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Trying the Steadicam


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#1 kip ross

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Posted 13 October 2006 - 07:41 AM

I recently attended Garrett Brown's seminar at a Trade show in NYC. Mr. Brown was a most engaging speaker. He seems like, simply put, a really cool guy. I could go on and on about his brilliant body of work but you're already aware of it.

Anyway, having had a persistent fascination with the Steadicam, I got to try on a unit (don't recall the model, but it had a sizable 35mm film camera aboard). The operator at the show helping at the Steadicam exhibit was most helpful and patient with me. Thank you, by the way!!!

So, my lower back was hurting after about a minute. This was, in part, my not being used to this physical process and naive weight distribution etc.

Soooooooooo, the resounding recommendation is to attend a seminar to spend more than an abbreviated amount of time with the Steadicam; replete with professional guidance and instruction. To this end, I checked into the Maine Workshops and they have a 5 day seminar. It's $1495.00. I love the Maine Workshops but i'm not in a position to spend that amount of money to discover that A) It's really not for me or B) I'm really not physically capable to operate such a system (I'm 52 and relatively fit).

My question (after the protracted, aforementioned preamble) is: How could I spend some time (1/2 day, full day, 2 days) with an operator using the gear and answering such questions (I realize an operator's time has value).
Any and all advise is appreciated.

P.S. I have several decades production experience- lighting camera, gaffer, grip.
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#2 Afton Grant

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Posted 13 October 2006 - 08:52 AM

Hi Kip,

Yes, Garrett is one of those guys that when he speaks, people listen. A great wealth of knowledge, and the desire to share it.

If I recall correctly, the Tiffen booth had a Steadicam Flyer with an Arri 235. A relatively lightweight setup in the big picture, however, any setup can become fatiguing quickly if it is not worn and operated properly.

This is one of the important things you would learn at a workshop. And in the grand scheme of Steadicam related expenses, $2000 (give or take) for a week of expert instruction is some of the best money you could spend - even if it is just to figure out you don't wish to continue. What you learn there goes way beyond just the technical and physical aspects of operating a rig.

If you are in the NYC area, and I am not working, you are more than welcome to drop by and check out my gear. I'm sure there are many other ops that would do the same. However, few, if any of us could give you the type of instruction and learning experience you would get at a day in a workshop where you have numerous different setups to check out, and numerous different expert minds to pick. Even at 52, unless you have had some sort of major injury, you can absolutely be taught to wear the gear without pain.

Best of luck,
Afton
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#3 kip ross

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Posted 13 October 2006 - 04:43 PM

HI Afton,

Thank you for your input! I think this forum will be helpful in determining whether I take one of the professional seminars. It seems to be a forthright and sharing type of community, based on the submissions i've read. That's very refreshing!

I do travel to NYC on a fairly regular basis and perhaps will contact you upon my next visit. I live in Vermont, so it's always great to get to the city.

Thanks again, Afton!

Kip
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#4 Erwin Landau

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Posted 13 October 2006 - 05:46 PM

Hi Kipp,

I'm putting grips, ac's, directors, dp's and anybody seriously interested in learning the craft of Steadicam, on a regular bases into a rig and spend a day or so letting them play and figure out if that's for them/or figuring out what it can and can't do. I spend some time with "older" guys that wanted to start and they have moved on to do steadicam on a regular bases on bigger shows.

Again if you are serious about becoming a steadicam operator: YOU HAVE to take at least one if not better several Workshops. I just took my 5th, everybody laughed at me, but even after many, many features I still learned a couple of new things/tricks. (And got rid of bad habits... Haarhoff used a wrench as a hammer to get my hand placement right... again and again and again... )

Your extensive experience and knowledge in the industry is only beneficial which, with your contacts, will shorten your "newbie status" quite drastically.

You will not be able to jump into the large shows right away, expect about 2 years of getting better at it before outing yourself as full fledged steadicam operator.

First of all you have to have the eye of an operator, the physical aspect and age are (somewhat) neglect-able, if you're fit and are practicing on a regular bases your body will catch up. There are operators in there late 50-ies and early 60-ies... who are still doing it on a daily bases.

But don't get me wrong... A Millennium or a 535B on a daily bases for 12 hour days and takes no end, will take it's toll. But it's not impossible, you just have to know when to say no... (or call Jeff Mart).

