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Old May 14th, 2005, 05:32 PM   #1
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spider brace

www.spiderbrace.com

i ran a search for this item which yielded no results, which was a bit surprising to me.

as a self-admitted gear junkie, my xl1 now weighs over 12 lbs fully loaded, which has been taking it's toll on my arms on prolonged shoots. i'm trying to hunt down a decent shoulder mount, and you can't beat the price of the spider brace.

does anyone have any experience with this unit? what are the advantages or disadvantages of the spider brace lite over the regular spider brace?

your assistance is appreciated.
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Old May 15th, 2005, 10:00 AM   #2
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This looks like a really nice product that's very reasonably priced!... what am I saying? It's CHEAP!

When I clicked your link it was refreshing to see a video product that isn't through the roof just because it's a video product... how well is it made or how does it work? I don't know... but it seems like a logical design and as best I can ascertain... it probably works really well.

I've had a style for a while now... where I pick up my tripod and put the base of two legs into my thighs... one per thigh... and then I fold the front leg down... next I turn the pan arm up and lock it in... that's for my right hand... with my left hand I can change focus and run the cam. Holding the camera in this position makes some really interesting shots possible. You can pivot on your legs and you can push and pull the cam in and out... and you can still pan and tilt. Have you ever seen "Arrested Development"?... If not you're missing the best show on TV... but anyway, I wanted to mimic that style of shooting and this works really well.

Sorry I got off topic, but the gist is that this spiderbrace looks like a product that would assist in a very similar way. For a paltry $59.95 I'll bet that it would bring a lot of new options to your usual shooting style.

I wish he had a model for a DVX... now I gotta' figure out how to make one.
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Old May 16th, 2005, 02:08 AM   #3
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hey there... thanks for your thoughts. that's some pretty inventive shooting! it sounds like it can get a little uncomfortable carrying a tripod kit on your shoulder... in any case, kudos to you.

i just bought the spider brace for my xl1, and will report back on how it feels.

regarding your dvx, the site claims that their spider brace 2 will work on the dvx, as well as the gl1, and others. not that i want to curb your determination and creativity in building one from scratch, but just know that there seems to be an option for your camera.
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Old May 16th, 2005, 08:16 AM   #4
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Hey Henry... when I'm shooting with the pod braced into my thighs there's no walking... it's a standing still thing only.

That figrig has got me inspired also... between the figrig, spiderbrace, and my own uses of a tripod... I'd like to come up with something that has the best of three worlds.

Still... I may try a spiderbrace 'cause the price is so cheap!
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Old May 16th, 2005, 09:01 AM   #5
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interesting, matt. that is pretty much exactly my tripod technique...the tripod as cheapie brace/stabilizer. i walk around with mine, though. instead of using a full-size tripod, i bought a very sturdy table top tripod for about $35, so that the legs can be made very short, bringing the camera closer to my chest, and if i tuck the two back legs into a belt, i can walk around with it very comfortably for long periods of time, and the unit is very stable but also fluid and mobile. so instead of thigh-bracing, with a smaller, lighter tripod, i can brace into the waistband of my pants or belt. (it also helps to wear a fanny pack--geez, i hate that word!--or backpack or something with a denser nylon strap for greater stability).

one of the big advantages is that, even though the tripod is shorter than a typical tripod, i can set the whole thing on the ground for low-angle tripod shots or elevate it on a nearby rock, if outdoors, or a table, if indoors, or move all around with it and get either tripod-mounted shots or handheld without the jitter factor, without the camera ever leaving the tripod. it's great for shooting outdoors, especially. the other day, i was shooting on skis, at a resort, and got very interesting point-of-view shots by loading the tripod into my belt and skiing down the hill. a bit scary to be skiing with my camera loaded to my chest but very cool footage, without an expensive helmet mount and using my GL2 instead of a small single-chipper. the little tripod brace really smoothed out the shots and produced a handheld effect without the jitters. i didn't have to ski very fast in order to appear to be skiing very fast because the camera was so intimate with the action.

i have thought that the bracing effect of the desktop tripod is much like what the manufacturers' are trying to achieve with the fig rig, without the additional cost and without the arm fatigue of floating the camera rig in front of your body. plus i can toss my desktop tripod into my backpack without adding much weight. it can also be compared to a steady stick, except that the steady stick does not break down as efficiently for transporting, which is pretty meaningful if you're doing idiot things like dragging your camera equipment into the backcountry or up a ski lift.

the main problem that i've encountered so far, is that i have not yet found a tabletop tripod capable of managing the increased weight and more-awkward weight distribution of my XL2, so this has been mainly a technique i use for the smaller camera. the spider brace looks like it could be a cool solution, except for my now-persistent gripe about being left-eye dominant in an XL2 world. might be awkward. i guess i am less inclined to ski down a hill or take silly risks, anyway, with that unwieldy, expensive beast strapped to my chest. GL2 rules, when it comes to mobility!

