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new and aspiring operator, looking for help buying a rig to broaden my horizon


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#1 Guarnanene

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Posted 08 January 2006 - 10:25 PM

I know I know, I hate one post wonders too, but we all have to start somewhere.

I am in the market for getting a starting rig, and not sure where to look, I've done several searches on this fourm, as well as couple more, (looking at Basson Magicam and glidecam) but I havn't really found what I was looking for.

My history:

I started running handheld camera in the 7th grade, and started running jibs in the 9th. Through the help of many many people willing to work with me, getting me used to the camera and teaching my eye, I have become fairly good at operating a stage camera. (I am now in the 11th grade)

my current status:

In the past 3 years, I have had the pleasure of doing a lot of contract work, mostly stage handheld camera. including several concerts where there was 20,000+ people, and mass produced DVDs were made. I've worked with several studios, production trucks and different confrences (and, unfortunantly, a crap-load of weddings.. ) in-which I have grown acustom to 2/3" triax type cameras. so I am used to full on full fledge cameras, trucks, and loud producers through the com :D. the last shoot I worked on was a full DVD concert with 10 cameras, (4 hard (big boxed, 70 whatever lens'.) 2 stage, 2 jibs, 1 track and 1 steadicam.)


so heres the thing,

I've always been in awe of the steady cam oporators, it often seems as if you can shoot the ground and because of the steady cam make it look good. :D


heres my problem.

I don't see a future in this, I make more per year than a lot of the 25-40 year olds i work with who do this as their living. I feel I have the potential to do well in many fields, including video, but I don't see it as a way to support a family.

however! all feelings aside,

[sarcasam]It is an amazing way for me to make a little money over the summer! [/Sarcasam]

So here is what I want.

So after seeing by shooting the ground and making it look good, the steady cam operators default to making 4 times as much as me, I'm looking for a camera suport system. Somewhere in the 2,000-10,000 range.

I need it to be able to support basically a panasonic AJ-SDX900 camera, because that will be the main camera I use, (or a between a JVC 550 and that)

now right now, I'm under the impression that SilverArrow925 will support this camera correct? so far that seems like the most logical solution. please help me out


I've seen videos of the magicams in action, and I honestly feel like I can get pretty close to making it that smooth by myself, I was fairly dissappointed in its performance, but it is only 2000 and it won't support my camera. so I guess I don't need to worry.

some personal info:

I'm 6'2" and 165lb, if that matters.


BTW: this is not a, I'd like to go buy one tomorrow thread.. this is a I'd like to prepair and learn how to use one, and hopefully be able to buy one in the next year or two.

[EDIT] sorry, I do not mean that I plan on buying one, picking it up in a couple of hours, and going and making billions. thats not what I meant, your missreading my post.. (sorry for missleading :) ) . read on further down for a more detailed explination. [/EDIT]

So if you could, help me figure out what would be my best solution.

Thanks!
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#2 Afton Grant

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Posted 08 January 2006 - 11:11 PM

Guarnanene,

There are a number of quotes in your post that could be addressed specifically, but I'll respond very summarily. My best words of advice would be to silently read for a while. Seek and find out what it truly means to be a Steadicam Operator. You'll find examples of some of the most educated, skilled, and hard working people in show business. You'll find out that making shots look good takes years of practice, and a lifetime of study. You'll find that there is a reason operators get paid what they do, and you'll also find that nobody is getting rich from it.

You'll find as much information as you want to. The information is out there and it is free for the taking. So go take it. ...and what I just wrote in my previous paragraph doesn't count as research. Heck, I'm in the business less than 2 years myself, but I sure as hell know it's no summer job.

Best of luck,
Afton Grant
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#3 Guarnanene

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Posted 08 January 2006 - 11:17 PM

Guarnanene,

There are a number of quotes in your post that could be addressed specifically, but I'll respond very summarily. My best words of advice would be to silently read for a while. Seek and find out what it truly means to be a Steadicam Operator. You'll find examples of some of the most educated, skilled, and hard working people in show business. You'll find out that making shots look good takes years of practice, and a lifetime of study. You'll find that there is a reason operators get paid what they do, and you'll also find that nobody is getting rich from it.

You'll find as much information as you want to. The information is out there and it is free for the taking. So go take it. ...and what I just wrote in my previous paragraph doesn't count as research. Heck, I'm in the business less than 2 years myself, but I sure as hell know it's no summer job.

Best of luck,
Afton Grant


That is honestly what i have been doing for the past 2 years, more seriously in the past year, Didn't mean to give off the wrong impression as a fly by night wannabe. I've talked and helped many steadicam ops, as well as worked with them. I've spent the last 4 years training my eye, learning composition, lighting, and how to deal with directors.

as well as reading this forum in particular for a while, as well as a couple others.

sorry, I meant the thing about the summer job kind of sarcastically..guess i didn't write it sarcastic enough. (there was actually a lot of sarcasam in my last post (about pay, and working etc... )
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#4 Tom Wills

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Posted 08 January 2006 - 11:22 PM

Guarnanene, I figure I should give you some advice, as I'm a youngin' myself (10th grader here) operating homebuilt Steadicams.

