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Sony XDCAM EX Pro Handhelds
Sony PXW-Z280, Z190, X180 etc. (going back to EX3 & EX1) recording to SxS flash memory.

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Old December 29th, 2008, 09:44 AM   #16
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Los Angeles, CA
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I'm taking your last two comments into consideration.

Becoming a Steadicam operator for hire is almost always a pricey venture. Unless you are able to maintain a satisfactory business with employers who happen to only use 1/3" cameras, you will ultimately need to work yourself into a rig that can manage cameras up to 45lbs+. A fully loaded 2/3" camera is generally less than this but you never know what accessories or specialized situation might be called for (teleprompter? snorkel lens? 3D setup?). A loaded RED can easily weigh this. Every operator I know that starts with a lower capacity rig at some point realizes they have to bite the bullet and move up, and it's rare that they immediately make that money back (it's more a function of getting a few calls that they have to turn down which gets their head turned around). It is extremely unnerving to be getting paid as a Steadicam operator and having to start sweating whether you are getting close to the top of your load capacity when a DP asks if they can add an onboard light or an unexpected lens etc.--you don't need to add this to the already major list of pressures you face.

In other words, if you want to be an operator for hire, be prepared to spend a lot of money. How much? The Actioncam at $27K is quite inexpensive for the weight capacity it supports. Generally that is the realm of $38-45K rigs. There are even cheaper rigs out there that claim to be able to manage a full-load camera but they are frankly not highly performing and with limited resale value. If you do a lot of homework you can get into a used full-size rig for about the same as a new Actioncam. I won't go much more into detail about this aspect of rig ownership.

However it doesn't end there; you will need remote lens controls that are solid and reliable (no RC motor homemade systems). This can cost anywhere from $10K to 40K. Then there are video transmitter/receivers, a mountain of cables (most of us have probably $10K worth!) and other bits and pieces that start adding up to where you are in the $75 to 100K range or more. The replacement value on my package is somewhere around $140K, but this is about as fully loaded as I would ever need outside of some really obscure accessories that I can easily rent for the one time in 8 or 10 years that they are called for.

This is not intended to scare you off from wanting to become an operator for hire, but to point out that this particular profession is an initially expensive one. Once your gear is paid for, it's a nice income but it takes a lot of commitment.

My suggestion for now is to get yourself into a used Flyer so you can get started with your current setup and see how you feel about it. If you love every minute of it, can't wait to get into the vest and work out, take a workshop and study the masters, find yourself talking non-stop about Steadicam to your friends and family etc., you'll know it's for you and you can start thinking about the next step with your gear and putting yourself out there for hire. But I believe it is useful to get a handle on just how much you may be looking at dropping down the road before you get going.
Charles Papert
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Old December 29th, 2008, 02:12 PM   #17
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Wow, great post.

Thanks so much - I'll take your advice and start small and work my way up - or not!
Sony EX3, Vegas 9.0 64bit, Windows 7(64), Core i7, 12GB, RAID1 & 0, HotSwap SATA, 30" LCD(2560x1600)-GTX285 & 24" LCD(1360x768)-7800GT
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Old December 29th, 2008, 02:14 PM   #18
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Location: Vancouver, Canada
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Charles I have looked at all of the various courses being offered over the next 6 months or so. Some are offered by the Steadicam Operators Assn & others by Tiffen are more brief. From what I can gather the one in Pennsylvania appears to be the most thorough.

Is this the one you would recommend? Also would you recommend that one spend serious time prior to the course with a Steadicam or wait till the course.
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Old December 30th, 2008, 07:00 AM   #19
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Location: near Munich, Bavaria
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Hello :)

maybe I am too late to join this thread, but I miss the Sachtler systems.
To me the best for the money at the moment. And starts from very small but professionel to high end.

Take a look at: Artemis - Sachtler GmbH

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Old December 30th, 2008, 07:07 AM   #20
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Oh BTW ... that's what I found by accident just a few seconds ago.
Interesting how steadicamoperators seem to work in different countries :)

steadicam steadycam basson steady
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