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Old February 1st, 2006, 11:47 AM   #1
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Manfrotto Fig Rig review

Hi guys, just want to ask if anyone has used or seen the Manfrotto Fig Rig. Any reviews, comments or feedback about it would be highly appreciated. Thanks a lot and warmest regards!

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Jong
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Old February 1st, 2006, 12:56 PM   #2
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I had the loan of one from the kind UK Manfrotto rep the other week to take out on a shoot with me.
I must say that I was quite impressed with the Rig - under certain conditions. I know that it's not the answer to a Steadycam, even though I tried it out on some shots as if it were! It was something I just had to try for myself, just in case...
On a "run'n gun" situation that I had one evening, it was however just too slow for me to get at focus and things, so I reverted to the good old shoulder instead - again, something that I should have realised anyway.
Besides just holding it with both hands like a steering wheel, when rested on your knee or on the ground, it can produce stable enough shots which are useful when a tripod is out of the question.
It can be very good when you have control of the situation I think. When you can rehearse a move and not have to worry about focus. I realise that one could always connect another LANC focus unit, but it's never very precise, since there's no real "feel" like you have with a hand on the focus-ring. It's probably at its best when set to wide angle and the focus is set for mid-distance.
So, my conclusion was that the Rig would be great for some occasions and would therefore be a asset to anyone's kit.

Robin.
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Old February 1st, 2006, 04:25 PM   #3
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I second Robin's assesment. The FigRig came in for a lot of flak when it first appeared - many thought it a joke. Far from it. I think Mike Figgis is a genius to have realised a way of applying this oh-so-simple principle in his invention - that if you spread your contact points away from the centre of gravity, you drastically reduce the transmission of hand shake.

It isn't a Steadicam replacement, but for run-and-gun and when you want to get energy and life into those camera moves, the FigRig gives your camera a new lease of life and freedom for your creativity. You want rock-steady shots? Spread your feet a little, tuck the Rig tight into your body and it's goodbye tripod! - well, not quite, but it's very close. Way better than straight handheld. You'll find your waist is a pretty good fluid head!

But don't take my word - this is one of those things where it's difficult to see how some thing works so well when it's so simple. I didn't think much to it until I got it in my hand - and then it was a small epiphany. It's not for everybody, but do try one.
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Old February 2nd, 2006, 11:45 AM   #4
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Thanks Michael, Thanks Robin. Your inputs are very helpful. Im tempted to buy the Fig Rig (with LANC control, shock mount, etc) but Im having second thoughts considering that the added weight of a Sony PD170 or HC1 would eventually tire my arms holding the Rig. The demo Rig unit I tried had a small consumer Sony camera only mounted yet I could already feel the weight of the whole set-up. Im imagining now how would it feel when a Sony PD170 or even an HC1 is mounted on the Rig and Ive got only 2 arms to support/hold it for a long time. It really pays to have your shoulder support your camera for a longer shots. Still, you are both correct that the Rig gives you more creative shots. Thanks again for your sincere responses and opinions.

Sincerely,


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Old February 2nd, 2006, 12:58 PM   #5
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Manfrotto came in today (Ravensbourne College) to show us the fig rig and try to get us to demo it for them for Vdeoforum. Nice sales rep, BUT.

It's the most useless bit of crap I’ve ever used. Totally unnecessary, cumbersome, impractical, I could go on...

For a broadcast application, it's completley useless. You have to keep both hands on it, which means you cant make any manual adjustments to the camera audio levels, iris and so on.
If you quickly need to put the thing down, you have to take the camera off, or else you face resting it on the lens.

I tried a shot with the rig, and repeated it without the rig, and there was virtually no difference in the result.

I was told that you could rest it on a tripod if you were doing an interview...why not just take the camera out of the fooking thing, and put it on the tripod!!!!

I can't express how totally crap the thing is. Do NOT buy one.

We had a PD170 on it too.

-Richard Lewis.
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Old February 3rd, 2006, 04:21 AM   #6
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Well, each to his own, Richard - which is why I say TRY before you buy - saying 'do not buy' is arrogant and unhelpful. FigRig ain't the 'perfect' camera support but it fulfils a need. Mike Figgis is a filmaker with massive experience and clearly he saw that need, particularly for the way he makes films. Just because it doesn't fulfil you particular needs, Richard, doesn't mean the needs aren't there. I used mine all day yesterday with a Sony Z1 - I needed to be quick, no setups, no balancing, travelling light with a balance between POV 'reality' and solid statics. I couldn't have achieved the shots I got or even think about the way I'm working on this project without the FigRig. Period.

To answer Jong's concern about weight - in practise, in my case, not a concern. Even with a Z1 and. at one point a PAG light mounted. The mitigating factors are (as opposed to a handheld steadicam device): 1) you don't have to find somewhere to put it down between shots - just hold anywhere in one hand and let it hang down to one side - nothing falls off and it's still ready in an instant. 2) Because of the design, you can hold the rig in a variety of ways. This means you can alter the muscle groups you are using and keep going for longer. 3) You don't need to hold at arm's length. If you're arms are flexed and reletively relaxed it's easy to support with two hands. Moreover, in some positions, ie. with the rig tucked into your body for statics, I find it much less strain than holding the camera alone.
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Old February 3rd, 2006, 05:17 AM   #7
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Micheal, are you defending your position or attackign Rick's review?

