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#1 Sydney Seeber

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Posted 27 January 2006 - 10:57 PM

Hello, all, just became a new member maybe 30 seconds ago... Here's my question. I've been a camera operator for close to 10 years... I've been in combat, under water, been on most continents... You name it. Some form of camera is ALWAYS in my hand. But I've always liked the Steadicam. I have a couple of friends that own one, I'm quite sure they're on this forum from time to time... I've recently come into some cash and was wondering if, AFTER I take the workshop, (within the next couple of months) should I go for broke, spend top dollar, (Ultra series)or should I start out with a mid-range set up, (Clipper 2, Glidecam Gold) and hope for enough work to justify a more expensive rig? Basically, do you think a newbie in southern California could realistically pay for the rig within 2 or 3 years? (Maybe a little more) I'm just a little concerned about salaries and available work... That's a LOT of cash to drop, even if I do have it... Thanks for the info.....
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#2 Eric Fletcher S.O.C.

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Posted 28 January 2006 - 01:44 AM

What have you been working on? are your clients already using steadicam or are you in the position to educate them? What sort of work do you expect to be doing with the rig.

Those are the questions that you need to answer first before you can answer the "Can it pay for it's self" question
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#3 Sydney Seeber

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Posted 28 January 2006 - 02:15 AM

Well, I expect to work mostly with HD video... I've done a lot with HDCAM, but to be entirely honest, I believe I will need to step up to a much higher level of production... Almost start over, in some ways, really... This is actually an integral reason for purchasing a rig... I have a great desire to be a part of productions with a much higher standard than what I have worked on in the past... I have just spent the last 18 months of my life working for a guy who bought the best, most state of the art Sony HDCAM gear and a Discreet (AutoDesk) Smoke system, when all he really wanted us to do were to make his home movies, in essence... He basically turned our entire facility into a community access channel in high definition... After trying to raise the production value, I've moved on.....
Sorry for the rant...
As far as what type of work I would do, I plan on simply putting myself out there as much as possible.... No immediate need to pay the rent, but at the same time, I hope to make a living this way, even if it takes a few years...
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#4 Dan Coplan

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Posted 02 February 2006 - 03:38 AM

I'm relatively new to the "professional" arena of Steadicam so take my words (opinions) with a grain of salt. The Steadicam market is very competitive (so leave now! just kidding. kind of.). That along with your lack of experience flying cameras means it's very hard to predict what you will end up working on and how often.

Regarding new vs. used, I know a few guys that work on big shows that have old rigs. They can easily afford to upgrade, but their stuff works so why bother?

Regarding what kind to get, my opinion is you shouldn't limit yourself otherwise you may end up buying twice and spending more in the long run. If you KNOW you're only going to fly cameras of a certain weight, then only get what you need, but I went with a system that can fly anything from lightweight video to big, heavy chunks of steel because I want those opportunities available to me.

My 2 cents.

Dan Coplan
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#5 Marc_Abernathy

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Posted 02 February 2006 - 02:53 PM

i suggest you search the forum as there have been several posts such as yours regarding which rig to get..

the fact that you have been in combat, water, etc means nothing to steadicam. you just have DESIRE to learn how tio walk and chew gum at the same time all whilst keeping thehorizon level and knowing your marks, etc.

taking a workshop is the best step you can take. if your not filthy rich, just get a good used rig and spend the extra cash on toy and trinkets.. followfocus (BFD!!) motors, brackets, cases, batteries... these are the thigns that increase the cost of a full rig.

sinc you seem to have more video experience and thats the market your in, i would focus on a video Rig. no need to carry around a film Rig if your not doing mainly film. thats wasting your back.
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#6 Sydney Seeber

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Posted 02 February 2006 - 07:40 PM

Well, if I used a steadicam IN combat, and got all the bad guys to hit their marks correctly, that would be TOTALLY rad footage... We could shoot it super slow mo, like NFL films...

Anyway, thanks for the feedback.... Is there a huge difference between a rig set up for film and one used mostly for video? I mean, like major differences? I've been doing research in this particular area, and it is hard to get the correct info. I do plan on taking a workshop in May...

