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EX1 Balancing

EX1 Sony EX1 Pilot Steadicam Pilot

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#1 Richard Browne

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Posted 18 March 2013 - 07:43 AM

Hello folks,

 

I have a Steadicam Pilot and a couple of different cameras to use with it - a Sony NX3D1 and a PMW EX1.

 

The EX1 would be the preferable camera to use on it but so far I've had little luck getting it balanced (certainly in the way that all the pro users get it balanced!) While being a newb with this piece of kit, I've spent a good couple of days tweaking gimbal height, mounting on the cheese plate, setting balance points with the bottom post and the stage and different configurations of weights. I'm thinking that I'm missing something obvious to do with how to set it, or perhaps I'm just being too impatient with the process of setup.

 

I have found that I can tweak and adjust the sled to the point of getting the cameras rested upright and balanced but as soon as I touch or move the camera, it fails to right itself back to that perfect point. I am also finding if very difficult to get the camera balanced in such a way as to avoid the pendulum effect of stopping when wearing the rig.

 

I was wondering if any of you EX1 users out there could share configurations of gimbal height and weight-placement that you find give you a nice static/dynamic balance?

 

Any advice and tips would be greatly appreciated!

 

Kind regards,

Richard


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#2 Alan Rencher

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Posted 18 March 2013 - 10:59 AM

It sounds to me like your sled is too top heavy. What is your drop-time?


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#3 Evrim KAYA

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Posted 18 March 2013 - 11:11 AM

When you say “soon as I touch or move the camera, it fails to right itself back to that perfect point” I think of near neutral top to bottom balance but you also say “very difficult to get the camera balanced in such a way as to avoid the pendulum effect of stopping when wearing the rig” which points more of a too bottom heavy situation.

 

Perhaps you should film yourself while balancing the rig. Then we could pinpoint what’s wrong and help you with it.

 

May I suppose you already read the handbook?


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#4 Richard Browne

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Posted 18 March 2013 - 11:13 AM

2.5-3 seconds, Alan. I've got 2 medium weights, 1 large and 1 small and I've weighted the base with 1 medium behind the v-lock and the rest to the front.

 

Perhaps I'm extending the sled too quickly - feels to me that, if not extended, the gimbal's ridden up to nearly under the stage.

 

I tried shooting the NX3D1 on it and I felt much happy with the balance achieved... still not great but closer to what I thought it should be.

 

Is it worth having a look at a training course to learn how a properly balanced rig feels?


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#5 Richard Browne

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Posted 18 March 2013 - 11:18 AM

@Evrim always a fair question! I've read through it and watched a couple of the different on-line tutorials. One thing which they all seem to be light on, though I suppose there's no easy answer to this, is if the camera weighs x, weight the stage and bottom pole with y... is there a way of figuring this out or is it really just what feels good at the time?

 

We wound up getting this piece of kit in to the company with the desire to use it but not the expertise of ever having used similar before. I'm trying to figure it out to up our production standards and also prevent this lovely piece of kit from gathering dust...


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#6 Evrim KAYA

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Posted 18 March 2013 - 11:30 AM

3 seconds of drop time should be ok generally. When you have more experience you will go by feeling rather than the counted seconds.

 

Also don’t be afraid about gimbal getting close to the top stage. I actually think that the pendulum effect you’re talking about is from the gimbal being too low from the camera. As the post between the gimbal and the camera gets longer, smallest angular errors on your operating hand will transfer to the camera as large angular movement such as tilt and roll axis. So I think the effect is not actually pendulum motion but more of an operating error amplified by lower gimbal.  

 

You should really consider taking a workshop to really learn about what you’re doing. Not just for balancing the rig but also in order to operate correctly. Steadicam is not a plug-and-play equipment so you’ll benefit from having real operators/teachers teaching you how to do it properly.


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#7 Evrim KAYA

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Posted 18 March 2013 - 11:40 AM

if the camera weighs x, weight the stage and bottom pole with y... is there a way of figuring this out or is it really just what feels good at the time?

 

I can’t answer your question as there is not a single answer to that question. There is not a single balance configuration for each camera/rig. It depends on what you’re shooting, how much you want to get high or low, will there be fast action like running scenes or more of a subtle slow moving camera, very fast pans or not? You balance your rig as the scene dictates. That’s also why taking a workshop when you can, will help you a lot.


