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XCS Ultimate

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#1 Benjamin Treplin

Benjamin Treplin

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Posted 23 June 2007 - 05:54 PM

Hi all Ultimate owners,
Next Wednesday I will get my new Ultimate and I'm exited like on Christmas Eve. Due the fact that the Ultimate has the X-Y on the bottom of the sled I was wondering if this has changed your set up routine. How do you handle the different weights of lenses, e.g. on 435 where the lens mount is not aligned with the CG of the camera.
Did the different concept of the Ultimate change your work in other aspects?

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#2 brooksrobinson


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Posted 24 June 2007 - 12:37 AM


Congratulations on your new sled! You?ll be very pleased with your purchase.

I?ve had my rig for about six months now. It is very different than my stock Pro 1 sled was, and I was a little surprised at how long it took for me to become completely comfortable. This old dog is apparently too lazy to learn new tricks.

For me, the thing that has taken the most getting used to is having the fore/aft, and side-to-side adjustments at the base instead of up top like everyone else?s sled. It?s not that making adjustments is hard or non-intuitive, that part is easy. It?s just that since there is less weight at the base (where you?re adjusting) than up top, you have to move the battery mass a lot farther to do the same amount of balancing that would require only a small amount of adjusting with the controls up top. Greg has built in (I believe) more side to side range than I had previously with my GPI Donkey Box 2, it just doesn?t seem to go as far since the base is lighter than the camera. That?s my understanding anyway.

This means that you must be very precise with dovetail plate placement, since (at least in my case) you don?t seem to have as much adjustment ability. The first couple of jobs with my Ultimate required me to take the camera on and off a couple of times to move the location of my plates. They just didn?t seem to line up in the same spot as they had for the previous 10 years using my Pro. There isn?t as much leeway or margin for error. Once you figure out where the plates need to be, you?re fine?it just took me a while.

Regarding placing plates on various cameras that are side heavy - there are many mounting options on the XCS plates, and that hasn?t been an issue for me at all. The plates are really beefy and don?t flex at all. Also, being able to solidly (without flex) mount focus motor rods to them is a nice touch.

Another thing to pay attention to out of the gate (and something that allowed me to bone myself on my first gig with the Ultimate) is the Uno frameliner. This sends framelines to video village through your transmitter. These framelines are set up independent of the ones on your monitor. This can be a great thing if you have one of those shots where you need to set up your monitor with special framelines for reference, but you don?t want the director looking at them. The problem is when you forget to set them up (Greg warned me about this) for the camera you are flying. All of a sudden, the DP is telling you to watch your headroom - although it looks the way it should on your monitor. The problem is, he is looking at the Uno?s lines which you have not yet set up properly for the format you are shooting. It is easy to get burned, until setting it up becomes part of your daily ritual. In my case, after a quick trip to video village led me to discover my error, I couldn?t figure out how to turn them off or adjust them through the menu (always spend quality time getting to know your sweetheart before taking her out on the first date?a lesson I learned the hard way).

Another thing to watch out for the first time out is balancing?especially if you have the ergo handle on your new gimbal. The ergo handle is considerably longer than the handle on the Pro gimbal, and the first time I tried to balance on the XCS docking bracket, the whole thing almost tipped over. I believe that this may be due to the fact that the handle (being as long as it is) places the weight farther away from the stand than other gimbals do. I am using the American Steadicam Stand for those who might be wondering. I haven?t heard of anyone else encountering this phenomenon, so maybe it?s just me. Make sure to balance over a leg (common sense).

That being said, you?ll find that your new sled is terrific! It is rock solid - no flex or vibration at all. It is extremely well thought out from the ground up. The electronics are fantastic! The batteries all drain at the same time, regardless of chemistry. You change them all at once?no more swapping one out, only to replace another in a few minutes. There is an easy to read, illuminated readout telling you what percentage of the battery (or batteries) are left, and what the combined voltage is. No more surprises with batteries going down in the middle of a take. It is truly a fabulous piece of gear, and you?ll be happy with your purchase for many years to come. You?ll also be happy with Greg?s customer service, which is unsurpassed?I can?t say enough positive things about the way I?ve been treated, and not just at the time of sale.

I hope the above notes don?t sound negative in any way. They are simply my first impressions upon taking delivery of my new XCS sled in December. For me, there were a few idiosyncrasies to get used to. That?s it. Now that I?ve been using it day in ? day out, I can?t imagine flying anything else, and I would recommend the XCS to anyone. It is an incredible piece of equipment, coupled with unparalleled customer service. You?ll be very happy with your purchase.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions. I?m sure you?ll receive great advice from others on this forum ? I certainly did to the countless questions I had when I was considering buying my sled. This forum is a great place for information gathering.

Good luck on the new purchase.

Brooks Robinson

PS Meredith Wilson in Toronto makes some killer Gore-Tex rain covers for the XCS sled. They are a bit pricey, and take a while to make (they?re all custom), but they are well worth the price and the wait.
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#3 Eric Fletcher S.O.C.

Eric Fletcher S.O.C.

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Posted 24 June 2007 - 07:32 AM

I'm going to Echo what Brooks. With The XCS Ultimate you actually have finer balance control since you are moving the minor weight a greater distance. This believe it or not is noticeable in the handling of the rig.

The rig is an all around treat in the way it flys and the features built into it, and like Brookes said you can't beat the customer service. It certainly beats the hell out of what some call "service"

Enjoy your new rig and let us know what you think of it.
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