First of all, the Bassons have some issues. They can create some decent stuff, but a Flyer would make you much happier. The Flyer's one incredible piece of equipment. Try and find someone around you who'll let you fly one. (I'm building a rig that is similar to a slightly higher capacity Flyer at the moment).

Also, your idea that this can be a hobby, and that it would be something simple that you could pick up and make some money over the summer doing is somewhat misguided. While you could do that, just picking up a rig, getting some half-decent shots, and selling your services to local used car dealers and the like, it's not going to go places where truly learning to operate fully and operating on a professional level will.

Something to look into is getting a good job filming events, and sell them on using your "hobby" as part of their productions. I'm doing that with my current boss. We're paid an immense amount of money to film basketball games for the #3 college basketball team in the nation. Impressive, no? Well, turns out they do all their shooting handheld and on a tripod. I'm one of their camera operators, so I decided to negotiate a deal on which I fly their cameras (DSR 390s and DSR 250s) and I get a bonus on top of my standard filming rate. It gives me a great deal of practice, and I get paid a quite livable wage on it (over $20 per hour, sometimes more). If you can work something like this out, you will definetly be in a good place.

Steadicams are more of an art form than Jibs or Dollies or any other rigging. Think about how you learned to be a camera op - and apply it to this. Do that same process. You wouldn't dare just pick up a camera and shoot and sell your services without some serious practice and some important training, right? With Steadicams that's even more important.

Good to see someone else in my boat looking to get into Steadicams though. Let me know if you need anything. :)
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#5 Guarnanene

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Posted 08 January 2006 - 11:27 PM

Guarnanene, I figure I should give you some advice, as I'm a youngin' myself (10th grader here) operating homebuilt Steadicams.

First of all, the Bassons have some issues. They can create some decent stuff, but a Flyer would make you much happier. The Flyer's one incredible piece of equipment. Try and find someone around you who'll let you fly one. (I'm building a rig that is similar to a slightly higher capacity Flyer at the moment).

Also, your idea that this can be a hobby, and that it would be something simple that you could pick up and make some money over the summer doing is somewhat misguided. While you could do that, just picking up a rig, getting some half-decent shots, and selling your services to local used car dealers and the like, it's not going to go places where truly learning to operate fully and operating on a professional level will.

Something to look into is getting a good job filming events, and sell them on using your "hobby" as part of their productions. I'm doing that with my current boss. We're paid an immense amount of money to film basketball games for the #3 college basketball team in the nation. Impressive, no? Well, turns out they do all their shooting handheld and on a tripod. I'm one of their camera operators, so I decided to negotiate a deal on which I fly their cameras (DSR 390s and DSR 250s) and I get a bonus on top of my standard filming rate. It gives me a great deal of practice, and I get paid a quite livable wage on it (over $20 per hour, sometimes more). If you can work something like this out, you will definetly be in a good place.

Steadicams are more of an art form than Jibs or Dollies or any other rigging. Think about how you learned to be a camera op - and apply it to this. Do that same process. You wouldn't dare just pick up a camera and shoot and sell your services without some serious practice and some important training, right? With Steadicams that's even more important.

Good to see someone else in my boat looking to get into Steadicams though. Let me know if you need anything. :)


Thanks for the comments! I really appriciate it. sorry, my sarcasm misslead you as well, please read my latest posts,..


I didn't go indepth into my plans, which I should have.

I work for a lot of people doing contract concerts and video shoots, who are all in need of a steadycam op. (one is also doing basketball games) right now I'm doing handheld stuff with them, and we both feel that a steadycam would be very helpful without the huge price tag of contracting one person for one day to come in with their stuff.
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#6 Tom Wills

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Posted 08 January 2006 - 11:33 PM

That sounds like a perfect plan. Just don't underestimate the time you need to spend learning and practicing. That's the important part.

Try and get your hands on a Flyer if you can. It'll fly the SDX900 when stripped down, and it's a quite incredible rig for the price ($7000).

Also, if you can, try and attend a workshop. If you have the money to fly up to Chicago, Janice Arthur is holding a workshop this summer that I'll be attending. She's quite good, and her workshop is quite inexpensive. I'm looking forward to learning this all from her perspective. Also, the SOA workshop is incredible if you can afford it (somewhere between $2000 and $3000). I sat in on one day of the SOA workshop, as it was only 60 miles from my house, and it changed my whole look on Steadicam operating.

