Jump to content



Photo

Well...how do I do that?


  • Please log in to reply
11 replies to this topic

#1 John Brook

John Brook

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 17 posts

Posted 11 November 2008 - 05:40 PM

I have been reading posts on this forum for several months now. Not just new stuff but older words of wisdom as well. In my search I have come across one word that has scratching my head: practice. I get it. To become great there is no substitution for practicing. So here comes my question, brace yourselves, HOW? There I said it. How do I go about practicing as a newbie? I can't afford to buy the steadicam I need to practice with so I need to save. I can't save if I want to rent one out to practice. Even if I get my hands on a steadicam then where do I get the camera? Rent it as well? I am not made of that kind of money or time that I would have to take off of work just to get the use out of the rented equipment that I feel I should. So my question is to all the veterans, how did you do it? You said practice makes perfect, so how do I get there? I am willing to make some sacrifices here. I will buy a steadicam if I need to but then how do I get the camera? I will buy the camera if I need to but then how do I get the steadicam? I will rent both if I need to but that can't possibly be cost effective. Any and all advice given here is appreciated.
  • 0

#2 Jess Haas SOC

Jess Haas SOC

    Advanced Member

  • Sustaining Members
  • 1145 posts
  • Culver City, CA

Posted 11 November 2008 - 06:29 PM

For practice any cheapo video camera will do. You just need a weight plate or cage if its lite and on a bigger rig. Take a workshop then be prepared to buy a rig of some sort to practice with. You can learn a lot from a Pilot or Flyer.

~Jess
  • 0

#3 Frank Simpson

Frank Simpson

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 6 posts
  • SW Montana

Posted 22 November 2008 - 10:29 PM

Even if you get an old JR for cheap on ebay to use with a smaller, lighter video camera it would be a start. Granted, the hardware is "primitive" compared to bigger rigs, but if you want to experience the physics you've been reading about it's a great way to begin. The concepts translate up to bigger rigs and shorten (but not eliminate) the learning curve.

If you can't afford a larger rig you can at least get some hands-on exerience to help understand the importance of a light touch on the gimbal, holding horizons and maintaining headroom and more.

Of course then you'll be bitten by the bug and you'll have to get a Pilot...
  • 0

#4 Dave Gish

Dave Gish

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 181 posts
  • NYC Area

Posted 23 November 2008 - 06:44 AM

John,

I would start with the Steadicam Pilot for $3700:
http://www.bhphotovi...ion_System.html
(be sure to click on "Email me a better price").

This is the least expensive Steadicam rig with a vest, arm, and sled with monitor and batteries. It's also the most professional in it's class. You can buy cheaper rigs to start with, but most of them don't really work as well.

Be sure to buy 8 extra weights:
http://www.bhphotovi...nce_Weight.html
This makes a light rig like the Pilot a lot more stable.

Any camera will do for practice. A widescreen DV camera would be better, and avalable cheap if you don't have one:
http://www.bhphotovi...#specifications
A lighter camera like this will work better if you use a weight plate up top. If you're handy, you can make one of these cheap.

More info on the Pilot here:
http://www.dvinfo.ne...-started-q.html
  • 0

#5 John Brook

John Brook

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 17 posts

Posted 25 November 2008 - 02:38 PM

Thanks for all the info. I will take everything under consideration. I really appreciate all the time you guys took in responding to my request.
  • 0

#6 Michael Suchar

Michael Suchar

    Advanced Member

  • Sustaining Members
  • 32 posts
  • Los Angeles, CA

Posted 25 November 2008 - 06:31 PM

Hey John! Just wanted to welcome you! I'm still very new to the steadicam world. I purchased an off brand rig to see if it was truely something I wanted to do. Well... as Frank said, once you try it... you will get bitten by the bug. I certainly have... I have been slowly modifying my rig to my needs and for what it is and what I paid for it, it actually works well. I can only dream about how an actual "Steadicam" handles. If I may, I'd like to direct you to another fourm/site that may assist you in your quest. http://homebuiltstabilizers.com/
This is an excellent source for info on home built and off brand rigs. You may already know of the site but I thought I'd throw it out there.
  • 0

#7 John Brook

John Brook

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 17 posts

Posted 26 November 2008 - 10:06 AM

That link is awesome. But then this brings me to another question for the veterans. Is it worth buying a small cheap off-brand rig right now for the money I have or, since everyone is saying once I try it I am going to want to go full force into it, do I just save a few more months and buy a more expensive rig so when I am good enough I don't have to upgrade a second time. The thing is I know that becoming an operator doesn't happen over night and I know it is a big sacrifice. I want all my money to "count" so I am not just spending small bits of money that are useless. Thoughts?
  • 0

#8 Philip J. Martinez SOC

Philip J. Martinez SOC

    Advanced Member

  • Sustaining Members
  • 256 posts
  • New York, NY

Posted 26 November 2008 - 11:13 AM

Hi John,

I do not know how much cheaper you can get then $3,700.00 I would save up for the pilot if I were you.


