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Old February 19th, 2012, 11:44 PM   #1
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Tripod vs Glidecam

I have a shoot coming up where things will be moving very quickly and we will be shooting from various angles. Is it feasible to use a glidecamm instead of a tripod? Will the glidecamm give me that same locked down look as a tripod? Its the Glidecam 2000 with a canon xha1. The glidecam does not have a vest. I have never used it before but would have a few days to practice with it prior to the shoot. Thoughts?
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Old February 19th, 2012, 11:56 PM   #2
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Re: Tripod vs Glidecam

Hi Kevin

Don't even think about it...you seriously want to handhold a glidecam without a vest with an XHA1??? Unless you have huge arms you have little chance of using it for more than a minute...grab a house brick and hold it with your arm outstretched and see when you start shaking and your muscles feel like jelly...it won't take long. I use a full vest rig and after 20 minutes I'm exhausted and the vest does all the support!!

Stick with a tripod for all the main shots...by all means get someone else to do short handheld glidecam sequences for you (like 15 seconds) as cutaways or cut ins but don't try and shoot it all with a handheld glidecam

Just my two cents of course!! Good Luck

Chris
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Old February 20th, 2012, 12:07 AM   #3
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Re: Tripod vs Glidecam

Chris, the shoot is fairly short and I will only be filming for about 1 minute at a time. Aside from the weight, can I get the same locked down feel as a tripod? I could rent the vest but i thought that I would have a better chance of learning it if there were less components. Would this whole idea be feasible if I get a vest? Is it realistic to expect tuse the whole rig with only a few days practice?
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Old February 20th, 2012, 06:05 AM   #4
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Re: Tripod vs Glidecam

Hi Kevin

If you want absolutely rock steady stuff then stick with a tripod...you know the flow not me...if you can get way better shots tracking your talent with a glidecam and they will suit the scene better then use the glidecam and put up with one or two frame wobbles....Watch any TV series that has action in it and try watching the top frame of the screen and not the picture and you will see that plenty of handheld and stedicam work is used..the average viewer won't even see it. If you are doing a stationary interview then yes, use a tripod and don't move but most action shots can have frame movement cos the viewer is watching the actor not the frame!!

Yes any stabilizer needs lots of practice and then a bit more too...I would try some shots and get a bunch of friends to simulate the scene and then shoot it on tripod and then on glidecam..then you judge.

I don't know how many hours you have done on the Glidecam but someone who I consider a Master (Charles Papert)( I think it was him who said) "every time I shoot I suck a little less" It's not an easy tool to use but put in some hours and you will be better!!

Chris
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Old February 20th, 2012, 06:34 AM   #5
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Re: Tripod vs Glidecam

I am reinforcing the comments above.

It takes a good bit of time to do a good moving shot with a stabilizer and even MORE time to do a good locked down shot with one.

A hand held rig becomes a torture device after a few short minutes of holding it even with a very light camera.

Stick with the tripod. You may compromise on the movement in your shots but they will be usable. If you go the stabilizer route there is a significant chance you won't be able to use them or they will look bad.
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Old February 20th, 2012, 02:07 PM   #6
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Re: Tripod vs Glidecam

Perhaps if you've got to move around a lot, consider a monopod - the Bogen 560 (might be too light for your cam?) or the 561 come highly recommended - they have tiny little fold out feet which are more helpful than you might expect, and with a little practice, you might even be able to "fake" some steadicam type shots in motion.

You can even shorten it up, hook the feet through a couple belt loops on your pants, and use it as additional support for handheld shots. Takes some practice, but a monopod can cover a lot of territory rig wise as well as allowing you to move quicker and easier to re-set your shots. I find a cheaper monopod "works" but many people tend to "wobble" (meself included!) - the Bogens I mentioned reduce that problem significantly.

Expensive, but if you can rent one, you'll probably end up buying one, they actually are worth the extra $$.
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Old February 20th, 2012, 03:28 PM   #7
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Re: Tripod vs Glidecam

I second the Bogen 561. I've used one for years and with practice you can get very proficient with it. I mounted a 503 head on mine for tilts (I lock the head on pans and use the ball at the base of of pod for pans and the head for tilts) For mobility, especially on uneven ground, it would be hard to beat.
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Old February 20th, 2012, 03:38 PM   #8
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Re: Tripod vs Glidecam

It sounds like this shoot doesn't even require the utility of a stabilizer, in that the shots themselves are not about motion--the idea was to be able to quickly move from one setup to the other, is that accurate?

One of the most glorious things about small camera production is how quickly one can move a camera six or eight feet and be ready to shoot again. Sticks and camera light enough to easily pick by one person, ball head makes leveling a snap. I just shot a clip for a pilot on my 1DMKIV with a tiny crew, my first time operating anything in months, and I found it just delightful how fast I could get the camera into position. Those who come from a larger camera (35mm film or equivalent) background know what I'm talking about here--moving any distance on sticks is in comparison a major production number (leveling a head one leg at a time).

As far as using a stabilizer as a human tripod, as noted by the various Chris's above, that is an all but inappropriate approach. As counterintuitive as it may seem, achieving a solid lockoff is an advanced skill with a stabilizer (ESPECIALLY a small one--again, counterintuitive) and if one gets to that skill level, the last thing you want to be doing is standing around like a statue making a tripod shot.

In the fast pace of today's production, more and more often this is being requested of Steadicam operators and it is just one of the little things that added up to me moving out of that profession. It's fine when the sun is setting and a few pieces of coverage are needed to make the scene and there is no way we'd have time to bring in the dolly, but treating a Steadicam as a movable tripod is very often done for virtually no reason other than it seems faster. Meanwhile, the poor guy is standing around with the thing on while other departments make their adjustments--more than enough time to bring in the dolly!

Anyway, point made. If your intention with a small stabilizer like a Glidecam 2000 is to get action shots without footstep bumps, most people can achieve that within a few solid days of practice. Duplicating the look of a tripod will take weeks, months...yes, even years. Took me about a decade to get to the point where I felt satisfied with my lockoffs.

Now: post stabilization can change all of that--but with current technology, it generally comes with a price (frame blow-up, visible warping etc).
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Old February 20th, 2012, 04:18 PM   #9
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Re: Tripod vs Glidecam

Charles you are correct, the purpose is to allow me to move quickly. Its an outside scene and the subjects will have very little movment. Its a scene for a short film, with two people conversating. Because of this, a litte movement from the stabilizer may even make the scence more interesting. I may rent one over the next day or so and test it out.
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