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New Operator has some questions


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#1 ericulbrich

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Posted 17 September 2007 - 08:01 PM

Ok so im a senior in film school. When i graduate I am looking to buy one of the new ultra cine 2 systems plus a cmotion follow focus control system. I wanted to know which steadicam school would be best for me to attend after I purcahse the rig. I already have many contacts of people who want to hire me straight out of school so paying the rig off is no problem. What are some of the things I need to think about when purchasing the rig? Any advice would be very helpful.
Thanks
Eric Ulbrich
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#2 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 17 September 2007 - 08:33 PM

I already have many contacts of people who want to hire me straight out of school so paying the rig off is no problem.
Thanks
Eric Ulbrich

Wow! Really? Just remember that people SAY a lot of things, especially in LA, but when it comes down to it they don't always do what they say they will. If I were you I wouldn't count my chickens until they've hatched. To be honest, I don't know any producers who are willing to hire an operator who's actually never done any operating. I appreciate your optimism, but I think you are being a little naive regarding your work prospects when you get out of school. It takes years to become a decent operator, and it takes years to build up a client list that will keep you busy.
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#3 ericulbrich

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Posted 17 September 2007 - 09:52 PM

ok, maybe im being a little optimistic. I am purchasing the rig using some family members investments as well as taking a loan out for myself. I have a large group of young film makers who cannot afford the 1000 dollar plus price tag for an operator so what I meant to say was that I have people who will hire someone with less experience and be able to actually afford to have steadicam on a student budget. I feel that by utilizing the flm school crowd and charging less i will be able to practice my operating on a daily basis while still being able to present a quality project for student films. From this I feel that I can build my reel as well and begin to work on larger bigger budget shows. I know that its a large investment and I'm not one of those starry eyed film students who thinks that he will be the next Hollywood savior. I know the time and investment it takes to buy an expensive piece of equipment such as this and plan on using it for quite a long time.
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#4 Robert Starling SOC

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Posted 17 September 2007 - 11:31 PM

ok, maybe im being a little optimistic.


Hi Eric, Brad wasn't trying to shoot you down, but he wasn't candy coating it either. I came into Steadicam with 28 years in the business and can tell you that for me it's the most challenging and interesting form of storytelling and camera operating that I know of or at least that I've experienced. It's revived my heart, my inspiration and my love of the camera. I'm still a jaded old camera op, but at least I'm enthusiastically jaded now! My only regret is that I didn't get into Steadicam earlier in my career.

Probably the best and most important two things you can do right now is:

1. Read every thread and every archive in this forum as far back as you can. There are thousands of to-do's, don't-do's, how-to's and must-do's woven into the various threads here by the top-operators on the planet. If you're serious about your aspirations, you'll still be here asking questions next year and probably ten years from now.

2. As quickly as possible you need to contact Peter Abraham at Tiffen and sign up for one of their two-day workshops, then try to get your name on the list to take one of the week-long workshops put on by the Steadicam Operators Association or the week-long Arrowhead / Malibu workshop by Tiffen. The PRO-GPI weekend workshop is great as well but I think they only do it in the Spring.

IMHO, without this forum, the workshops and the support of other operators, it would be very very difficult to make meaningful or timely progress growing your Steadicam talents and business.

Best of luck to you and don't be afraid to fail, but also don't be foolish and not learn or benefit from the experience of those who have paved the way before you.
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#5 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 18 September 2007 - 03:15 AM

I have a large group of young film makers who cannot afford the 1000 dollar plus price tag for an operator so what I meant to say was that I have people who will hire someone with less experience and be able to actually afford to have steadicam on a student budget. I feel that by utilizing the flm school crowd and charging less i will be able to practice my operating on a daily basis while still being able to present a quality project for student films. From this I feel that I can build my reel as well and begin to work on larger bigger budget shows.

It's good to see that you are actually grounded in some sort of reality. But you do have to realize that there is a reason student films can't get top notch operators to work for the rates they can afford. It's because the rates they can afford aren't rates that a steadicam operator can afford. Certainly, almost every steadicam operator has done student films or at least low budget jobs to gain experience and make a few bucks, but the reason they don't continue doing them is because they can't make a living that way, much less pay off close to $100,000 in loans. Doing student films is a good way to build a reel and a terrible (impossible) way to make a living. I'd suggest you spend some time on professional film sets in any position you can get and learn and make some contacts, then take a workshop, and then consider buying a rig. Steadicam is not for everyone. To make such a huge investment without any experience at all is folly in my opinion.
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#6 ericulbrich

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Posted 19 September 2007 - 09:18 PM

Ok so let me be clear on my work experience. I have crewed on over 40 films in my four year time here at film school. I was a rigging electrician on films like High School Musical and did rigging and set electrician work on the last sin eater dir. Michael Landon. Finally I just finished gaffing my first feature. I know that as I am in film school I might seem like the typical film student, however, I do have professional experience, ive talked to steadicam operators working in the business as well as many camera operators, gaffers, key grips. ect. ect.
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#7 Alfeo Dixon SOC

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Posted 20 September 2007 - 03:57 PM

ok, maybe im being a little optimistic.

but at least I'm enthusiastically jaded now!


and I thought my jaded enthusiasm was optimistic...

