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#1 Andy Chapman

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Posted 22 June 2008 - 06:57 AM

As I?m studying the EFP DVD in anticipation of acquiring a Flyer LE it appears Jerry Holway is flying goofy on the way up the stairs and regular on the way down.
The position going up seems to be something I haven?t noticed demonstrated before, not missionary nor don jaun, but goofy, walking sideways right to left and with the camera aiming to his right.
I?m practicing by just imagining I?m wearing a system and going through the motions, also wearing sand bags around my waist and in a backpack for walks around the park with my dog to get in shape.
Anything helpful would be appreciated.

Edited by Andy Chapman, 22 June 2008 - 07:00 AM.

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#2 Bob Woodhead

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Posted 22 June 2008 - 08:54 AM

also wearing sand bags around my waist and in a backpack for walks around the park with my dog to get in shape.

Silly? HECK NO! lol... just got my FlyerLE last week, and every day I go out for 1.5 hour "fly", with about 18 lbs on the sled. Come back in totally exhausted & drenched in sweat (Atlanta here). Found out why weightlifting gloves are so useful - my hand was slipping off the gimbal handle from the sweat running down my arm. HUGE respect now for those ops flying 30-50 lbs!

As for advice, I'm the wrong guy to give any at this point, except that I had no idea how amazingly helpful having a Steadicam JR has been! Once the rig is on, a lot of the operating "feel" is very much the same. Soft touch on the post, smoothing the elevation of the right hand as you walk, the "walk" itself, the Switch, missionary & Don Juan.... it's all extremely similar when using the JR. So, if you can borrow a JR until your Flyer shows up, DO IT!

Oh yeah, fast-dry tennis shirts are nice. :P
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#3 Dave Gish

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Posted 22 June 2008 - 09:59 AM

Hi Andy,

Don't go crazy working out or anything. With correct posture and balance, it's not exhausting. There is one muscle in your back that gets sore at first, but that's mostly due to bad posture while you're learning. If your posture and balance is correct, not only will you keep from getting tired, but it will also make your shots better.

With this in mind, I believe the best exercise is to fly the rig with no hands. You can leave the camera and monitor off for this. Try walking the line and changing positions between Missionary, Don Juan, and Tango all hands free. Just use your upper body position and balance to control the position of the sled. This can be difficult at first, so keep your hands ready to catch the sled if it gets away from you. You will also need to touch the post occasionally to aim the sled properly, but basically, it's hands free. Do this 30-60 minutes a day for at least a week, then start using your hands. Also, do this exercise a little while whenever you haven't used the rig for a few days. It's a great refresher.

In case you don't know the positions:

Missionary: Sled close on your left with the lens aimed forward (in front of you)

Don Juan: Sled close on your left with the lens aimed backward (behind you)

Tango: Sled close in front of you with the lens aimed right or left.

Goofy: Arm mounted on the left side of the vest, Sled close on your right, right and left hand functions reversed (i.e. right hand on the post, left hand on the gimbal).

By the way, make sure to TAKE THE 2-DAY WORKSHOP. Also, practice the exercises in the Flyer manual starting on page 27: http://www.steadicam...r_Manual_Lo.pdf

Edited by Dave Gish, 22 June 2008 - 10:03 AM.

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#4 Bob Woodhead

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Posted 22 June 2008 - 11:49 AM

Yeah, found that one muscle very quickly Dave.... but not sure what's wrong with my posture. Trying to emulate EFP & SK video examples. (hips neutral or very slightly forwards, shoulders slightly back, very small bend in the knees for walking with a "heel-toe" roll (not "Groucho"), sled close in to the left. over-shoulder straps comfortably snug, waist belt tight on hipbones, arm adjusted for zero pull at main position) But I find flying that 18 lbs still very tiring after a hundred yards or so, at least when trying for good framing, horizon, action following, some speed-ups, etc. And after repeated "takes" for a solid hour, I'm beat. I mean, I can "up & at 'em" again after a short rest, but still...