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#8 Jerry Holway

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Posted 18 March 2013 - 12:24 PM

Typically the sled weighs about 1/4 to 1/3 of the camera package, although this can vary widely up or down, with desired or undesired consequences for sled length, gimbal position, and inertial imbalances.

 

As a starting point, try putting the gimbal an inch or two (25-50mm) below the stage, and add or remove weights below until the rig has a 2-3 second drop time.

 

As everyone has said, take a workshop - even a two day workshop does wonders for getting you started on the right path and not stuck on the basics.

 

Jerry


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#9 Alan Rencher

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Posted 18 March 2013 - 12:29 PM

Richard. You should take a new approach to balancing. Forget the weights for now. I want you to remove the camera and weights, and go through this list:

 

1) Adjust the balance of the bottom stage: with the monitor set at the angle you operate in, and the battery attached, place the rig on its side on the dock so that the center post rolls freely. This will allow you to counterbalance the monitor and battery.

 

2) Set the distance of the monitor and battery from the center post so that the bottom stage keeps parallel to the ground. (This will only have to be set once, ever, unless you change something on the bottom.)

 

3) Dock the rig.

 

4) Put the CG of the camera over the center of the post (make sure you find the CG with all accessories and cables attached).

 

4) Set your drop time: Put the rig on the balance pin, get a quick static balance, and find the drop time by moving the gimbal, or lengthening the post.

 

3) Use the knobs for precise balance adjustments.

 

5) Profit.

 

You should only use the weights if you 1) are approaching the Pilot's max weight capacity, and you need extra weight on the bottom. You will still need to keep the bottom balanced, though. Or 2) if you are adding something to the camera that is too front or back heavy to adjust by other means. In that case you will just add them to the stage that is having the weight distribution problem.


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#10 Eric Fletcher S.O.C.

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Posted 18 March 2013 - 02:29 PM

Richard. You should take a new approach to balancing. Forget the weights for now. I want you to remove the camera and weights, and go through this list:
 
1) Adjust the balance of the bottom stage: with the monitor set at the angle you operate in, and the battery attached, place the rig on its side on the dock so that the center post rolls freely. This will allow you to counterbalance the monitor and battery.
 
2) Set the distance of the monitor and battery from the center post so that the bottom stage keeps parallel to the ground. (This will only have to be set once, ever, unless you change something on the bottom.)
 
3) Dock the rig.
 
4) Put the CG of the camera over the center of the post (make sure you find the CG with all accessories and cables attached).
 
4) Set your drop time: Put the rig on the balance pin, get a quick static balance, and find the drop time by moving the gimbal, or lengthening the post.
 
3) Use the knobs for precise balance adjustments.



Oh look my method of dynamic balance. Watch out Jerry will tell you that method is not dynamic balance just " Really good static balance" yet the rig spins flat and that by definition IS dynamic balance
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#11 Alan Rencher

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Posted 18 March 2013 - 05:04 PM

I learned from the best.


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#12 Richard Browne

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Posted 19 March 2013 - 07:38 AM

Thanks very much for the info, Alan and Jerry - very useful.

 

Based on Alan's instructions, I've probably been making the mistake of putting the camera on too early in the proceedings then playing around with the bottom pole to attempt to counterbalance.


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#13 Zoran Vincic

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Posted 08 July 2013 - 06:06 AM

First of all, sorry for reviving an old thread :)


I fly a EX1 with a juice design baseplate (IMO baseplate is essential for steadicam and this cam as the EX1 has an awfully designed bottom) and a Pilot with V-lock batteries (small IDX ones in the VLB kit).

I have a original Sony 0.8x wide angle adapter on and often a led light and sennheiser ew100 g3 audio receiver.

 

The camera is powered from the sled as it's already top heavy and I had to remove the camera's battery.

I have no trouble achieving dynamic balance in stripped down configuration or fully loaded, so it certainly CAN BE DONE. My drop time is around 3.5 sec.

Here's a video I did when I got the Pilot, the cam is without a wide converter but it has an battery attached.
There's also no baseplate in this video but I used a Manfrotto quick release system.


I don't balance it this way anymore, I have moved the gimbal closer to the top stage and shortened the post as I found that i have some vibrations when operating aggresively with the post extended.

Oh, and I had to fine tune the gimbal to achieve nice DB. You can find the instructions on the Tiffen's Ultra page or have them email you the pdf (the procedure is the same).


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