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Old June 4th, 2002, 02:02 PM   #31
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Josh:

Check out: http://www.howstuffworks.com/steadicam.htm

This is a pretty cool rundown on the technology behind Steadicam--once you get through it, you'll be hip to things like gimbals and spring arms!

Many have built their own homemade stabilizers, there are quite a few sites on the net. I myself put something together back in the dark ages (early 80's). It was a great learning experience but it didn't work all that well. These days there are some pretty affordable versions available commercially, and if you don't have access to a machine shop and/or engineering background, it may not be worth the effort to try to make one. Such a device requires a tricky combination of lightweight construction, minimized friction and enough strengh to handle substantial torque--not all that easy!
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Old June 4th, 2002, 02:06 PM   #32
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Charles,
I have a loosely related question that I'm sure, with your occupation and background, you'll be able to answer. When viewing "The Making of ..." features on cable or DVD I often see camerapeople carrying what looks like "small" Panavision cameras on SteadiCam mounts. Approximately how much to those cameras weigh, fully loaded, and how much film do they typically have in the magazine?

Thanks.
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Old June 4th, 2002, 02:22 PM   #33
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Another question or two on that subject. When you see 35's on steadicams, do they usually have remote focus pullers working with them? Also do they normally have wireless video taps so the DP/director can view shot remotely?
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Old June 4th, 2002, 03:18 PM   #34
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Hi Ken:

The Panavision cameras that we fly on Steadicam have actually about the same size body as the studio versions, but they are stripped down as much as possible to save weight, plus we use smaller mags, matteboxes etc. The standard is the Panaflex Lightweight, and there is also the XL which can be converted into studio mode as needed. They weigh around 30 lbs with 400 ft mag and lens (the lenses can weigh anywhere between 4 lbs up to 15 lbs for the anamorphics, ugh!). This combined with the approximately 40 lbs of Steadicam makes for a 70 lb system. The 400 ft mag lasts for 4 minutes, which is why most of the really long Steadicam shots one sees in movies cap out around that time, although a few intrepids have muscled through with the 1000 mags which last 10 minutes but add another 12 lbs or so to the package!

Scooterbob:

Yes, we always use remote focus on 35mm shows, and most 16mm and video jobs also. You can't really reach up and yank the lens without making a bump in the shot, so it's the only way. The units will also allow for zoom and iris control, and will start and stop the camera as well. The best of them are so responsive, it's just like having your hand on the knob itself--but at a premium (I use the Preston system, which costs around $20K, but is pretty much bulletproof).

And yes, we pretty much rely on our video transmitters to allow others to see our work. Cables are a pain for Steadicam, both interfering with the operating itself and limiting mobility, so there are various forms of video transmitters that we favor. I use one that transmits on the TV bands so that various people around set can use little pocket TV's to keep track of what is going on, but there are also small microwave units available.

Right now there are some real growing pains with HD as far as Steadicam is concerned--there aren't any HD transmitters, and transmitting a downconverted NTSC signal back to the monitors is proving unpopular after they are used to seeing a beautiful HD image. Some of the cameras require three separate BNC cables, some only one...but it still sucks!
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Old June 4th, 2002, 08:28 PM   #35
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Well, I don't rememember the guy's screenname (Brin Krushner?) but he wrote on here saying that he built his own shoulder device, and emailed me some pics. Looks pretty good, and I don't see why (that doesn't mean anything) without a few modifications it couldn't become a ghetto stedicam. I have a monitor, and I figure add some weights in the appropriate places. . .no? Am I a moron?
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Old June 5th, 2002, 06:34 PM   #36
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Josh:

Depends what you mean by "ghetto Steadicam". At the most basic level, mounting the camera on a pole with weights on the bottom will give you a device that will simulate the Steadicam look, reducing the effects of footsteps in the photography. This is the concept behind the Steaditracker and similar devices. Attaching a monitor would only be relevant if your camera didn't have a flip-out LCD (such as an XL1--but note that making such a device with the XL1 could be very tiring to carry around).