Somone called for reviews, everyone gets to have their say.


I've tried the Rig-Rig breifly. And I can see it's use as a handy way to tack a lot of gear onto a smalelr camera, and gives you a coudpl of options on how to hold it. However it did not really do that much more for actualy stability than I can do handheld normally. And no, as everyeone has said, not even to be considered in the same class as a Steadicam.
Usefull piece of gear for some situations? sure. Magical stabilizer? no way. Would I buy one? Nope.

- Mikko
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Old February 3rd, 2006, 05:42 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikko Wilson
Micheal, are you defending your position or attackign Rick's review?
Neither, I hope. Richard's OPINION is as valid as mine or the next person's. However, I feel the borderline between review and rant get crossed when folk use such language as "crap" and exort people not to buy - whatever the subject.

Let me state clearly that I respect your opinion and experience of the FigRig, Richard - it's clearly not for you but I hope equally that you respect the notion that for those who have bought this and use it effectively and, by extension, for many who may be yet to TRY the device, this kit may be useful and worthwhile.

Last edited by Michael Bott; February 3rd, 2006 at 08:29 AM.
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Old February 3rd, 2006, 11:26 AM   #9
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Whatever is right for you, I guess.

It was my opinion, and only reflected how disappointed I was with the system, but I guess Iím looking at it from more a Broadcast perspective.

Sorry if you found my review arrogant, it wasn't intended to be, it was just passionately against it ;)

I personally really don't think Manfrotto have a product in the FigRig, but if it works for you, then enjoy.

-Rick.
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Old February 3rd, 2006, 11:45 AM   #10
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OK - I got it.

How dull life would be without passion!
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Old February 3rd, 2006, 11:51 AM   #11
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Well I had posted a while back about a review of the Fig Rig. Here's my question, is this a good run and gun mechanism. When I watched the demo on Bogon of Mr. Fig using his rig (pun intended) he was using it mainly in a run and gun walking in a circle method. I was really thinking of getting one instead of a shoulder mount or steady cam because for run and gun i.e. reception lines, going to to the limo, etc it might give a good shot perspective. I've never used one, so my interest in the fig rig is for mostly the above reasons. Another thing i have learned is, the mount on my 501 is the same as the fig rig so transitioning between them is seamless.

I wonder if I could talk Bogen into letting me demo it.
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Old February 3rd, 2006, 12:58 PM   #12
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=Here's my question, is this a good run and gun mechanism.
If I can chip in again - I think run and gun is what it's for. I think you're on the right track with your proposed use - as long as you DON'T expect to be able to obtain smoooooooooooth steadicam-like footage. The advantage over a shoulder mount ( I have used the DVRigPro) is that you are not limited to merely by the flexibility of your knees - if you see what I mean. You've still got the variety of shot available with plain hand-held - and some. AND (here I have to disagree wth Richard on a point of fact) it's much steadier than hand-held. If you're in doubt on that, imagine this - if you extended the principle of the FigRig to a rediculous degree, say made it 4 feet across so you could still get both hands on it - imagine how little hand shake would be transferred to the camera. The degree of shake transfered to the centre reduces proportionally to the distance the hands are away from it. The FigRig is this principle in a manageable size device.

One more thing - when was the last time you jammed your camera up against a rough brick wall to get a steady shot? You think twice, don't you? But there's no fear with a protective frame round it that you can also use as a fulcrum for tilts and pans.

OK I'm sorry - I'm being as passionate for as Richard is against. It's just that the thing hepled me get some great shots yesterday that I would not ohterwise have got and I'm very grateful.
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Old February 3rd, 2006, 01:10 PM   #13
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I've never jammed the camera against a wall, but I've certainly braced myself against the wall (the meat being a bit more forgiving than the plastic) to stabilize a handheld shot. I would think it would be a bit unwieldy to have to swing that large of a device through an arc to pan back and forth in that situation.

As far as having to hold the rig between setups (same thing goes for handheld Steadicams), what happens when you need to go to the bathroom or munch on a sandwich? You need to be able to put the rig down somewhere. I feel certain that Mr. Figgis hands his off to an assistant between takes while conferring with his actors.

Personally, I picked one up for a few minutes at NAB last year and got everything out of that experience that I needed to know, and I'm glad for those who have purchased it and like it. Mostly I find it excellent marketing; the application of Mike Figgis' name and endorsement has undoubtedly sold many more units than if it was simply the Bog-Rig or the Manfrott-O or something like that. It's given me many ideas for my own solution to the handheld stabilizer issue which is on the drawing boards as we speak.
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Old February 3rd, 2006, 01:39 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Charles Papert
As far as having to hold the rig between setups (same thing goes for handheld Steadicams), what happens when you need to go to the bathroom or munch on a sandwich?
I was addressing the need for hand-held stabilizer users to completely relieve arm strain after a shot - much more frequent than taking a break. It seems a small point, but in use it's one that I find significant.

Agreed - when it IS time to put the thing down you do need to think carefully, but where there's a will there's a way ... I don't think the safety of the camera is compromised if you're careful.
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Old February 3rd, 2006, 01:44 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Bott
when was the last time you jammed your camera up against a rough brick wall

umm, at that point this this whole discussion would be moot because I'd pass out. :}
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