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Stability with Steadicam Pilot


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#1 Steven Nichols

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Posted 20 January 2008 - 05:14 AM

I just got a Steadicam Pilot last week. It works great, but I need to improve my stability, especially to keep a straight horizon. I have perfect static balance, and I believe almost perfect dynamic balance. I also added some extra weight at the bottom of the sled. So what can I do to improve my stability and get rid of this horizontal roll ? It looks like I am shooting on a boat :) Is it the setup or does that comes with practise ? Thanks.
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#2 Mike McGowan SOC

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Posted 20 January 2008 - 10:09 AM

Practice. And, I'll be the first of hundreds on this forum to say, if you have not taken a steadicam workshop you should. It is by far the single best way to improve your operating.
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#3 Erik Brul

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Posted 20 January 2008 - 10:09 AM

I just got a Steadicam Pilot last week. It works great, but I need to improve my stability, especially to keep a straight horizon. I have perfect static balance, and I believe almost perfect dynamic balance. I also added some extra weight at the bottom of the sled. So what can I do to improve my stability and get rid of this horizontal roll ? It looks like I am shooting on a boat :) Is it the setup or does that comes with practise ? Thanks.


Steven, congrats with the Pilot. It is a wonderful piece of equipment and with all the adjustments possible it shouldn't be
difficult to achieve 100% dynamic balance. Some questions :

- Which camera you have placed on the Pilot ?
- Droptime arround 2 seconds ?

Grip on the Gimbal not to tight and grip on the post with the lightest touch possible..
Maybe you can provide us with a little demo, maybe on youtube ?

Best, Erik
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#4 Steven Nichols

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Posted 20 January 2008 - 01:29 PM

Steven, congrats with the Pilot. It is a wonderful piece of equipment and with all the adjustments possible it shouldn't be
difficult to achieve 100% dynamic balance. Some questions :

Thanks Erik. Sure ! I had a Glidecam 4000 and Smooth Shooter for about 2 years and I was not happy with it because it did not work as advertised. But what a difference with the Pilot ;)

- Which camera you have placed on the Pilot ?

Sony PMW-EX1

- Droptime arround 2 seconds ?

Before adding the extra weight, yes. But now it's more like 1 sec. I know more bottom heavy means more stability, but do you have to re-adjust the gimbal position so the droptime is always between 2 and 3 sec ?

Grip on the Gimbal not to tight and grip on the post with the lightest touch possible..
Maybe you can provide us with a little demo, maybe on youtube ?

Sure, please check
http://www.xplorerst...lot-test-01.mov
You can easily see the camera rolling from left to right and so on.
And while I am at it, is there any good training material ? I heard about a new Pilot training DVD, but all I got with my Pilot was an old VHS on the SK :(
Thanks again for your feedback
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#5 Erik Brul

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Posted 20 January 2008 - 02:12 PM

ok,

- Sony PMW-EX1 is a nice weight.

- Always after static balance you going to achieve dynamic balance which for start means adjusting Gimbal again. Between 2 / 2.5 seconds should be fine.

- If you making the bottom of the sled to heavy, you get the so called pendulum effect when you are moving (walking)..
Besides this you make it yourself more difficult to control the sled by trying to tilt the sled

- In your demo you see a overcontrolled sled, so be nice and gentle with your touch..
This means two finger(tip) control, it seems now that you are using your whole hand..