While you are waiting to buy a rig you can ?practice? by operating a camera on a tri-pod, dolly, or hand held. Remember a Steadicam Operator is a camera operator! Composition is the most important part of are job. A steadicam is one of the many tools we use.
  • 0

#9 Dave Gish

Dave Gish

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 181 posts
  • NYC Area

Posted 26 November 2008 - 02:16 PM

Is it worth buying a small cheap off-brand rig right now for the money I have or, since everyone is saying once I try it I am going to want to go full force into it, do I just save a few more months and buy a more expensive rig so when I am good enough I don't have to upgrade a second time.

You should be able to get by with 2 rigs, 1 for starting out, and one big professional rig for flying film cameras. For starting out, you could buy a cheaper Glidecam or something, but I've found that these are limiting. If you can manage $3700 for the Pilot, that would be a much better first rig.

If you are unsure about the whole thing, you can take the 2-day workshop for $500. They provide the Pilot and Flyer rigs for you to learn on. You'll want to take this workshop in any case. It might be better to wait until a month or so after you've used the rig, but taking the course before you buy the rig will work as well.
  • 0

#10 Charles Papert

Charles Papert

    Advanced Member

  • Sustaining Members
  • 2224 posts
  • Los Angeles

Posted 26 November 2008 - 03:07 PM

I don't know what types of cameras or at what level you ultimately want to work, but if the answer is "any and all", hopefully you are preparing yourself for the possibility of spending six figures on hardware down the road. In the meantime, buying a Pilot now and selling it down the road when you buy the big rig would probably represent no more than a $1000 loss, which is peanuts in the world of big-rig Steadicam numbers. It's an amazing opportunity to get your head around the basic skill set and find out whether you have an absolute passion for the craft without going through an far more expensive trial run with a big rig (we see those for sale here sometimes under those circumstances, I always feel bad when I see it).

I strongly recommend not to penny-pinch on the little rig. And I echo Dave's sentiments on taking the workshop--you will indeed get more out of it if you have already had some time in the system but either way, it should answer many questions and get you into good operating habits.
  • 0

#11 David George Ellis

David George Ellis

    Advanced Member

  • Sustaining Members
  • 135 posts
  • Brooklyn Zoo

Posted 26 November 2008 - 03:09 PM

Hey John,

This may seem retarded, but I was given a little piece of advice from a very well-known operator/instructor when I took the workshop. One of the things we pay heavy attention to in our work is our levels.

This instructor told me from time to time he would take out one of those small bubble levels that fit in your hand and place it on his thumb and pointer finger to practice keeping it leveled while moving around pretending he is holding the post. You'll obtain a muscle-memory that remembers to keep the horizon flat while preventing you from dropping your thumb.

You can practice this at any time, without a rig. I have done this and believe me, it's not as easy as it sounds. What I feel it does is help you keep it level while taking your body's energy transference down to a minimal affect in your physical arm.

Before you buy that rig, consider the type of cameras you presume you will work with. I don't know what the specs are for the Pilot, but if you plan on shooting with cameras heavier than what it can take, you've just bought something you can practice with or do small camera jobs with, but as Charles puts it, not any and all gigs.

One of the problems of getting a smaller rig is that clients may not call you again if they know you have a rig that cannot handle the camera they plan to use. Not to worry you or complicate your decision, but I have used cameras ranging from small handycams to the Cadillac of Arriflex, the 535B. Fortunately, I have a rig that can do all, barring the Pana G2 and maybe the IMAX, although I have yet to fly the latter.

As you know, a rig that handles heavier cameras can handle lighter cameras with some ingenuity and adding weight. Lighter rigs will struggle and ultimately fail trying to fly larger cameras. I would save for the heavier rig if you expect to work with such cameras. If not, then go for the lighter setup and when ready, opt out for a larger rig when you feel comfortable or financially secure.

Good luck and let us know which way you decide to go. Definitely take the workshop. If not the week-long, then the 2-day for sure.

ONE,

David
  • 0

#12 Bryan Trieb SOC

Bryan Trieb SOC

    Advanced Member

  • Sustaining Members
  • 151 posts
  • Los Angeles / Toronto

Posted 26 November 2008 - 09:47 PM

"While you are waiting to buy a rig you can ?practice? by operating a camera on a tri-pod, dolly, or hand held. Remember a Steadicam Operator is a camera operator! Composition is the most important part of are job. A steadicam is one of the many tools we use."

Phillip's advice goes along with something else for you to consider:

AFTER investing in a workshop to see if you get bitten.....perhaps try to source out some work at a broadcast station that uses steadicam as part of their daily operations. That sort of opportunity gives one paid experience, and while improving skills, the potential ability to save for a bigger rig.

With regard to your question about "upgrading"....I think many would agree that it never ends.....but a wisely researched decision on your first big rig would be massively key to your first few years as an owner/operator....many of which D.G.E. mentioned already in this thread.

Be creative...if you really want something, you WILL figure out how to accomplish....and yes, it can take many years before you buy your first big rig so try and realize the big picture here.....seek advice from any local veterans who are willing to let you buy them a beer and tell you their story......shocking fact...many steadicam operators like to have a drink and talk about our passion for this craft!

Cheers!
  • 0




Ritter Battery

Teradek

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

IDX

Boland Communications

BOXX

Varizoom Follow Focus

Wireless Video Systems

Engineered Cinema Solutions

Betz Tools for Stabilizers

GPI Pro Systems

Paralinx LLC

PLC - Bartech

PLC Electronics Solutions

SkyDreams

Omnishot Systems

rebotnix Technologies