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Flyer 24LE vs. ActionCam


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#1 Mike Germond SOC

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Posted 18 July 2008 - 02:28 PM

I've been a big fan of the Steadicam for years, but only recently have I done some more in depth research into individual rigs and their specifications. I'm in the market to buy now, but I don't want to become outdated in the near future. Basically, I never want to turn down a job because my rig can't support it. I've got a workshop with Peter Abraham @ Brins & Sawyer in Hollywood next month, and commitments from 2 seperate clients with at least a years worth of business lined up. I already have the financial backing to spend around $10k as an initial investment. I hope all this just goes to show that I'm not in it just to play with some cool toys.

Let me explain what I need it for in the immediate future:
- DVX 100B w/ Century Optics wide angle adaptor, LitePanel, Rode NTG-1 for College Football
- HVX 200A w/ Rode NTG-1, (2) Sennheiser Evolution G2 wireless systems
- JVC GY-HD100U
- Sony Z1U

Near future desires:
- Mini35, Rails, Matte Box, Still Lenses, Wireless Focus/Iris
- RED One
- RED Scarlet (will purchase personally)
- 35mm!!

For a while, I thought I was set on the Steadicam Flyer 24LE because it gave me options for lighter 35mm cameras in the future and the ability to easily upgrade my monitor to a Marshall V-R70P-HDA. This leads me to a slight tangent:
Which Flyer sleds come wired for HD/SDI monitoring, and what type of jacks/how many are we talking?

And then I stumbled across ActionProducts and the Zero G rig.

It's hard to tell what the comparible Steadicam models are because there is so little documentation about the ActionCam, so that's why I'm posting here. Right now, the Zero G is wayy out of my price range for a first rig, but it looks so perfect for what I see myself evolving into! Everything is modular so upgrading is easy. Their smallest model is the Rebel-Rig, but I don't know how that compares to the Flyer, not to mention it's $11k price-tag.

What I like most about the Zero G is the sled. So then I started wondering about some hybrid Steadicam/ActionCam rig. I don't know enough about all my options to make an educated guess however.

Just when I thought I had something figured out, this ActionCam stuff had to flash across my screen and get me all confused again. I want to be able to fly the cameras that are most popular in today's productions, but still want to have the option to fly the, dare I say, 'old school' stuff. This is a big investment, so I want to make sure that I put it in the proper equipment to keep me competitive and versitile..

Thanks in advance,
Mike
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#2 Jon Beattie

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Posted 18 July 2008 - 07:34 PM

Mike,
I own an actioncam zero g. Its a nice rig. One of the most unique things Brian has done is make a system that can be upgraded as needed without starting from scratch I think mkv is the only other company with that mindse.

The fly is a wonderful rig and its arm is really sweet. The cameras your talking about flying can be at the top end of the flyer's range. Though you can fly a 235 with the flyer its not camera you can roll sound with. Tiffen made a wonderful rig with the flyer. But if you are ever going to go more than 20lbs (sled+camera+acc's+batteries). You may have to start all over again.

With Brain's rig you get a really well thought out and constructed system. Again you can start with a rebel or even red version (with non red camera package) and build it up as you will be around bigger packages. His vest and arm take a bit to really dial in. I went with it for a number of reasons one not wanting to say no to a job based on rig limitations. Brian is also coming out with new stuff. The zero g is going to have the option of telescoping monitor & battery mounts (carbon fiber and aluminum). He's also got a few different distro and junction boxes coming out (hdsdi video amp etc). So his system will fall more inline with what alot of other companies do. His arm is nice its no g series or pro arm but its simple construction makes it easy to maintain and change springs. Its very rugged too.


If you don't need to buy a rig before the workshop wait and see how you like the flyer. Understand its a wonderful rig. The final choice is yours. Weigh the pros and cons.

I can tell you Brian's service is good he and Darryl usually reply to an email in less than 24hrs. As for tiffen the guys over there are great. Peter has a wealth of information to share on both operating and tiffen products. Peter's also very easy to get a hold of and to deal with.

I'm sure you know to keep in mind focus, video trans, batteries, cases, cables, and some of the other goodies you'll need to have a package ready to fly.

Also if you know you have income coming your way from the rig. You should really look options in financing part of your purchase so as to not short change your capabilities. A loan, balance transfer check on a credit card, grandma whatever. You can really stretch your dollar.
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#3 Mike Germond SOC

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Posted 18 July 2008 - 08:20 PM

Jon,

All great stuff. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I had read that the arm for every ActionCam model is the same, but with different spring packages. If that is true, owning several different spring packages could help you adapt to all sorts of equipment (although I have no clue how easy/difficult it is to change springs).

