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#1 Domenico

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Posted 09 November 2015 - 04:51 AM

Hello everyone!

 

I have just completed the Tiffen Gold Workshop, which was amazing and learned a huge amount!

Now that I realized that this is the direction I want to take, I definetely need a steadicam, both for practicing and, hopefully, to start working and build a showreel.

Unfortunately I am still not very experienced (the workshop was my first chance to actually operate a steadicam), but I have got few ideas of what I want... which I am writing here so that you, with your experience and wisdom, you can tell me what I NEED and hopefully if some of you has something second hand which meets these "criteria" maybe we could make a deal?

I am based in London, so if someone from UK has an offer for me would be ideal, but I am absolutely opened to anyone in any country.

Therefore, I would like to build with you a list, so I can use that list to focus on buying what I actually need at this stage.

Ok, so:

 

SLED

 

- Something strong enough to support an Alexa, maybe an Archer? (I have heard many times of people who lost jobs because they couldn't use an Alexa with their steadicam)

- Tilt head

- Connectors... what conneectors do you think I should definetely have on the sled, in order to be able to operate a reasonable wide range of cameras?

- stiffening system? (but maybe it might be too much a this stage for me?)

- double-side battery plate? V-mount?

 

VEST

I tried few times the new Exovest at the workshop and I liked it. I know it's more of a personal choice, but if you have any suggestions about it please tell me.

 

ARM

I was thinking something like the G-50X? Again, please tell me your thoughts about it, if you have other arms/brands in mind.

 

MAINTENANCE

What should I need to keep everything clean and in perfect working conditions? Any lubrificant, cover (especially for the arm), way to clean the vest, etc..?

 

DOCKING STAND

I really liked the "Jerry Hill's" type of stand (the one that "clicks" when the sled is in position), I found the other ones a bit annoying to put the little pin every time you dock the Sled.

 

SAND BAG?

Maybe I need one or two sand bags, to put on the stand for when I practice at home?

 

TRANSVIDEO MONITOR (or maybe you could suggest me something else?)

- Not sure yet about the inches.

- I was thinking something with anti-reflection coating

- Flip and tilt on its CG

- Framelines and artificial horizon, something that can help me to quickly check the verticals (I know you can check for verticals on the frame, but as I still need to practice, it might be handy to have some kind of tools to help me at the beginning, what do you think?)

 

BATTERIES

- I was thinking 4, plus one charger... would it be enough? And what brand would you suggest?

 

FOLLOW FOCUS

I know everyone would go for a Preston, but what about the RT motion and AXIS1? I found them not bad I must say.

 

WIRELESS VIDEO TRANSMITTER

Which brand would you suggest, apart from the Teradek? Even though I know that the last generation of Teradek is much better.

 

BITS AND PIECES

Anything else I should consider?Tools, cables, bags, cases, screws, anything?

 

 

Sorry for this long message, but as you know, steadicam is something as beautiful as expensive! So I really want to be sure about what I need to practice effectively... and making some money out of it!

therefore I am looking forward to every suggestions that can help me to build a precise and clear list of what I am looking for.

Thank you very much for your patience, wish all of you a lovely day.


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#2 Janice Arthur

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Posted 09 November 2015 - 04:07 PM

Domineco;

Happy you're here and welcome.

1) read a lot here before buying
2) find operators near you and make friends, you'll learn tons.
3) figure out what YOUR market is, not what you think it is; is it mostly commercials?
4) buying a big rig just because you are trying to get to Alexa jobs may not make sense.
5) maybe for it can take five years to get to Alexa jobs and a zephyr might work fine for five years?
6) buying any gear too fast means you'll probably buy wrong gear.
7) market yourself and find some rental gear for now and go get dirty, get out there and figure out what your market needs.
8) small steps and learning as you go rather than big purchase right up front.
9) heck a used flyer for $2-3,000. and a year or two will hold most cameras and you can learn and practice and do a bunch of jobs and when u learn a bunch then buy smarter.

