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long term use of back and front mounted vests


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#1 Joshua Harrison

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Posted 10 October 2007 - 12:14 PM

Hey all,

After a conversation with a friend about back mounted vs front mounted (coke vs pepsi anyone?) I realized that some people who swore by back mounted vests have changed back and some ardent front mounted folks have recently purchased a back mounted vest. Somewhere in this conversation I wondered if changing the type of vest you use regularly (not necessarily every other day or even job to job but perhaps every few months) might be better for the back. Perhaps like the shoes you wear, the vest should be changed often as to not apply the same kind of pressure all the time.
I have no idea of the science of this I am just throwing it out there to get some thoughts, perhaps from those who know way better than me. Anybody out there actually changing back and forth?


Joshua
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#2 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 10 October 2007 - 12:57 PM

I've realized the becoming an author is ultimately better for my back. ;)
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#3 Frederic Chamberland

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Posted 10 October 2007 - 03:02 PM

Hi Joshua,

I have been operating Front Mount for 5 years before purchasing a WK Back Mount .
I now operate mostly with BM but always keep the FM in the truck for specific shots (doorways and fast action are still FM for me). But for everything else, I use the back mount. My gear was stolen three months ago (including the back mount vest) and I had to go back to the front mount. I must admit I miss the back mount a lot (I am waiting for the insurance company to pay me back before purchasing again from Walter Klassen).

My shoulders and lower back are in a pain that I did not remember since changing to Back Mount and the use of the Front mount has brought back those memories.

I guess you will get a lot of different answers regarding the 2 options. Most people seem to love how Back mount has relieved some pain in specific areas (as it did for me) but you will also have some people who went back to Front mount after a couple of weeks because it was not as comfortable or life saver has others pretended.

Before investing in a back mount , I would strongly suggest to go and try them on. I went to Walter Klassen's shop and tried about 5 sizes and models for a complete afternoon before buying. I live 7 hours drive from his shop and it was worth the trip. I know not everyone can afford the trip, it just is so much easier and reassuring before investing.

My only regret is not having invested earlier in a back mount vest, it really is a piece of gear that is now essential and can't wait to get one back .

Hope that helps a bit.
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#4 JamesSainthill

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Posted 10 October 2007 - 04:49 PM

Hey J,
Hands down, my Back Mounted vest is the most important piece of equipment that I own! I can honestly say that I would not be steadicaming today without it! I own the DSD/ Klassen FX 'Euro' vest. It was the last vest model make under the Daniel Sauve Designs/ Walter Klassen FX joint partnership. (Walter still looks after it when it needs slight adjustments). I'm serial #40 and the great Larry McConkey is infact #44 ... and it is probably the only thing that I will ever be able to out do him at - lol.

I got my b-m vest in the late Summer of 2001 and since then I have never worn a front mount. My back mounted vest is completely bullet proof and the fit is so precise that I only have room for a wet-dry shit underneath. I have never had problems going through doors or moving very fast.

Ultimately, it's what you allow your body to get used too and allowing your body to stay healthy. A very smart operator once said to me ..."Kid, it's not the years on your body, it's the miles." and he couldn't have been more correct.

I can only speak for myslef, but I have not suffered one day of lost work due to back soreness/ injuries in over six years of wearing my back mount. I've had sore hips, ankles, hands and even feet, but never a sore back.

But in fairness to the front mount users of the world, two of my favorite steadicam operators - Jim Murro (Titanic, Heat) & Tim Merkel (X-Men, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind) both wear front mounts and from what one of them told me - he just didn't feel that the rear mount fit him as well as the front mount does.

That being said ... Candide Franklyn (Hairspray, The Da Vini Code), Stephen Campanelli (Think Clint Eastwood's films) & Peter Rosenfeld (Chicago, Memoirs of a Geisha) all use a back mounted vest.

So .... the best thing you can do for yourself is to go out and try both vests for as much time as you can. Let your body make your decision.

Hope this helps.

Edited by JamesSainthill, 10 October 2007 - 04:55 PM.

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#5 Mike McGowan SOC

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Posted 10 October 2007 - 08:06 PM

I also suspect you'll get a lot of opinions.

I got a 3a vest with my first rig in 1998. The vest was a loaner until my Pro vest was available. I got Pro vest #5. The 3a vest was really uncomfortable and as it was used it wasn't really fit to me. They make the Pro vest with measurements you get at a tailor so it's really custom fit for the operator. In my humble opinion the Pro vest is basically the perfect piece of equipment. My back is literally never sore (which may also have something to do with how much I stretch or my age [34]). I would like to try the back mounted vest but I haven't got around to it, I'm of the, "if it ain't broke don't fix it" ilk.

Just a few months ago I got another Pro vest. I just told them to use the same measurements they had on file from my first one. It was like putting on an old baseball mitt. Putting that thing on is like slipping into a warm bath. Love my front mounted Pro vest to death!

