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#1 JasonMcKelvey

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Posted 23 May 2004 - 01:50 PM

Hello all, my friend owns a jib company that services film and video production and wants to expand his business to include Steadicam services. He wants to stay under $20,000. He asked me to do some research since I have been admirer of the craft for a long time. Here is where I stand thus far and would love to hear advice from as many who would respond. A used ProVid with lots of accessories will be under 20K, but only holds up to 26 total lbs. An Ikegami HL59 with a digibeta back will weigh 30lbs before a follow focus and transmitter... so I'm leaning against that. The Glidecam Gold seems to get descent reviews from operators (web reviews) and he could get a sled, arm and vest for just under $20K; and he could possible get a demo unit even cheaper. The Gold series will hold up to 38lbs of camera and accessories. So, he could even dip into the small 35mm cam range. Beyond this, I don't know what else to look at. I haven't a clue about the price or capabilites of the Artemis. I actually "flew" the Basson thingy at NAB a few weeks ago... WOW what a piece of doo-doo. The verticle travel is about 6 inches. Anyway, I also tried out Glidecams new arm that will replace the V-20 and it was OK, but wasn't near as easy for a newbie like me to use as some of the other stuff there, ie Steadicam/MK-V. Used equipment is fine and might even be a better deal. By the way, I know you are all wondering who will operate the system... there a several guys that work for him that are waiting for the opertunity, not the least of which is me. We were hoping to spur a seasoned operator to give a class to all of us here in Florida. He is fully aware of the commitment and training necessary for great work.

Sincerely,
Jason

where's the spell checker on this thing?
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#2 BJMcDonnell SOC

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Posted 23 May 2004 - 02:05 PM

Hey Jason,


When I was buying my first rig I bought everything used. It took some time to complete my setup but it was very much worth the wait. I have no loan to pay off and I have a rig that can handle most cameras. I have a PRO 1 sled with a silver spring arm from steadyrig in australia. It took me about a year to finish my rig but at least I could start working and practice all the time. I still to this day am buying new stuff and I know it is a never ending process, but I saved a butt load of money doing it that way instead of dropping down the whole magilla! I just bought the parts I needed when I got the money from production work as a grip. It worked for me and I now have a pretty killer setup.

BJ McDonnell
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#3 JasonMcKelvey

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Posted 23 May 2004 - 02:17 PM

Man, my computer barely refreshed before that first reply... Thanks! My friends situation is a bit different. He is a very successful jib op and wants to get a system and get it working. The nature of his business is similar to Steadicam in that it's sort of an "extra" in the minds of producers... if the budget is tight, the jib/steadicam is the first thing axed. So, his clients are the type that want that something extra. In a way, he has already been handed a clientel by default. I know that I'm over-simplifying things but, basically he wants something that can start working next week. You might be wondering why he doesn't save up $40K and get a serious rig. He has the 20K now. He would rather get that first $20K working to pay itself off and upgrade as time goes by, as oppossed to sitting on cash or a partial system that isn't making him money. If this is a bad business plan, please explain it to me. He is very open to advice.

Jason
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#4 Michael Stumpf

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Posted 23 May 2004 - 04:13 PM

I would advise him to stay in the Jib business if that's what he does best and has a good clintele with it.
There is a guy here in LA who owns 10 jib arms and he stays VERY busy. He has also bought a lower end Steadicam and I guess occasionally gets some calls for it. But he admits, the vast majority of his work is with the Jib arms.

But the reason I say it is this: If he's inexperienced as a Steadicam operator, and really doesn't know squat about it (which seems to be evident in the fact he's asking you to research for him) he's most likely going to make a fool of himself the first time he takes a job as a Steadicam operator. And a bad reputation (ie bad work) spreads faster than SARS.

And, if he tries to "sell" one of his Jib clients on the fact he can do Steadicam as well, they might give him a shot one day, and again, if he stinks, he might have not only just gotten himself fired, but most likely lost that client for future Jib work as well.

People in this business aren't looking for a jack of all trades.
When they hire a Jib arm owner/op they aren't looking for a guy that can do Steadicam, and Underwater, and Helicopter work as well.

