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#1 GerardSava

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 02:52 PM

So today begins the earnest search for a new Steadicam. After 12 years with my Ultra 1 and fabulous service from Dan and Derek at Tiffen, I think It's time. I had a good talk with Greg Bubb about his beautiful machine and have always loved the military simplicity of the PRO, MK-V's simplicity and local productions are enticing and with a week of whip pans and running around with an AR just past and a 3D project looming, a bigger post seems inevitable. 

To be fair to all the manufacturers, I imagine life without a tilting top stage is possible but painful. Two weeks of whip pans and running in low, low-mode make me cringe imagining what those batteries are doing around my head on a rig with no tilting ability. So herein lies the struggle.

 

 Can I get an Ultra without so much Ultra above the gimbal?

 

How do you balance an Ultimate when the CineTape is switching sides every three minutes?

And, what am I getting from the Ultimate LEH that I'd miss with PRO or MK-V?

 

Has anyone figured a way to angle the batteries an an Ultimate?

 

Can a DB3 or Betz unit replace the top stage on an Ultimate? Should it?

 

Modularity claims aside, the boys at Tiffen have been fantastic for me every time I've needed them.

That has to count for something. And it's got a tilt stage. Amazing how much wobble can be eliminated with a few clothespins jammed in the top stage.

 

Love to hear from anyone about the machines.

 

Gerard Sava

 

 

 

 


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#2 Robert Starling SOC

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 05:35 PM

Hi Gerard,

 

After three Tiffen rigs (two with tilting top stages) I too thought it would be a huge adjustment and burden to not have a tilting top stage as I used it all the time.  That was not the case at all.

 

Now I own both an XCS Ultimate 2 as well as the new PRO CineLive and there's never been one single day or a shot where I found myself hurting or wishing for the tilting top stage again. There was no adaptation period, it simply did not matter except in my own mind apparently. Within a few days of switching to the XCS the feature based differences were invisible to the exceptional design, rigid post, silky gimbal and professional craftsmanship. These rigs (PRO/XCS) are built to order and if it matters to you Made in the USA.

 

Frankly I was not shopping for a second rig but when I saw the CineLive it was love at first sight.  Both rigs have their place in my work and both rigs can cover the entire range of cameras except the CineLive would probably not be the best choice for 3D unless I upgraded a few of the modules.

 

I'd be happy to answer any questions you have regarding the two rigs and their comparison with the Steadicam brand and models I owned.

 

Tiffen treated me well and gave good customer service back then.  I have heard several CS complaints from operators recently though but I do not know the complete details. I think the difference you'll see in both XCS and PRO is that they are designed, crafted and assembled by the owners and family of the companies.

 

Give everything a good look and learn from my stupid mistakes of not investigating other options.

 

Enjoy the process!

 

Robert


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#3 Jens Piotrowski SOC

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 05:56 PM

" How do you balance an Ultimate when the CineTape is switching sides every three minutes?"

 

Takes the same amount of time as on any other rig, just at the LEH, takes a couple of days to get used to...

 

or you use a little trick, place a similar weight item on the opposite side of the mattbox as a counterweight...

 

 

"And, what am I getting from the Ultimate LEH that I'd miss with PRO or MK-V?"

 

The Ultimate is the only rig to my knowledge that can use all 3 batteries to power the camera

 

"Can a DB3 or Betz unit replace the top stage on an Ultimate? Should it?"

 

No it cannot at the moment, completely different mount than the PRO and there is also no reason. The Ultimate topstage is superb, rock solid, with no moving parts and no vibrations. Believe me, it took me a couple of days to switch my brain around to adjust on the LEH rather than on the topstage, now it's second nature...plus you can keep your right hand on the gimbal handle at all times...


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#4 Eric Fletcher S.O.C.

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 06:02 PM

"How do you balance an Ultimate when the CineTape is switching sides every three minutes?"

Why don't you have a cinetape dummy weight? It's 7oz. I always wear one on the opposite side of the mattebox.
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#5 RonBaldwin

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 06:14 PM

"How do you balance an Ultimate when the CineTape is switching sides every three minutes?"

Why don't you have a cinetape dummy weight? It's 7oz. I always wear one on the opposite side of the mattebox.

 

oh no you didn't! Adding dead wt to your sled after we were shocked at people adding weights instead of a battery to the zephyr to build in inertia!? :-)  I would turn the side to side knob and not add the wt (or just use one of Greg's side to side plates which I admittedly only saw once but thought was cool) but I do not own an Ultimate so maybe there isn't the travel being on the bottom?

 

Gerard...Contact Brooks Robinson.  He is a very happy XCS sled owner who can let you know what growing pains to expect.  The shots you describe with the whips in low mode are the one situation I have run into that I wished I had a tilting stage...or some kind of tilting low mode bracket to take the curse off the battery to the noggin situation. 

