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Old August 1st, 2013, 03:56 PM   #16
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Re: Canon C100 on a Steadicam Merlin - Settings

Charles,
I tried to balance the camera again with the same settings and something is wrong. The camera now has a serious, serious pendulum effect that I cannot get rid of. I tried raising the center of gravity by raising the z adjustment but to no avail. It now acts like a pendulum and also rotates. It is all out of whack and worse than ever....despite I changed almost nothing. I guess I am not understanding the physics at all.

At least yesterday it was pretty stable and not really having the pendulum effect but was "mildly floating" when in use. I am getting frustrated and running out of work day to get it back to that point so that I can show you. I did try adjusting the angle of the arc to raise the weights up (similar to the glidecam video I saw) but the shift of weight position would cause the camera to fall backwards almost instantly. I tried moving the camera from 10 to 9 on the dovetail scale and it falls forward hard. Additionally it leans to the side now. I tried 9.25, 9.5, 9.75.....all crash forward. 10 crashes backward. It seems I have to have the arc at max to even have a chance to balance it at all.

I guess this is more than my pea-sized brain can handle. I expect a big learning curve when operating.....but I guess I didn't realize how hard it is to balance. Especially when its primarily just floating around the gimbal and everything I try to adjust it seems to do nothing. Add to this that I saw the video for the glidecam and the guy corrected this "boating" effect by simply shortening the main column by a few millimeters.

I'm taking a brief break and might try again tonight if I am feeling brave.

Thanks for any input.
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Old August 2nd, 2013, 03:45 PM   #17
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Re: Canon C100 on a Steadicam Merlin - Settings

OK. I found a decent balance setting (had to use the magic formula page at merlincookbook.com). I measured and applied and used the formula and it was still off by a bit! However....I took it from there and tweaked and got it fairly balanced....though there is still some "boating" in the gimbal that I learning to fight softly.

I got the chance to truly fly it today on 2-3 runs, and it wasn't too bad really. There was a little pendulum effect when I was moving fast and came to a stop and sometimes when I turned it wanted to swing out just a little. I was able to use my index finger of my left hand to try to redirect it and turn it and it wasn't too bad. it does want to pan sometimes when I don't want it to.

Now...while I was flying it I was certain this was going to look terrible. I followed my co-worker about 150-200 from his office, down the hall, through some doors and out to his smoke area and by the time I was done I was cussing and upset cause it didn't seem like it was going to look any good at all!. To my surprise, when I watched it....it was darn nice in some sections. Instead of thinking how awful it was, I found myself in awe of the good parts and even the bad parts weren't that bad. It seems that the steadicam smooths out some rough parts. I immediately found myself thinking " I need to work on this, and I need to compensate for that..". Rather than seeing trash...I saw a diamond in the rough. :)

Mind you the camera panned a little left or right here and there and I tried to compensate and it seemed rough to me but in the footage it was just a little noticeable. Despite the slight wobbly nature of the footage....the smooth steadicam flying look was 100% in effect and looked really nice.

I feel very good about this investment for the first time now. I think I am to the point where I can begin training and teaching myself how to fly it and stop worrying so much about the balance.

I do want to ask though.....when I am walking at a decent pace, it feels as thought the camera is wanting to tip up a little bit. Then when I slow the momentum adds to that and tends to rock back down causing a floating look. What can I do to correct this?

Also, I understand that the pendulum effect can be reduced by decreasing the bottom heaviness of the rig. So I try to raise the stage by unscrewing the z connector at the gimbal....but it doesn't seem to help. I tried 2-3 positions and it eventually became so top heavy it wanted to tip over. So I returned it back to the original position.

Any ideas?
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Old August 26th, 2013, 09:08 PM   #18
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Re: Canon C100 on a Steadicam Merlin - Settings

Charles Papert is a professional Steadicam Operator and very well respected in the industry.

Worry about balance. When it's perfect, your shots will be too.

It sounds like you are getting better and better with more practice.

Good luck and post some vids, I would love to see them.
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Old August 27th, 2013, 02:38 AM   #19
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Re: Canon C100 on a Steadicam Merlin - Settings

Thanks Michael, although I moved on from operating about three years ago. I'm not quite as facile as giving suggestions on Steadicam operating or setup issues as I used to be, out of sight/out of mind I guess. And I was never particularly dialed in on the Merlin.

But as you noted--practice makes perfect. As Marty is discovering as have many before him, what seems to be a problem with the gear turns out to be "operator error" that goes away with time. Proper balance is quite critical, but even with a perfectly balanced rig it takes quite a bit of operator skill to tame the beast. The pendulum effect can still happen with a properly set up rig, it's inherent with a bottom-heavy system. It's all in how the operator compensates and aborbs the effect of that inertia.
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Old August 27th, 2013, 09:19 PM   #20
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Re: Canon C100 on a Steadicam Merlin - Settings

Absolutely. I see you are a DOP now. Which digital cinema cam to you like best?
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Old August 28th, 2013, 12:28 PM   #21
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Re: Canon C100 on a Steadicam Merlin - Settings

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Stevenson View Post
Which digital cinema cam to you like best?
Easy answer--Alexa. Nearly all of what I shoot is on that camera and I have zero complaints.

Attempting to round this back to the subject at hand--I've tried the Canons a little bit and they seem fine, was considering picking up a C100 at one point. I'm curious what's coming next. The only one of the late model cameras I like from a form factor perspective is the F5/55 though.
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Old December 16th, 2014, 02:22 PM   #22
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Re: Canon C100 on a Steadicam Merlin - Settings

Here is a video on it.

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