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Steadicam! Newbie!


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#1 Cristian Thoma

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Posted 16 July 2008 - 04:10 PM

Has anyone tried the FS PRO STEADICAM?
http://www.fsprostab...glish/index.htm

Sounds a good choise for my budget (2825 $ CAD) ! They say is capable of supporting cameras from 5 to 20 pounds (2.27 to 9 kg)!

I don't know but my rig is a little bit heavy and 20 pounds is just perfect for that price!

What is your opinion ?

Thank you!
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#2 Dave Gish

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Posted 16 July 2008 - 06:17 PM

There seem to be a lot of Steadicam knockoff brands out there. Some are good, some are not. The only way to tell for sure is try one out.

Suggestion: Take the Steadicam 2-day workshop. You'll see what it takes to learn how to use a steadicam, and you'll get to use the best rigs. Then you can compare the lower priced rigs and see the difference for yourself.

Remember that a steadicam is a commitment. You'll need many months to become proficient enough to use it effectively. This is why most steadicams are not rented, but rather hired through steadicam operators.

Even if you never use the steadicam yourself, the 2-day workshop will give you enough detailed information to figure out which steadicam operators are full of sh*t. So it's well worth the money.

Edited by Dave Gish, 16 July 2008 - 06:27 PM.

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#3 Cristian Thoma

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Posted 17 July 2008 - 10:35 AM

Thanks for the answer!
The problem is that I didn't find any cheap steadicam to support 9 kg.
You're right. The best solution will be to rent one and find out if is good or not, etc...

My budget is around 3000$ ... Thanks again!
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#4 Mark Britton

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Posted 17 July 2008 - 07:51 PM

I thought I'd chime in as someone that did listen to the "take a 2-day workshop first" advice. It seriously is the right thing to do. You'll find out if it's something you'd be willing to do and it'll give you a solid start on how to train your body to move and think a bit differently than your normal experiences. Worst case, you'll find out it's not for you, and you'll have saved spending new rig - workshop in cash. Best (normal?) case is you now have a great idea of how to get started with a new rig, so you'll feel the workshop money was well spent.

I would like to mention that whatever your choice for a camera stabilization rig might be...that's kinda the starting point on expenses. Do budget for spare parts, cables, batteries, and give serious thoughts to future needs (wireless follow focus, video transmitter, etc).
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#5 Dave Gish

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Posted 17 July 2008 - 09:17 PM

Thanks for the answer!
The problem is that I didn't find any cheap steadicam to support 9 kg.
You're right. The best solution will be to rent one and find out if is good or not, etc...

My budget is around 3000$ ... Thanks again!

What camera setup are you using that weighs 20 pounds? This is kind of heavy for a new user to start out with. Are there camera accessories that you don't need to use on the steadicam?

Remember that it takes many months to become good at using a steadicam. If you've never used one, anything you rent will give you poor results. Even the $66,000 Steadicam top of the line rig will look awful in the hands of a beginner.

The best way to try out a steadicam without buying one is to take the 2-day workshop. This way, you can see first-hand how the rig works in the hands of a master, and you can see how much work all of the students need in order to get good.
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#6 Jim Chu

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Posted 28 July 2008 - 10:17 AM

Greetings all,

First, a thank you to all that so openly share their wisdom, experience, bumps and all. It is so valuable to have a resource such as this forum for such a specialized field.

I have been looking to invest in a steadicam for use on low budget indie projects that I work on regularly. The most common setup is EX1 or hvx200 with 35mm and primes, but it is in the offing that a RED camera may be available pretty soon.

My question is this: the new Flyers run about 8K for an LE setup, but there is an older Flyer available with a lower weight limit of 15lbs (vs. the 19lbs of the current model) for about $5K.

Is it worth the extra 3K for the 19lb weight limit? or be ok with the older flyer since the adapters will likely not be used while on steadicam since we don't have a wireless FF? I have read RED needs to be fairly stripped to make the 19lb cutoff anyway...

btw, I am not purchasing the Flyer right away, I have taken everyone's advice and I am scheduled to take a 2 day flyer/pilot workshop coming up in October.
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#7 Charles Papert

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Posted 28 July 2008 - 11:06 AM

If you are intending to work with RED soon as you said, you will need remote focus (assuming you are using the full sensor)--it's not really viable to assume it can be worked around.
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#8 Jim Chu

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Posted 28 July 2008 - 01:32 PM

Thanks Charles,

I didn't take into account the shallow DoF from the larger sensor.

it makes sense just to develop skills flying the smaller HD/DV cameras.

In that case, the older flyer with 15lbs should be plenty? It seems like a good deal -


Jim


If you are intending to work with RED soon as you said, you will need remote focus (assuming you are using the full sensor)--it's not really viable to assume it can be worked around.


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#9 Dave Gish

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Posted 28 July 2008 - 01:44 PM

Is it worth the extra 3K for the 19lb weight limit? or be ok with the older flyer since the adapters will likely not be used while on steadicam since we don't have a wireless FF? I have read RED needs to be fairly stripped to make the 19lb cutoff anyway...

