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Pride takes a battering with Mini


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#1 AlexCarrins

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Posted 09 October 2006 - 07:26 AM

Hi

Long-time reader first time poster!
I recently took a course on Steadicam, learning on the Ultra and Archer how to operate and balance. So I thought I knew it all! I got my first paid job operating at the weekend. It was a shoot for a small movie being filmed in my town. They were providing the rig, a Steadicam Mini. When I got on set I started balancing up. The camera was a Sony Z1 and weighed in around 15lbs with everthing attached. This is the max weight I believe for mini.
I found it very difficult static balancing...I wasn't used to the single post setup as I was trained on rigs that had 2 or more posts. I first balanced horizontally, and then moved the camera down about 0.5 inch to get a droptime of 2 seconds...fine. I could see it was out of dynamic balance but was unable to dynamic balance because there was not enough room to do a spin test as the batteries kept hitting the stand.

We get out on set. I had 2 people beside me....one holding the Mini35 lens attachment (as we had to take the batteries for the mini35 off as it weighed too much) and the director who had hard wired his monitor to the camera (no transmitter available). The shot was a slow pan up from a puddle to see a man standing on the street lighting a cigarette, followed by a 30 second lock-off and then slowly walk towards the man as he enters a building.

The camera started rolling left and right all the time...I just couldn't keep it still. Tilting seemed to be fine, but this roll was there all the time which was ruining the shot. We eventually abandoned the Steadicam and opted for a dolly instead which was fine. Later Steadicam shots were abanoned in place of the dolly.

My confidence was shattered by the experience. Do other operators find it tricky operating a light weight rig after being used to heavier rigs? Does the mini not like being maxed out....or is it just me! I obviously need more practice! Any opinions appreciated!

Alex

Alex Carrins
Oakland, CA
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#2 Jason Torbitt

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Posted 09 October 2006 - 07:43 AM

The mini becomes quite an unweildy rig when it's at its max. I had it upto max with one of those MiniDV full size camera bodied-JVC cameras a couple of years ago. It was quite a handful, some rolling due to the heaviness of the top weight as you describe. By no means uncontrollable, just hard work to balance and operate. A case of production cutting cost left, right and centre and insisting on hiring all the gear themselves. I don't trust that arm on the Mini either, it doesn't do anything for me at all.
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#3 Matt Burton

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Posted 09 October 2006 - 12:33 PM

Don't be put off Alex it's sounds like everything was against you.
The mini is a very old design and was replaced by the Flyer a few years ago.
Was the video lead tethered to you or just the camera ?
The best way if a video transmitter isn't an option is to connect the heavy cable to your vest securely and then use a thin light weight bnc cable from your vest to the camera in a way that minimises pull from the cable.
Did you say that people were holding the 35mm adaptor while it's on the steadicam ?
Theirs just no way anybody could have made the shot that way and shows bad planning on the part of the production.
Light weight rigs like the Flyer can be a joy to operate but they have their limits.
Good luck in the future and i'd say the mini is used on about 0.01% of productions and probably falling fast.
-matt
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#4 AlexCarrins

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Posted 10 October 2006 - 03:44 AM

Hi guys and thanks for the replies!

I guess I just need more practice which, without a rig, I ain't getting too much at the moment.

There is a Steadicam Mini for sale in my area and it is within my (limited!) budget. Would this be a good buy for use as a practice rig? Or am I better off waiting until I can afford maybe a Flyer?

Thanks

Alex
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#5 Matt Burton

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Posted 10 October 2006 - 06:21 AM

Would this be a good buy for use as a practice rig? Or am I better off waiting until I can afford maybe a Flyer?


To be honest yes you could probably learn a lot from using the mini, it does work but only in the right situations. However you would learn a lot more from the flyer and you'd also be able to 'work' more with the flyer.
Personally I'd go for the glidecam v25 and a practice cage for smaller cameras, it's only slightly more than the flyer but would let you fly much bigger cameras so you could take more jobs !
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