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#1 Paul Clements

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Posted 21 April 2007 - 02:04 PM

Hi everyone,

This looks like a great place to find answers for a wannabe Steadicam Operator.

In August I will be taking posession of a RedOne Digital Cinema Camera, all being well, I have reservation 445. I have been contemplating combining the purchase with a steadicam rig. One of the reasons for this is that the cost of the EVF and shoulder mount system comes quite close to buying a low cost steadicam with LCD screen, or at least a large proportion of the cost of a steadicam with LCD screen.

The camera is reckoned to weigh in at about 9lbs but it is hoped that it will be less than this with an estimate of around 8lbs when complete.

I'm looking to buy their Zoom which is a compact 18-50mm cine lens and will weigh approx 3lbs, it is small enough that it shouldn't require any supports.

I've been in contact with Brian Valente from Redrock and have discussed their upcoming microRemote, which ought to be a good option for pulling focus. I don't know the weight of the supplied motor.

I'm not quite sure about the MatteBox I'll be using, but again Redrock is releasing a low budget option that looks to be quite good quality at least for starters. Again I have no weight for it as yet, although Brian believes it'll be similar to relative ARRI or Chrosziel 4"x5.65"'s.

The batteries I will be using will probably be around 2lbs.

The RedDrives that can hold upto 320GB's will likely weigh around 2lbs as well. Perhaps these can go at the bottom of the sled?

In total that's 11lbs for lens and camera, Mattebox and FF for hopefully 3lbs but these could be more. So that's 14lbs for the camera package up top, although I'll likely need 15mm rod support which would take it up to 15lbs no doubt. The Batteries and Reddrives will weigh about 4lbs too.

Would a flyer be any good? or am I pushing it?

If not a flyer what is a good low cost beginner rig? The Glidecam V20 is certainly cheap and would give a lot more room for not needing to worry about weight but what are the drawbacks with this rig for such a setup?

Could buying a flyer vest or similar along with a second hand stronger arm and sled be an option and if so what arm and sled would you suggest for a budget option?

I'd love to be able to afford the archer but it's just not feasible as a first rig option unfortunately, not with the cost of the camera in the same year.

I really appreciate any help you can offer, and if I've missed anything feel free to fill the gaps.

Many thanks,

Paul
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#2 Charles Papert

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Posted 21 April 2007 - 05:55 PM

Paul:

This is a question that many upcoming RED owners are wondering about. Unfortunately there is no immediate answer to this. A reworked and dedicated RED sled would probably be a useful thing (with capability to use the RED EVS as the monitor, mounting for drives at bottom as you noted etc).

I would suggest that making an "either/or" decision to invest in a Steadicam vs the gear needed for handheld may not be a good choice, as there are many instances where handheld is a better choice than Steadicam for a given shot or job. It may be possible to rig the EVS with enough of a Hoodman-type assembly to be able to use it for handheld framing in exteriors but you don't want to lock yourself out of that very popular option.
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#3 EJ Sadler

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Posted 23 April 2007 - 01:05 AM

Not to start any brand wars, but the V20 can't be compared to a Flyer. The Flyer is truly professional grade. If you go look at both, you'll never pick the V20.

The no tools arm adjustments on the Flyer are worth it alone. The gimble is worth it alone. The two vs. one floating arm is worth it alone. The V20 looks like a homebrew rig, and isn't even as good as some of the homebrews I've seen. The machining, finish, and quality of the Flyer are flawless.

You can get a base Flyer with AB mounts from B&H for around $6k.

You might want to look at the Petroff matteboxes. Fully modular, no tools, and very light. A two stage 4x4 with a top flag and rail mount weighs 1.5lbs.

Also, Cinevate will soon have carbon fibre 15mm rods in lengths up to 24".

You can mount the RedDrive at the bottom of the sled with a handle bar mount like these VFGadgets. We run our firestore at the bottom of the sled with one. If you're looking to save some weight, the handle bracket will work on the Flyer with a little bit of rubber shimming.

