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Old June 7th, 2003, 09:58 AM   #1
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The GlideCam Purchase

I'm going to order a V16 on monday, i hope i made the right decision. I opted it over a V8 so I could be potentially useful to other productions around my area with heavier cameras (and yes I am aware of the heavier spring for the V8 for 13lbs loads). It'll far outlast the XL1 anyway. I could use it for a wide variety of projects, I already have two in the works. The only downside is the immediate cost.

I see it being much more versatile than, say, a dolly system. Especially given any time restraints a project may have.

Watching The Kwoon inspired me, the V16 was used with an XL1 a lot in the series. (www.thekwoon.com)

I haven't ordered it yet. If anyone can give me a strong case against getting one, please say so.
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Old June 7th, 2003, 10:28 AM   #2
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Lucky guy! I've I still lived in Ontario, I'd be over at your place the day you got to, uh, "demo" it. ;)



PS, Kwoon rocks.
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Old June 7th, 2003, 11:59 AM   #3
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Andrew:

I think it's a smart idea to buy a system that can accomodate heavier cameras than one is currently using to "grow into". The only thing to think about is that you will need to add weight to the camera platform when shooting with a stock XL1 to bring it up to the minimum weight requirement on the V16 (10 lbs). If you have a full-on setup with Anton Baeur battery, wireless mike, B&W viewfinder etc. it won't require too much additional weight

The result is that you will have a much better handling rig, as increased weight=increased inertia and is actually easier to fly than a lighter setup. But of course it will require more stamina to perform long shots.

Personally, I have a bias towards the Tiffen/Steadicam gear from a construction standpoint, but as you know they cost a lot more.
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Old June 7th, 2003, 02:30 PM   #4
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Dylan - I'd be happy to accomodate if you're ever in this side of the country again :)

Charles - The Anton set up is on my To-Buy list, it'll be an excellent addition to my arsenal, but the expense is something I can do without at the moment - I'm in dire need of a good wireless setup to compliment the freedom given by the rig. I have a nasty habit of buying the best (oh my poor wallet), so it looks like a Lectrosonic solution is on the horizon.

I'll be able to handle the extra weight. Weight lifting is another regular activity of mine, and I've been building up, particularily my lower back strength over the past year.

Yes the tiffen gear is costly. The DSD back systems are built not far from here (a 2 hour drive) in toronto, but I was quoted around $9000 CDN - and that was just for the vest!

Thank you both for your input :)
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Old June 7th, 2003, 05:44 PM   #5
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<<I was quoted around $9000 CDN - and that was just for the vest! >>

Tell me about it, Andrew, I'm just breaking my DSD in now!

Good to hear you've been working your lower back, you'll be fine flying an XL1.

You'll probably want to buy a video transmitter at some point to avoid having to work with video cables to a monitor, also. There are some inexpensive options out there for that (and of course, some very expensive!)

In the meantime, you can just have a local machinist make you a simple steel plate that will mount between the Glidecam platform and the camera. I would target a 15 lb weight for the camera assembly, that would be a nice balance between inertia and load on the body.
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Old June 8th, 2003, 02:51 PM   #6
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Andrew...

I'd suggest getting a Bogen quick release to make it easy to mount and dismount the XL1. Otherwise you'll have to deal with totally removing the top stage to get at the camera mounting screw.

Also, the XL1's lens tens to vibrate when taking a hard step with the Glidecam. The result is a vibration in the video image.

To prevent this, I made a Plexiglas platform that extends from the MA-100 mic adapter all the way to the front of the XL1's lens. It stopped the vibration problem completely.

You'll need a power supply for the monitor, and the Glidecam batteries are very expensive, something like $100 or more. Get 12v GelCels instead. They're cheaper at about $20 each, provide more continuous amperage, and they'll add additional needed ballast at the bottom of the sled.

I tried using an LCD monitor on the Glidecam but the viewing angles required make it difficult to see, and shooting outdoors made it nearly impossible to see anything at all. I switched to an inexpensive 7" Radio Shack b/w TV and got better results. In hindsight I should have fitted it with a 5" model that might be brighter. The problem with the 7" is that hard steps can make it wobble, and that motion is transmitted into the camera and seen on the video. I'll have to make a mount that's stiffer than the one supplied by Glidecam.