I have no intention of purchasing a rig before the workshop, in fact I was hoping to pick Peter's brain a little bit. Steadicam seems a bit like a car purchase, in the sense that most people would want to try it before they buy it. We'll see how I feel about the Flyer LE after that workshop though. Susan Cummings at Tiffen gave me Peter's number but I have not been able to get in contact with him all week long. It seems to be going straight to voice mail, so either he dropped his phone in the toilet or he's got some important business going on right now. Can anyone verify this? I shot Brian an e-mail late last night after I got home from a job in Cincinatti (like 3am late), so I'm still within the 24-hr time frame that you mentioned ;)

As far as finances go, I'll probably have to take out a slightly larger loan and hope the steady business over the next year or so can help with payments. Like you suggested, starting from scratch would not be so fun, especially if I outgrow the Flyer in 2 years. That's why a modular system is so attractive. I've also taken a brief glance at MK-V and the Nexus rig. Again, I'm not sure how all of this stuff matches up with the different Steadicam models..

I'm a sponge, so keep the knowledge flowing!
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#4 RonBaldwin

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Posted 18 July 2008 - 08:38 PM

while you are in LA you should be able to try and compare any rig you want. Get what's comfy for you. Peter is a great instructor and some of the locals may know of other rigs you can try while you are out here. Another friend of mine was recently looking for an action cam to try here in town. Don't know if he found one yet.

rb
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#5 Mike Germond SOC

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Posted 18 July 2008 - 09:17 PM

I'd be very open to adding stops on my Tinsle Town Tour, so if anybody is feeling generous.. :D It will be the first time I've ever set foot in California, let alone L.A. I plan to fly in a solid 4 days before the workshop, specifically for the reasons you mentioned Ron. I have some relatives and friends in the biz out there, but otherwise I'm unsure how I'm going to fill time. Chris Wilson was kind enough to offer me a chance to check out his rig at JKL, but was unsure if they'd be shooting anything or not. Still worth a stop to enjoy the opportunity.

How would you suggest I go about finding the different rigs I'm interested in? I'd definitely like to make the most of my time out West!
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#6 Jess Haas SOC

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Posted 18 July 2008 - 09:26 PM

If you are thinking of spending a little bit more money you should seriously consider buying used. I have seen some great packages go for $20-$30 thousand. You have to be a little more carfeul buying used but it definitely can give you the most bang for your buck as they often come with the accessories you will need like wireless follow focus and video.

Have you tried emailing Peter? In my experience he is rather good at returning emails in a timely manner.
As far as the 24hour time frame for actioncam returning emails keep in mind that they are a small operation so from time to time it may take longer. That goes for 90% of the companies that make the equipment we use so I don't mean it as a bad thing, just something to keep in mind. I like what I have seen of acitoncams products (I have one of their older rigs) and they have always been good at returning my emails but I personally prefer to work with companies a little closer to home when I can because it does often make things much easier. When buying from overseas make sure to think about what will be required if you need to have your equipment serviced or order additional parts.

Peter should be very helpful in answering your questions about Tiffen's rigs but he is a company man and as such won't be too helpful when it comes to information about competing companies products.

~Jess
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#7 Jon Beattie

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Posted 18 July 2008 - 09:34 PM

Your correct Brian's arm has springs that you can add or take out of the arm. It takes about 10 minutes to take them out. All the springs are the same size so its just a matter of having the right number in for the weight range you'll be flying.

Although a rig is the price of a car. Each manufacturer does not make a model for model. (ie accord to camry).

mkv has their lite rig which can be upgraded. action products has the rebel.

there is always looking at used rigs this forum the soa page, steadiforum are all good sources.

I'm sure tiffen and the guys at pro would be happy to show you their gear. If you wanted to fly an actioncam I know there are a number of red editions in cali. check the red forum. If you talk to Brian and Darryl they may be able to help connect you with a guy there too. Let them know I told you to talk to them.
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#8 Charles Papert

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Posted 19 July 2008 - 12:53 PM

Indierentals is a rental house in LA that has an Actioncam RED, I'm sure you can check theirs out.

It's not without its quirks but Brian's products are well-machined and good value for the money.

Incidentally you mentioned that you are looking at buying a Mini35--I will be selling mine shortly, with DVX relay (can fairly easily be adapted for HVX) and some very cool custom mods including outboard viewfinder. Let me know if that is something you might be interested in, I'm getting the pix and blurb ready for sale now.
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#9 Mike Germond SOC

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Posted 19 July 2008 - 02:22 PM

Once I have invested in a good, mid-level steadicam rig, I was hoping to purchase my own camera. Right now, the university that I produce a TV show for purchases equipment per my recommendation, and we own 3 DVX's and 1 HVX as well as a variety of other necessities for sound and lighting. Before the HVX came out, I thought I would be happy with a DVX as a personal camera, but now that the RED Scarlet is coming out, I don't even think I'd be happy with an HVX! :huh:

I'd be interested to hear a little about the adaptor that you have though. If I don't buy it, the marketing department at the university might be interested. They are trying to bring a lot of their advertising in house these days. I guess they are sick of renting Phantom HD's and Mini35 adaptors from the production houses that I've been working with..

