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Is the Pilot a good jumping point if I plan on working with the heavier steadicams later?


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#1 Joshua Nitschke

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Posted 06 June 2008 - 01:25 AM

Hi,

I would like to become a steadicam operator. The Archer was the model I was initially looking at because I would like to eventually make money doing this although I know that it will take classes and lots of time.

Primarily, however, I am an aspiring cinematographer (small productions, I have my own team and I like to do the camera work - it really works out for us), so steadicaming would pay the bills inbetween my stuff, and I could steadicam on my stuff as well which would be great.

But if I am gonna drop 4 grand on something, I want to make sure I'll have a good future benefits from it. So I have these questions:

1) If I can operate the Pilot well, will I be able to move up to the Archer or the Ultra 2 easily at some point?

2) Can I expect to be able to make any money with my Pilot?

3) Is the Flyer better enough to warrant the extra 15 or so grand (with accessories I'm ballparking here) or if I were to spend that much would I be better off going with the original Archer?

---------

Thanks for your help, I did a lot of searching but haven't found the exact answers to those questions that I am looking for.
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#2 Gavin Fisher

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Posted 06 June 2008 - 03:22 AM

why would the flyer be $15k?

i just picked up a used one in like-new condition with all original stuff plus 2 batteries and dual charger for $5500. ebay...

i thought about the pilot but with all the hvx+35mm adapter stuff being shot in l.a., i wanted to be able to fly a rig of that size. pilot can't hang with that weight.

i just got my flyer and it is unbelievably cool. already getting great shots.



Hi,

I would like to become a steadicam operator. The Archer was the model I was initially looking at because I would like to eventually make money doing this although I know that it will take classes and lots of time.

Primarily, however, I am an aspiring cinematographer (small productions, I have my own team and I like to do the camera work - it really works out for us), so steadicaming would pay the bills inbetween my stuff, and I could steadicam on my stuff as well which would be great.

But if I am gonna drop 4 grand on something, I want to make sure I'll have a good future benefits from it. So I have these questions:

1) If I can operate the Pilot well, will I be able to move up to the Archer or the Ultra 2 easily at some point?

2) Can I expect to be able to make any money with my Pilot?

3) Is the Flyer better enough to warrant the extra 15 or so grand (with accessories I'm ballparking here) or if I were to spend that much would I be better off going with the original Archer?

---------

Thanks for your help, I did a lot of searching but haven't found the exact answers to those questions that I am looking for.


Edited by cheezweezl, 06 June 2008 - 03:22 AM.

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#3 Joshua Nitschke

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Posted 06 June 2008 - 03:35 AM

I had been going off of Tiffen's price sheet...I didn't realize that I could get the original flyer for so much less. Cool! Everytime that I've checked ebay though there haven't been any.

Edited by Joshua Nitschke, 06 June 2008 - 03:41 AM.

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#4 Imran Naqvi

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Posted 06 June 2008 - 04:03 AM

The Flyer LE HD is ~ 15k (this includes the HD SDI monitor)

The Standard Flyer LE lists at $7995 (SD Monitor only)
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#5 Kris Torch Wilson

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Posted 06 June 2008 - 10:35 AM

so steadicaming would pay the bills inbetween my stuff,

Hi Joshua,

I'm going to try to be kind because I don't think you meant to be insulting but you are on a forum with professional operators. Not a bunch of want to be whatevers bidding our time until we get a chance to do what we "really want to do." This IS what we really want to do. It's one of the reasons we spend time on this forum, why we have invested YEARS on our craft and TENS OF THOUSANDS on our kits. While I get what you are saying, just starting out and all that, you are kidding yourself if you think you will become a proficient operator and make any money while just passing through. And let's be realistic, it's a small enough of a community and competitive enough that we take care of our own first. That being said, if you choose to dedicate yourself to the craft there is a wealth of talent and information to help you. Again, I don't believe you meant to, but the words struck me a bit. Hopefully it's just the late hours and me being a cranky bastard.

Kris
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#6 Joshua Nitschke

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Posted 06 June 2008 - 03:37 PM

:unsure:

Kris, I realize this is a professional forum, that's why I'm asking here.