Now, by chance if he picks up a Steadicam, takes a bunch of free-bie work to get experience and eventually does decent with it, then builds a clientele with Steadicam, which is he going to choose? Jib arms are most often used on smaller productions, but still, is he going to show up in the morning, set up the jib arm, then set up the Steadicam and try to bounce back and forth between the two? And trust me, one of the two guys sitting over on the dollies or standing next to the tripods, operating the cameras, who were hired long before the Jib arm guy, already owns and operates the Steadicam.

This guy in LA also has several guys that work for him doing the Jib arm as well. But the truth of the matter is, he admits he gets MOST of his work himself because of his reputation as a Jib arm op. He sends out the other guys when he's NOT available. And rents out the other Jib arms to productions that ALREADY have camera operators on the show, who can operate the Jib, via the wheels, or that goofy video game joystick.

And, again, your friend (or yourself) needs to keep in mind, that a Jib arm is a dayplaying tool on lower to middle budgeted productions. Steadicam used to be more of a dayplaying tool, but now, it's pretty much a standard issue item that one of the regular Camera Operators on the show ALREADY owns and operates when needed. And other than wannabe actors, directors, and DP's there are more wannabe Steadicam Operators than anything. There's a WORLD of difference between being the "A" Camera/Steadicam or "B" Camera/Steadicam operator and someone whose trying to be the Crane/Steadicam Operator. There's a reason they don't really exist.

If your friends business is growing, buy more Jib arms!! I think his best business choice would be to stick with what he's good at and stick with the tool that he's built the clintele around. If anything, have him look into better, more expensive crane arms that'll get him more money on bigger jobs.

I'm not a fan of the dual professions (like a Director and DP) because one of the two jobs usually suffers.

Just my 2 cents.
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#5 Mitch Gross

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Posted 23 May 2004 - 10:54 PM

In the New York area, many of the jib guys have ad hoc partnership/friendship/alliances with local Steadicam Ops. So when a Producer contacts one for a music video or event shoot, there is often a reccomendation for the other and even some offered package deals for the two. I know this one from the other side of the fence. So I would tell this jib owner to simply make friends with local Steadicam Ops who already own their own gear. If he legitimately works as a referral/booking service for the Steadicam Ops, then he can legitimately receive a commission and offer the client a package price. All is above board and with full understanding. The client gets one-stop shopping, the jib & steadicam owners theoretically get more work and everyone is happy. Make sure to check with Florida law about commission pay, otherwise the relationship between jib & steadicam operators might simply be a quid pro quo reccomendation process ("I work with this guy a lot and we work very well together."

Short answer: It's a lot cheaper for your jib friend to become friendly with the local Steadicam ops then it is to buy his own rig and invest in training time for the operators.

If there are no local ops, then I'd throw out this idea to you: Since you're so interested in this, have him form a separate business plan with you. You'll go to a workshop and train as a Steadicam Op. He'll front the money for the rig. For the next "X" number of years you will split the revenue from every job 50/50. You get half as your fee and he gets half as the gear rental. At the end of the contract period you can buy him out for a given amount or dissolve the partnership. Incentives to all.
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#6 Osvaldo Silvera SOC

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Posted 23 May 2004 - 11:07 PM

Hello Jason,
I just worked with your friend on the Billboard awards and he told me about teaching a class for a few people he had set up. I see now why he wanted to have me teach it quickly. Tell him to give me a call. I'm looking to upgrade and might be able to work with him on a good price for my present system. PS, you can always call me about anything steadicam.

Ozzie
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#7 JasonMcKelvey

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Posted 24 May 2004 - 11:13 AM

?This guy in LA also has several guys that work for him doing the Jib arm as well. But the truth of the matter is, he admits he gets MOST of his work himself because of his reputation as a Jib arm op. He sends out the other guys when he's NOT available. And rents out the other Jib arms to productions that ALREADY have camera operators on the show, who can operate the Jib, via the wheels, or that goofy video game joystick.?

Very true Michael S. He has a similar operation. But, he doesn't want to operate the rig. He wants to own it. He owns several jibs and keeps them all very busy. He has several jib ops and camera ops that have the desire to learn the craft and wants to arrange a situation that is benificial for all of them. We could debate all day on which is harder to learn, jib or steadicam, but all-in-all he understands that there is a learning curve and needs to allow for time in the rig for all his potential operators and the risks involved with bringing this service to clients.