I do find the zone for hands-free to be very small.... I can barely move w/o the arm starting to move in or out from me.

(signed up with Peter A. next month, btw)

Edited by Bob Woodhead, 22 June 2008 - 11:53 AM.

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#5 Dave Gish

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Posted 22 June 2008 - 02:22 PM

I do find the zone for hands-free to be very small.... I can barely move w/o the arm starting to move in or out from me.

Right. I suggest you forget about your posture for a while and just concentrate on controlling the sled hands free. I think a proper posture will follow that naturally.

The other big thing is to try and keep the sled as close to your body as possible. Try walking a little bit sideways to avoid hitting the sled with your left leg.

If you can get good at keeping the sled close hands free, and maintaining that as you walk and change positions, then I'm pretty sure you won't get tired on a shoot

Here's a whole document on Steadicam Posture:
http://steadivision.com/steadipos2.pdf
You can skim over this, but here's a real clue on page 10:
"I have watched Laurie Hayball (above) strap on a Steadicam that was
perhaps half her weight, without appreciably changing her posture. Before her, a
dozen big guys had struggled with the same rig, grunting and sweating, bending
themselves out of shape trying to adjust themselves to it."


Make sure you read the rest of page 10.

The other thing that Peter will teach you is that as you move, it's like learning to walk all over again. When a baby learns to walk, they fall forward. This is because walking involves leaning forward. Think about it. You lean forward until you have to put your foot in front of you to keep from falling down. This is all unconscious now. But with the Steadicam on, the CG is all different, and the CG changes as the sled moves closer of further away from you. So you have to re-learn everything like a baby. Specifically, when you begin to walk hands free, you'll have to lean forward to get the sled to start moving. The amount of the lean controls the speed of the forward sled movement.

I have a Pilot rig which is lighter, but I've added weight to get it right up to 10 pounds, and I've used that for over 2 hours without much of a break. Although my nerves are frazzled, and I'm a little sweaty (mostly due to the vest), I'm not really tired. I also used a Flyer with an HVX200, rods, & 35mm lens adapter in the 2-day workshop. I would guess that to be around 15 pounds, and that was not bad at all. In the end, the most exhausting thing for me is the mental stress of trying to hold the frame and keep everything as steady as possible. I guess that's how it's supposed to be...
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#6 Bob Woodhead

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Posted 23 June 2008 - 08:16 AM

In the end, the most exhausting thing for me is the mental stress of trying to hold the frame and keep everything as steady as possible.

Yeah... if I just walk "normally", holding sled only by the post (on left, with left hand), I can wander around forever. It's when I go for "the shot", doing all those things to make it perfect (well, to the extent I'm capable...) crosshairs following "target", horizon level, elevation static as I go up/down curbs, smooth pan start/stop, whip on hard corners, multiple Switches, etc etc - that the effort factor goes way up. I'm sure alot of it is my physical conditioning (poor to fair), poor breathing, etc., coupled with unnecessary body tension from newbie operating skills. Can't wait to get the 411 from Peter! (btw, did read the "posture" PDF completely.... wasn't expecting Buckminster Fuller! wish there'd been a bit more specifics on correct posture, though.... I appear to be well-versed in what NOT to do!)

Also interested in hearing how to translate the "in/out" tweaking of battery for dynamic balance to the Flyer, where it's got the angular motion instead. Static balance is no problem, and I can sling the rig around with fast stops with no "kicking out" of the lower sled. But if I SB the rig with cam CG over post, any change to the battery (for DB) changes SB. sigh. It's also a *&$@# to check DB, as I gotta put it on the arm.... monitor hits the stand otherwise.

Where's my smart pill?? :blink:

Off to chase my rig hands-free around the room.... hoping it doesn't get there too far ahead of me....
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#7 Jerry Holway

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Posted 23 June 2008 - 08:40 AM

Bob-

I understand your frustrations regarding static and dynamic balance... here's what I suggest to get close with the Flyer LE:

Start with the camera's c.g. about 1/2 inch behind the centerline of the post. Extend the monitor bracket horizontally and fix it there. Set the viewing angle.