If you ever plan on being in a position where you need to pull your own focus, you should know that the monitor on the base flyer will be useless at any aperture bigger than f4. You really need a HD monitor to pull focus at low DOF, especially with anything below 50mm. If you need to pull your own focus outside during daylite, you might as well just guess using the distance scale on the lens. This messes with your math since any decent HD monitor is around $1,400, and the only daylite viewable HD monitor is around $8,400.

If you could run a long enough cable to mount the EVF like a night vision goggle, then you would be set.

The Flyers 15lb rating seems very conservative and I wouldn't hesitate to run a rig in the 15lb range. If you haven't already seen this page it's worth a look. They never mention the actual weight of the rig, but I'd bet anything it's more than 15lbs.

You should also manage your expectations on the types of shots you're going to get right away. Getting the sort of shots you see on Steadishots.org with a light weight camera on a Flyer is a quite a challenge to say the least. For any sort of lock-off, you'll really need to have the rig perfectly balanced and trimmed.

If you decide to go Steadi instead of shoulder mount, you won't be dissapointed with the Flyer.
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#4 mark morgan

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Posted 23 April 2007 - 06:13 AM

have a look and specs on the "artemis"dv rig from sachler
saw it at nab,very nice craftsmanship
and it felt very comfortable
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#5 Charles Papert

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Posted 23 April 2007 - 07:49 AM

If you ever plan on being in a position where you need to pull your own focus, you should know that the monitor on the base flyer will be useless at any aperture bigger than f4. You really need a HD monitor to pull focus at low DOF, especially with anything below 50mm. If you need to pull your own focus outside during daylite, you might as well just guess using the distance scale on the lens. This messes with your math since any decent HD monitor is around $1,400, and the only daylite viewable HD monitor is around $8,400.


Assuming that most users of the RED camera will be taking advantage of the full-size sensor and shooting with 35mm format lenses, pulling one's own focus is not going to be an option (or I suppose I should say, is a perfectly good option as long as one is not adverse to soft footage). However I fully expect that we will be seeing a great deal of tragically out of focus indie films in the next few years as many of the folks who are shooting on this format for the first time will one-by-one discover that the skill of focus pulling has not succumbed to Moore's Law and there is a reason that "Hollywood" employs so many "overpaid" camera assistants!

If you could run a long enough cable to mount the EVF like a night vision goggle, then you would be set.


Garrett tried and discarded this concept nearly 35 years ago. It's too disorienting. Not to mention the annoyance of the cable (which was fiber optic back then).
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#6 Amando Crespo

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Posted 23 April 2007 - 10:18 PM

Hi!... Read again the advice of Mr.Paper...It´s a learned and wise post....
Be free boys :rolleyes:
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#7 Paul Clements

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Posted 25 April 2007 - 06:24 PM

Thanks very much for the information people, I really appreciate your time.

I think the whole focus pulling thing is a bit moot in some respects, if you are using the camera shoulder mounted you'll have the same problems anyway. The only time you could reasonably get away without having an AC is when mounted on a tripod, and even then if you are panning and tilting you might want one.

Having said all this there is suppose to be a focus assist built into the camera to identify the sharpest points on the screen. I guess we'll have to wait and see how this pans out and whether it'd make the task of pulling focus yourself any easier or more precise. The information at the moment is a little scarce.

Also the Canon EOS mount from Birger might be a good tool for steadicam work. It all depends on how well it refocuses really. I've had a go at using my slr and attempting to replicate and I believe if it is done well it could give some very good results. Again though it's a wait and see for this.

It's all food for thought and there is some time yet before any decisions need to be made. Again thanks for your time.

