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In praise of the tilting stage.

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#1 PaulEdwards


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Posted 05 July 2004 - 05:31 AM

Just completed a shot on the upcoming "Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy" which I thought might be worth posting about.

It was a very tricky setup with lots of extras and sets of puppeteers/aliens which we shot for 6 solid hours.

I cant give any details because of the "non disclosure thing" but it was a low mode/superpost running shot with lots of aliens involved then a step-on to a dolly and up to eye height, then a short track. The thing that occured to me after it was all over (very fast shot...under a minute) was...how would I have done this without a tilting stage!

There were some fast pans involved and trying to do them with a six foot post leaning over to get the angle would have been a nightmare for dynamic balance (I know, I tried it just to see how it felt!). Instead, I just set the tilt for the shot so that the pans were with the post vertical....bliss by comparison!

I'm not saying that the tilting stage is a panacea but I hope these comments are useful to anyone considering the benefits/drawbacks of a tilting stage, whether integral to a sled or not.

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#2 ChadPersons


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Posted 06 July 2004 - 03:00 AM

Hey Paul,

I've been wondering for a while about that tilting top stage. Seems like a neat idea but in the few times I've brought it up with other operators it always gets shot down. I would think that for the most basic use the tilting top stage would be great for trimming headroom before the shot so you can keep your post verticle but it is argued that there is a strange hand, eye, mind thing when the lens isn't perpendicular to the post. It seems perfect for the shot you described but what about more common uses?

Keeping an Open Mind,
Chad Persons
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#3 Larry McConkey

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Posted 06 July 2004 - 07:13 AM

I trim the tilt stage for each shot just as you suggested. I have not noticed any hand/eye coordination difficulty at all. There was almost no learning curve except for remembering that I had this additional adjustment that I could now make - it just makes it easier to operate. When a more difficult situation arises like low mode looking up, or very high mode looking down, it makes a huge difference in operating ease. Anytime a whip pan is needed, the combination of dynamic balance and the tilting head makes it much easier to accomplish. Several shots I simply could not have achieved without a tilt head over the last couple of years. It's a feature that you don't miss until you have a chance to use it, and then you can't imagine not having it.

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#4 Alec Jarnagin SOC

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Posted 06 July 2004 - 09:47 AM

but it is argued that there is a strange hand, eye, mind thing when the lens isn't perpendicular to the post.


Seems this excuse is being used for a lot of things lately. I like what you said in the AR thread about not worrying about which hand is panning, etc. Just do it - very true.
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#5 Jerry Holway

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Posted 06 July 2004 - 12:29 PM

I've probably said this before, but the really most useful feature of the tilting stage is keeping the post verticial (or much closer to vertical) so that for the majority of shooting, pans do not require an odd translation of masses.

Preserving dynamic balance is also a great feature.

It takes zero time to get used to using a tilt head in this mode. None. I've seen people use it hundreds of times in workshops... and also for 20 years we all used various add-on tilt plates for low mode. There were some really slick ones made for the SR in particular. I can't believe anyone would think it an issue.

If it's used for some other stunt - such as in low mode and keeping the camera level to the floor in front of you with the post extremely angled (like Larry used on a narrow bus aisle to avoid his feet), then it would take some practice -but only if you had to pan with it.

My first shot with the tilt head was in regular length high mode with about two to three degrees of tilt in the stage. It was humbling how much better my operating was with the post always vertical (and the sled in dynamic balance).

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#6 PaulEdwards


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Posted 08 July 2004 - 05:09 AM


Don't be put off by thinking there will be a learning curve in using the tilting head because there really isn't; it's a very useful tool.

You mention the everday uses as opposed to the superpost shot I described, which is a fair question because you don't really want to be carrying around something on the rig which you're not using! I would say that there are a handful of shots which I couldn't have done without the tilting head (eg. the Hitchikers shot), the rest of the time it is there to help make things easier. I don't use the tilt feature for every shot but maybe four or five times a day, fast pans, low mode etc. It's also very useful in tight spaces to be able to keep the camera where it is and swing the sled by 20 degrees either way. You really feel a great freedom no longer having the sled's position in space defined by where you're placing the camera.

In my original post I mentioned the pros and cons of a tilting stage. The only negative thing I can think of which effects some situations (heavier cameras) is that you might end up with a longer sled length because you can't now slide the gimbal up as close to the bottom of the camera as you might be used to. This really is a minor point and can be got round in some situations by relocating your docking ring below the gimbal. This will allow you to slide the gimbal right up to the bottom of the tilting stage without having to make room for the docking/undocking procedure.


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#7 PeterAbraham


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Posted 17 July 2004 - 07:54 AM

It took me more time to read the posts in this thread than it did to get used to adjusting a tilted head stage.


Peter " God Bless Vertical Centerposts" Abraham
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