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Old July 11th, 2005, 01:06 AM   #1
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XL2 - Flowpod or Fig Rig or Steadicam etc ...

Hi,

I'm using a Canon XL2 and am looking to invest in some sort of camera stabilizer.

Does anyone out their have any experience (or opinions) on using the XL2 to with any of the following:

- Steadicam Jr
- Glidecam 4000
- Fig Rig
- Flowpod or Monopod

I understand they all have their various pluses and minuses but am mainly after info relating to the XL2.

Thanks,

Matthew.
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Old July 11th, 2005, 01:46 AM   #2
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Matthew,

The XL2 being one of the heaviest cameras in its class, you will be likely to experience significant arm fatigue after a few minutes of shooting with any of the rigs on your list.

Also be aware that the Fig Rig or a monopod are not true stabilizers in the same way as the other rigs.

Your best bet for the smoothest images without arm fatigue issues is a system with vest and arm, such as the Glidecam with the Smooth Shooter, or the Steadicam Flyer. Obviously a bit more expenditure.
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Old July 11th, 2005, 06:14 AM   #3
 
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Matt, Charles is right. Speaking from personal, first-hand expereince... I had the XL1s and the Glidecam 4000. It will wear you out--literally! Used it a few times on a shoot and it really did a number on my wrist and elbow! They ached for weeks after.

Save your money and invest in one of the vest and arm systems like Charles suggests.

Jay
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Old July 11th, 2005, 10:22 AM   #4
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While I agree with the fatigue factor, and if you can afford a steadicam flyer, get it. But having said that, endurance with a hand held rig can be achieved. Come on, how many thousands finished the L.A. marathon last year? The key is practice, practice, practice. If one can start with ten minutes a day and gradually add time to that, after a month or two you'll be surprised at how long you can go. Not to mention how much better an operator you will be. I think something to keep in mind is the use of a stabilizer. Will you be using it in place of a dolly for example? I think a dolly with a short jib is much more useful in most shooting situations, and using a stabilizer as an adjunct to that. If one plans shots accordingly, a hand-held unit combined with an arsenal of other rigs can cover all the shooting situations one might encounter, instead of relying on a stabilizer to be all rigs to all filmmakers. Another thing to consider is the cost compared to the actual use. If you spend thousands on a full rig, will it sit in the closet most of the time? Better to hire a professional owner/operator if that is the case for the few days you'll actually need one. Lord knows that the steadicam is an amazing tool, but it is just a tool like a dolly, crane, car mount, and all the other things that filmmakers use. So if you plan on several 10 minute shots a day, I think a hand-held rig is fine. If your needs are greater than that, a full rig might be in order. Or can you re-think the shot to use a dolly? We make compromises every day of a shoot, but often those limitations force us to think more creatively and we end up with something better in the long run.

To answer your question, Matthew, I prefer the Glidecam. The other advantage is that they do make a vest for it if you find you need one down the road. While I've never used the glidecam vest/arm adapted for the 4000, I'm sure it's not nearly as good as the Flyer. But do you really NEED a Flyer or other full rig? Only you can answer that. After all, the other extreme is what the Dogma people do: hand held. And they've made some amazing films.

So, clear as mud, isn't it.

Dan
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Old July 11th, 2005, 11:31 AM   #5
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Good points, Dan, although I do have reservations about the long term effects of a handheld stabilizer with a camera of that weight--while the forearm can bulk up to accomodate, I think it's putting too much strain on the wrist. But this is coming from a guy who is currently sitting in bed with a broken foot, so I'm extra sensitive about such things right now!

What a lot of this comes down to is what one expects from your footage--if you just want smoothed-out handheld, then a simple (and relatively cheap) setup like the Figrig or possibly an improved handheld system like the DVRigPro will do it. If you want the true fluid effect of a Steadicam system, then go with the Steadicam or Glidecam. But if you want to stabilize your shots so that they look like a dolly, either go with a dolly or be prepared to spend a LOT of time practicing with your stabilizer; there's a hefty learning curve to get to that level of finesse. It all depends on what your expectations are.
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Old July 11th, 2005, 01:54 PM   #6
 
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Dan, have you done this with any of the XLs?

