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New Steadicam Owner, New to Forums

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#1 rjd


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Posted 20 December 2005 - 01:52 AM

The lowdown:

I'm 35, started in TV at a CBS affiliate when I was 18.
Started my own company in 2000.
Currently produce 3 local TV shows: 1 weekly, half-hour show about harness-horse racing,
1 weekly, half-hour real estate show and a cooking show (in production, but currently not airing).

I just received my Steadicam Mini today and am very excited to get started. I'm still waiting for my batteries (NP-1), so I can't balance the rig yet. (Will be flying Canon XL-1 & XL-2.) But I have played around with it a little without the batteries.

I'm a little concerned because the springs on the arm seem so tight, I can't imagine that the weight of the camera and the batteries would be enough to bring the arm down to its "basic operating position." (The accompanying video was for the SK-2 not the Mini, so that doesn't help.)

I did a search of the forum for "mini," but the closest thread I've found only offered that you can't really balance the rig without a full load.

Hopefully I only need to add the batteries and all will be well, but if anyone has any insight to offer, that would be great.

I've enjoyed the forum and I appreciate how helpful the members try to be.


p.s. I know the most common bit of advice is "take a workshop," and I plan to for sure.

Edited by rjd, 20 December 2005 - 01:58 AM.

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#2 AndySchwartz


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Posted 20 December 2005 - 03:53 AM

hey rjd.

congrats on the mini. a good start for sure.

welcome to the forum.

i started with a mini. the basic principles are the same, but believe me when you get a heavier rig and a heavier camera sometimes the principles go bye bye and you find yourself struggling to just keep some good posture.

however, i am no rock star operator, like many on here, and that is not a joke. the best of the best visit this forum.

but here is my advice and experience with the mini for what it is worth:
yes you need a camera or some weight to adjust the arm. ideally, you have a camera, a bnc cable and a battery for the monitor. you can run the XL-1 or similar with its own battery and just use the NP batteries to power your monitor and save some charging time.

once you put a load on the sled part of the mini, you will find the arm will move up and down a bit easier, and at that time you can adjust the little knob on the arm, i think it is counter clockwise until you feel the arm start to loosen up and become softer. then adjust it until the camera sort of floats in position, boom up and it stays, boom down and it stays, in either direction with little force from your arm that rests on the gimbal yoke.

the sk-2 video is gold to you at this point, watch it. practice the exercises. practice fitting the vest. practice balancing the rig even when it seems redundant. make it all habit. i used to wear my vest around before shoots, at home, wherever, just to warm it up and get the adjustments right. make it yours. make it fit every time and make sure you know when it is right and wrong. it is a big part of your operating.

take a workshop. the spring SOA is coming up in May and it is the best possible way to learn all about the steadicam and more, the industry, the history, and best of all the people and their ideas, and creativity.

that mini, is a good deal. i used it for about six months and then upgraded to an sk-2 and then upgraded past that. all in all, i think the mini although basic, is really a good way to learn how to get your posture right, move around through space, keep a light touch and, progress. think of it like lifting weights or snowboarding/skiing, you do not start off bench pressing 250lbs or on all out steep slopes, you start off at 90lbs. or on the easy hill, and move up as you become stronger and more aware of what your body can do to affect it.

i think the steadicam is similar, you learn how your body affects the way it moves, and slowly you learn to control it. the mini is nice because it is light and gives you a good idea of what to do, you are not struggling to stay standing and manuever. when you get better you recognize its limitations though.

get that vest on nice and snug. get a camera on the sled and some batteries. get the arm to a nice, soft, balance position, move the sled around in place, boom it up and down, then walk a little. easy on the hand on the post. stay in balance and position with the sled like the sk video shows.

good luck and congrats. stay on the forum. lots of good advice. hope this helps.

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#3 rjd


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Posted 20 December 2005 - 10:16 AM


It helps a lot. Thank you very much.

I've actually visited this forum several times in the last few months and it has been a great resource. It has given me a lot of confidence that buying a stabilizer was a good decision.

I'm a little bummed that the next PA workshop isn't until May, but I guess I could use the time to save my pennies.

Cheers! And thanks again!
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#4 rjd


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Posted 21 December 2005 - 09:11 PM

Got the batteries yesterday. Did my best to balance the rig. Played around for a little while (with the monitor off ;) ). And I learned 2 very important things:

As everyone has been saying, it's going to take practice, practice, practice . . .

and . . .

It will be well worth it!

Here's hoping I'll get to meet a bunch of you in May at the workshop.


Edited by rjd, 21 December 2005 - 09:12 PM.

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