Forget running... there are a bunch of new guys you can refer to production for that special running shot. They haven't crashed yet so they think that they are invincible... or they never learn... Like me... I retired a 535B 2 weeks ago... and almost myself with it.

If you're ever in LA give me a call and we can take my rig to a rental house for a day or 2...

Have to go back to my Millennium... we are shooting a torture scene... not sure who will suffer more... me or the actor.

Be safe,

Erwin "Call me Crash Plissken" Landau

818-448-2639
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#5 Gordon Li-Ron

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Posted 13 October 2006 - 08:58 PM

several Workshops. I just took my 5th, everybody laughed at me, but even after many, many features I still learned a couple of new things/tricks. (And got rid of bad habits...


Hey Erwin,

Just curious which workshops have you taken? Do they still have masters workshop. I would love to take another workshop and maybe visit an advanced workshop to see what goes on.


gordy g
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#6 kip ross

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Posted 14 October 2006 - 11:16 AM

Hi Erwin,

I just signed on for a Peter Abraham seminar in New York next Saturday and Sunday. It feels just like waiting for Christmas morning as a kid! But it also feels like that time I was abducted by these alien dudes. But, that's another story.

I look forward to next weekend with alacrity (I think that's a real word)!

Thanks!

Kip Ross
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#7 Kareem La Vaullee

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Posted 14 October 2006 - 12:22 PM

I look forward to next weekend with alacrity (I think that's a real word)!


Looks like it's a real word : http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/alacrity

Enjoy the Workshop !

K.
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#8 Bill Powers

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Posted 30 October 2006 - 07:18 PM

Kip,

Sorry I missed your post.

What Erwin says.

As I read your post two words kept running through my head over and over. Peter Abraham. Peter Abraham.

Hope all went well.

Bill (Over 50 too) Powers
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#9 Erwin Landau

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Posted 30 October 2006 - 08:49 PM

Hi Gordon,

I was sure I answered that one....

Anyhow, I took the week long Cinema Products Malibu Classic as the boot camp and the PRO workshop 4 times over the years... was a great place to meet the old pros and make some lasting friendships...

Fly safe,

Erwin
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#10 kip ross

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Posted 30 October 2006 - 10:07 PM

Sorry I missed your post.

What Erwin says.

As I read your post two words kept running through my head over and over. Peter Abraham. Peter Abraham.

Hope all went well.

Bill (Over 50 too) Powers
[/quote]

Hi Bill and Erwin,

I just , today, not 4 hours ago, ordered a Steadicam Rig(Flyer). I am excited, but that is an understatement. I am looking forward to the unit's arrival ( with alacrity;)oui!)...!!!

Peter Abraham's workshop in NYC on Oct.21 & 22 was a bona fide :D quality education in-a really-short-albeit-effective-period of time. Good teachers make it easy to learn. Salut! Peter Abraham!!!

So, what I will be devoting my time to is thus: Practicing the 3 Fandangos: Missionary, Linear tracking and- you know it, you dig it- The Donald Juan.
Whirled peas, out!!! And thanks to all the talented and enthusiastic folks on this forum!!!!
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#11 Robert Starling SOC

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Posted 31 October 2006 - 01:21 AM

How could I spend some time (1/2 day, full day, 2 days) with an operator using the gear and answering such questions (I realize an operator's time has value). Any and all advise is appreciated.


I would highly recommend Peter Abraham's workshop(s). www.thesteadicamworkshops.com - Peter is an excellent instructor, enthusiast and evangelist of the art of Steadicam operation.

But let me warn you; it's not Steadicam, it's SteadiCrack; after almost 28 years in the business it's probably the most interesting and challenging thing I've done with a camera on land. In August I purchased a Flyer and took Peter's workshop in L.A.. By total luck I was fortunate to get into an open spot at the Steadicam Operators Association workshop about three weeks ago with Jerry Holway, Jay Kilroy, Mike O'shea, Laurie Hayball, Chris Konash and others. Even Garrett Brown spent time with us. I sold the Flyer ASAP and just took delivery on a new Clipper 2. I'm totally hooked and the challenges are virtually unlimited if you're willing to put in the time.

I've been lurking in the forum reading everything I can and this is my first post here. All I can say is there are people in this group with extraodinary talents who are willing to share their enthusiasm and knowledge with you.

Robert Starling
Las Vegas
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