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Those who prefer front mount - why?


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#1 Dan Coplan

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Posted 03 December 2005 - 03:24 AM

It seems that the majority of people prefer back mounted vests, but there are still those who prefer front mounted. Curious why the seemingly minority of people feel that way.

Dan Coplan
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#2 Afton Grant

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Posted 04 December 2005 - 08:35 AM

Hi Dan,

Front mounts have been around for a very long time. They do the job as well as any other. Although preference might have a little to do with it, I'd guess the primary factor is money. Back mounts are considerably more expensive.
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#3 Jason Torbitt

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Posted 04 December 2005 - 08:56 AM

Search the forum archives for LOTS more on this topic...some very interesting reading is in there.

I operate front mounted, and as soon as finances permit, I will be buying a backmounted vest. I have used a back mounted vest which belongs to a mate, and I can honestly say that the difference is astonshing; I look forward to when I can operate like that for the majority of the time. At the end of the day you only have one back; if you operate correctly, whatever vest you have, then you will be fine. But for sheer comfort, for me, the backmount is just something else.

One problem stemming from the backmounted operation is clearances through tight spaces such as doorways, as you have the wider profile and carbon arm to negotiate. Some operators have opted to keep their front mounted vest as well; others have replaced it outright with a backmount, and sold their old vest.

At the end of the day, it's all about personal preferance. What works well for you may be entirely different to someone else.
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#4 Eric Fletcher S.O.C.

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Posted 04 December 2005 - 04:12 PM

Hi Dan,

Front mounts have been around for a very long time. They do the job as well as any other. Although preference might have a little to do with it, I'd guess the primary factor is money. Back mounts are considerably more expensive.



Primary factor is NOT money, it's comfort and for some of us the backmounts just don't feel good. A few weeks ago we had to shoot a major scene and our minor actor Timed out in 2.3 hours. The scene was shot totally on steadicam and I didn't take the rig off for the full 2.3 hours. I was perfectly comfortable in my PRO Suit
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#5 Afton Grant

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Posted 04 December 2005 - 07:34 PM

Primary factor is NOT money, it's comfort and for some of us the backmounts just don't feel good. A few weeks ago we had to shoot a major scene and our minor actor Timed out in 2.3 hours. The scene was shot totally on steadicam and I didn't take the rig off for the full 2.3 hours. I was perfectly comfortable in my PRO Suit


If both styles were priced exactly the same, which style do you think would sell more? I'd bet on the back mounts. Having tried one myself, and hearing the testimonials of operators here and elsewhere that have made the switch after years of using front mounts, it sounds like these vests have been one of the best improvements made to the operators' gear in a very long time. Please note, this is not saying that front mounts are not comfortable and cannot perform the same quality job as their counterparts.
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#6 nealnorton

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Posted 04 December 2005 - 09:21 PM

I have tried 3 different back mounted vests. Besides the fact that the vest is heavy, and it takes up more room - as when going through doors - I found it very, very painful. The carbon shell even heavily padded hurt my hip bones and my upper back would start to "burn" after a few minutes. After 15 years with a front mounted vest, I might be too used to that style to make a change - but other ops with more experience than me seem to really like the change.

Make sure to give the product a good trial before buying.

Regards,

Neal Norton
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#7 Kenn Ferro SOC

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Posted 04 December 2005 - 10:47 PM

I'd have to agree with Neal, I found the back mounted vest to be heavy and uncomfortable. I wanted to like it really, I did. Seemed like a great idea. It wasn't a question of getting used to it or of cost either. It just made operating a chore.
Even if small minority use the front mounted vest (which seems like bit of an overstatement) I will still use the same vest I have had since 1991. That is, till I find a replacement that works better for me.


Kenn
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#8 Eric Fletcher S.O.C.

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Posted 05 December 2005 - 01:42 AM

Agreeing with Neil and Kenn. I know many ops that don't use back mounted vest.

I also tried a backmount and have had some of the same issues mentioned in this thread. My biggest issue was consistency of comfort. There were times that it felt great and other times it was outrageously painful.

IMO the best vest ever was the Original model One suit followed closely (So closely that it's a virtual wash) by the GPI Pro Suit.

Bottom line is get what YOU are comfortable in. But I don't think that you can go wrong with either the Pro Suit or the Klassen Back mount
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#9 chris fawcett

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Posted 05 December 2005 - 06:30 AM

I far prefer a front mount 'soft' vest. If I'd liked the rear mount vest, I'd have bought one at any cost.

Chris
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#10 jay kilroy

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Posted 05 December 2005 - 08:56 AM

Chris,

How are you? Long time no talk. I saw your name here in this thread and thought you might have talked about back issues and the back mounted harnesses. Jerry mention to me after the workshop in Paris, I think, that you two had an interesting conversation about a persons back and how it was designed. I can't quite remember and don't want to misquote. Anyway I thought this might be a good thread for you to rehash some of your very interesting points to some of us that weren't there. Please?

Jay Kilroy, SOA
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#11 Benjamin Treplin

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Posted 05 December 2005 - 12:47 PM

I only can second that. I'm highly interested.
Best
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#12 chris fawcett

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Posted 07 December 2005 - 06:19 AM

I only can second that. I'm highly interested.


Hi Ben,
Hi Jay,

Long time indeed. I hope you are keeping well. And yes, Jerry and I have had various discussions on this subject.

