Hands-free Segway as Steadicam "vehicle". at DVinfo.net

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Old October 16th, 2005, 10:16 PM   #1
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Hands-free Segway as Steadicam "vehicle".

At NAB this year, a group of operators were treated to a fascinating sight: a European modification of the Segway Transporter that eliminated the handlebars, using footpedals to steer the device and a brace between the knees that the operator uses to maintain balance. Garrett Brown has been championing the use of this in conjunction with Steadicam for a while. At a later event I got to try the thing out (without rig on), it was a lot of fun.

It was originally invented for performance use, for dancers wearing long hoop skirts that hid the device entirely, giving the illusion that the dancers could glide around magically.

See the goods here, be sure to watch the videos:

www.ulik.com/handsfree
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Old October 16th, 2005, 10:58 PM   #2
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Wow Charles - that's some toy... seriously though, I wonder what the footage looked like. Also, forgive my ignorance, but does it not take away some of the flexibility of steadicam by putting it on wheels. Couldn't the the same shows be achieved by simply putting the SC op on a trollet or even a tripod on a dolly!! I guess operator fatigue may be less??
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Old October 16th, 2005, 10:59 PM   #3
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Seems like it wouldn't be appropriate for all situations, as Graham notes; still, it's an awfully neat weapon to add to the shooter's arsenal! So--how do we buy one?
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Old October 16th, 2005, 11:59 PM   #4
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The best way to think of it is in situations like the one pictured, where the operator has to cover a lot of ground for a long shoot; the terrain allows for it, and the degree of subtlety of movement one can achieve on foot with a rig is not necessarily needed. One can get up to speeds that on foot would be too tiring to sustain for long, and can shoot with more accuracy/smoothness as well. Plus, much in the same way that operating Steadicam frees one from having to communicate to a dolly grip, this evolves the Steadicam-mounted-on-dolly concept into a one-man band where you can regulate your own speed and timing. Also, the turning radius cannot be equaled with any known dolly. As far as comparing to a standard dolly setup (without Steadicam), only a brilliantly smooth floor will yield satisfactory results and the speed and manueverability would be entirely different.

This is just another tool in the arsenal. I can see a use for this when having to do long walk-and-talks with Steadicam, where one's legs really start to talk it up after a few takes. Not a cheap one though. I believe since these are being hand-modified the cost shoots up from $5K for the standard Segway to around $20K for the hands-free at the current time. I'm sure that will change.
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Old October 17th, 2005, 01:40 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Graham Risdon
Also, forgive my ignorance, but does it not take away some of the flexibility of steadicam by putting it on wheels.
Yeah.. Stairs are a bitch... :-P


I've also had the chance to give the HandsFree a wirl [without a rig] at IBC. It's a little wierd when you get on at first, but after you get comfteble it's a great way to move! So many uses in general, esp for Steadicam :-)

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Old October 17th, 2005, 02:52 AM   #6
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Do you reckon that gal could have chosen any tighter britches? Ooo, that looks painful!

Anyway, that is a cool idea. I guess it could be called the Steadiway or Segcam. You should be able to pull off some great low mode doggie or kitty OTS / POV shots without wearing yourself out. Roundy rounds ought to be similarly easier too.

Charles, do you know if these things can climb 30-45 degree angles? You could lay a ramp with a rubber mat on a set of monster stairs and just glide right up or down and effortlessly get a cool tracking shot.
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Old October 17th, 2005, 06:02 AM   #7
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I just saw a news story recently that these things can be rented in Washington DC for sightseeing groups. They are in hot demand there for that application. I'd be leery of falling over with a full rig strapped on, but I guess that's what insurance is for.

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Old October 17th, 2005, 08:11 AM   #8
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Also, I'm guessing that while its motors are too quiet to overpower a marching band, it'll ruin most location dialogue in the same way pesky refrigerators and passing airplanes do.

"The Segway--revolutionizing the way people are hit by cars."
--Tina Fey, Weekend Update
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Old October 18th, 2005, 06:53 AM   #9
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Charles, if you had made it to Cinegear, you would have seen it sooner :D

Most of the demonstators at Cinegear were trying it. It was still pretty easy for someone who has not used one to jump on and do it. They even ran it through the grass on the lot. They also had the IDX transmitters on it, so there was a wireless video feed into the booth. It was really cool. I see it being used in some chase scene around a city block or blocks in some spy/cop thriller for its big screen debut :D

The only operator adjustment that really came in was on the stop. You have to lean back to stop and then adjust for the stop too. It is a new operator move that takes a little more than a day to smooth out (the rig tends to pitch up IIRC).
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Old October 18th, 2005, 07:43 AM   #10
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With all of the accidents that occur while drivers are using a cell phone, is it really wise to operate a segway- hands free- and use a camera? When poor Charles is lying in traction because he missed a turn, you will see the need to put an end to these terrible devices!

And where is the back up horn? <shudder>
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Old October 18th, 2005, 07:53 AM   #11
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all in all.....

it's a pretty neat gaget with a lot of possibilities especially in large areas like a game of some sort requiring steady, fast movement. This thing might be very handy for shooting skateboarders.
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Old October 18th, 2005, 09:17 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Keith Forman
With all of the accidents that occur while drivers are using a cell phone, is it really wise to operate a segway- hands free- and use a camera?
Funny you mention this, one of the things that got a big laugh out of everyone at the Steadicam stand at IBC; was when someone poited at Patrick [the operator in those videos at the top of the thread].. who was on the handsfree at the time, flying Steadicam with one hand.. AND TALKING ON HIS CELLPHONE in his other hand!

Unfortunatly I didn't geta picture, but it was very funny!

He got a lot of jokes about the fact that it's illigal to talk on your cellphone while operating a vehicle in the Netherlands.

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Old October 18th, 2005, 11:27 AM   #13
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"He got a lot of jokes about the fact that it's illigal to talk on your cellphone while operating a vehicle in the Netherlands."

But cameras are ok??? hehehe
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Old October 18th, 2005, 11:37 AM   #14
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Random thoughts.

Anyone else scared by the photos on that website? Zombies .. on ... wheels!

Anyway, I wonder how much the 'performance' of the operator took away from the marching band. Maybe it is just the nerd in me but I would be going, LOOK GUY ON WHEELS WITH CAMERA!
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Old October 19th, 2005, 12:04 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by George Ellis
Charles, if you had made it to Cinegear, you would have seen it sooner :D
Actually, NAB predated Cinegear by two months, as did the demo at Tiffen in Glendale where I rode it...by the time I saw it at Cinegear it was like "yawn--next!"


Quote:
Originally Posted by Keith Forman
When poor Charles is lying in traction because he missed a turn, you will see the need to put an end to these terrible devices!
mmm...too close to home on that one Keith, seeing as I was laid up all summer with a broken ankle, having NOTHING to do with Steadicam, Segways or other fancy devices starting with "s"!
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