Paul
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#8 Charles Papert

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Posted 25 April 2007 - 08:37 PM

The focus assist feature will likely indicate what is and isn't in focus, just as a good ground glass will do (or a large enough or high-res enough LCD display). An operator may be able to do an approximate job of tracking focus

However pulling focus in the 35mm realm requires more than just dialing in a sharp image (rack through the focus until you find the sharpest point). It involves being able to anticipate and land the focus exactly where it needs to be at the precise moment the subject moves or stops. AC's use a lot of tools to achieve this, from their own mental calculations to laying marks to using sophisticated hardware devices. Operators, whether handheld or on sticks, can only rely on the image itself and thus cannot accurately know just how much to turn the lens to perfectly track the subject.

Remember that the RED camera produces an exceptionally sharp image, which means that subtle focus buzzes will be that much more obvious. Understand that the depth of field of a 35mm sensor is anecdotally less than an equivalent 35mm film plane (have heard this from several AC's). Take it from the folks here who have had their eye in the eyepiece for many years. RED will not make bad actors good, poor scripts watchable, crappy lighting beautiful...and it is unlikely to be able to do anything to reinvent the art and science of focus pulling, as all of that remains unchanged from 35mm film cameras.
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#9 Afton Grant

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Posted 25 April 2007 - 11:11 PM

RED will not make bad actors good, poor scripts watchable, crappy lighting beautiful...and it is unlikely to be able to do anything to reinvent the art and science of focus pulling, as all of that remains unchanged from 35mm film cameras.


Very nicely put, Charles. While I am no less amazed by the capabilities I've learned about the camera than anyone else, I have also heard and read a fair number of testimonials that elevate it seemingly into the world of magic. Cameras, just like our Steadicams are merely machines and only as good as the humans that use them.

On a much smaller scale, it almost reminds me of the blind enthusiasm that gripped our economy in the late '90s with the dot com boom. All you needed was a marginally unique idea and somehow the money was expected to flow. Whatta ya know? It turned out you still have to be a good business person to make money.

Again, the RED is a camera unlike any we've seen so far and I'm incredibly excited about it and much of the other technology that is making its way into the industry. Now who wants to buy 40,000 shares of pets.com?

Best,
Afton
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#10 Paul Clements

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Posted 26 April 2007 - 11:44 AM

RED will not make bad actors good, poor scripts watchable, crappy lighting beautiful...and it is unlikely to be able to do anything to reinvent the art and science of focus pulling, as all of that remains unchanged from 35mm film cameras.


Hi Charles and Afton,

I'm merely looking for advice on starting out as a beginner using a steadicam rig and this happens to be the camera I will be wanting to use in the future, so I'd really appreciate it if the discussion was kept solely to that since I've been on many forums that say the same things as you are and whilst I'm not disagreeing it just seems unnecessary in this context. For the record I don't think it'll replace 35mm film or that anything other than a combination of the right tools and right people make a good movie, it's just a camera that suits me from an ecomonomical and quality point of view.

I hope this doesn't come off sounding rude, it's genuinely not my intention to be and I do apreciate your input as steadicam professionals, I just don't want the subject to deviate into a discussion on the merits of the camera or even the actions of those following it's development.

I completely understand where you are coming from about AC's and pulling focus, I was referring to pulling focus yourself on a tripod but wasn't perhaps clear about that.

You must've all started out somewhere with some kind of rig, and I'm sure this is a great place to learn about the most suitable path to take.

Thanks again for the constructive input.

Paul
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#11 Jerry Holway

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Posted 26 April 2007 - 12:12 PM

You must've all started out somewhere with some kind of rig, and I'm sure this is a great place to learn about the most suitable path to take.

Paul


Take a good workshop. That's where we all started.

Then you will be able to figure out what is the best rig available (new, used, price, features, capabilities) - best for you in your market with your financial resources, prospects, etc.

FYI -Almost any decent rig will fly the RED just fine - it's a good weight and shape for us.

Jerry
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#12 Charles Papert

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Posted 26 April 2007 - 12:23 PM

Paul:

I do understand where you are coming from, and in fact it might surprise you to hear that I am also a RED reservation holder. I think perhaps what got me going on the tangent was this:

The only time you could reasonably get away without having an AC is when mounted on a tripod, and even then if you are panning and tilting you might want one.


