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Old May 12th, 2006, 10:15 AM   #1
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Fig Rig, Merlin and the HVX200

Hi everyone -

This is my first post to dvinfo.net so hello to everyone.

I have read thru a bunch of posts here concerning the Fig Rig and Stedicam Merlin. Booth look like fine products and while I was originally leaning toward the Merlin I may be shifting toward the Fig Rig.

Reasons not to get Merlin:
HVX200 is very close to the weight limit of the Merlin.
Potentially difficult to use / hard to maintain balance
Practice time I really do not have

Reasons to get Fig Rig:
HVX200 should not be a problem
Attach accessories like mics, wireless receivers and zoom focus control
More stability for basic hand held shots


In looking at the types of shots both of this devices are good for I started to think the Fig Rig might suit me better. I am looking to have just more stable hand held shots with some occasional short movements rather than the longer tracking shots the Merlin would be good for.

The camera/rig will be used for hand held shots in out Trauma Bays to shot medical procedures. I do not really need to follow people around the ED, just shoot the action in the trauma bay at the time or shoot a re-enactment of a procedure with the ability to shift my shooting perspective without being tied to a tripod.

While I like the Merlin, I would be concerned about the weight issue as well as my ability to learn the system properly to create the shots I want.

Any thoughts? Thanks for the advise in advance -
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Old May 12th, 2006, 10:49 AM   #2
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I can attest that you are looking at 9 pounds with a small battery and one 4 Gb p2 card with the Merlin.

It is heavy, but it can be balanced with the HVX200.

Did I mention it is heavy?

I just wondering how will the FigRig works in comparison to the Merlin, which is very good.
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Old May 12th, 2006, 11:17 AM   #3
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I love my Fig Rig!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Lescallette
Any thoughts? Thanks for the advise in advance -
Richard,

I've used the Fig Rig on many shoots with the HVX and I highly recommend it! Now, I have not used the Merlin so I can't judge it from experience but here are the reasons I chose the Fig:

1.) Natural TWO HANDED grip as opposed to the single hand of the Merlin. My arms last a lot longer and I feel much safer when using this up close and around people where I get bumped and jostled ... a real concern for you. In addition, by adding the Varizoom zoom control to the Rig I don't have to change my stance at all to zoom in or out ... that is an awesome thing!

2.) The ability to mount other pieces of gear easily ... whether it be a microphone, the varizoom, a monitor ... all of these extras are easy to mount and I benefit from be able to use both arms to support the extra weight.

3.) Moves ... I can go up and over a crowd without the one handed fear of losing the camera or straining to keep a one-handed position while still seeing the monitor.

4.) The easy tripod option. With the addition of simple clamp I can get lockdown shot while still having my HVX and other gear mounted on the Fig.

5.) The Fig by itself ... is extremely light even in one hand (I hold it with one hand by the top of the wheel and let it hang for that low angle move.) It is also extremely well balanced.

6.) Resting the cam ... with the HVX attached I can set the Fig on the floor letting the base of the Fig rig and the matte box support the setup ... not recommended, of course! However, when I'm nervous about it I open up my Portabrace DV bag and place it lens down in the bag. The wheel supports the top and nothing is getting bent or hurt while I need a break!

7.) Finally, the PRICE! The $500 price difference between the two products sealed the deal.

Good luck! Hope this helps!
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Old May 12th, 2006, 11:26 AM   #4
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Thanks for the response. Very helpful points. All in all it seem like a good option. I was not to sure at first but I watched the video on their web site and considered it over dinner last night, I am feeling alright about this being a good choice.

What other options would you get with it. I am considering:

1. Varizoom for the HVX200
2. Shock mount Microphone adaptor

How about the tripod adaptor plate or other accessories that might be handy.
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Old May 12th, 2006, 11:47 AM   #5
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Does the Fig Rig give you the true "floating" look that the Steadicam and Glidecams do?
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Old May 12th, 2006, 12:17 PM   #6
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No - it really seams to be more suited for hand held but not true flying like the Merlin.

As far as any hand held stabilizer that "flies" I think weight may be an issue both with balance and the length of time you plan to use it. So for my needs it looks like the fig-rig will be more suited to my style of hand held in the spaces I need to shoot in.
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Old May 12th, 2006, 12:37 PM   #7
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Not completely ... but that's not why I got it ...

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Saraceno
Does the Fig Rig give you the true "floating" look that the Steadicam and Glidecams do?
I needed something that would split the difference between a shoulder support and a "floaty cam." I think you can achieve the floaty look but it takes some more work and adjustment. With having both hands attached to the rig you now have to deal with the gate of your walk on a grander scale. I've reverted to my marching band days and been practicing my heal-toe walk which minimizes that effect ... I've gotten better at it but it has taken some time.

However, for me, more often I use/need more of the hand-held, shaky cam look with the possibilities of more levels and angles. I needed something at a lower price point that gave me more options than the Merlin (which was my other big consideration.) I feel that the Fig Rig gives me multiple options with the least amount of concessions.

Below is a link to the second shoot I ever did with the Fig Rig. I'm being transparent here ... you can see some of the possibilities with the Rig (and probably some of the challenges!) But for one shot, it was done on the Fig Rig.

This was shot for our Youth Group (I work for a church in the Denver area) using the Fig Rig and the JVC-HD10U (pre-HVX.) Hope it helps a little:

http://homepage.mac.com/hanzelund/iMovieTheater30.html
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Old May 12th, 2006, 10:12 PM   #8
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i have a figrig and works very well! I love it and although (as previously stated) it doesnt "fly" like other gimbal based stblzrs it is very controlable and with some steady toe/heel action can be pretty stable. Foucus s critical and you need a way to adjust while manuvering, a remote attached to the figrig is perfect for this.
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Old May 13th, 2006, 11:25 AM   #9
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I plan to use the fig-rig with the new VariZoom controller that controls focus, iris, zoom, and record/pause. I also plan to have the microphone shock mount.

Any other things that might add useful features?
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Old May 13th, 2006, 03:58 PM   #10
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Sounds good!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Lescallette
Any other things that might add useful features?
Sounds like a great setup for what you are doing. Good luck! Make sure to report back how it works for you ... I'm intrigued!
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Old May 13th, 2006, 08:30 PM   #11
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I've used both the Merlin and Fig Rig with my HVX. The Fig I use on every shoot. With a Varizoom it's just so much easier to handle than the camera alone. My one wish is that I could trigger the focus assist with the Varizoom. Then I'd never have to move my hands. The Varizoom is so quick that I find it quicker to open the iris and zoom in to focus than to reach for the assist button. Instead of mounting the whole rig on a tripod (which I think might be unstable), I clamp a compact monopod onto the bottom of the fig. This balances very well and you can slow pan almost as smoothly as a tripod.

The Merlin is for a different purpose. For true flying -- stairs, corridors etc -- it's going to be smoother than the fig. I used a Steadicam JR a long time ago and I find an HVX on a Merlin more difficult to handle smoothly.
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