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Old April 24th, 2005, 02:01 AM   #1
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Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 35

the other day I'm watching some awards show and I see a cameraman scurrying backwards trying to get out of frame. He had a camera suspended from this funny looking contraption. After some investigation I found the canadian distributor for this camera support. They don't have one right now.

I'm hoping someone with practical experience with this system could outline some of its pros and cons.

sony zu1/G5/FCP
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Old April 24th, 2005, 08:50 PM   #2
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Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Northridge Ca
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I did a test with a tortlerig and found that it worked pretty much as advertised. Problem is, it doesn't do enough to really justify the $ output. It basically relieves the shoulder strain of operating a camera by hanging the camera from a cable that runs to a support that is attached to a harness. The cable is adjustable, so once you balance the rig, you can pull down on the camera and do a reasonable "boom" move. If you need to. Of course, you can do a reasonable boom down by bending your knees also. A typical operating stance would have the camera lightly resting on your shoulder to provide a stable base. The only fatigue factor would now be how long you can stand on your feet, supporting the weight of the camera and the rig.

The Tortlerig is definitely not a Steadicam, and is only of minor value in doing moving shots.

Frankly, at award shows there is plenty of opportunity to give your shoulder a brief respite and work out the kinks, and I think anyone using the Tortlerig would pretty much be considered a wuss. But then again, if his shots were outstanding, he might be getting the last laff.

In all my years doing this, I have only seen one operator use one of these devices, and he said it was to eliminate shoulder strain.

BTW, 16x9inc., located in Burbank, is the U.S. distributor for the Tortlerig, and they were offering a free "test drive" of the rig to interested parties. You get to use the rig with your camera. There is also a smaller version for use with small camcorders.

Wayne Orr, SOC
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Old April 24th, 2005, 09:06 PM   #3
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Location: Los Angeles, CA
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I just finished a feature for which we made extensive use of this rig, the Klassen Suspender which draws upon the excellent carbon fiber harness Walter developed for back-mounted Steadicam operation. I was able to wear a 45 lb Panaflex (with 1000 ft mag!) for up to 45 minutes continuously, through multiple takes and reloads.

I discovered that while this and similar systems are great for weight distribution, and pretty good for steadying a handheld shot, they are not great for moving shots. Not only will they not smooth out footsteps like a Steadicam, the high center of gravity means that it is very difficult to achieve results as good as your best handheld as the camera swings with each step.

We ended up doing all moving shots on the dolly or Steadicam, and only resorting to the "lederhosen" (as our DP dubbed the rig, based on the leather straps across the shoulders) fo certain setups.
Charles Papert
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