Before coming to camera work, I slipped a lumbar disc and spent 10 months horizontal. I have consequently devoted some time to figuring out whether steadicam is bad for the back, and have concluded to my own satisfaction that it is not?providing that the back is used well. Some fairly recent research shows that when properly used, the back auto erects to the extent that ?when the soft tissues around the spine are under appropriate tension, they can ?lift? each vertebra off the one below it.? [Robbie, David L 1977 Tensional Forces in the Human Body (Orthopaedic Review)] The implication is that when the back is not used well, it functions like ?a stack of blocks,? and can fail in the same manner.

In the still-unfinished Some Thoughts on Steadicam Posture, on the Steadicam website, I go into more detail, and generalise 3 main ways in which we can misuse ourselves while wearing a steadicam. The second of these involves pushing the hips forwards while throwing the shoulders back to counter the weight of the rig cantilevered out front. Apart from being an inefficient counterbalance, because the centre of gravity of the body is just above the hips, this posture disables the muscle groups that auto erect the spinal column. My belief is that operators adopting it will suffer back problems.

I have looked at photos of 14 operators using rigid (back-mount) vests, and 12 of them appear to adopt this posture. (A study of a sample of over 100 operators in flexible (front-mount) vests showed a rate of adoption of this posture of about 30%, almost invariably among young operators. Older operators, by experience, or by natural selection, seem to have the best operating postures of all.) It might be coincidence, or it might have a cause. It could be that operators adopting this posture find considerable relief in a vest that directs the weight away from the back and into the hips. It could be that the vest itself encourages the posture. (I?d love to see before and after photos from rigid vest users, if anyone would oblige.)

On the four occasions I tried a rigid vest, the only way I could stop the front section digging into the tops of my thigh bones, and the vertical back spar burying into the spine between my shoulder blades, was to push my hips forward thus opening the area between hips and legs, and throw my shoulders back such as to pivot the vest on my sacrum. In looking again at photos of rigid vest wearers, I notice that the more ?well-padded? the operator, the better he or she wears the vest. Skinny ones, like myself, seem to struggle with it. This makes some kind of sense to me. Rather than working like a collection of columns and levers wherein forces act locally, the human body resembles more a tensegrity structure (such as a geodesic dome), within which forces are distributed by interconnecting webs of tissue. (A good example of this is the shoulder. The bulk of the weight supported by the arm is not transferred into the body by means of a bony joint, but via the shoulder blade, which floats within the trapezius muscle of the back.) A ?well padded? operator in a rigid vest would be transferring load into underlying tissue, thus distributing it, whereas a skinny one would be inserting it locally. A flexible vest tends, by its nature, to distribute load more globally.

I am aware that a tailor-made rigid vest might be supremely more comfortable, but I suspect that given the lightness of my personal padding, any rigid structure encroaching on it will encounter bone, and cause me to adopt a posture I am wary of. It might be worth the experiment, but as it is, I am very happy in a flexible vest. Whatever way I transmit the weight to my body, I ultimately have to carry it anyway, and since the weight of the vest does not contribute to the inertia of the rig, I?d rather wear a lightweight, low-profile vest, and teach my body to react well to the forces imposed upon it.

This is all guesswork, of course, and nobody should read any of the above as an endorsement of one product over another. Musing over photos is no substitute for an experienced operator deciding what works best for him or her.

Above all, fly safe,

Chris
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#13 Matt Burton

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Posted 07 December 2005 - 08:43 AM

Very interesting post Chris
I was on a shoot not so long ago where i was stood on a table trying to get a shot of an actor below me.
The hole scene was about 5 mins long and we had to re-shoot about 10 times due to... well bad acting
:lol:
The point is i knew my posture didn't feel right the hole time i was leaning over the table getting a birds eye view and booming down to a more front on view. I had my shoulders pushed forwards and the rig was well out in front of me for the birds eye view. The sweat was pouring of me and i had to stop a few times due to getting the shakes.
Lucky for me i only had the light flyer on and and an even lighter camera. God knows what would have happened if i had been a full size rig. It's amazing what we will do in the spur of the moment to please a director. I guess experience isn't on my side yet but i'm going to be a lot more careful in future before it's to late for my back i guess.

-matt
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#14 mattmarek

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Posted 07 December 2005 - 09:34 AM

conditioning and keeping in shape is most important i think.

just came off of a 24 days shoot (6 day weeks) with a bl4. 60 % of the film was steadicam. by week 3, the camera felt like an sr3.

cant wait to jump to an sr3 shoot now :D
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#15 chris fawcett

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Posted 09 December 2005 - 04:26 AM

before it's to late for my back i guess.


Don't worry, Matt. I doubt you did yourself any lasting harm. The human body has a huge amount of redundancy built into it. If you use it right.

The position you describe is going to be tiring, whatever. To reduce the stain on your spine, the next time (for there will be a next time, whatever you promise yourself), you should be careful not to arch your back, especially your lower back like the arch of a bridge. This loads the disks and inhibits the back muscles from supporting your vertebrae. Think of your back instead as more like a rope suspension bridge, and let it 'hang' between your hips and your shoulders, so as you dip, your bum sticks out. Think of the posture of a gorilla displaying, if that helps.

if you do it right, you will feel tremendous strain in the muscles of the lower back that run like 2 cords along your spine, and in the muscles in the backs of your thighs, but hey, they're only muscles, right? Avoiding loading those postural muscles is to transfer the weight into bony stuctures that are not evolved for the task.

Fly Safe,

Chris
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