Asking this question is probably like asking, "what makes a woman attractive?".
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#6 Rob Vuona SOC

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Posted 10 October 2007 - 10:13 PM

Hey all,

After a conversation with a friend about back mounted vs front mounted (coke vs pepsi anyone?) I realized that some people who swore by back mounted vests have changed back and some ardent front mounted folks have recently purchased a back mounted vest. Somewhere in this conversation I wondered if changing the type of vest you use regularly (not necessarily every other day or even job to job but perhaps every few months) might be better for the back. Perhaps like the shoes you wear, the vest should be changed often as to not apply the same kind of pressure all the time.
I have no idea of the science of this I am just throwing it out there to get some thoughts, perhaps from those who know way better than me. Anybody out there actually changing back and forth?


Joshua

-----------
Hey Joshua,
So my story goes, I went over to GPI and spoke to George regarding getting fitted with a Pro Vest and his recomendation was, why fix your vest that you are using if it works and it doesn't hurt, and Walter was the same so the moral of the story goes . . . .whatever works for you ! My circles say Pro Vest are the way to go, but all you Film Guru's swear by the back mount . . . .

I'm sticking to my FM "76 cadillac" the nickname for my vest
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#7 Bryan Trieb SOC

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Posted 11 October 2007 - 12:09 AM

Hey Rob....just curious...all you "live" guys out there, are mostly front mount fitted Pro harness users?
How do you feel after shooting a concert 2hrs or longer, straight shooting except for battery changes (if necessary) in the Pro, or any front mount?
I've been hearing so much praise about the Pro harness that I'm considering buying one and getting rid of my backup Master Series vest.
I'm using the WK backmount full time and couldn't imagine returning to a front mount for all the "live" work. I can operate 7 days/wk in the backmount...becomes like the daily leg/cardio workout which actually feels good. I had pain in the Master vest, but then again I've heard this from many other Master vest owners.
I've only swapped to the front mount a few times for really tight spaces....I like having both in my kit....options rock.

"My back mounted vest is completely bullet proof and the fit is so precise that I only have room for a wet-dry shit underneath."....James you crack me up Bro!....and kinda gross me out too.
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#8 Kris Torch Wilson

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Posted 11 October 2007 - 11:32 AM

[quote name='BryanTrieb' date='Oct 10 2007, 10:09 PM' post='30544']
Hey Rob....just curious...all you "live" guys out there, are mostly front mount fitted Pro harness users?

Hi Brian,

I tried Konash's back mount on and it was indeed very comfortable. The problem is the "footprint" is just enough wider that those of us that have an affection for whacking lights, speakers, and audience members, would whack even more. And quite frankly, I'm running out of T-shirts to give my victims. Love my new Ultra 2 vest.

Kris 'sorry about the bump on the head' Wilson
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#9 Rob Vuona SOC

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Posted 11 October 2007 - 02:09 PM

Hey Rob....just curious...all you "live" guys out there, are mostly front mount fitted Pro harness users?
How do you feel after shooting a concert 2hrs or longer, straight shooting except for battery changes (if necessary) in the Pro, or any front mount?
I've been hearing so much praise about the Pro harness that I'm considering buying one and getting rid of my backup Master Series vest.
I'm using the WK backmount full time and couldn't imagine returning to a front mount for all the "live" work. I can operate 7 days/wk in the backmount...becomes like the daily leg/cardio workout which actually feels good. I had pain in the Master vest, but then again I've heard this from many other Master vest owners.
I've only swapped to the front mount a few times for really tight spaces....I like having both in my kit....options rock.

"My back mounted vest is completely bullet proof and the fit is so precise that I only have room for a wet-dry shit underneath."....James you crack me up Bro!....and kinda gross me out too.

------------
All but one of us that I can think of have FM vest and The Pro seems to be the vest of choice, Guru Muhlstock and Eastwood claim they are nothing short of remarkable and nothing else should be used . . . .But as Mr. Wilson says, his affection for whacking lights would only be enhanced by the extra width of the BM . . . .But the bottom line is whatever works for you and keeps you doing your job the best way possable without injury is the way to go. Keep the BM and the FM for back up

Live gigs like concerts are a dream if they are only two hours . . . .You are forgetting about the 4 hours prior of rehearsal in the vest . . . .Thats why my "76 Cadillac" with new padding and buckles still serves me fine. Oh and last week the conclusion of another show that I won't mention went a record breaking 20.5 Hours Needless to say I have never done more hours in my vest and still all was good with my back.

My new hockey league starts next week so I'll let you know how my back feels after that . . .LOL . . .
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#10 Charles Papert

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Posted 11 October 2007 - 03:22 PM

The exact math eludes me but I think I've had about 5 years each in the Pro vest and the Klassen vest (and before that, a murky 12 years of half-remembered torture devices). Both are wonderful, but I remain a back-mount fan while I have my PRO vest as a rarely-used backup. Other than the re-awakening of "those" muscles when I do trot it out, I do become aware of the chest plate and how much I like not being constricted in that way with the Klassen. However there is no question that the PRO is super-comfortable and very low profile.

