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Old October 20th, 2007, 11:06 AM   #16
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We just pre-ordered the Pilot from B&H photo with the Anton battery system combo kit that includes two battery's and a charger. We can't wait to get the Pilot and learn how to use it during the winter..

Walter
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Old November 5th, 2007, 08:55 PM   #17
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We received the Pilot today. Pretty cool but, we have no idea how to use it.. They did send two vcr tapes which we thought was a little weird for not being dvd's. We can't wait to start flying with the Pilot. It comes in a pretty cool case..

Walter
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Old November 6th, 2007, 12:05 AM   #18
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congrats - I haven't handled one yet, but the rig seems to be a great step for lower-cost stabilizers... part of Garrett and Jerry's vision that all their stabilizers should be "fully featured." I'm sure you'll learn a lot and make some great stuff with it.

Off the bat I could offer a couple tips that may or may not be listed on the video (but WILL be mentioned at a workshop...which is the BEST investment you could possibly make as money relates to stabilizers).

1) Find and MARK the balance points of your camera (CG or center of gravity), fore-aft and side-side. do this BEFORE attaching the dovetail plate to the camera, but AFTER putting all accessories on the camera.

2) When you mount the camera, try to mount the dovetail as centered to your CG marks as possible. Then when you put the camera on the rig, start by placing your CG fore-aft mark about 3/4" behind the imaginary centerline of the post. It sounds counter-intuitive, but its generally a good place to start when trying to get the rig into dynamic balance.

3) When balancing, start with the most "off". If the rig is SUPER bottom heavy, start by moving the gimbal up and down till it feels like a drop time you like. A lot of people say there's a magic number, but that's basically a lie - there is no "answer" to drop time. I know guys that like really fast drops, I don't. Also, when balancing, don't just tweek, let go and wait. You can speed up the process by keeping your hand basically on the grip, let go gently as you make adjustments, and feel which direction it's going. Eventually this becomes so second nature, you hardly even look at it (and it takes hardly any time at all). Again, it's something you feel out, and don't assume you're stuck if it's a bit off. While you're wearing the rig, you can keep adjusting it. Have a whole shot looking up? Trim for it. Don't be afraid to balance your rig off-plumb - if it helps you get the shot better and with less effort, it's "correct."

4) Make the vest feel right! This is perhaps the single most important thing when it comes to ergonomics. If you're uncomfortable, your posture will suffer, and the whole experience will be miserable. I used to think 12lbs of camera weight was a lot (and I actually do have good posture in the rig). Then I got a better vest, and suddenly 30lbs of camera weight felt just fine (more tiring on my feet and muscles though). The amount of camera you can carry has nothing to do with machismo - one of my instructors weighed slightly over 100lbs, and she was probably about 5'53". Nothing like having her toss around the rig that made the rest of us pant and whine.

Take the vest apart and make it fit you, however many adjustments it takes. It's not a straight-jacket, but it should be snug. The more the vest moves, the less accurate you can be. And between shots, EASE the vest. No need to have it squeezing you all the time.

5) You're never too good to "walk the line." Make lines on your floor, walls, and +'s on the walls at various levels and locations. Practice walking straight down the line while pointing at a + on the wall directly ahead. Then make up drills for yourself like walking the line while pointing at + on the wall next to you. Practice stepping up on things while aiming at a line on the wall next to you. Practice following people as they sit down and stand up. Practice!

6) Watch your left hand! When learning the technicalities of Steadicam, most mistakes relate to the left hand (when operating normal). This hand should be perfectly relaxed, using only minimal fingertip force at most times to control the sled. Don't use this hand to position the sled in space. This hand does pans, tilts, and the pinky helps keep the whole thing from tilting on starts and stops. If possible, when you're recording on your practice sessions, have someone videotape your left hand. Watch the footage back from your practice, and identify moments that weren't perfect. Chances are, if you look at the tape of your left hand, you'll get a pretty good idea of why things happened the way they did.

7) With respect to Peter Abraham (instructor of Flyer workshops), practice your Don Juan! (walking forwards while aiming backwards). Its a skill that many people either never learn or never practice. In many instances, it can save your butt, and can also be a lot safer. If you can get comfortable getting in, shooting, and getting out of "DJ," when the time comes that you need to use it, you won't think twice and the shot will likely be a lot easier.