Hi Jim,

Actually, you might want to look at the Steadicam Pilot. The Pilot is $3800 new at B&H.

From what you say, there are 3 likely options:

1) Use the HVX or EX1 without the lens adapter for Steadicam shots

2) Use the HVX or EX1 with the lens adapter for Steadicam shots

3) Use the RED

For option #1, the Steadicam Pilot is the best solution (IMHO). I've used both the HVX and EX1 on the Pilot, and it works great.

For option #2, you'll need $4000 worth of wireless follow focus equiptment, a very good HD wireless video setup, a good HD monitor, and a dedicated AC person to pull focus. This level of equiptment and personel is unusual for HVX and EX1 projects, but if this is what you want, either Flyer rig will be fine.

For option #3, the RED accessories will probably put you over 19 pounds quick. Perhaps the ActionCam is the best solution here, but I'm not sure. In addition, you still have all the focus issues associated with option #2.

Edited by Dave Gish, 28 July 2008 - 01:46 PM.

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#10 Charles Papert

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Posted 28 July 2008 - 06:45 PM

It should be possible to rent an older wireless or wired focus setup in NYC for "relatively" cheap, maybe $100-150 a day if the job called for it and it was a relative rarity. I wouldn't rule out the Flyer for 35mm adaptor jobs if this is considered acceptable. Also, you don't have to have a wireless HD transmitter and monitor, a good AC can pull focus without these.

It has been shown that the RED can fly on the Flyer depending on lenses and configuration, but it is risky to accept a RED job without knowing the parameters and explaining the limitations for sure.
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#11 Dave Gish

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Posted 29 July 2008 - 07:19 AM

I wouldn't rule out the Flyer for 35mm adaptor jobs if this is considered acceptable. Also, you don't have to have a wireless HD transmitter and monitor, a good AC can pull focus without these.

Hi Charles,

I'm still trying to figure out exactly what this means, so any details you can provide on this would be greatly appreciated.

Specifically, what do you mean by a "good AC"? Is this a person with a few years of experience in features? Could a film school student pull focus for steadicam shots without a monitor? Is there a minimum amount of experience you would suggest for this? How much blocking and rehearsal would be required? How likely would it be for a project with an HVX or EX1 plus lens adapter to find such a person?

As always, any knowlege you can share in this area is greatly appreciated.
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#12 Charles Papert

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Posted 29 July 2008 - 12:35 PM

Put it this way, Dave; up until very recently, any student film or indie that was shot on 16mm or 35mm did not have the option of pulling focus from a monitor (video taps are not good enough for that). I think I did my first student film as a Steadicam op somewhere around '87. That's a lot of years of students managing to pull focus without a monitor...!

Many experienced AC's have included using a monitor when pulling on a 35mm sensor HD job in their bag of tricks, but they still rely on their other techniques for different aspects of shots. The problem with pulling from the monitor is that one is reacting to focus issues after the fact--when the subject leans during a closeup, it's very hard to tell this from the monitor until there is a problem, and then hope you will turn the knob the correct direction. It's a reactive process, meaning wait for a focus buzz and then fix it. If the AC is watching the actor, they can physically see them lean and by how much, and react as it happens which can avoid the buzz altogether.

Time will tell as newer AC's come to the table relying entirely on monitors to do their job if the skill can be managed this way as efficiently as before. The proliferation of 35mm-optic based digital cameras such as the RED and all of the adaptor rigs has meant that there are now a lot more folks who call themselves DP's, and along with that new AC's who might rarely, if ever, touch a film camera. It's impossible to say exactly what qualifications I would suggest for an "experienced enough" AC but I would say that at this point, look for those who have worked with 35mm film as they will have to have at least some of the techniques outside of simply looking at a monitor and turning a knob until the eyeballs look sharp. The best bet right now is to find 2nd AC's who are trying to move up and welcome the experience (when I was doing a lot of Mini35 shoots a few years ago, these were the folks that I generally called).

As far as a reliable HD transmitter is concerned, at this point until the WEVI and the Boxx are readily available, it will be more cost-effective to hire an experienced AC than to rent a transmitter (those models being in the 6-8K range, while current technology is in the upper 20's).
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#13 Eric Fletcher S.O.C.

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Posted 29 July 2008 - 05:40 PM

Many experienced AC's have included using a monitor when pulling on a 35mm sensor HD job in their bag of tricks, but they still rely on their other techniques for different aspects of shots. The problem with pulling from the monitor is that one is reacting to focus issues after the fact--when the subject leans during a closeup, it's very hard to tell this from the monitor until there is a problem, and then hope you will turn the knob the correct direction. It's a reactive process, meaning wait for a focus buzz and then fix it. If the AC is watching the actor, they can physically see them lean and by how much, and react as it happens which can avoid the buzz altogether.



Just another datapoint. Some AC's can pull very well from the monitor. By using peaking, cinetape and 2nd AC callouts (Only occasionally) they can achieve a 99% hit ratio.

My AC on "Dexter" (you know him) happens to be one of those guys.
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