I am in the process of purchasing a new Archer system and I wanted to get advice on a few topics from Archer owners and the veteran ops.
I am a steadicam Op/Owner that is 7 years young with the steadicam and 15 years in the business. I have had private tuition beginners and master classes from Paul Taylor. I have owned a Provid 2,a flyer and had a lot of experience with the clipper and Ultra.
I am looking to replace my system with a Archer and have read through the forum to make sure I was making the right choice. I will be getting the Ultra Vest,AB mount, bartech FF w/M1.
1- How do you get the best dynamic balance when flying a Varicam or similar size camera since there is less lower mass? Do you use battries like the AB dionic 90 or Dionic 160? I have seen pix on peoples website where they add an additional counter weight on the bottom of the sled using the battery extension rods.
2-Do you think it's worth getting the flight case for the ultra vest? Or is the standard case rugged enough to handle the everyday operations.
3- I was think of adding (and should have already) a steadicam cart from filmtools.com with a mount and vest holder. Any other brands or alternatives you might suggest?
4- Any tools or widgets you think any Op should have with the archer to make life easier?
5-Anything like: Archer is great BUT ............................??????
Thank you in advance for your time and taking the time to respond in your very busy schedules.
I have owned an Archer for almost three years. It has worked well with every video camera I have tried, Beta SP, Digibeta, XD, Varicam, as well as studio triax setups. As you have seen in other posts, it is not possible to dynamic balance a large camera without adding weight to the bottom. I have several custom weights that slip over the rods. I also have a AB plate that slides over the rods so I can use a Hytron 140 under the post. If you search Lars Erik's posts, he was using a very similar setup to mine and I think has pictures of what he did. He has since modified his system through a company called Hofmann of Sweden. He has posted several pictures.
If I use a Dionic 90 on the sled battery mount, then I add weight to the rods, or I use a dionic 90 on the sled and a hytron 140 under the post on my custom AB plate. I have not used Dionic 160's yet.
I travel a lot so I have a pelican case for that holds the arm and vest. I would get a case if I were you.
I do not have a special cart. I only know of the filmtools version.
One of widgets I had made was a battery plate off an old battery with a lemo connector running to the sled. It snaps on to the back of the camera and keeps the weight on top down so I don't have to add so much to the bottom. You can buy one of these from Anton Bauer, it is a called the SO XLR.
The Archer is great but.... The vest that came with it has very little padding and is quite rigid and uncomfortable. I am used to it now, and I have replaced the padding with thicker foam.
The base of the sled is fixed. You cannot move the monitor forward or back.... not the end of the world, but I sometimes wish I could move it in to make a smaller foot print in tight spaces.
In my opinion, the battery mount for the sled is in the wrong place. It is too far behind the post. Because the monitor is so light, there is never a reason to slide the battery out. I always use it pushed all the way in as close to the post as possible. Whenever I add weight, it is always under the post. This is where it needs to be to dynamic balance the rig. For my purposes and the cameras I use the battery adjustment is pretty useless.
Despite all this I think I made a good purchase. I am always able to DB the sled using the weights. I wanted an EFP but could not find one at the time. I considered the Clipper, but it was 10K more and did not seem worth the extra $$ for my needs.
Since seeing Lars Erik's posts, I have decided to order the Hofmann modification and am supposed to get it on Monday. I will let you know how it works.