Paul S.
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#7 Sydney Seeber

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Posted 03 February 2006 - 11:10 AM

i suggest you search the forum as there have been several posts such as yours regarding which rig to get..

the fact that you have been in combat, water, etc means nothing to steadicam. you just have DESIRE to learn how tio walk and chew gum at the same time all whilst keeping thehorizon level and knowing your marks, etc.

taking a workshop is the best step you can take. if your not filthy rich, just get a good used rig and spend the extra cash on toy and trinkets.. followfocus (BFD!!) motors, brackets, cases, batteries... these are the thigns that increase the cost of a full rig.

sinc you seem to have more video experience and thats the market your in, i would focus on a video Rig. no need to carry around a film Rig if your not doing mainly film. thats wasting your back.



Oh! This shows how much I don't know.... I thought by BFD you telling me that it's a Big F***ing Deal to have a follow focus... (Friends do in fact say that is is a big deal..) But when doing research, I came across the "BarTech Focus Device". :huh: Thanks for the help... I may not have come across it otherwise...
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#8 Michael Stumpf

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Posted 04 February 2006 - 08:50 PM

Dan, thanks for coming up and introducing yourself the other day, it was nice to meet you.
Got a chuckle out of your responses below.


I'm relatively new to the "professional" arena of Steadicam


"Relatively new"? Dan, didn't you just buy your rig like 2 weeks ago? Think that qualifies you as
VERY new. :D
Relatively new is 2-3 years experience. :)


The Steadicam market is very competitive (so leave now! just kidding. kind of.). That along with your lack of experience flying cameras means it's very hard to predict what you will end up working on and how often.
Dan Coplan


Easy there Tiger, people could say the EXACT same thing... to you!!




To the O.P. :I agree with Eric....you need to determine what market you're going to work mostly in first.
Also which clients you'll most likely work with the most.
If you are a video guy and work exclusively in video, you may not need to spend the BIG bucks on
a film rig. There are several great video based rigs that are lighter and cheaper that will do
VERY well for you. If however, you desire to work in film in the future, then you may very well
want to get a film rig.
Getting the rig "paid off" in a few years depends on your contacts, and just as important your skill and ability. To be brutally honest, if after a couple years you still stink at Steadicam, you may not be getting
too many jobs and it may take 1/2 dozen or more years just to pay off the rig. If you are really good and
the word spreads that you are good and worth the money, you could have it paid off in only a couple years.

Anybody can buy a new or used car and "drive" the thing. But as you know, not everybody can drive very well. Same applies to Steadicam. Just buying the rig (new or used), and even working or practicing for years won't make everybody a good Steadicam operator!
It's a skill set and like any skill, there are a small percentage of people who do it REALLY well, a large percent who do medium well, and a pretty decent percentage who don't do well at all.

I say start small and figure out how well you do and if it's for you. If you do well, and love the job, upgrade as your needs require!
Good Luck.

P.S. By the way, Seefx, what's your name?
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#9 Dan Coplan

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Posted 05 February 2006 - 02:53 AM

> "Relatively new"? Dan, didn't you just buy your rig like 2 weeks ago? Think that qualifies you as
VERY new. :D Relatively new is 2-3 years experience. :)

I did just buy my PRO rig and am actually still waiting for parts to be delivered, but I've been flying a Glidecam V-20 for the past 4 years. I've put all sorts of cameras on that thing from DVX-100's with extra weight to compensate, 16SR's, a 435 believe it or not (not saying it was an ideal situation), and a IIC.

>"The Steadicam market is very competitive (so leave now! just kidding. kind of.). That along with your lack of experience flying cameras means it's very hard to predict what you will end up working on and how often.

> Easy there Tiger, people could say the EXACT same thing... to you!!

Absolutely. I'm sure the last thing all the other Steadicam people out there want is another person getting into the market. Granted, the guys/girls with the history and experience have nothing to worry about from a guy like me. Do I think getting into Steadicam these days is a smart move? Yes and no. Yes because it opens up more opportunities for operating. No because from what I understand, the market is saturated. Had I never gotten into the Glidecam which came my way by circumstance, I may never have made the plunge looking at it from a practical standpoint, but the fact is I love flying cameras. That was the real motivator for me. And I'm speaking for myself as well when I say it's very hard to predict what work opportunities come around and how often. I just dropped $40K on a rig - I'm scared sh*tless.

I have a sarcastic streak so my apologies if my comment, "so leave now!" came across as serious. As mentioned, I'm no threat to established operators and I really don't think any of us are much of a threat to each other. If I can't become a good enough operator to be an asset to production, then that's on me. I would never redirect my lack of talent or charming personality... : ) ...on others.
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#10 Michael Stumpf

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Posted 05 February 2006 - 11:25 AM

Ahh, Dan you didn't say you had a rig before the PRO. :D

4 years, that puts you past "relatively new" then....not sure what
you'd call that length of experience? :)

You know I was just giving you a hard time right?
I can have a sarcastic streak too that sometimes comes off
as more serious then I intended.
I agree with you points on Steadicam now too.
It's a TOUGH time to be getting into operating.