Jay
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Old July 11th, 2005, 03:18 PM   #7
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XL2 is heavier and does not work as well with any you mention, as least not for very long! LOL...

I just picked up a nice rig, the Hollywood Lite GT (now the Varizoom Flocam GT) for $1500 on eBay. It works fabulous and once you get it down, it is pretty easy. Just like everything though, there is a learning curve. Steady operation is achieved by SKILL not just a stabilizer...



ash =o)
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Old July 12th, 2005, 07:59 AM   #8
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XL2 on Rig

The XL2 is a heavy camera, about 3 kgs + with light and mics etc but I recently purchased a Steadicam Flyer and IDX batteries which cost me with a low mode kit about $8000 US. I shot a wedding with the Flyer at the reception for various different shots such as Bride/Groom arrival, enterance, waltz and games and the shots you can get are fantastic. I must say that I was stuffed at the end of the wedding, I spent three days recouperating.

I found that practical experience certainly made a lot of difference when it came to weight adjustments. Found that by removing the view finder and mic and using the 3x wide angle lens made a heap of difference to the overall weight of the camera. With the flyer it has an attachment for a BNC cable to attach to the base of the stage which connects to the camera and you can use the monitor to view what you are shooting...you definately can't do that with a handheld stabliliser. The flyers arm is fantastic and takes the weight of stabilising the camera so you can spend you time panning, tiliting and booming. Fatigue is more minimal in a vest than being hand held

I connected two dovetail plates to my XL2 one on the handle and the other via a Bogen set of quick release plates so I can go from sticks to sled in a matter of minutes for either normal or low mode.

I spent about three months looking at a Glidecam V25 (V35) but still had not been released and I was tired of waiting so I looked at Steadicam and found that the flyer was within the right weight range for my camera so I took the plunge and couldn't have been happier.

thanks

Chris
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Old July 12th, 2005, 09:39 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay Gladwell
Dan, have you done this with any of the XLs?

Jay
Yes, I have. Does it wear you out? Yes. I found that wearing a velcro splint like those found in drug stores for wrist injuries help quite a bit in keeping wrist strength. Maybe the fact that I also climb rocks now and again have helped me in that area. But my point was don't get a full rig if you can afford it. I love the Flyer. I LOVE IT. It's light years above anything else out there. I simply think that a lot of people that make films also have day jobs not making films. Charles, you're a professional that does this day in day out. Does it make sense for someone that is going to use a rig for 3 hours a year to spend a small fortune? That was really my point. Better to just hire you! Truly, if I were going to make a feature I would have a hard time spending 6 grand for a Flyer, since I could make a feature for 6 grand. Make a movie or buy a rig? I'll make the movie and use a dolly. After all, some of the greatest movies of all time where made long before the steadicam was born. Since I wrote a book about all this stuff, believe me, I get e-mails every week telling me that the doors to professional equipment were closed until they bought my book. I don't say that as a plug for myself, but as someone who is in a pretty unique position to talk with those that stradle the professional and semi-professional world. I did a rig seminar at NAB this year, and it was the 3rd highest attended seminar in my track. So here we are at a convention where you can see every rig on the planet, and I was talking to a house packed with people that were hungry to make films but couldn't afford what was offered on the NAB floor. In the end it's a balancing act for the needs of the shot and what we can afford to do.

dan
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Old July 12th, 2005, 02:44 PM   #10
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Hi Dan,

I am curious that how much money you were talking about a full size rig.

