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Old March 6th, 2002, 08:16 AM   #1
Monkeplonk
 
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Steadicam JR

Have anyone had experience with XL1 and the Steadicam JR? Plese post me your tips and tricks on mounting the camera.

NEEEDDD HEEELLLPP
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Old March 6th, 2002, 11:26 AM   #2
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Good luck! My friend has a Steadicam JR and it was barely able to hold the old Canon A1Digital Hi8 camera, which is much smaller and lighter than an XL1. If you put an XL1 on the thing, the gimbal would probably break permanently. It would always "pop" if you didn't handle it juuuust right with the A1 on there.
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Old March 6th, 2002, 11:39 AM   #3
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My understanding is that an XL1 is entirely too large for the Steadicam Jr. You might want to consider selling it and moving up to something else better built for the XL1.
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Old March 6th, 2002, 12:07 PM   #4
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I have been experementing for a while now with my stedycam JR. And it was to heavy. But when I added more weight in the bottom it worked great!. I think it should hold. I hope.
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Old March 7th, 2002, 01:50 AM   #5
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<,I think it should hold. I hope.>>

It may and it may not. Chances are good that the gimbal will wear out or break before long. Your own arm may suffer that fate also! Chris' advice is solid. The weight and mass of an XL1 is best suited to a rig that incorporates a vest and arm suspension system rather than the handheld version.
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Old March 7th, 2002, 05:42 PM   #6
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Glidecam 4000 Pro

I recently bought a Glidecam 4000 Pro for my XL1s. It was very hard for me to get it properly balanced (and its still not great). Also, apparently it takes lot of practice to use them well. But the XL1s is very heavy to hold one handed with the extra weight of the stabiliser. I made a belt/vest system too which helps lessen the weight of the setup on one arm but i still don't feel confident using it. There no quick release attachment mechanism either. so going from the tripod to glidecam takes time and requires balancing again. you really need a 4 or 5" monitor attached to it too.
But it seems to work better then handheld for some shots with my other camera (Panasonic MX300 3CCD little camcorder) but its still a pain to setup as the weight of the glidecam needs to be adjusted by adding and removing weights on the bottom plate for the specific camera and accesories (exact battery lens etc) that you are using.
Maybe it should come with a video instruction tape rather then a far from ideal user book.
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Old March 7th, 2002, 06:40 PM   #7
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Sounds like a fairly typical experience, Morbid...

May I say this? There is no free lunch with mechanical stabilizers. Meaning: the easier they are to set up and operate, the less likely they are to actually do the job.

The most basic type which is just a pole with weight at the bottom and is grabbed somewhere below the camera with one hand, requires very little skill but will likely return footage that is only marginally better than handheld, just less footsteps visible in the shot! This sort of thing works best for running and action rather than subtle moves.

The more advanced versions (like the smaller Glidecams) add a gimbal, which is critical for isolating the operator's angular influences on the camera. At this point, careful balancing does become more critical, as the system will tend to swing out like a pendulum if the rig is too bottom-heavy or float around with a mind of its own if it is too top-heavy.

With the top-end rigs like the Steadicam JR, exact balancing is required and constant re-trimming necessary. Once that is achieved (no mean feat), plenty of practice is in order to learn how to frame and avoid influencing the camera in unwanted ways (tilting without losing the horizon, for instance). Incredible results can be achieved with this sort of rig, rivalling those of its big brothers, but the investment of time may be too great for many who are just looking to take the curse off of handheld!

I sometimes wonder just how many stabilizers are sitting on shelves gathering dust, as their owners got frustrated with the learning curve and/or results and figured "this thing doesn't work"...
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Old March 7th, 2002, 06:53 PM   #8
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You guys, y'all need to listen to Charles on this one... you see, he's something of an expert on this topic. At the risk of embarrassing him, I'd like to point you to his entry in the Internet Movie Database:

http://us.imdb.com/Name?Papert,+Charles

...and check out his steadicam pedigree.