We've seen countless smart ops jump in fast only to learn bad lessons the hard way, I know I did. The world is also changing fast you don't need just a big rig to make money.
Good luck.

Janice
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#3 Victor Lazaro

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Posted 09 November 2015 - 09:15 PM

Hi there,

Janice said it right. I started with a Zephyr fro 3 years and was really happy with it, I could fly anything up to a big Red Epic, It allwed me to learn what I was looking for into a sled, what I liked and disliked about what I had and what would make my work better. A Zephyr or a Flyer LE could be a good start. You can always sell them back, they tend to keep their value if you take good care of them. 

 

Now for your questions, I am answering for your knowledge but might not recommend it for you immediately. I will anser for "big rigs", those statements might not be relevant for a starter sled.

To start, I own a GPI PRO Cine live (the package they have on their site) I'm really happy with it and would recommend it in a heart beat, but it comes to about $40,000 so make sure that's what you want to do for a living before investing. 

 

SLED 

It's the most hyped part, but in my opinion the least important one. Each sled, apart from some accessories and gadgets, are fairly similay, they have to be rigid and hold the camera, batteries and monitor. Now for the details, I like it to be modular, be it PRO, XCS, MKV or the new M-One from Tiffen having the ability to take it apart means that it's easier to fix broken things, you only have to swap that part instead of sending the whole sled in a case to the factory in California.

 

- Fly an Alexa, that depends on your market. Alexa is fairly heavy and it is slowly being replaced by the Alexa mini in some markets for Steadicam. Maybe see if a local op can rent you his sled on the occasions when you get an Alexa call? The weight is actually more about the type of arm you would buy.

- Tilt head is cool but not mandatory. I don't have one and I'm happy.

- Connectors, All main sleds are fairly equivalent in connectors, each brand has their personal connectors you will need custom cable for all of them. The only thing I could think of is HD-SDI lines, having at least 2 is useful, but 1 is enough for most of the time.

- Not sure what you mean by stiffening system. Antlers and Gyro? in due time you will buy when you feel that you need it. 

- Batteries are great for counterbalancing your seld and powering everything. I use Anton Bauer batteries but V-lock is great too. See what camera operators are using in your area and go with the same, you'll be able to share power with them.

 

ARM

I own a PRO Atlas. I love it. It is smooth as butter (the smoothest of all I tried) it is very similar to the G50x. G-70 and PRO Titan are similar too and can hold more weight. Older arms like Master or IIIA are good too, but I've never really used them so I can't really speak about them. 

I would say the arm is the most important part of your kit, it will determine you max capacity, and a bad arm will show your steps and ruin your shot. 

 

MAINTENANCE

GPI PRO has some great maintenance videos. I'd say get the things you need when you need them. You can get most oils and sprays on Amazon with next day delivery if you're in a bind. http://www.gpiprosys...m/tutorials.phpKeep your sled clean and dust it off, make sure all the parts are sitting tight. You will feel if something is funky when you operate.

 

DOCKING STAND

Sure the Hill bracket is cool, but honestly, who cares? it's not going to make you earn or loose jobs. (I have one because it's the only one that GPI PRO sells for their sled, but definitely not mandatory)

 

SAND BAG

I don't own one, also, I should... maybe... nah..

 

MONITOR

Transvideo is great but pricey, look for alternatives if you want. Here's a list I made a while back . https://docs.google....dit?usp=sharing

High bright is good, anti reflection is great. Framelines are useful. Flip and all are nice to have but you can live without it. 

- I have a 7 in and I like that size. remember bigger is not always better, it gets in the way, bumps on things and you don't see the whole picture if the arm is in the way. 

- antireflective and High nits if you shoot outside is mandatory, you can't place a hood on your Steadicam. 

- for the tilt on CG, I juse cam-jam.de Quattro mount. The best mount on the market. 