Regards
Leigh

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Selakovich
Yes, I have. Does it wear you out? Yes. I found that wearing a velcro splint like those found in drug stores for wrist injuries help quite a bit in keeping wrist strength. Maybe the fact that I also climb rocks now and again have helped me in that area. But my point was don't get a full rig if you can afford it. I love the Flyer. I LOVE IT. It's light years above anything else out there. I simply think that a lot of people that make films also have day jobs not making films. Charles, you're a professional that does this day in day out. Does it make sense for someone that is going to use a rig for 3 hours a year to spend a small fortune? That was really my point. Better to just hire you! Truly, if I were going to make a feature I would have a hard time spending 6 grand for a Flyer, since I could make a feature for 6 grand. Make a movie or buy a rig? I'll make the movie and use a dolly. After all, some of the greatest movies of all time where made long before the steadicam was born. Since I wrote a book about all this stuff, believe me, I get e-mails every week telling me that the doors to professional equipment were closed until they bought my book. I don't say that as a plug for myself, but as someone who is in a pretty unique position to talk with those that stradle the professional and semi-professional world. I did a rig seminar at NAB this year, and it was the 3rd highest attended seminar in my track. So here we are at a convention where you can see every rig on the planet, and I was talking to a house packed with people that were hungry to make films but couldn't afford what was offered on the NAB floor. In the end it's a balancing act for the needs of the shot and what we can afford to do.

dan
www.DVcameraRigs.com
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Old July 12th, 2005, 04:57 PM   #11
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As I said before, it all depends on what your expectations are. Certainly for someone who is isn't going to spend any time practicing, it doesn't really matter all that much what kind of rig they are going to buy, because they aren't going to be able to make particularly good shots anyway.

As far as hiring me or one of my colleagues...that CERTAINLY doesn't make sense in a ultra-low budget situation! (you'd eat up the cost of a Flyer pretty quickly!)

I'm all for anyone who wants to build their own gear and has the time, commitment and resources to do so. I myself built a funky Steadicam knockoff over 20 years ago--took me 8 months and it didn't work that well (but looked pretty good, actually). I'm just not a fan of those who prefer to stand on the sidelines and whine about how much everything costs and what a ripoff this and that follow focus setup is--a little bit of perspective might point out that NONE of this gear used to be anywhere near as affordable, that cameras and editing systems are mere fractions of what they used to cost with comparable quality, and they are living in a very fortunate time to be wanting to make movies for little money.

When it comes to stabilizers, I have heard from many who have invested into handheld rigs that they are unhappy with the results, largely because of the unwieldiness. It is exciting to see so many vest and arm options popping up, because it is a fundamental tenet of stabilizer operation that once the body is experiencing fatigue, the subtlety of pan and tilt will inevitably suffer and the shot will become less steady.

Certainly for those who plan to do a shot here and there, a handheld rig may work out fine. Once again, it's all about expectations. A stabilizer can substitute for a dolly only if the operator is good enough, and the rig doesn't hold him back.

Now, Matthew, if you are still reading the thread you started; what are you looking to achieve with your stabilizer purchase? How much do you see yourself using it? How much do you want to spend?
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Old July 12th, 2005, 05:53 PM   #12
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Thanks everyone for your detailed responses and general discussion. I've just been sitting back reading and learning from the real world experiences of others offered here. The information offered here has been very helpful in pointing me in the right direction.

My main goal is to smooth out and stabilise my handheld shots - handheld is my main method of shooting. The option to follow a moving target is also appealing.

At this stage of my 'career' a full rig with vest etc ... is probably overkill in terms of how much I'll use it - the cost is also a factor.

I mainly shoot weddings, live concerts, and am just getting into TV commercials. At this point about 80% live action and 20% staged.

An area of most concern for me with any of these stabilizers is gaining quick access to the zoom/focus controls. For example, when shooting a wedding sometimes you have to zoom in quite quickly to get that great shot of the bride laughing etc ....

I understand the Fig Rig can be outfitted with zoom/focus controllers but I'm assuming with the Glidecam 4000 or the Steadicam Merlin you'd just have to use the zoom/focus rings.

I guess at the moment I'm leaning towards the Fig Rig (even though it's not a 'true' stabilizer) but really like the gimbal mechanism of the Glide/Steadicam products. I just wish my town was big enough to have a store where I could get my hands on these products to try them out.

Anyway, many thanks for the replies and discussion - it's been most beneficial.

Matthew.
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Old July 12th, 2005, 06:39 PM   #13
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Hi Matthew,

I look forward to hearing your experience with FigRig. I basically don't understand why that manufacture so keen on this product IMHO.

