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experienced camera operator / inexperienced Steadi operator


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#1 Bill Kerrigan

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Posted 31 December 2012 - 03:38 PM

I'm an experienced camera operator… usually when I want movement, I use a dolly, slider, handhold or hire a steadicam operator.

But, I'm starting a new documentary in the spring, and I'd like to have the option to shoot a short steadicam shot when needed… plus the system has to 'pack very small' for travel.

I just bought a Glidecam HD400 and because my shots will be short, I'd planned to work without a vest or arm… not because of cost, but because of space.

I'll be using a barebones Sony FS700 with a fixed lens, and then a barebones Sony F5 when it becomes available.

But I'm wondering...
Should I also buy a Arm Brace?
Or should I get the vest and arm… because the footage will be so much better?


Thanks
Bill

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#2 Libor Cevelik

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Posted 31 December 2012 - 07:36 PM

Hello Bill,
my experience with handheld rig is that even with DSLR your hand will get tired very soon. this is also because the weight of HD4000 it self is high. I had HD4000 on music video .. only sled no arm or vest. And after 2 shots I could not hold it for more then few seconds still. You are going to use heavier cameras. I would say you should use arm and vest .. not that shots will be much better but you will be more relax. that I thing in document work is very important. Just try hold FS 700 in your straight hand .
Libor
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#3 Mark Schlicher

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Posted 31 December 2012 - 09:13 PM

Bill,

If you've worked with Steadicam ops on shoots before, you probably already realize that the instrument doesn't "play itself." You'll need to budget a lot of time to practice ahead of time, to get results that will be acceptable to your own eye as a DP. The vest and arm won't automatically improve visual results when you are in the early learning stages. Maybe later on with more experience.

And yes, unless the shots are short and very occasional, you will likely tire quickly without a vest and arm.
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#4 Bill Kerrigan

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Posted 01 January 2013 - 03:18 PM

Mark, in the steadicam world... I consider myself a newbie.

Although years ago, I bought a Merlin when it was first released, after watching a demo at NAB.
I used it on a documentary for the History Channel... all my setups made the cut, including the opening and closing credit shots.
This summer, I'd like to repeat the experience with a Sony F5.

I shoot mostly docs and I travel a lot... and carry as little gear possible.
So I often build, rig and adapt gear to fit my needs.
An example... simple helicopter rigs, when shooting in developing countries.

I know very little of the science applied to the design of steadicams.
I posted a question about cyborg rigs on the forum... which may seem odd.

But, I've noticed many parts and joints are similar to a human arm.
Apart from the wrist brace... has anyone tried to build something which reinforces the human arm?

Cheers,
Bill

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#5 Mark Schlicher

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Posted 01 January 2013 - 04:45 PM

Experimentation may be the only way to answer your many of your questions, as "how fatigued is too fatigued", "how bulky is too bulky for travel", "how steady is steady enough", are very subjective and individual, and driven by your physicality, the details of your project and your own aesthetic standards. I've shot a few doc's myself, so I understand the shifting tradeoffs between practical and artistic considerations.

I wish I could offer firsthand feedback on the arm brace. I've heard it helps a lot. Would it be enough to be acceptable for your use? Dunno.

From looking at the Glidecam grip handle, it always struck me that the grip is at the wrong angle, with no lip for your thumb and forefinger to rest and lift against, causing you to have to put a death-grip on the handle to hold it up (lots of handheld rigs suffer the same shortcoming.) Seems that even after improving the arm fatigue issue with a brace, you still have a hand fatigue issue to contend with.

I worked with a guy who used a Glidecam vest and arm system. It was bulky, heavy, and difficult to keep adjusted properly. If space is a premium and cost is not the major issue, the Tiffen Steadicam Pilot is very compact, light, high-performance, and can be completely broken down for storage/transport. Widely considered the best lightweight full vest-arm-sled rig by far. Not knowing the weight of an F5, I don't know if it's within the Pilot's load range, but if it is, that would be my first choice for a doc.

I've never seen a cyborg-type arm assist rig. May exist but I've not seen them.

Good luck with your project!
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#6 Nelson Villamil

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 01:11 PM

Hi Bill

Shared with the opinion with Mark, having a vest and arm system, does not translate to the operation will have a good result. The system operated only by hand and arm strength is exhausting and tiring easily. But being a rookie (and we all were), is an element that also affect the outcome. My personal opinion, every job we require new solutions. Location, terrain, climate outdoors (wind, sun, etc.), are elements that need to be taken into account provided.

Maybe you attended the event from Sony here in Montreal for new cameras F5 and F55. Sure the F5 is a lightweight version only 2.2 kg body. but sum each accessory (optical, batterys, Recorder etc). Each project and your like DP requirement is different. But in a minimum configuration of F5, a final weight is considerable, to be operated handheld.

I would think for an F5, a Steadicam Scout or Flyer LE, and "creating" a good settings according to your project requirements.

Please, as everyone on this forum, my opinion is to help everyone in the best way.

All the best.




Nelson Villamil
Cinematographer
Camera / Steadicam Operator
HD Tech. / DIT



www.nelsonx5.blogspot.com
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#7 RonBaldwin

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 03:07 PM

http://www.bhphotovi...EG&Q=&A=details
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#8 Scott Baker

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 03:02 PM

I would echo what others have said here and add that you have to consider the weight of the camera plus the sled itself.

While you may be able to fool around at home and get a couple decent shots, when you're actually out there when it counts, you want a set up that is going to let you get multiple takes without fatigue.
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#9 Bill Kerrigan

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Posted 24 January 2013 - 01:23 PM

Thank you all for the input...
Your right... after a few tries, I realize I need an arm and vest.

I don't intend to become professional operator...
I would just like to have an inexpensive kit for the odd shot.

I found a review for the Wieldy Carbon Fiber Stabilizer on You Tube.


Any thoughts?

Cheers,
Bill

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Bill Kerrigan
DOP, director, teacher
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
http://www.kerrigan.ca
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#10 Alan Rencher

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Posted 24 January 2013 - 01:44 PM

Have you looked into a pilot? You can demo them at a few different places.
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