;-)
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Old March 7th, 2002, 07:16 PM   #9
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yipes--OK Chris, you are embarassing me a little, but thanks for the plug.

The thing is, "video" is such a dirty little word on most of the sets I work on, most camera departments I work with prefer to look the other way. HD is rushing at us with breakneck speed, and I'm trying to get myself fully versed in the digital world to keep ahead of the curve.

The prospect of taking all that I've learned in the "big leagues" and applying it to an affordable medium--it's really exciting and a lot of fun. I just bought an O'Connor 2575 Ultimate fluid head to add to my rental inventory that goes on shows with me; for the price of just that one piece of gear, I can (and have) bought an XL1, a G4 with Final Cut Pro, etc etc. and can start making my own movies--which I think was the original idea when I got interested in this stuff back in high school!

Anyway...and continuing off the subject of this thread, sorry...I'm enjoying learning about DV from you guys, thanks again for the great site Chris.
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Old March 7th, 2002, 08:17 PM   #10
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Charles,

Gotta admit...it is impressive to see a filmography with "Steadicam" listed so many times. On the other hand, a search of your name through AltaVista also yields a photo of you...minus pants...with your band. Reality check. ;)

Since you've had so much experience with a Steadicam, I wonder what you think of cheaper options like the Marzpak Camera Suspension System? Have you ever had a chance to use it or something similar? I don't imagine it can compete on the same level as the Steadicam, but just how much of a difference is there to someone who has the control touch?

P.S. Looks like that was one heck of a party! I've gotta get back Stateside.
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Old March 7th, 2002, 09:50 PM   #11
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John:

You put the fear into me. I had never seen that particular picture before--don't even really remember it being taken. Such grotesquely knobby knees. But that was nothing compared to some of the bands I used to play in years ago--hopefully none of those pix have made it to the web.

Anyway, I haven't used the Marzpak but I have played with it at trade shows. I think of it as a great way to redistribute the weight of a handheld camera to prevent shoulder and arm fatigue, which will naturally affect the stability of the shot. Other than that, it's not going to substantially alter the smoothness of the image, I think it would just improve the handheld look.

Basically there are two types of motion that need to be controlled in order for a truly smooth shot to be achieved in a body-mounted camera: angular and spatial. Each has three axis of movement. For angular motion, these are pan, tilt and roll (horizon). For spatial motion, they are forward-and-back, side-to-side and up and down.

Of the two types of motion, the most noticeable in the photography are angular deviations. Try this: with a handheld camera pointed straight ahead, first bend your knees, then straighten up (spatial). Now try tilting the camera up and down (angular). Unless there are objects very close to camera, the up and down movement probably had much less impact on the framing than the tilt. This is why the Steadicams and other gimballed devices can achieve such good results: the gimbal isolates the camera from the angular deviations introduced by the operator. In addition, the natural dampening effect of the human arm (mimicked by the Steadicam arm in the higher-end versions) reduces the spatial deviations.

And the other secret to these systems is by expanding the components (with the counterweight concept), the center of gravity (CG) of the system is made accessible and thus the gimbal and control handle is located here.

As good as some folks get at handheld by learning the knees-bent glide, it's extraordinarily difficult to prevent the camera from pitching or tilting somewhat, which creates that unmistakeable handheld look. And the CG of the camera is several inches above the shoulder, which doesn't help because it magnifies the unwanted forces. The Marzpak device suspends the camera from an attachment point above its CG, so it is susceptible to the same issues mentioned above. I would imagine that a heavier camera would be more stable on this system than a small DV body due to inertia--this is also true with Steadicam, incidentally.

So to wrap this long-winded business up, anything that alleviates the negative effects of handheld fatigue is good for the photography, and clearly the Marzpak does this. It won't make dolly-smooth shots like a Steadicam, though.
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Old March 7th, 2002, 10:23 PM   #12
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Does make you stop and wonder "Now just who has those 'mooning' photos of me from high school?" doesn't it? The internet makes us all open books.

Thanks for your in depth response. That put to rest quite a few questions.
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