?If there are no local ops, then I'd throw out this idea to you: Since you're so interested in this, have him form a separate business plan with you. You'll go to a workshop and train as a Steadicam Op. He'll front the money for the rig. For the next "X" number of years you will split the revenue from every job 50/50. You get half as your fee and he gets half as the gear rental. At the end of the contract period you can buy him out for a given amount or dissolve the partnership.?

Oh boy Mitch? I surely would if I didn?t have a full time job where I believe God wants me? this scenario will probably play out with one of his operators in particular he was telling me about? strong desire, good eye, etc. For me? I just want to use it for some of our productions!

Sincerely, thank you for the concerns.. and keep them coming... does anyone have some equipment ideas as well?

Sincerely,
Jason

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#8 Gustavo Penna

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Posted 25 May 2004 - 02:29 AM

Hi Jason!

i agree with michael stumpf, in every single point.

i have being operating on miami for five years now and the bussines is not even close to the volume i had when i arrive from italy in 98. lets say 2/5 of what i used to make a year. i had two provids one was rented full time to univision untill december and the other one i had to sell it because there was no Bussines for it.

i m thinking in selling the last provid, if i dont send it back to south america to start producing,$$$$$.
and keep only my master film and ultra for the little jobs with stupid budgets , that i still do in miami.

Gus ( Tired of florida) Penna
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#9 Amando Crespo

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Posted 03 August 2009 - 11:33 PM

I would advise him to stay in the Jib business if that's what he does best and has a good clintele with it.
There is a guy here in LA who owns 10 jib arms and he stays VERY busy. He has also bought a lower end Steadicam and I guess occasionally gets some calls for it. But he admits, the vast majority of his work is with the Jib arms.

But the reason I say it is this: If he's inexperienced as a Steadicam operator, and really doesn't know squat about it (which seems to be evident in the fact he's asking you to research for him) he's most likely going to make a fool of himself the first time he takes a job as a Steadicam operator. And a bad reputation (ie bad work) spreads faster than SARS.

And, if he tries to "sell" one of his Jib clients on the fact he can do Steadicam as well, they might give him a shot one day, and again, if he stinks, he might have not only just gotten himself fired, but most likely lost that client for future Jib work as well.

People in this business aren't looking for a jack of all trades.
When they hire a Jib arm owner/op they aren't looking for a guy that can do Steadicam, and Underwater, and Helicopter work as well.

Now, by chance if he picks up a Steadicam, takes a bunch of free-bie work to get experience and eventually does decent with it, then builds a clientele with Steadicam, which is he going to choose? Jib arms are most often used on smaller productions, but still, is he going to show up in the morning, set up the jib arm, then set up the Steadicam and try to bounce back and forth between the two? And trust me, one of the two guys sitting over on the dollies or standing next to the tripods, operating the cameras, who were hired long before the Jib arm guy, already owns and operates the Steadicam.

This guy in LA also has several guys that work for him doing the Jib arm as well. But the truth of the matter is, he admits he gets MOST of his work himself because of his reputation as a Jib arm op. He sends out the other guys when he's NOT available. And rents out the other Jib arms to productions that ALREADY have camera operators on the show, who can operate the Jib, via the wheels, or that goofy video game joystick.

And, again, your friend (or yourself) needs to keep in mind, that a Jib arm is a dayplaying tool on lower to middle budgeted productions. Steadicam used to be more of a dayplaying tool, but now, it's pretty much a standard issue item that one of the regular Camera Operators on the show ALREADY owns and operates when needed. And other than wannabe actors, directors, and DP's there are more wannabe Steadicam Operators than anything. There's a WORLD of difference between being the "A" Camera/Steadicam or "B" Camera/Steadicam operator and someone whose trying to be the Crane/Steadicam Operator. There's a reason they don't really exist.

If your friends business is growing, buy more Jib arms!! I think his best business choice would be to stick with what he's good at and stick with the tool that he's built the clintele around. If anything, have him look into better, more expensive crane arms that'll get him more money on bigger jobs.

I'm not a fan of the dual professions (like a Director and DP) because one of the two jobs usually suffers.

Just my 2 cents.


..Ups!.... Michael...¡¡¡PERFECT TWO CENTS!!!!
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