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Old October 1st, 2007, 12:31 PM   #16
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The real advantage of a micrometer-based stage is that it is easier to fine-tune while you are wearing the rig. It is often not stressed that balancing a Steadicam is not something that happens once a day, but actually should be an ongoing process where it is tuned for each shot, sometimes between takes. A shot that has a lot of tilt in it (following someone up stairs) will be easier if the rig is made less bottom-heavy by adjusting the gimbal (or telescoping the post if the gimbal does not move), which will require tweaking up top. This is good if the shot also has level elements in it outside of the tilts. However, if the shot requires continual tilting, it may be easier just to dial the fore-aft balance backwards so the rig requires no effort to hold in a tilted position. An experienced operator will make minute adjustments to fore and aft for every shot so that the headroom is trimmed just so, again minimizing the amount of control necessary to make perfect frames. Much of these adjustments will be done with the rig on the body, thus the more that can be done with one hand, the better. A micrometer stage is obviously much more useful in this instance than a friction stage; one that functions without the need of a locking mechanism is even better. Tiffen has integrated this concept into all of their top stages and are one of the few manufacturers to do so, which is part of why their rigs are significantly more expensive.

The idea of an add-on stage is a really good idea for the budget-conscious though--buying an Indicam and adding the option of fingertip control as desired is good! The major drawback I see is raising the camera relative to the gimbal, which will requiring raising the gimbal on the post--with a heavy camera this may also mean extending the center post or adding counterweight, whichever is preferable. For a light camera this may actually be a boon. The other issue might be vibration, with these assemblies stacked and a relatively small common footprint between them (you are now leveraging your camera of the intersection of these two assemblies which is perhaps a 2x2 square).
Charles Papert
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Old October 1st, 2007, 10:51 PM   #17
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Excellent Charles!

We use the Manfrotto dovetail plate which marries to our tripod as well. When we need to do a shot that requires a special tilt it is relatively easy to move the camera fore or aft just a bit.

One of the tips on our "Stabilizer Basics" training DVD is that for a tilt change downward we move the eyepiece up to it's vertical position or somewhere in between. This moves some of the aft weight forward and therefor tilts the camera down. It is more evident when the drop time is longer. This only works for cameras with eyepieces that can move of course.

Thanks for jumping in Charles. Always a pleasure. Say Hi to A for me.

He's only mostly sDEADy.

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Old October 2nd, 2007, 12:46 AM   #18
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That's a cool tip, Terry.
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