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Canon XL1S / XL1 Watchdog
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Old August 6th, 2002, 09:07 AM   #16
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"After Hours" is about the only acting job by Griffin Dunne that I've ever really liked, aside from "American Werewolf in London." Well worth seeing. One of those everything that can go wrong, does go wrong type of movies... from the $20 bill flying out the cab window, it's all downhill from there... the night from hell. Check it out. Oh yeah, cool Steadicam shots too. Off-topic, sorry...
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Old August 6th, 2002, 06:31 PM   #17
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Thank you very much for the nice compliments! I totally agree with the head room comments. That 3:1 is a tricky b_ _ _ _ _d, but is necessary. With it's incredible wide field of view, even with the camera and stage on the rig looking level, I guess I undercompensate for it. I mean if you tilt the camera down to compensate reducing headroom, in your mind you're thinking that ain't gonna work, but it's the lens that your compensating for and that's what I'm gonna have to work on. It's happened in a couple of other shoots too and I said to myself, surely I wasn't tilted up that much. It's just gonna take more time in the vest! The reason there is not any bobbing is because of the ability to find a level float with the spring adjuster. If a small amount of downward pressure is applied to the arm at the post, it really helps dampen any unwanted vertical motion. Also, I have now added the MA-200 for additional weight and now it flies even smoother. It is a paradox. The idea of lighter gear is not the complete answer. A certain amount of weight will always be necessary for these isolated body rigs to work. At least for the spring loaded arms anyway. A friend of mine has the real machine. His arm has the ability to stay where you put it vertically. When you raise it 5 inches it stays there! With my level of rig, it always returns to a centered float after a veritical rise or fall. The spring really assists with the weight though when performing a vertical rise. He also payed $70,000.00 or his. Have mercy!
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Old August 6th, 2002, 10:21 PM   #18
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Oops! Should have used IMHO, I guess.

What I was visualizing was the closing credits of "Grand Canyon." There are moments when the chopper flies above the canyon and takes in the whole panorama, but then it also dips down and flies through the narrow passages. The panoramic shots are slow-flowing and beautiful and establish the location, while the passes through the narrow passages are more exciting and more detailed.

In looking at the furniture showroom, it seemed to me that staying up at eye-level the whole time shows all and nothing. You do see the whole room, but you don't really see a lot of detail in the furniture aside from those closest to the camera...and those closest to the camera you don't see all of since you're seeing them from a high viewpoint.

So...just thought it would look cool for the camera to truly appear to fly through the showroom...changing altitude from time to time...not only to focus on premiere items...but also for a more thrilling ride through couch canyons and armoire arroyos.

IMHO ;)
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Old August 6th, 2002, 10:51 PM   #19
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Yes James, it is true about the paradox of Steadicam, the heavier the system the better it flies. In many ways it is much easier to make good shots with a Panaflex on a full-size rig than an XL1 on a Steadicam Mini or Glidecam--the more inertia involved, the more stable the system. You just have to get used to humping around the 70 lbs vs the 20 lbs! That said, I wouldn't have wanted to fly my rig around that furniture store, you covered some serious ground there!

That's interesting that you are achieving good results by overcranking the arm slightly and applying pressure. In the past the thinking was that undercranking the arm and lifting it up to the neutral point would be smoother.

It is certainly strange to tilt down as much as it appears when working with a wide lens and minimizing ceiling! One tip I can offer (which you may well be familiar with) is to preset your tilt angle by adjusting the fore and aft on the top stage so that the rig takes a natural downhill bias. This way you can avoid having to apply constant pressure on the post to maintain the desired tilt. Great way to deal with stairs or looking down from balconies. If a shot requires a lengthy section of tilting down substantially but also a good run of level stuff, it sometimes helps to slide the gimbal down a tiny bit i.e. make the rig less bottom heavy, closer to neutral. This again helps to minimize the amount of force to hold a tilt. The tradeoff is less feedback from the rig to help you find level; a subtler touch is required also.

John, of course it was IYHO, no worries mate. It's always a matter of individual taste. Unfortunately the maximum boom range of any production Steadicam is about 3 feet total, and only half that on a single-section arm rig such as most of the DV setups. Doesn't make for super-dramatic booming possibilities like diving into ravines! Although you can make it appear to do so just by flying close to things. And there's always the low-mode option, if you have the gear to suspend the camera, which will allow flying over settees and coffee tables with wild abandon! (If you lack the accessories to undersling the camera, most rigs will allow you to simply flip the whole thing upside down and rebalance. Then you just re-invert the image in the edit.)

This, as my head hits the keyboard after a full day of flying the rig--luckily not the whole 70 lb enchilada, only a relatively featherweight Super 16 setup coming in at around 58 lbs...! And it wasn't ten times around a furniture showroom but we still covered a fair amount of ground--take after take--g'night!
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Old August 6th, 2002, 11:09 PM   #20
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Makes me wonder how the Marzpak would perform in comparison. Then you could have the latitudinal changes as well as the flexibility to "fly over" items. You wouldn't get the super smooth stretches...but then again you would get some interesting new angles.
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Old August 7th, 2002, 12:06 AM   #21
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Low Mode

Oh Charles, did you have to go and say it? I like that idea of total inversion and flipping the image in post though. If it wasn't for the render time, that might be practical. Anyway, I have the typical low mode kit that mounts on the stage with a lightweight "C" cage for mounting the package. This is more involved to balance than the standard set up, at least for this system anyway. I have yet to use it.
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Old August 7th, 2002, 12:18 AM   #22
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So much for going to bed early...!

James, spend a rainy day checking out low-mode. It's not really much more complicated to balance, and the results can be really spectacular. As a big fan of the 3x lens, I think you'll be blown away by the dynamic of the low angle.

It's also a good idea to get "fluent" at both setting up and operating in low-mode for that job that might suddenly come up; also you will be more likely to offer it up once you are comfortable with it.

On the flip side, it's always more awkward to operate and more tiring (something to do with the mass being lower on the body). Not as relevant with a lightweight system, but it may well be noticeable.

Let us know how it goes!
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