 

rb


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#6 Eric Fletcher S.O.C.

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 06:26 PM

"How do you balance an Ultimate when the CineTape is switching sides every three minutes?"
Why don't you have a cinetape dummy weight? It's 7oz. I always wear one on the opposite side of the mattebox.

 
oh no you didn't! Adding dead wt to your sled after we were shocked at people adding weights instead of a battery to the zephyr to build in inertia!? :-)  I would turn the side to side knob and not add the weight

Actually I just make my guys run dual displays. Problem solved
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#7 RonBaldwin

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 07:10 PM

much better solution!


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#8 Jens Piotrowski SOC

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 07:43 PM

How do you run two displays and still plug in your cinetape interface cable?
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#9 GerardSava

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 08:12 PM

Great to hear all your input, my questions regarding the CineTape were meant as an example of frequent side to side adjustments that might be frustrating with the XCS rig. 

The LEH question remains. Other than using all 3 batts for camera power, which, before the Alexa XT put the Codex internally, would be massively helpful, do I need the DC so elegantly massaged or can I just trust that hot batteries and big wires will keep the lights on? 

As for the tilting stage, in low mode it is way more comfortable and agile to be tilted up but having the camera aiming differently from the normal axis is a bit disorienting. Like operating a camera with the viewfinder prism twisted or an eyepiece much higher than the lens. But it spins better. I don't think I need the tilting stage to be adjustable either, just up, down and level. 

I guess I want it to be strong, reliable and good looking. Like me. HA.

Can all of you guys with the newer rigs run dual link cables and hdsi to Codex or transmitters on the base?

 

Gerard


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#10 Brian Freesh

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 08:30 PM

Why would frequent side to side adjustments be more frustrating on an XCS than any other rig?


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#11 RonBaldwin

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 09:51 PM

Why would frequent side to side adjustments be more frustrating on an XCS than any other rig?


I could be totally wrong -- but it seems because the LEH/batts weigh less than the camera and are farther from the gimbal it has to move quite a bit farther to accomplish the same thing. Perhaps a small price to pay for such a rigid rig and great power management system. Balancing the camera is critical with this rig -- not a big deal once you are used to it.
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#12 Brian Freesh

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 10:22 PM

Yeah, that was my understanding too, small tweaks would likely be easier, but large adjustments might take a bit longer.

 

 -- not a big deal once you are used to it.

 

 

Moreover I figured the same, and it seems to be what users have said for years as well as in this thread.  Once you're used to it, your used to it. And it doesn't take long to get used to. Just wanted to make sure there wasn't something I was missing.  I've never heard of anyone being frustrated with balancing on an XCS.


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#13 Jens Piotrowski SOC

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 10:25 PM

Since its further away from the gimbal it actually does more (leverage), having owned both pro and XCS , its pretty much the same...
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#14 Brian Freesh

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 10:34 PM

Oh right more leverage not less (for distance from gimbal), but it is less weight like Ron said, so that's less leverage. But then you're bottom heavy, so I guess it is overall more leverage (of course you're only moving a portion of that bottom weight). The more neutral you are I guess the more it would have the same effect to move the top or bottom a given distance.

 

Sounds enough like a wash to me, I think I'm more frustrated thinking about it than i would be rebalancing after moving a cinetape readout.


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#15 Eric Fletcher S.O.C.

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Posted 14 June 2013 - 12:49 AM

Great to hear all your input, my questions regarding the CineTape were meant as an example of frequent side to side adjustments that might be frustrating with the XCS rig. 

The LEH question remains. Other than using all 3 batts for camera power, which, before the Alexa XT put the Codex internally, would be massively helpful, do I need the DC so elegantly massaged or can I just trust that hot batteries and big wires will keep the lights on? 

As for the tilting stage, in low mode it is way more comfortable and agile to be tilted up but having the camera aiming differently from the normal axis is a bit disorienting. Like operating a camera with the viewfinder prism twisted or an eyepiece much higher than the lens. But it spins better. I don't think I need the tilting stage to be adjustable either, just up, down and level. 

I guess I want it to be strong, reliable and good looking. Like me. HA.

Can all of you guys with the newer rigs run dual link cables and hdsi to Codex or transmitters on the base?

 

Gerard

 

 

No adjustment is frustrating with the XCS, I'd say that once used to the adjusters it's easier to get a more precise balance than with other rigs (It has to do with moving the minor weight and gaining finer control thru that)

 

Strength?  you won't find a stronger more rigid sled. Reliability? It's utterly bombproof.

 

Dual link thru the center post?  not an issue

 

If you are looking at XCS seek out those that have the rig not the speculators for advice it's that different in design philosophy and flying that you really have to have experience using it to talk about it.


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