that approach. The design doesn't come with the learning curve of Steadicam, meaning that you could hire a normal camera operator with a skiing expertise.
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#4 Greg Wheeler

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Posted 30 December 2012 - 08:24 PM

I agree with Mr. Fletcher on this one. I'd also contact Rob Vuona (he's a forum member). I was hired a the DP on a commercial for a goggle company recently, and Mr. V referred me to the guy who designed the follow-camera stabilizers for the X games. It's actually a totally different design than Steadicam, but allows for very smooth shots (relying on the natural smoothness of skis on snow to take care of some of the shakes). If you're working at fast speeds, I'd highly suggest taking that approach. The design doesn't come with the learning curve of Steadicam, meaning that you could hire a normal camera operator with a skiing expertise.


I agree with the hard mount snowmobile approach ( I am working on something along those lines for a separate scene on this film) The only issue is that where we would be following the snowboarder it's impossible to get a snowmobile to that location, and in tales some advanced maneuvers in the woods. With the rigs that they use for X games are they able to handle the payload of an Alexa/Red? It seems like they use smaller lightweight cameras. Thank you guys for your suggestions and insight.
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#5 Eric Fletcher S.O.C.

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Posted 30 December 2012 - 08:39 PM

The only issue is that where we would be following the snowboarder it's impossible to get a snowmobile to that location, and in tales some advanced maneuvers in the woods.


In several of the James Bond movies they had Willy Bogner hand hold a 2C with a 200 foot mag and got some pretty good results. You can get some good results with the New GoPro Hero 3's and a Pole cam mount
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#6 Alex Kolb

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Posted 30 December 2012 - 09:15 PM

The payload is an issue, and you're correct that the X-Games U bracket was purpose-designed for their light cameras. However, there are a variety of compact digital cine cameras that production could rent, as well as some compact video heads depending on the look of the commercial.

The firm I'm working with is renting an AG HCK10E from Panasonic. This particular camera might not suit you if you're going for a cine look, but it's just an example of some of the options out there.

Edited by Alex Kolb, 30 December 2012 - 09:18 PM.

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#7 Kris Torch Wilson

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Posted 30 December 2012 - 11:33 PM

Full size rig, add a fall = broken back. Think this through!
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#8 Rob Vuona SOC

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Posted 31 December 2012 - 12:21 AM

Hi Greg,
I have done tons of follow cam, ski cam, pole cam, snowboard cam, stuff over the years. including doing steadicam off the back of a snowmobile. You have way more capabilities with todays technology compared to when I was doing it. I had to ski with a full size betacam at speed, along with shoot from a snowmobile at 60MPH. None of which is easy or pleasant , especially getting dropped off in a helicopter on top of some random peak in Valdez Alaska . . . LOL . . . .

Snow flying up onto the lens is a real issue especially off the back of a snowmobile. We used tear away lenses which worked just ok, but a spin clear motor in front of the lens helps tremendously. Yes a rig similar to the ones used at X-Games could be used for an Alexa or Red very easily, but as Eric pointed out the new GoPro-3 is pretty awesome and wicked easy to use and mount, especially on a pole mount. Text me if you need more info, I'll be running a ski tour for the next 10 days in Big Sky Montana

310-993-0667

Hope that helps
Happy New Year
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#9 John E Fry

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Posted 31 December 2012 - 03:05 AM

Hi Greg,
Just to add to Rob's suggestions, I have used a couple of the newer Sony little cameras (NX30 & CX730) which have the new and truly amazing Balanced Optical Steady Shot, which for most people works even better than a Steadicam Merlin, especially on snow as I've found the Merlin is affected too much by the wind. In fact the Balanced Steadyshot is so good I would use a camera with it instead of a bigger camera on a Merlin in many other situations too.

I shot the on-snow parts of a little snowboarding programme for Sky earlier this month with an NX30, & the director was overjoyed with the footage, which is full 1920x1080 at 50fps. Yes it's compressed AVCHD, but that is still better bitrate than the otherwise excellent (but non-stabilised) GoPro Hero 3. You also have all of the functionality & control on the NX30 or CX730 that is missing from the GoPro, such as manual control of iris, white balance, etc.

I haven't got as much experience filming on skis as Rob, but having tried many of the options for filming steadily on the snow (back as far as my trusty Steadicam JR!), depending what format is required or at least can be gotten away with, for all round ease of use vs cost, size vs quality & stability vs safety, the Balanced Steadyshot Sony cameras for me have given by far the best results, and thanks to the large LCDs, the most pleasant & adaptive filming experience too.

I'll be shooting a couple of ski films in Andorra over the next fortnight & will be taking a variety of cameras including a CX730 & GoPros so will try to do a little comparison video for when we get back.

All the best & happy shooting!
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#10 Joe Lawry

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Posted 11 January 2013 - 05:41 AM

Greg, your best bet is to probably go old school and just use an epic or scarlet as a normal follow cam setup.

Heh, the gopro suggestions here make me laugh.. Brainfarmcinema.. using gopros.. heh.
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#11 John E Fry

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Posted 15 January 2013 - 03:35 AM

As promised, here's a little test film I shot last week in Andorra, skiing with a Sony CX730 (same as their 'pro' version, the NX30 just wining the XLR block). Let's hope they don't introduce Balanced Optical Steadyshot into big cameras or we Operators might lose a lot of work!

Seriously though, I've never used an easier setup on skis, and never had better results. If your footage is only going to be 10% or less of the final programme, or not for HD broadcast, I can't recommend these cameras enough. NX30 or CX730 in the UK, CX740 or CX760 in the US.

But don't take my word for it, check out the video:



PS. After playing with the camera before the trip, I left the JR at home...
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