-Alfeo "need more jadism in my life" Dixon
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#8 Eric Fletcher S.O.C.

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Posted 20 September 2007 - 05:34 PM

Ok so let me be clear on my work experience. I have crewed on over 40 films in my four year time here at film school. I was a rigging electrician on films like High School Musical and did rigging and set electrician work on the last sin eater dir. Michael Landon. Finally I just finished gaffing my first feature. I know that as I am in film school I might seem like the typical film student, however, I do have professional experience, ive talked to steadicam operators working in the business as well as many camera operators, gaffers, key grips. ect. ect.



Don't take this wrong but just talking to Steadicam Ops and Camera ops doesn't equal real world experience, and it's that experience that get's you the work.
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#9 ericulbrich

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Posted 20 September 2007 - 06:36 PM

Understandable, but I do have professional work experience, I plan on going to malibu next year as well.
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#10 AndySchwartz

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Posted 20 September 2007 - 08:23 PM

hey eric

nothing has helped me more than taking the SOA workshop I took 2 years ago. Prior to that I bought a steadicam SK2 a few years before and learned alot on my own along with a couple bad habits i broke at the workshop.

take the workshop and practice their lessons and think about their ideas and stories. i ponder steadicam shots alot all over the place, even when i am walking around the grocery store or a restaurant. people will want you on shorts and small stuff sometimes because they want to have a steadicam on their credits as much as you want their project on your resume, but imho i thnk it is best to confindently go to a shoot completely prepared and ready to be able to truly use the steadicam for what it was made for and to be able to respond to their needs accurately. and that means being able to just walk around a house for beauty shots of rooms for broll or making it evoke some emotion from the movement in order to enhance a scene. when you go to a workshop you are not just putting the rig on and getting a technical/physical experience you are hearing stories and watching shots and experienced pros move around with the steadicam and that is something you not only can't get just owning and practicing on your own, but it gives you all these little seeds of motivation that you can build on when you get out the in the field with all your gear. hands down having a rig is great so if you can get one, go ahead and practice, but invest in the knowledge as well. this forum is priceless as well. good luck eric. hope to hear your progress soon.

andy
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#11 Fabrizio Sciarra SOC ACO

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Posted 21 September 2007 - 08:35 AM

Ok so im a senior in film school. When i graduate I am looking to buy one of the new ultra cine 2 systems plus a cmotion follow focus control system. I wanted to know which steadicam school would be best for me to attend after I purcahse the rig. I already have many contacts of people who want to hire me straight out of school so paying the rig off is no problem. What are some of the things I need to think about when purchasing the rig? Any advice would be very helpful.
Thanks
Eric Ulbrich

Hi Eric,
my 2 cent.
Go for a workshop BEFORE to spend your money (a lot) in a rig that you're not able to judge if is the one that will fit your needs. (Do you know the difference between a Steadicam Ultra2, or a Pro, or a Xcs, or a Mk-v, or or or).
That is strictly related with your second question, things to "think" before to buy a rig. If you gonna work for a while with your friends in minor after school projects an Ultra2 sound a bit too much (is like buying a Ferrari Maranello your first day of driving licence). Also, have you ever tryed an Ultra2 or any other high end rig in heavy configuration, let's say like with an Arri 535 with all bells and whistles, let's say for five minutes? What about your back? Do you know how it would responde?
I would listen at the fellows here on the forum that gave you some "real" suggestions.
Steadicam IS fascinating, but it requires an attitude as well, not forgetting a mandatory experience in camera department in my opinion.
So, why don't you apply for a two days workshop in the meantime (if you'll go at Malibu workshop next year you can save a lot of time AND you can get your hands dirty until then). Go at your local dealer and buy a Flyer,(this will not overkill your pockets or the one of your parents) practice, A LOT, practice everything you'll learn in the workshop, READ everything you can on this forum, which is an invaluable resource for pros. Find a Menthor, you are just surrounded by if you are in L.A area. (best operators available worldwide are based there, so you're dam lucky!!!!!)
I believe this process will drive you gradually in a position where you'll feel more confident in taking decisions, that sometimes can be hard to take without the right guidance.
Hope this answer your questions without beeing harsh, which is not my intention at all.
All the best, and again, think well before to make an investment that you can regret in the future.
Fabrizio

Edited by Fabrizio Sciarra, 21 September 2007 - 08:39 AM.

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#12 JobScholtze

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Posted 24 September 2007 - 07:19 AM

Go for a workshop BEFORE to spend your money (a lot) in a rig that you're not able to judge if is the one that will fit your needs. (Do you know the difference between a Steadicam Ultra2, or a Pro, or a Xcs, or a Mk-v, or or or).


Soooooo true, this is your best advice, i would suggest to follow this route.
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#13 Anthony Violanto

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Posted 14 November 2007 - 06:21 PM

If you bought such a serious rig, the temptation would be too great, and you might bite off more than you can chew and take a good paying gig. It could seriously harm your future reputation as a steadicam operator. It will not say in the credits you were just learning- it will only tell us your name.

If I had a ferrari as my first car, I would have gone the speed limit for the first 2 days- and then i would have put the pedal to the metal and you would be laughing about it on youtube

~anthony
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