you're the only other person i've heard of using this technique. i'd be interested in hearing more specifics of the kinds of shots you've been able to achieve.
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Old May 16th, 2005, 09:24 AM   #6
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Meryem... I came up with it one day when I suddenly had to get a different perspective for a shot... it was a panic move to get above people... after that I noticed that it had a kind of "you are there" feel similar to the shooting style of Arrested Development... (as I mentioned earlier). I really like that shooting style. You wouldn't want to do it all the time, but it does something for a scene... maybe it's just because I'm a video guy, but it really gives me the feeling that I AM there. It's almost like a tiny bit of slop on a steadycam rig... I'm not describing it really well and that's why I keep going back to the AD referrence. As I practice more and more I find that I can get really stable if I want to... but then I find the shot looks better if I don't do that... so I just let the little imperfections happen... sometimes I'll even do some burst zooming. If you watch AD you'll really get what I'm talking about. AD is funny and interesting, but with this style you can take a fairly boring conversation and make it feel dynamic and intimate.
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Old May 27th, 2005, 03:55 PM   #7
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i got my spider brace earlier this week, and got my first opportunity to use it yesterday.

here are some pictures of the unit with my usual xl-1 handheld setup on it.

http://www.downwiththefuture.com/spiderbrace/side1.jpg
http://www.downwiththefuture.com/spiderbrace/side2.jpg
http://www.downwiththefuture.com/spiderbrace/front.jpg

the brace is made out of solid plastic, and the padded grips are foam. because it's primarily made of plastic, the unit is EXTREMELY light.

after a couple of hours of running around with this rig on my shoulder, i was still very comfortable, a far cry from carrying my setup around without the brace. at just under $75.00 shipped to your door, the spider brace is an absolute steal, and i can't imagine shooting handheld footage again without it.

that said, i have one major issue with it. my setup, with an MA100 xlr adapter, dual battery, and the way i mount my wireless receiver, is slightly heavier on the right than the left. i can't put this setup on the floor without it falling over to the right. even without all the audio extras, a strong breeze would knock the setup down. giving the left and right handles a slightly wider berth, even just an inch, would drastically help. right now, i have to lean my rig on a wall when i put it down.

in conclusion, despite it's one pretty major flaw, the spider brace is an awesome value, and shouldn't be passed up, especially if you're on a tight budget.
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Old May 27th, 2005, 04:14 PM   #8
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Henry, I use Bogen tripod and was wondering if it's possible to use a bogen quick release on the spider brace.

Thanks,
Ray
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Old May 27th, 2005, 05:33 PM   #9
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hi ray,

i couldn't imagine why not. i'm not sure which quick release plate you're using.

the flat mounting area is approximately 1.5"x3", and the mounting screw is standard 1/4".

hope that helps.
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Old May 27th, 2005, 06:03 PM   #10
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i just thought of something i omitted from my review of the unit. i tried to attach my manfrotto 521 zoom controller onto the right bar, which would have given me focus and zoom control right from the brace's right arm. unfortunately, the foam handles are a little too long for this, and the zoom rocker is blocked by the handle. the controller clamp will not fit on the curvature of the arm. i was going to suggest to the manufacturer to shorten the length of the handles, but now that i think about it, i can do this myself. when i'm feeling adventurous, i'll pull the foam handle off, and cut off about 2 inches which would allow the zoom controller to be effective.

Last edited by Henry Cho; May 27th, 2005 at 08:28 PM.
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Old September 11th, 2005, 05:43 AM   #11
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Zoom controllers on the Spider Brace

Based on the information in this thread, I purchased a Spider Brace (for XL1s). It was nice to discover the Varizoom Stealth mount worked without modification to the brace but I am in the market to replace that controller with another manufacturer as Varizoom's small controllers don't let you set a fixed speed. I was settling on the Bogen but now I'm interested in more information about the problem you had getting the Bogen 521 to work and if the ZOE works.

The Bogen spec says it will clamp onto a round surface 1.38" in diameter. The foam on my brace is 1 3/8 (1.375) inches in diameter and compresses so I'd think the 521 would work. I mounted the Stealth after the first curve in the handle (right hand). How did you mount the 521 that you felt you needed to cut off 2" of foam?
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Old September 27th, 2005, 03:08 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ray Saavedra
Henry, I use Bogen tripod and was wondering if it's possible to use a bogen quick release on the spider brace.

Thanks,
Ray
Which tripod? I use a quick release plate on it. I've
used it more sense I got the quick release plate.
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Old September 27th, 2005, 03:51 AM   #13
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I see that LANC zoom/focus controllers were mentioned already. I could never use a product like this without some kind of remote zoom and focus control. Looks neat, though.
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Old September 27th, 2005, 04:42 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Utley
I see that LANC zoom/focus controllers were mentioned already. I could never use a product like this without some kind of remote zoom and focus control. Looks neat, though.
Actually, it helps to cut back the considerable strain
on your outstretched arms (when using a Lanc
controller) if you can bend your arms in more and
use the cam's zoom/focus -- unless you've got
a really light-weight cam.
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Old September 28th, 2005, 10:13 PM   #15
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ernest,

i'm sorry about my late reply to your question -- i had no idea this thread was still active. i can get the 521 on the handlebar with a little effort, since the bar is cushioned. the problem is the rocker's pivot is exposed and gets pushed against the cushioning as well, making it difficult to have any decent control of the zoom. i would imagine zoom controllers with push button controls, or any controller that doesn't have the zoom rocker directly pushing against the handlebar, would be better off.
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