- Digital level is good to have, but a good old spirit level can work really well too 

 

BATTERIES

I started with 3 batteries on a Zephyr. Then 4, now 8. I have all AB Dionic HC because most of my market is on Anton Bauer. Get the minimum you need first (3 is good, you use one, charge one and one is standing by) then buy more when you feel the need. Also batteries are supposed to live on a plug charger when not used. The charger will maintain them in good health. 

 

WIRELESS FF

Preston is the king. but unless you work every day, it will be hard to make the price back in rental. See what others have around you (it's always good to be able to swap parts with other ops) I have a Bartech Analogue, it's solid and works every time, plus ACs know how to use it. Axis 1 is great RT also. 

 

WIRELESS VIDEO

Get a Teradek Bold 300 there are a lot of 'em on the used market. I had a Paralinx arrow and was not so happy with it. 

 

BITS AND PIECES

You will need cables to power the most common cameras (Arri, Red, XLR power...) You build your kit slowly. 

 

OK NOW that I answered all your question let me reiterate that rushing into buying is the wrong thing to do. 

Also Before anything, read as much as you can on this forum and keep an eye in the Marketplace, you will see what people have, what they are selling, at what price and what sells super fast. Don't hesitate to ask questions if you can't find the answer in the archives. 


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#4 Domenico

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Posted 10 November 2015 - 10:01 AM

Thank you so much Janice and Victor for taking the time to answering all my questions!

I though that it would have been good to buy "once" and stick with the same steadicam for few years... but I must say that you are right, It's best to buy something smaller and then upgrate when time will come (probably the zaphir might be a good compromise).

Thanks Victor for the brands suggestions, I might be interested in trying the pro arm and/or sled but where can I have the chance to try it out? Maybe optical support?

Regarding the monitor, if I buy a really good monitor, then I would keep using it even when I will upgrate to another steadicam, so It's fine, I guess.

I think I would go for the Axis1, maybe the teradek too, but I might need to do more research first.

Anyway I will follow your suggestions and wait a bit before rushing buying, in the meantime I hope optical support will give me the chance to pop by for some testing/practice, I will also ask some operators I know (even though I don't really want to bother people for this, if I have my own steadicam I would just practice whenever I want/can).

Anyway yes, I will kee reading and searching and hopefully some good deals will come up!

Thanks so much, you are all amazing!
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#5 Janice Arthur

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Posted 10 November 2015 - 11:57 AM

Domenico

Yes in a perfect world you would buy just once but we have no idea what budget you have; knowledge you have at ten different levels of equipment or the business; or about ten other things so to get u up to speed starting smaller might be the way to go.

There are too many variables right now to answer you with definitive - buy this - kinds of response. We can only say here are ways to educate yourself and MAYBE not make TOO MANY costly mistakes. Yes you will still make mistakes but maybe you'll make fewer.

Who knows where you may end up in Steadicam, high, low or in the middle?

Again your education has just started.

Janice
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#6 Andrew Ng

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Posted 11 November 2015 - 03:14 PM

Domenico,

 

I'm sure there's a lot to take in at the moment, but I definitely want to encourage you to reach out to the manufacturers you're planning to invest in.

I know there are a few members here in this forum that work for many of the manufacturers that you mention.

 

Please utilize me as a contact for Teradek and I can be a gateway for any Paralinx or SmallHD questions for now.

I think one of the best parts of this Steadicam Forum is that we're surrounded by a wealth of knowledge and expertise, particularly from operators who use these tools everyday.

In my opinion, it's extremely powerful and necessary to continuing the craft!

 

So when you are ready, please do not hesitate to reach out. And again, I do encourage you to reach out to the other manufacturers you plan to have in your kit as it will give you the best opportunity for support and making the right investments.

 

Andrew


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#7 Domenico

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Posted 12 November 2015 - 02:12 PM

You are perfectly right Janice, I must get more experience with smaller rigs, rather than buying something the probably I will not the opportunity to use at its full potential for a (long) while!

 

Thank you Andrew for your suggestions, I will definetely get as much info as possible before making "the step"! And thank you so much for your kind offer, I will keep it in mind!