With a relatively longish drop time (3-4 seconds), balance the sled as best you can fore and aft with the battery (arcing the battery from horizontal).

With two batteries in place, the battery is going to be all the way down, with one battery more like 45ยบ down.

Side to side balance is done entirely with the camera.

As you get close, reset the top to bottom balance to a longish drop time, again.

Tweak fore-aft balance with the camera. Be very sure you are in perfectly vertical static balance when you give it a test spin...

When you get close, stop worrying about dynamic balance and work on exercises, posture, the basic feeling of Steadicam...

Jerry
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#8 Dave Gish

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Posted 23 June 2008 - 09:42 AM

Yeah... if I just walk "normally", holding sled only by the post (on left, with left hand), I can wander around forever. It's when I go for "the shot", doing all those things to make it perfect (well, to the extent I'm capable...) crosshairs following "target", horizon level, elevation static as I go up/down curbs, smooth pan start/stop, whip on hard corners, multiple Switches, etc etc - that the effort factor goes way up.

Right. I was the same way. When I took the class, I started with everything in balance, but as soon as I started doing anything challenging with the framing, Peter reminded me that I was "not under the rig", meaning that if I were to let go of my hands, it would fly away or toward me. So the Monday after the class, I decided to just forget about framing for a while, turn the camera off, and just practice hands-free for a solid week. After a few days, I was able to control the sled position pretty well with just my upper body. After 5 days, I was able to control the sled position and keep it close to my body. After a week, I was comfortable enough that the whole balance thing became second nature, even when changing positions. So now I tend not to lose balance as much when I'm struggling to hold frame correctly. If I do ever notice myself getting significantly out of balance, I'll run hands-free during a break as a little refresher.
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#9 Jerry Holway

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Posted 23 June 2008 - 10:43 AM

So the Monday after the class, I decided to just forget about framing for a while, turn the camera off, and just practice hands-free for a solid week. After a few days, I was able to control the sled position pretty well with just my upper body. After 5 days, I was able to control the sled position and keep it close to my body. After a week, I was comfortable enough that the whole balance thing became second nature, even when changing positions. So now I tend not to lose balance as much when I'm struggling to hold frame correctly. If I do ever notice myself getting significantly out of balance, I'll run hands-free during a break as a little refresher.


Dave- just a little something to add to your wonderful suggestion:

When you take your hands off the rig for "hands-free" practice, be sure to keep your hands close to their normal, touching-the-rig position.

Aside from the safety issue (it can fly away from you very fast), there's the all important issue of posture and what you want to learn from the exercise.

If you drop your arms to the sides, it is NOT Steadicam posture, and you will be learning a circus trick, rather than what it really feels like to control the rig with your body and your hands not influencing the rig.

Jerry
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#10 Bob Woodhead

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Posted 23 June 2008 - 11:47 AM

you will be learning a circus trick

Heyyyy.... my momma was in the circus! :P

Thanks so much everyone for the advice... taking it to heart & hands & back.

And thanks for the "Flyer DB update" Jerry - when you say "1/2" behind", you mean battery-side of the post, right? Grin... I've been studying *your* posture quite closely the last few days, on the dvd.
As for DB, I'm fairly close, though it does tend to precess a bit, that I just can't get rid of, but I'll forget that for now in favor of the hands-free exercise. I tried it a bit yesterday, after another EFP dvd viewing, and was able to take a few steps hands-free, so thinking that my threads are close to correct.

Only other question - the vest tends to ride heavier on the left hip. Is this normal?

Edited by Bob Woodhead, 23 June 2008 - 11:51 AM.

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#11 Dave Gish

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Posted 24 June 2008 - 10:25 AM

If you drop your arms to the sides, it is NOT Steadicam posture, and you will be learning a circus trick, rather than what it really feels like to control the rig with your body and your hands not influencing the rig.

Jerry,

Thanks for pointing this out! I was doing it wrong. I'll try doing it correctly.
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