Check the new demo for the Pilot, it is a real nice explanation of basic steadicam and uses the pilot as sample ! :

http://nl.youtube.co...h?v=S3PgqKF6ugY

Maybe you can get a copy from Tiffen, just ask them !
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#6 Rob Vuona SOC

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Posted 20 January 2008 - 02:43 PM

In your video it looks like you are gripping your gimbal to tight as stated by Eric, Go back to the 2 second drop time and let go of the gimbal and take baby steps and practice that way until you can take steps keeping the horizon straight. Unfortunately for you this is extra touchy being that your rig is so light, so once you perfect it any heavier of a rig is going to be a dream to operate

Fly Safe
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#7 Steven Nichols

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Posted 21 January 2008 - 02:26 AM

Thanks guys. So to make sure I got it right, how many fingers would you recommend on the post and gimbal handle ?
Besides, I think the LCD monitor that came with the Pilot looks terrible compared to the one on the EX1... So I was wondering if I should use it anyway ?
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#8 Erik Brul

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Posted 21 January 2008 - 03:13 AM

Thanks guys. So to make sure I got it right, how many fingers would you recommend on the post and gimbal handle ?
Besides, I think the LCD monitor that came with the Pilot looks terrible compared to the one on the EX1... So I was wondering if I should use it anyway ?


You can use your whole hand on the gimbal handle but also not to tight.. just enough to lift the arm up and down and steer a bit.
On the post just your 2 fingers and thumb.., but gentle, very gentle.. this way you should (after correct balancing) be able to perform better shots !

The LCD monitor is just needed for framing, level.. you don't need more.. You need to learn to operate with the monitor on the sled. The one on the camera is not needed.
And finally ofcourse like Mike said already, practice.. practice and 1000x practice !

Good luck ,

Erik
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#9 Steven Nichols

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Posted 21 January 2008 - 07:15 AM

Thanks for the tips guys, it looks way much better now !! But you are right, I need to practise to improve my stability :)

One last question: why is it better to use the sled monitor rather than the camera LCD screen ? Is it because you should be able to see where you walk ? Thanks again.
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#10 James Elias

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Posted 24 January 2008 - 06:18 AM

Fixing your eye to the viewfinder transmits motions to the camera and defeats the purpose of disconnecting operator from the camera in the first place.

As for the LCD screen, it's not a natural place to look. Plus it would restrict movement of the rig. Do a switch and totally loose sight of the monitor.

Seeing where you're going is obviously a bonus... I personally prefer to frame through the Steadicam monitor rather than the viewfinder.

- James
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#11 Steven Nichols

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Posted 26 January 2008 - 02:03 PM

What is the best way to achieve dynamic balance ? I thought I had it but I guess I lost it after trying to improve it :( I tried to slide the camera and batteries in both directions as the video says, but it does not seem to improve anything... Thanks again.
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#12 chris fawcett

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Posted 27 January 2008 - 03:49 AM

On the post just your 2 fingers and thumb.., but gentle, very gentle..


Hi All,

I would advise using all your fingers on the post. They are not there just for control, but for feedback. Sliding your little finger low gives you a lot of information about just how vertical is the post. It is also able to exert more moment as a 'stopper' for retarding pendulation (yes, that's a real word) as your slightly-bottom-heavy sled responds to acceleration. Here's a picture of Garret's distinctive grip.

For dynamic balance, and this applies to all rigs, remove the camera package, including the plate, and mark its centre of gravity. When you replace it, place the mark just behind the centreline of the post. How far behind depends on rig, but on the Pilot, it's probably about half an inch (1.25cm). (If you want to know why, read Jerry's excellent Dynamic Balance Primer.) Now static balance as normal. The camera position should be really close to where it needs to be. If you move the camera too far back, or if you move its COG forward of the centreline, you'll not achieve DB.

All the best,

Chris
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#13 Steven Nichols

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Posted 29 January 2008 - 06:26 AM

OK I got it now. I think the key is to move the carbon post along the bottom post until you get dynamic balance. It took me about an afternoon to find the best setting, but it works great now. Thanks again.
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#14 chris fawcett

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Posted 29 January 2008 - 06:30 AM

Sorry Steven,

I should have been more specific, and put two Ts in Garrett, and you should take a workshop. This and many other mysteries will be revealed.

Fly safe,

Chris
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#15 Steven Nichols

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Posted 29 January 2008 - 06:35 AM

Sure, a workshop would be great :)
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