When I was first considering the Klassen, several people told me that it took up to a year to get truly used to it. I thought this seemed excessive but it was the case, especially if you have years of FM muscle memory going.

The final thing I will say is that at the end of a long day with the backmount, I will at worst feel a bit beat up in the legs but never in the back, and I can't say that about the front mount style with any of the brands I have owned.
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#11 MarkKaravite

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Posted 12 October 2007 - 12:38 PM

"The final thing I will say is that at the end of a long day with the backmount, I will at worst feel a bit beat up in the legs but never in the back, and I can't say that about the front mount style with any of the brands I have owned."

I have to agree with Charles on this one. It may just be specific to certain operator's physique. Live concerts are probably the best jobs for determining fatigue and wear & tear. I always had a sore back after concert work in a front mount, and only feel the leg burn in my back mount. I'm sure it's different for other operators.

I also made the trip to Toronto to be fitted by Walter at his shop. I think this was invaluable. I just added a $1000 weekend to the cost of the vest, took my bride to a couple shows, and wrote the whole thing off.

One phenomenon I have experienced, which seems to be pronounced with my Klassen harness, is the persistant knot in my back positioned exactly where I rest when I throw the rig over my shoulder. My massage therapist seems to work more on this area than anywhere on my back. Maybe because of only having a small shoulder strap protecting that area, the Klassen makes you more open to soreness from simply being in a resting position.

Has anyone else experienced this? I may experiment with rigging a small pad just for my resting position while holding the sled, as long as it doesn't look stupid. God forbid I have some gross appendage coming out of such a nice looking harness. As my wife would say about wearing high heels, style over comfort.

Mark Karavite
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#12 Bryan Trieb SOC

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Posted 13 October 2007 - 11:16 AM

Hey Mark....I bet if you discuss that with Walter he'd be open to coming up with a little design addition for your harness....they're awesome in that regard. I had them make a little triax/fiber bracket for me which was installed on the lower left back part of the harness for the "live" work....and it's bliss.

Rob.....I didn't forget all the hours of rehearsal before the long concert/show...haha how could I? Even more reason to love the backmount. I used to hate feeling slightly fatigued after days of rehearsal, then in the 14hr of show-day have to be in my prime form for the live 2+hr show. 20.5hrs?....dude that's crazy. I've often thought that with "live" steadicam gigs, operators take much more of a beating compared to film days as it pertains to how much flying time per day is required. Yes, I'm sure some would argue this point, but that's been my personal experience.

Kris...good to hear from you bro! Hope all is well with you amigo. The whole "footprint" size of the backmount hasn't been a problem for me in the "live" application...I find I generally have more space to operate compared to a single camera field/ film application. I think I'm coming back to L.A. sometime in November....Beers dude? I should have my new live focus system modified by that time and can show you tha dealio!

Respect!
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#13 Joshua Harrison

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Posted 14 October 2007 - 08:51 PM

Well either I didn't properly communicate my question or nobody bothered to read to the end of my post. :blink:

I am not trying for a debate on what is better, I was more curious if anyone was switching back and forth to change the forces on their body and perhaps elongate their career. It seems to me (again with no scientific basis) that changing may keep the operator from having the same pressure applied all the time in the same spots. I am told that changing shoes on a constant basis is better for your feet, I don't know why but I was wondering if doing the same with a vest could be beneficial.

Anybody out there doing this?

Joshua
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#14 Mike McGowan SOC

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Posted 15 October 2007 - 08:10 AM

Having read all the posts (including yours, lol) it seems like most people use one vest or the other. There were one or two that used both but they were mostly BM guys that switch to the FM for tight spaces if i read correctly?

The logic of switching vests seems sound (I'm a shoe switcher myself) but it appears that everybody just sticks with their main vest. The vest is such an important part of the operating process that once you find something that works for you it might feel counter productive to switch?

I know your original question wanted information from frequent vest switchers (a group I don't belong to) but I don't think there are many (any?) of them out there.

mm.
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#15 Erwin Landau

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Posted 15 October 2007 - 01:18 PM

I started with a PRO vest from new, I tried all the vests on the market at the time but once I tried the PRO I never considered anything else. I'm not going to bore you again how I got into the Klassen vest... read the archives.

After using the Klassen for almost 5 years I received my 4th PRO vest 7 months ago and have used it almost exclusively. I lost a lot of weight and after 2 alterations to the Klassen I hit the wall with adjustability. As of late I had more and more the sleepy leg syndrome to that point that I crashed once (check archives). I have been back and forth for a while and for the last 5 or so months haven't used it at all. I miss the rock solid lock off's (I'm getting better) and the added booming range but I don't miss the hip pain and the prickle sensation when the feeling was returning to my left leg...

Don't get me wrong Walter is the man and his product is top notch. But you have to go with what your body is telling you...

In the moment it's the PRO... maybe in a couple of months I will try the Klassen again... I'm not selling it for now that for sure...

Later,

Erwin
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