As you indicated, this doesn't have anything to do with Steadicam, but realize that all of us who make a living here as Steadicam operators also work as conventional operators, and many of us (including myself) as DP's. I personally don't agree with your statement above for many circumstances because while it is physically possible to pull one's own focus when working off sticks or a dolly, it is rarely "reasonable" to be able to do so with a degree of accuracy that is required with a full-size sensor camera. And of all of the factors that make it more or less reasonable, panning/tilting during the shot would be far down the list after focal length, aperture size, distance to subject, movement of the subject (towards or away from camera much harder than lateral movement), spatial movement of the camera, light level (to be able to judge focus in the viewfinder), etc.

OK, I'll step away from that and back to Steadicam. If you are handy or have access to a machinist, one option is to buy a Flyer and rebuild the lower spar so that you can mount the RED drives down below with a telescoping post option to help balance the system, as the arm will carry a bit more weight than the sled is currently rated for. There are a number of cheaper rigs that will fly the complete package with camera on top; they may be perfectly adequate for your needs but they do not have the performance capability of the Flyer, especially regarding the arm.
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#13 Afton Grant

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Posted 26 April 2007 - 12:23 PM

Hi Paul,

I'll apologize if it seemed as though my comments were directed at you. That was certainly not my intent (probably not Charles' either).

The nature of this forum, like many others, is to benefit all those reading, not just the individual that started the thread. Our posts are more like a natural conversation, each one feeding off the last, rather than each one being an independent response to the first. Threads often deviate from the original post - especially as they get longer. I think this is a good thing. It is what keeps people reading each and every post, rather than just ignoring the entire topics in which they have no interest. You never know where a topic may go, and you never know what information might benefit you - the individual reader.

So please take nothing personally unless specifically addressed. Even though you may have begun the conversation, we are all in it once it's open. We're happy to have you.

Best Regards,
Afton
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#14 Paul Clements

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Posted 27 April 2007 - 09:19 AM

Hi,

Charles, it isn't my thinking that everyone here is solely a Steadicam operator and knows nothing about conventional operation. I'm not sure why you might think I do. If you thought I was lecturing, when talking about pulling focus, I can asure you I wasn't meaning to be and apologise; there is a great deal I don't know and I will certainly never think I know enough. Afton you are of course correct and I didn't take it personally, I just didn't want it to get onto that discussion that I've found myself having with many, many people before :)

Jerry, your suggestion is of course a great solution. I was contemplating choosing a steadicam rig over a hand held setup from the get go in order to save from having to buy the handheld gear however, so it's kind of a catch22... Do I buy the rails setup for handheld and then begin to investigate a steadicam rig later or buy the rig and not have a handheld option. At the moment I'm probably swaying more toward the rail setup and looking into the steadicam via workshops at a later date as per your suggestion.

Charles, how much would you say the Flyer arm could actually carry? I have access to a family business in aluminium engineering so having something machined isn't out of the question. Do you know of anywhere I could find designs of the lower spar to use as reference? Perhaps one of the homebuilt steadicam websites might have something suitable? I contemplated that a simple design could have rails at the base similar to the artemis that would allow the attachment of the battery and drives as they would be on the redrails and at the front include a few mounting points for attaching a RedArm which could hold the LCD. Do you think something like this could work? Frankly I don't know enough about steadicams to honestly make a bespoke part, but nevertheless I like making stuff and would be happy to have a shot at it. If I could get it made and there was someone available in the UK to test it I'd be more than happy to explore that route, if only for a bit of fun.

Thanks

Paul
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#15 RobinThwaites

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Posted 27 April 2007 - 11:55 AM

Hi Paul

Feel free to call me if you want to chat about this, also we have a UK Workshop 6th June. 01869 343835.

Robin
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