When you start talking about getting into a gimbal-based system, like the Steadicam JR, smaller Glidecams and the like, the results are substantially more fluid and if carefully operated, can approach those of the big-ass rigs. But they are much more demanding to build at home, and the weight vs fatigue issues are still relevant.

Systems that use an arm and vest to transfer the weight will provide even more isolation and allow you to shoot comfortably for hours. But of course the tradeoff is substantially more engineering to put together.

Here's the thing: the results one gets with a "ghetto Steadicam" may well be less appealing visually than good handheld. Remember that the viewer doesn't care how you got it, only what ends up on screen--and if that means questionable composition and seasick-inducing moves that roll all over the place, you're probably better off sticking the camera on your shoulder. There are probably boatloads of stabilizers that have been built or bought that currently sit gathering dust in people's garages after a few failed adventures. But go for it! Let us know how it works out.

Here's a link you may find useful:

http://homebuiltstabilizers.just.nu/
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Old June 6th, 2002, 02:21 AM   #37
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Well. . .that just about took the wind out of my sails. I don't know if I'll be going for anything. I was told glidecam had made an arm brace and a vest-type dealie for their product. . .anyone know about this?
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Old June 6th, 2002, 07:07 AM   #38
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There are at least three Glidecam models that work with a vest and stabilizer arm. One of them is set up for DV camcorders like the XL1, I want to say it's the V8. Check it out at http://www.glidecam.com/v8.html

One of our community members, Casey Visco, is a Glidecam employee and maybe he can go into a little better detail. Plus you can always do the old search thing again, as we've had a few discussions here about Glidecam in the past. Hope this helps,
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Old June 6th, 2002, 01:07 PM   #39
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Ouch dude. . .don't say V8. . .I know that thing is like three thousand dollars.
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Old June 6th, 2002, 07:59 PM   #40
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Hi Josh,

The V-8 is what i use and I think it is ideal for the XL1. The full blown version with LCD and everything is usually on special for $2800.00 or so. You can get started for around $2300. I see them on ebay and they go for around $1500 to $1700 for the ones with a screen and all. You just have to be patient. I compared the V-8 to several other models and felt it no only offered the most bang for the buck, but was the best overall performer in its price range.

If you have any specific questions about it I would be happy to give my users perspective.

Jeff
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Old June 7th, 2002, 03:55 AM   #41
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Glidecam also has a classifieds page on it's site for used gear at:

http://www.glidecam-ops.net/classifieds.html

or

http://pub6.bravenet.com/classified/show.asp?usernum=501901332&cpv=1

Between that page and Ebay (maybe even Yahoo! Auctions) you should be able to find a V-8 setup for a reesonable price.

BTW- has anyone tried the Glidecam 4000 Pro with the body harness thing attached?
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Old June 14th, 2002, 08:59 AM   #42
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Jeff -- Glad to hear you've had success with the v8 rig! After a reasonable amount of dedicated practice with mine I was pulling off some *very* nice shots. Indeed the v8 is most often used with an XL1, but i've also flown GL1s and Panasonic AG456's (old s-vhs cam).

Regarding pricing, if you purchase all the necessary items a la carte you could pay around 4k for a full v8 rig (monitor, extra batteries, etc)...but we often do run specials on v8 packages, usually around the trade shows. These change often, so keep an eye on the Glidecam website.

Chris - At present there actually four models that work with a vest/arm system the V-8, V-16, V-20, and the Gold Series. For Mini DV you wouldnt need anything more than a V-8 or V-16.

c
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Old May 20th, 2003, 08:10 AM   #43
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article update

With apologies for dragging up a thread that's celebrated its first birthday:
Quote:
I was interested in the SP7 (I think that's what it's called) and then found out that the guy in Texas doesn't do 'em anymore, and that they're now sold by Varizoom
Quote:
VariZoom sells them for $500 which is a couple hundred bucks *lower* than what the original maker was selling them for. VariZoom *dropped* the price.
The article still gives Harold Greene's contact details. Perhaps it should be updated to state that the SP7/Mediapro is available from Varizoom?
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