With the pretty much "rest assured" that as of August 1st 2006
the job of Camera Operator is going to be "optional" I wouldn't
recommend to anyone to try to become an operator now.
If people (myself included) think the market is already saturated
with Camera Operators, just wait until 40-50% of the Camera Operator
jobs become obsolete!!!
The market is going to be absolutely SOAK and dripping wet with operators
who can't get work.
Operating Steadicam won't help much either. We have to remember, Steadicam
is a LUXURY on the set, not necessity...producers can always shoot a film without it.
As we know, Steadicam rates have been
getting cut down for years now too.
I'd suggest to anyone "thinking" of becoming an operator to forget it and
become a DP. Because as of 8/1/06 in order to get jobs on many of the film
sets, they'll have to operate anyway..might as well get paid as a DP to do it. :D
Later
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#11 Dan Coplan

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Posted 05 February 2006 - 03:28 PM

How do I quote you in a blue box?

> You know I was just giving you a hard time right?

I was concerned at first, but the smiley face set me at ease... B)

Apologies (again), to anyone if they think this discussion should be moved to another topic.

Seems to me that becoming a Steadicam op is a good thing (aside from the saturated situation). Not all DP's can operate, but even fewer can fly. Yes, Steadicam is optional, but it's used quite a bit, isn't it? Seems like almost every show has a Steadicam op.

> I'd suggest to anyone "thinking" of becoming an operator to forget it and become a DP.

This is where it gets tricky. If we lose to the producers, I feel the responsibility lays very heavily on our union leaders and members to right the wrong that got us here in the first place. According to Tom Short, we asked for it by allowing DP's to operate. Given that the DP has to request to operate, can we not control this? Easier said than done - I don't like the thought of blacklisting people - I don't know the answer, but as a union we oughta be able to stick it to the producers and get every DP to simply claim they don't want to operate. Then there's nothing the producers can do.

Obviously a much longer and complicated discussion, but my 2 cents. Continue in another forum if appropriate.

Dan
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#12 Sydney Seeber

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Posted 06 February 2006 - 09:33 PM

TO be quite honest, my scope in the beginning will be as wide as I can take it... Much as I would like to be an operator on a high profile set, join the union, that sort of thing, I don't see that happening any time soon... If the shooting involves sports, corporate videos... I'll do what I have to so I can gain experience... On a larger scale, I do not see the role of a camera operator getting scarce... There are an inordinate amount of Robert Rodriguez wanna-bees out there, but judging by the quality of the scripts that come my way, I seriously doubt that old school Hollywood is in trouble... I am seriously embarassed for the dude who writes maybe 95% of what I read... But, judging by their attitude, their project will be the next Titanic... Except that it's shot with a Sony VX2000... and edited in Windows Movie Maker.... (Oh, but it's shot in 24P... Just like in the movies! People will NEVER be able to tell the difference!) Anyway, People LOVE steadicam shots... I mean the typical joe-plumber folks, ones not involved in the creation of media. Personally, I'm excited to see how things are changing. The typical consumer of entertainment isn't stupid... Rarely will something with low production value make a dime. I feel there's room for a lot of folks, and a need for unions, because there'll always be a producer who will take every penny they can squeeze from a project... Basically, I feel at this point, a camera is almost an extension of my arm... I use one everywhere I go, and I've got some toys to improve the production value... I've been using a Jimmy Jib for a couple of years, as well as a Glidecam, and there's no question they add value to any production... People freak out when they are finally convinced that they should accommodate the schedule for one of these pieces of gear, and they can see for themselves what it can offer. I just simply hope to be in as many situations as possible in the future where I am asked to really perform critically and that those around me are of the opinion that average just won't do... This is my motivation for getting a Steadicam....
Oh, one question... How is it that someone could bypass the camera operator position, and become a DP? Because, I sure get a LOT of e-mails from people lately, calling themselves DPs... and that even though they've just graduated camera college, and own a super-duper DV camera, I should stick with them, because they're GOING places, and will get me connections I would get NO WHERE ELSE...
Anyhoo, thanks for all the input! I found it very informative, and will take all of your advice seriously...
And, by the way, my name's Paul, but I go by Sydney S.....
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