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Old May 5th, 2003, 01:33 AM   #16
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Lisa:

Again, I can't even estimate the weight of the Flowpod (it was a LONG three days at NAB, much information stuffed into the gray matter!) but I am very sure it weighed more than the JR.

Yet another possible way of working with a monopod type setup for the application you are seeking is to shoot handheld, but with the monopod attached and hanging under the camera. This will add some stability to your handheld shooting but you can retain the control you desire, plus have the hands-on access to zoom and focus.

The optical mage stabilizer built in to the camera is, to me, an underrated but highly effective weapon for long lens handheld work. To me, that combined with careful, practiced handheld technique results in really watchable footage.

I would think that, given the continuously moving backdrop of open water (much more forgiving than shooting boat-to-boat, or where a fixed horizon is a must), good handheld shooting would be just the thing for the situation you describe. Plus it leaves you mobile as well as directly connected to the camera controls. It's just my opinion, but I think that if I was hired to shoot this type of job, that would ultimately be my recommendation. I've done some Steadicam work on boats, including documenting the return to the ocean of a massive grey whale had been rehabilitated at Sea World (with a 43 lb. Imax camera on my rig, yikes!), and I remain a bit dubious about that flavor of shooting platform for that type of shoot.

Please let us know what you end up deciding on, how the shoot goes, etc.!
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Old May 5th, 2003, 11:19 AM   #17
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A number of years ago, I shot Betacam off the coast of Nova Scotia for a music special. We brought along a Steadicam, but as Charles points out, in rough seas and wind, it is virtually useless, not to mention dangerous! I ended up switching to stix and was able to get useable footage on the ship, but every time you saw the horizon, it got ugly, because the horizon was tilting to and fro while we all seemed on smooth seas, which of course was just the opposite.

Spend some time with your eye glued to the viewfinder at sea and you have another problem; by the end of the shooting I became violently seasick, and I have never had motion sickness before in my life. But that thing of watching the horizon move and the boat's motion really gets to you. Be prepared.

Basically, if you have rough seas you are screwed. You need some heavy artillery, such as a gyro lens to deal with the situation. Not too likely for a GL2. Take a good shoulder mount and pray for calm seas. No imitation Steadicams, please. And have a strap on the camera in case you suddenly have to let go of your gear to grab something to hold on to.

Please let us know how it all turns out.
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Old May 5th, 2003, 12:30 PM   #18
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That's a good point, Wayne, I forgot about that. On the Sea World job I hard-mounted the Steadicam to the rail so I wouldn't have to wear it (for safety reasons certainly), and once we got out into the ocean, the swells were big enough that I had to muscle the arm the keep it from violently bottoming out. After 20 minutes of this, I was utterly worn out and ended up assigning one of the other crew guys to spell me babysitting the rig! With a single section arm like on the Steadicam mini or the smaller Glidecams, this would have been really ugly (although the mass is much easier to deal with).

And I got seasick too. Not a big boat fan, me!
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Old May 5th, 2003, 03:08 PM   #19
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Thanks Wayne and Charles. I keep hoping that, cruising the Inside Passage - kind of like Alaska's fijordlands - will mean no big seas. I often use the flipout screen with a small hood for viewing. That would let me keep one eye on something else besides a pitching and rolling viewfinder image. But maybe scopalamine should also be on my equipment list. We'll be living on the boat too, so not many opportunities for "time outs" on solid ground.

The trip has been pushed from first of June to first of July, which gives me a little more breathing room for reviewing any new gear and practicing hand-held shooting. There are currently boats in the Monterey Bay running whale watching tours (whales are on their way up to AK.). That would be open ocean, but now it looks like I'll have time to practice.

I may also get some air time on a float plane while I'm up there. I've shot, I feel, unsuccessfully in a small helicopter with the door off with a GL-1. I had to slow the footage down in post to make two shots useable. Any suggestions for low-end stabilization in the air?

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Old May 5th, 2003, 08:22 PM   #20
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Based on my very limited experience shooting/flying, I would suggest trying to schmooze your way into the co-pilot seat. You get two perspectives and you can get great cutaways of the pilot.

Also, if there is a way to attach your camera outside the plan, and using a wide lens (or fisheye) to include part of the plane in the shot for perspective can work. This can get into touchy areas with the FAA, I believe.
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Old May 6th, 2003, 03:19 PM   #21
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Called Varizoom yesterday (5/5/03) and they plan to ship the Flowpod in 3 weeks. I was hoping to try one out, if not buy it yet, in the Los Angeles area, but the guy I spoke to said they didn't have any pre-releases out there. Not even in LA?