I am serious that I think I would love steadicaming. I am not considering this as a "pass through" (that would be stupid as you pointed out, the gear is too expensive and it takes too long to master the equipment), but rather as a co-career through my whole life. I'd be doing it on my own projects as well, so I'd demand perfection from myself.

Sorry if you thought I wasn't taking this seriously, I didn't mean to offend. That said, I haven't done it yet, so I really don't know if I'd like it or not, but I really think I would.

Sorry for being unclear, I'd like to be a professional cinematographer AND steadicam operator, not a Steadicam operator until I'm a cinematographer. I guess my desire to do cinematography got me into wanting to steadicam operate because I just love the moving camera so much and I'd love to be able to do that.

Edited by Joshua Nitschke, 06 June 2008 - 03:40 PM.

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#7 Kris Torch Wilson

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Posted 06 June 2008 - 05:49 PM

OK so we worked that out, let's talk about your question. My gut tells me you would outgrow the capabilities of a super small rig and not be able to make any money with one. Perhaps, if it fits your needs now you could sell it down the road (knowing it will be for a loss) and upgrade. I know unless you are a trust fund baby that costs is probably a factor. I would suggest that your first dollars spent are at a "Flyer workshop" with Peter. Learn some basics from an excellent teacher and then start saving for a multiple day workshop that includes bigger rigs. Along the way you will probably run across a used rig that will fit both your budget and needs. It would be foolish to run out and plop down 50- 60 K or more right know, but keep in mind we can fly the smallest of cameras (with a little lead) on big rigs but you will never fly a full sized camera on the little ones. If you are set on buying something now I say buy the best you can afford. Now to prove I'm not a total dick, feel free to stop by Jimmy Kimmel Live on Hollywood Blvd and you can try my Ultra II for a test spin and I'll tell you a few lies. This offer is good for anyone, just shoot me a message so I can put your name on the list.

Kris
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#8 Joshua Nitschke

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Posted 08 June 2008 - 01:50 AM

Kris, thanks for all the info. I'm not ready to buy now - won't be for a bit, but you have given me ideas for a course of action.

When I'm back at school I think I'll take you up on that offer - I'm a bit far from Hollywood right now.

Thanks for the advice!

Cheers!
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#9 Dave Gish

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Posted 10 June 2008 - 10:52 PM

i thought about the pilot but with all the hvx+35mm adapter stuff being shot in l.a., i wanted to be able to fly a rig of that size. pilot can't hang with that weight.

As I understand it, the main reason for the hvx+35mm adapter setup is to create a shallow DOF. This means you'll need someone to pull focus. From what I've heard, this means spending another $3000 on a wireless follow focus system and having an AC that knows how to use it on set. Is this where you are heading?

If you don't need a shallow DOF or focus puller for the Steadicam shots, then the HVX without a lens adapter would work better, which means the Pilot is fine to start learning with.

And then there is the Red One, which is so modular that you have to add a ton of extra stuff to use it, which I believe puts it out of the Flyer and Archer range. So it seems whatever rig you start learning with will be a throw away. Might as well be a relatively cheap throw away.

Let me know if I'm missing something here...

Edited by Dave Gish, 10 June 2008 - 10:57 PM.

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#10 Gavin Fisher

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Posted 14 June 2008 - 12:14 PM

i will use it mostly with deep dof and fixed focus. however, when i need to use a lens adapter, i will just hire a good AC and rent a bartech.

one thing to consider is weight. now i am by no means an experienced operator. i have been flying for a week and a half. however i have shot 5 music videos with my flyer in the last week so i'm picking it up very fast.

i have been flying the hvx with a redrock rod support and mattebox which is quite a bit heavier than hvx naked. i am using 2 batteries on the bottom for more weight and it flies sooooo smooth. i tried a lighter config by stripping the hvx naked and only using one battery. i got it to balance dynamically and it flew fine but was much harder to keep stable especially if any little bit of wind was present.

maybe this is just my inexperience talking but it seems that more weight equals easier to control.

any thoughts?



i thought about the pilot but with all the hvx+35mm adapter stuff being shot in l.a., i wanted to be able to fly a rig of that size. pilot can't hang with that weight.