Back on the topic of ActionCam, I posted a thread over at RedUser.net and a gentlemen by the name of Tonaci Tran who is the designated US demo guy offered to let me check his equipment out. I guess the only other brand that I've become interested in is MK-V, and I have no idea how to go about checking their stuff out!
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#10 Eric Fletcher S.O.C.

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Posted 19 July 2008 - 11:32 PM

on the topic of ActionCam, I posted a thread over at RedUser.net and a gentlemen by the name of Tonaci Tran who is the designated US demo guy offered to let me check his equipment out. I guess the only other brand that I've become interested in is MK-V, and I have no idea how to go about checking their stuff out!



I'm going to make one suggestion. Check out the companies service before you give them any cash. Some companies don't really stand behind their product's and others go above and beyond the call of duty and bend over backwards to support their customers.

I prefer to shop local minimizing my downtime if I need to get stuff repaired.

Just a FYI
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#11 max volokh

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Posted 20 July 2008 - 10:12 AM

Hi!
I just get my ActionCam Zero-G Carbon Edition 8-)
It's a grate RIG. The arm is so smooth and easy to adjust. Vest is very strong and well balanced.
The sled is useful and easy upgradable. The time to fly is about 15 minutes.
Bryan is a steadicam operator and DP, and he made the rig for steadicamers not for market and target groups 8-)
Good fly!
PS I also have the steadicam SK-2. The ActionProducts RebelRig is match better for equal price
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#12 Mike Germond SOC

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Posted 20 July 2008 - 11:53 AM

Upon further consideration, I think the Rebel-Rig is a good starting point...But it raises this one question

The cameras I use now come in at the following curb weights:
DVX100B - 3.7lbs
Century Optics .7x Wide Angle - 1.7lbs
HVX200A - 5.5lbs

The Rebel Rig uses the Zero G arm and lowest it is rated for is 11lbs. The range of ActionCam's lowest spring package is 11lbs-21lbs in fact.

So how does one make it meet the weight specs of the arm without adding nonsense accessories? My immediate, primary use will be shooting college football every weekend, so the soloution needs to be something that requires little attention over the course of 4 or 5 hours. I'd also like to be able to throw my LitePanel and a wireless system onto the camera after the game. I'm hoping just a quick adjustment will make that work out..
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#13 Jess Haas SOC

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Posted 20 July 2008 - 01:57 PM

A few thoughts on the rebel-rig. Personally the lack of a monitor is a deal breaker. This means you have to look at a shitty monitor in a much less convenient location. It also feels like it will get you into the bad habit of looking at the camera instead of down where you can watch where you step, etc.. Also the single battery in the middle on this rig is a bit problematic especially for smaller cameras because it doesn't increase pan inertia like when you can spread the weight out. For a little bit more money I am sure it would be possible to add a monitor to this rig, but then you really need to be able to move the battery back so it will probably require upgrading to the zero-g base section.

I believe the rebel-rig is using a single action arm which will limit boom height and require a more of an upgrade.

If you are thinking about going with the rebel rig but want to upgrade later make sure that you have priced out the upgrade path that you want to take. Just because it is upgradeable doesn't necessarily mean it is going to be all that much cheaper than selling a smaller rig and buying a bigger one.

My older actioncam rig is a bit quirky but it is a solidly made rig. The zero-g looks well made as well. If you are interested in flying heavier cameras I would make sure to try out the rig with a heavy package with the actioncam vest. One thing I have found with my older actioncam rig and the front mount vest that it came with is that while the rig was designed to be able to handle very heavy cameras the vest is not very comfortable when you start getting into film camera territory. They did totally redesign their vest but personally I would be a bit weary of it especially because it is back mounted.

You shouldn't have to be very afraid of mixing and matching so if you find another vest that you like the fit of better it should work fine with the actioncam rig. I highly recommend checking out the tiffen vest and the pro vest.

As far as minimum arm weight goes you can always add a weight plate. I personally like to add a little weight to lighter cameras even though my arm doesn't require it because it adds a bit of extra inertia and lets me keep the camera closer to the gimbal. Lately I have been using a rather heavy weight plate with the smaller cameras to keep myself in shape for the bigger cameras that I have been flying.

As I said before if you are going with a rig from overseas make sure you have thought about what will be required for service in terms of time and money and what you will do if you are without your rig for a while because of it. I have personally rebuilt my arm myself and heavily modified and redesigned my sled myself but not everyone can do that.

~Jess
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#14 Mike Germond SOC

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Posted 18 August 2008 - 10:23 PM

Seeing as how the ActionCam Zero-G has rods on the dovetail plate, what sort of rod accessories are out there that could be used to mount weight off of them?

Also, the ActionCam rig I'm looking at currently has just 1 IDX plate on it. How hard is it to add a 2nd to the other side of the batter mount?
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#15 Mike Germond SOC

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Posted 18 August 2008 - 11:22 PM

Like this sort of thing:

http://www.bhphotovi...90_Degrees.html

I'm sure there's a whole assortment of different mounts out there..
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