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Old May 6th, 2003, 06:41 PM   #22
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lisa -

i've made that trip. i went on one of the state cruise boats, not a commercial ship, and i was on the biggest boat they had at that, but here's the scoop:

there was not very much choppy water. most of the route is down these tiny little passages - some of which were barely big enough for the boat to squeeze through! but there was one section in particular that had the open sea to one side for a good while. that was bad, and i just had to sleep through it or i would have hurled for sure.

so you shouldn't have a WHOLE lot of bad motion to worry about, but definately the possibility exists...

have fun!

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Old July 24th, 2003, 06:30 PM   #23
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Varizoom Flowpod

Well I couldn't wait for a review of this thing from an actual owner, since it seems very slow in comming, so I bought one after a bit of reassurance from Don Beruebe's post. I just got it tonight so will shoot around a bit and will be open for any questions from those who might be interested in this thing.
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Old July 24th, 2003, 10:14 PM   #24
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{Revised 7-25}

Can't give a long term use opinion but here are my general impressions so far. I will compare it to the steadicam jr since I owned one of those for a while.

It seems to be a pretty good system. I have just recently got into using a mono pod for steadier shots and was liking the occasional shots with the steadicam, so thats what interested me in this product. I could have both in one device and not have to switch the camera. The steadicam was cool but when I put on my light with battery attached the steadicam didnt like it becuase it was too heavy, and the weight distribution was too funky. Since I wanted to try to use it at receptions, and would need a light for that, I thought something that supported a bit more weight might work.

I haven't used it at a wedding yet (my main use) but I think it will work well. It's not quite as sensitive as the steadicam jr. The slightest bit of wind wont blow it in the opposite direction but it is still sensitive. It's a heavier unit than the steadicam to be sure but to counter that you are able to hold it closer to your body because of the vertical design. It is quicker to balance than the steadicam because it is not quite as rolly polly. I think the steadicam has it beat in smoothness and flow of the shot. I can tell a difference in the shots. The Flowpod doesnt mask the up and down motion of steps as well as the steadicam did but it does get rid of most of it. We'll see what some more practise develops. There is a tiny bit of play in mechanism, not the gimble but the post the gimble is attached to and the plate and the plate itself can be a little jiggley but it doesnt seem to affect it much. With the monopod totally extended the camera eyecup sits right at my eye which is perfect. I am short however so a taller person would need to angle the eyecup up. Overall it is a trade off comparing the Flowpod and the Steadicam. The practicality of a monopod built in, the smaller footprint of the vertical design, less volitility in balancing and ability to handle more weight vs. the definate better flow and motion of shots, ability to mount on a tripod if a plate attached to the bottom, and a LCD screen of the steadicam.

I have never used the glidecam so I can't compare it to that but from what I have read, the flowpod seems at least easier and quicker to balance than a glidecam.

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Old September 3rd, 2003, 11:06 AM   #25
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flowpod

Has any one used this Varizoom FlowPod Camcorder Stabilizer
that ZGC sells. I'm thinking of using one with my panasonic AG-DVX100,
Thanks
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Old September 3rd, 2003, 11:38 AM   #26
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Flowpod

Save your money.This unit is not worth it.
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Old September 3rd, 2003, 11:41 AM   #27
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Thanks, Dan, any sugestions for a stabilizer/steadicam?
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Old September 3rd, 2003, 12:02 PM   #28
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The Smoothcam from Studio 1 is pretty decent considering the price. It works the same way as the steadytracker but is about $70 cheaper. The flowpod looks neat but I question how it actually functions, there isn't any apparent weights to the bottom of ths stick so it might just be a fancy monopod with a semi-gyro grip. I've only used the steadycam JR as a comparision to the smoothcam and I'd say it's definitely easier to use.
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Old September 3rd, 2003, 12:12 PM   #29
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Neil:

You might want to do a search on this site under "flowpod"--while you are at it, you can search under "stabilizer" and various brand names like "glidecam", "steadicam JR" etc.
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Old September 3rd, 2003, 12:28 PM   #30
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Thanks guys as usual what do you think about this steadytracker extreme

http://www.dvshop.ca/camera/steadytracker.html

Neil
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