As I understand it, the main reason for the hvx+35mm adapter setup is to create a shallow DOF. This means you'll need someone to pull focus. From what I've heard, this means spending another $3000 on a wireless follow focus system and having an AC that knows how to use it on set. Is this where you are heading?

If you don't need a shallow DOF or focus puller for the Steadicam shots, then the HVX without a lens adapter would work better, which means the Pilot is fine to start learning with.

And then there is the Red One, which is so modular that you have to add a ton of extra stuff to use it, which I believe puts it out of the Flyer and Archer range. So it seems whatever rig you start learning with will be a throw away. Might as well be a relatively cheap throw away.

Let me know if I'm missing something here...


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#11 Charles Papert

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Posted 14 June 2008 - 03:33 PM

maybe this is just my inexperience talking but it seems that more weight equals easier to control.


Yes, this is true.

Btw, you need to change your screen name to your real name as is our policy here.
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#12 Dave Gish

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Posted 14 June 2008 - 04:13 PM

i tried a lighter config by stripping the hvx naked and only using one battery. i got it to balance dynamically and it flew fine but was much harder to keep stable especially if any little bit of wind was present.

This is where the extra weights on the Pilot come in really handy. Whatever camera and accessories I'm flying, I'll always add enough weights to get it between 9.5 and 10 pounds. This makes a big difference.

Also, I'm told wind is an issue with all Steadicams. You can get a PA to hold a 4x4 to break the wind. If you're shooting into the wind, have 2 PAs each with a 4x4 to make a "V" pocket behind you.
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#13 Mike Germond SOC

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Posted 12 July 2008 - 06:56 PM

This is sort of a "long time listener, first time caller" situation for me, as I've been poking around these forums for a few years, absorbing as much knowledge as I can. I am in a similar boat as this gentlemen, with a few variations..

I have been facinated by the concept of a Steadicam all my life, since I've been watching movies for the production value instead of the plot from the first time I saw a video camera. At this point in my career (young with tons of experience across the spectrum), I know I want to do this for a living. I've made the decision to reserve an upcoming workshop and have purchased my flights to LAX already. So Mr. Wilson, how hard would it be for me to swing by on my Tinsle Town Tour between Aug 6th and Aug 11th? I've worked at a production company in Grand Rapids, Michigan in recent years, and the Steadicam they always hired was a bigger rig.

With the full intention of upgrading later, the Flyer is my top choice right now, but the decision of what model (24 or LE, HD or SD) is still up in the air. Also the question of where to purchase (new, used, workshop?) is up in the air. I use the DVX 100B and the HVX 200A a LOT with the occasional JVC GY-HD200U and a Sony Z1U thrown in there. Right now, I am the sole creator and co-producer of a college sports recap show, and the next obvious step for the program is a Steadicam (football is huge ever since they won back-to-back conference championships). That being said, I have clients lined up for the next few years (or until I decide to move on to LA).

I've worked with the Red Rock and P+S Technik on multiple occasions, so I see more of that in my future based on the experiences that I've had and the positive results of the productions we used it on. Also in my near future, I see myself purchasing the RED Scarlet and a respectable Cine-package for it.

So I know that the Scarlet hasn't been a huge topic of discussion around here, but what does everyone think about the best Flyer for me? I don't expect to get one by the time the Hollywood workshop rolls around, but very soon after..

Regards,
Mike
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#14 Brandon Zachary

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Posted 12 July 2008 - 08:50 PM

Mike,

I'm not about to give advice on what to purchase, however I will tell you what everyone has been telling me: Do not make a purchase until you've taken a workshop. This is for two reasons.

1) You may realize it's not for you.
2) You will have a better understanding of which rig fits your needs.

Also, to get in touch with Chris send him a message through the forum.

All The Best,
Brandon
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#15 Kris Torch Wilson

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Posted 12 July 2008 - 08:52 PM

Hi Mike,

I would be happy to have you stop by. I'm working Aug 6 & 7 on Hollywood Blvd across from the Kodak. I've not seen the show's calendar for a couple of weeks so I don't know if we have musical guests or not. (only use the steadi when we have outdoor music). I'll update when I go back next week.

Kris
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