Regards
Leigh

Quote:
Originally Posted by Matthew Ebenezer
Thanks everyone for your detailed responses and general discussion. I've just been sitting back reading and learning from the real world experiences of others offered here. The information offered here has been very helpful in pointing me in the right direction.

My main goal is to smooth out and stabilise my handheld shots - handheld is my main method of shooting. The option to follow a moving target is also appealing.

At this stage of my 'career' a full rig with vest etc ... is probably overkill in terms of how much I'll use it - the cost is also a factor.

I mainly shoot weddings, live concerts, and am just getting into TV commercials. At this point about 80% live action and 20% staged.

An area of most concern for me with any of these stabilizers is gaining quick access to the zoom/focus controls. For example, when shooting a wedding sometimes you have to zoom in quite quickly to get that great shot of the bride laughing etc ....

I understand the Fig Rig can be outfitted with zoom/focus controllers but I'm assuming with the Glidecam 4000 or the Steadicam Merlin you'd just have to use the zoom/focus rings.

I guess at the moment I'm leaning towards the Fig Rig (even though it's not a 'true' stabilizer) but really like the gimbal mechanism of the Glide/Steadicam products. I just wish my town was big enough to have a store where I could get my hands on these products to try them out.

Anyway, many thanks for the replies and discussion - it's been most beneficial.

Matthew.
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Old July 12th, 2005, 06:42 PM   #14
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Hi Charles Papert,

I think safety issue should be considered as the most important factor in operating stablizer as you pointed out.

Regards
Leigh

Quote:
Originally Posted by Charles Papert
As I said before, it all depends on what your expectations are. Certainly for someone who is isn't going to spend any time practicing, it doesn't really matter all that much what kind of rig they are going to buy, because they aren't going to be able to make particularly good shots anyway.

As far as hiring me or one of my colleagues...that CERTAINLY doesn't make sense in a ultra-low budget situation! (you'd eat up the cost of a Flyer pretty quickly!)

I'm all for anyone who wants to build their own gear and has the time, commitment and resources to do so. I myself built a funky Steadicam knockoff over 20 years ago--took me 8 months and it didn't work that well (but looked pretty good, actually). I'm just not a fan of those who prefer to stand on the sidelines and whine about how much everything costs and what a ripoff this and that follow focus setup is--a little bit of perspective might point out that NONE of this gear used to be anywhere near as affordable, that cameras and editing systems are mere fractions of what they used to cost with comparable quality, and they are living in a very fortunate time to be wanting to make movies for little money.

When it comes to stabilizers, I have heard from many who have invested into handheld rigs that they are unhappy with the results, largely because of the unwieldiness. It is exciting to see so many vest and arm options popping up, because it is a fundamental tenet of stabilizer operation that once the body is experiencing fatigue, the subtlety of pan and tilt will inevitably suffer and the shot will become less steady.

Certainly for those who plan to do a shot here and there, a handheld rig may work out fine. Once again, it's all about expectations. A stabilizer can substitute for a dolly only if the operator is good enough, and the rig doesn't hold him back.

Now, Matthew, if you are still reading the thread you started; what are you looking to achieve with your stabilizer purchase? How much do you see yourself using it? How much do you want to spend?
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Old July 13th, 2005, 08:09 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Leigh Wanstead
Hi Dan,

I am curious that how much money you were talking about a full size rig.

Regards
Leigh
Well, there are tons out there. From the glidecam to the basson to the steadicam flyer. Having mokey-ed around with most all of them, I like the Flyer the best. You can pick it up, if I remember correctly, for just under 6 grand. If one has the skills, there are plenty of us out there that are building their own full rigs, as any trip to Home built stabilizers shows us.

And Charles, yes the equipment is much much cheaper, but still expensive. I can't speak for everyone, but I very much doubt any of us on this forum stand on the side-lines. We make it work with what we've got. Whining is the mother of invention! ;) Point taken on the cost of a professional. But I'm always in favor of hiring the best the budget allows. It's not the rig that makes the shot, but the person operating it...as long as we're talking about pet peeves!

Dan
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