However, I probably forgot to mention that I know a couple of cinematographers who owns their own cameras (mostly F7S and RED Epic/Scarlet) and they already told me that whenever I feel ready, they will definetely give me the chance to operate their cameras, so that's why I might need something that can hold at least a RED (which the zephir can do, as far as I know... the important is that it can hold a red without putting too much stress on the arm, for example what would be the heaviest set up I could safely use with a Red on the zephir, considering also a wireless FF? ... or maybe an archer2 would be "safer"?)

 

Thanks!


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#8 Adrian Proleiko

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Posted 18 December 2015 - 04:30 PM

Follow focus. i would go with CAME, as they are pretty cheap, and very high quality. i don't own came myself, but its a good starter kit. as far as connectors go, the main ones for me have been sdi and hdmi. for the sled, you should go with also a came, but for the vest and arm, definitely go for the tiffen brand. the off brand ones aren't that good. for the monitor, find a cheap one on eBay or go to this website i found called "Made In China" (http://www.made-in-china.com) And you can buy directly from the supplier. to be honest though, if your just starting out, get a cheap sled for a dslr and start shooting videos with your friends. find a cool place with lots of movement, and just shoot something. operate at weddings to start, then after you make some money, upgrade your whole rig to tiffen brand steadicams. i would go with the pilot or scout. maybe a zephyr if you can afford it. if you can afford a big camera, then get one. (I would advise a kinefinity brand one) as you will get more jobs if you own your own kit.


Edited by Adrian Proleiko, 18 December 2015 - 04:35 PM.

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#9 Victor Lazaro

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Posted 18 December 2015 - 08:56 PM

I used the Zephyr with pretty heavy red packages, zoom lens and what not. 

It held well up to a point a couple of years after buying it where I wanted to be able to fly anything without worrying about overloading and went for GPI PRO (I would have never gone with a PRO sled as my first rig btw, it would have been a waste but I love it now that I have a few more hours under the hood). 

This package you see below flew really nicely. The limitations with the zephyr are vibrations in the center post with extra heavy cameras, and the gimbal starts to get detuned under the load (I had to recalibrate it a couple of times)

 

 

10509699_10152207846726099_5166916759487


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#10 Touacha Her

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Posted 20 December 2015 - 02:15 PM

I am about to make a jump into buying my first rig too. Been reading for years now and messing around with Steadicam Merlin's, a old steadicam sled with vest and arm, and even shadowed a pro steadicam operator. 

 

Adrian mentioned the came remote follow focus, I was thinking about getting their steadicam rig too since it covers it seems like a great range for a great entry level price for me. Anyone have any thoughts about Came's steadicam rig?


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#11 Chris Loh

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Posted 20 December 2015 - 06:29 PM

Kevin Andrews is selling a Red Rock FF for cheap. I'd purchase that any day over the Came remote ff.


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#12 Calvin Falk

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Posted 21 December 2015 - 02:11 PM

Hi all, do you guys have any opinions on the Glidecam rigs (x-30 and x-45) versus the Tiffen rigs with the G-50 arm? In terms of quality and ergonomics?
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#13 Victor Lazaro

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Posted 21 December 2015 - 03:18 PM

Tiffen and G-50 is far superior to the Glidecam. I didn't say the Glidecam sucks, but you will have better results and less hassle with the Tiffen. 


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#14 EH Marshall

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Posted 02 January 2016 - 10:17 PM

There are some great deals on Preston kits if you're patient. 7K - 10K can get you an older, full FI+Z Preston with preston motors if you have the time to wait. I have a full system with one motor I'm thinking of selling for 4K, so they are out there, just check for them regularly. You won't be sorry if you get a Preston. I would say that's one thing you can get and not feel like you've upgraded too quickly. It's also something that can be rented out for regular camera builds as well as steadicam. 


Edited by EH Marshall, 02 January 2016 - 10:20 PM.

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