Yeah, keep in touch. I'm sure having a few more video and Steadicam contacts can't hurt, you know? :P
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#7 Guarnanene

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Posted 08 January 2006 - 11:37 PM

yup, I was planning on long periods of time for learning, it may be a couple of years before I get one. but I'm looking and learning now.
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#8 Mikko Wilson

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Posted 09 January 2006 - 01:24 AM

Guarnanene, (is that your name? - no offense)

Welcome to the world of Steadicam.
I think you have the right over all perspective on the situation, there's no rush. :)

My sole advice for you is this: Take a workshop.
And if you can't do that, then go take a workshop.
Seriously, it will get you off to the right start and will answer all the questions you have about rigs.

You are used to working with pro gear, Steadicam is not the place to cheap out. Spend the $2k on a workshop (or get some other people together and get an "on campus workshop" organized). A workshop will teach you all you need to know about basic operting and slow you to ask any and all questions you have.
(Most) people come out of a workshop in a condition that they can operate the rig, not super well, but enough that it's just down to practice, and they can start some low-key operating. Demanding operating will of course take time to be "good".
A workshop will also tell you if this is actually for you. You'll have a prety good idea after teh week wether this is somthign that you want to pour your hart and sole (and life) into, if it's somethign you'll do "on the side" or if it's just not for you. (unlikly)

I won't coment on a suitable rig for you, you'll lean that with time before you buy anyway, and the workshop you are attending (right?) will help you with that too.


A good list of workshops is at: http://www.steadicam-ops.com
Information on Peter's on campus workshops: http://www.thesteadicamworkshops.com

- Mikko
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#9 JobScholtze

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Posted 09 January 2006 - 03:35 AM

Great advice here, take a workshop. And make sure top check out ALL the systems out there. The flyer is top but very limited. Glidecam makes an V25, carry's more weight and in your price range ( you can fly up to 13kg.) First 100 units go for 7995 dollar after that its 10k. Its not on there website YET, but there is plenty of info around here. Mk-v is making an lightweight rig. Etc ect

There is more to find. Try them all.
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#10 Tom Wills

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Posted 09 January 2006 - 06:04 AM

Great advice here, take a workshop. And make sure top check out ALL the systems out there. The flyer is top but very limited. Glidecam makes an V25, carry's more weight and in your price range ( you can fly up to 13kg.) First 100 units go for 7995 dollar after that its 10k. Its not on there website YET, but there is plenty of info around here. Mk-v is making an lightweight rig. Etc ect

There is more to find. Try them all.


Wow Job, I never even realized his budget was that high, guess I only looked at the first number instead of seeing the other figure too. Yeah, if you can swing it, the V25 will hold more cameras, and although I prefer the Flyer arm, the V25 is pretty darned incredible too!
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#11 Nils Ruinet

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Posted 09 January 2006 - 09:09 AM

"Steady Cam" ?
Is that a new piece of equipment ??? Never heard about it...
:D
I only knew "steadicam". :P

Well, as Mikko and others said, taking a workshop is the first thing to do. It will help you in a lot of ways (operating, safety, gear, how to design an interesting shot, etc...)

If your plan is to become a steadicam operator, then I would advise you not to buy a magiqcam / Basson or other similar "cheap" systems.
You should wait until you can at least afford a Flyer / V25...
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#12 JobScholtze

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Posted 09 January 2006 - 09:17 AM

Wow Job, I never even realized his budget was that high, guess I only looked at the first number instead of seeing the other figure too. Yeah, if you can swing it, the V25 will hold more cameras, and although I prefer the Flyer arm, the V25 is pretty darned incredible too!


Tom, just want to know. Did you ever tryd them?
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#13 Tom Wills

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Posted 09 January 2006 - 02:48 PM

The Flyer design - well, I've only played with a few prototypes of my design on this one, and having seen the G70 in action, but I definetly haven't flown using the V25 arm. The Flyer arm's quite nice though, and just seems more advanced to me than a classic 3A style arm. Also, the whole pullies and cables deal just doesn't make me as at ease as a design like the Flyer which I know I could easily take apart and fix on a shoot.

It's all opinion though.
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#14 JobScholtze

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Posted 09 January 2006 - 04:00 PM

The Flyer design - well, I've only played with a few prototypes of my design on this one, and having seen the G70 in action, but I definetly haven't flown using the V25 arm. The Flyer arm's quite nice though, and just seems more advanced to me than a classic 3A style arm. Also, the whole pullies and cables deal just doesn't make me as at ease as a design like the Flyer which I know I could easily take apart and fix on a shoot.

It's all opinion though.

I really would like to hear from you after you try'd one. No changes around you somewhere? Dealer perhaps? Do try one and get back to me, i would like to know what your opinion would be than. No offence.

Greetings Job
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#15 Tom Wills

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Posted 09 January 2006 - 04:57 PM

I really would like to hear from you after you try'd one. No changes around you somewhere? Dealer perhaps? Do try one and get back to me, i would like to know what your opinion would be than. No offence.

Greetings Job


No offense taken. Let me try and find a good dealer in my area who'd let me try one.

(I'm still set on the Flyer for my building purposes, because I don't really have the resources to pull off a V25 style arm, but I may end up liking the V25 arm like I like the Flyer.)
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