8) Be safe! Don't forget that Steadicam can potentially be very dangerous. It physically moves your own center of gravity, so even the most sure-footed individual can be toppled with minimal effort. Always always always walk your shot WITHOUT the rig before getting into it. This could save your butt! Look for absolutely ANYTHING that you could trip over and anything that could be a potential hazard. Also look for things that could get into your shot unintentionally. It's a LOT easier to deal with these things before you get into the vest, instead of waiting around in the gear. Also - if you're not shooting, dock the rig! No need to put more hours of load on your body than necessary. It just makes you tired, and it's really not impressive looking when you're too tired to do a shot because you sat around in the rig too long.

9) Enjoy it, and never stop enjoying it. There were rumors long ago about the money to be made in Steadicam. The truth is, if you don't love it, it's not worth it. It's a never-ending investment, so don't expect quick returns. Also don't be unrealistic with your expectations. While the physical ability to put on the equipment, balance, and shoot is something to be learned in a day or two, the mastery of it is a lifelong process. Enjoy the learning process, enjoy the technicalities of it, and when you stop thinking about the mechanics of doing things "right," start enjoying the creative palette that Steadicam opens up.

there's a forum dedicated to steadicam...the aptly named

http://www.steadicamforum.com

check it out, there's a library of information on there, some of which I've mentioned here. It's a lively discussion at times, but if you read for information, there's certainly lot to be learned. The best resource would certainly be a workshop though. No matter how expensive it looks, good habits from the get-go can save you lots of money, pain, and disappointment down the road. I have no affiliation with any of the workshops, I just know from experience the wealth of knowledge to be gained from them. I've also seen first-hand what someone's skills look like after years of professional use without any training.........

Welcome to the fam, good luck and congrats on your purchase.
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Old November 6th, 2007, 12:35 AM   #19
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What Jaron said. Nice post brother.

I don't have much to add, only to stress one of his points--the skill doesn't come fast, but it does come in direct proportion to the time you put into it. Steadicam is a disappointment to those who don't have the patience or time to learn it right. And it's one of those skills that is always a challenge. 22 years in, I can still find a challenge in each and every shot (if I choose to...!)
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Old November 6th, 2007, 05:09 AM   #20
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Good points Jaron. It also takes a few minutes of operating to get the feel of different cameras. Due to their differing mass distribution, video cameras "feel" different to film cameras.

Charles, you must have done your Maine workshop a couple of years before me.
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Old November 6th, 2007, 09:17 AM   #21
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Spring '85.

True point Brian, although one that I would consider more of a subtlety for a new operator. Certainly with this weight class of stabilizer, differences in the weight of the camera is more apparent than the distribution of mass. A 4lb camera will "feel" noticeably different than an 8 lb camera in terms of handling, stability, inertia etc. while I think it might be harder to pinpoint the difference between an XLH1 and an Aaton Minima that have the same weight.

And of course video cameras are emerging from their tall skinny Betacam phase and resembling the mass of film cameras at last--the Genesis or F23 with onboard flash mag should theoretically resemble the mass profile of a similar weight film camera pretty neatly (don't think anyone's going to put one of those on a Pilot or Flyer though!)
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Old November 6th, 2007, 01:48 PM   #22
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And when someone does, I want pictures!
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Old November 6th, 2007, 01:55 PM   #23
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I did it in 1987.

Yes, there wouldn't not much difference on the smaller cameras. The only one I could possibly see that might feel slightly different would be the JVC HD 200/250 series with a battery on the back and good quality HD lens or their Cine adapter on the front.
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Old November 6th, 2007, 11:08 PM   #24
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Not quite a Genesis on a Flyer--but theoretically, the same general camera to sled ratio...

(I'll make no further comments about this picture just yet)
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Old November 6th, 2007, 11:29 PM   #25
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2 words - low mode!
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Old November 6th, 2007, 11:30 PM   #26
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and I'd imagine that the side-side balance is easy to maintain with those mags!
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Old November 7th, 2007, 04:24 AM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaron Berman View Post
and I'd imagine that the side-side balance is easy to maintain with those mags!
Hmmm... makes me glad that IMAX job I was called about a few years ago didn't happen.

LOL Need to trim during the shot as well!!
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Old November 7th, 2007, 06:38 AM   #28
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when did chimera get into the matte box bidness? hehe.
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Old November 7th, 2007, 10:10 AM   #29
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Thank you Jaron for your very helpful suggestions. I'm located in CT and would love to go to a workshop. Does anyone know of one in New England coming up soon?

Walter
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Old November 7th, 2007, 01:23 PM   #30
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http://steadicamworkshop.com/
These are 2-day flyer workshops, but if you bring the pilot, I'm sure they'll teach you too!
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