As for the wireless video transmitter, I tried two different transmittters that use the UHF channel 14 frequency, but without much luck. Both generated a 60 hz noise (whenever it was fed a video signal) that the XL1 picked up. You might want to try other transmitters that use a higher frequency or are just better built. I suspect the noise was due to inadequate shielding that allowed the unit to spew unwanted emissions to which the XL1 was sensitive. It could be the XL1 is just sensitive to this type of noise. One of the transmitters, the Shot Logger, works fine with industrial or broadcast cameras. I've seen something similar used when "This Old House" is shot -- the director observed the cameraman's work off an ordinary LCD TV.

By the way, the sled with camera, Gel Cel battery and the Radio Shack TV weighs in at about 30 pounds. It puts the Glidecam arm's spring just about the middle of its adjustment range.

Wear a T-shirt. And bring lots of water. You'll end up sweating rivers by the end of the day. I always pack a second shirt to wear after the shoot.

Good luck!
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Old June 8th, 2003, 07:24 PM   #7
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Dean, thanks for your lengthly reply :)

The V16 right now comes with the bogen 3273 quick release plate, is this sufficient? Perhaps it did not come with your unit at time of purchase...

Thanks for the plexiglass tip. I'll see about building a home made board to help support it. I wonder if a rods system would work just as well? I'm considering a beefier sunshade.

Are the gelcells easy to come by, I've never paid attention to them in stores. I wish Antons weren't so expensive!

My first priority for wireless is the audio. A wireless video feed isn't something I need for some time, one step at a time :)
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Old June 9th, 2003, 02:53 AM   #8
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Hi Andrew...

Not sure which Bogen release plate I got, but it's pretty broad and flat, allowing for minimal vertical height increase and maximum surface contact.

The Gel Cels should be avaialble from electronic specialty stores, or perhaps a local supplier for burglar alarm systems or any other shop that sells equipment requiring battery backup power.

A rod system would probably work well, too (I missed out on deal on a Cavision setup). Would look a whole lot better as well! Also, the Cavision would provide a good lens hood as well as a 4x4 filter holder system.

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Old June 12th, 2003, 11:36 AM   #9
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So I signed my financial life away...

Well, it's somewhere on a truck heading in my general direction...

I ordered the V16 with low mode. I'll keep the LCD, it'll be handy even when not mounted - and I do believe it's a NebTek (either modified or the original panasonic model). I'll pick up a cheap small CRT at Radio Shack or something as well.

Next up is the wireless audio, but that's another thread....
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Old June 12th, 2003, 12:08 PM   #10
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Ooo I envy your purchase. I don't envy your credit card but that looks like a sweet thing to buy.
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Old July 4th, 2003, 10:54 AM   #11
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It arrived today. *insert big freak'n grin*

Complete kit, plus lowmode, vistapole, car mount... The battery is charging as I type, soon I will have an external LCD. woot!

I think I'll put the vest on, and run around the office today and freak everyone out. "why yes ladies... I also have SWAT training"
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Old July 5th, 2003, 06:59 AM   #12
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Andrew...

Good choice on the V16. While it'll work well with your existing equipment it should work equally well should there be an opportunity to work with broadcast equipment.

You'll need to get a good shade for the monitor. I was using the Panasonic LCD and found it really hard to use in bright sunlight without some sort of shade.

Let us know how it goes.

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Old July 5th, 2003, 06:11 PM   #13
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I recently modified a V20 for a local production who switched from a DSR-500WS to the JVC 24 P camera (forgot the model number). I took a cast iron weight from a free-weight set and mounted the top plate to it along with a Bogen quick release on the other side.

They used it in their feature with no problems. I think they bought another top plate to use when they do use a big camera.

I was sort of disappointed in the design of the top plate on this unit. Given the quality of the build for the rest of the unit, I would have expected something a bit more substantial than folded 12 gauge steel. The DP did complain about how hard it was to use the fine adjustment for camera postion.

Is this common for this expensive a unit?
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Old July 5th, 2003, 07:09 PM   #14
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I don't know how the production Steadicam units work, but when I had a Steadicam JR the fine balance adjustments were knobs.

With the Glidecam you need tools (allen wrenches). Inconvenient when you need to make a quick adjustment on the fly.

I was thinking it would be easy to get a pair of allen wrenches, cut them shorter, modify them with knobs on the end, and epoxy them in place.

Either that or make a simple holster to hold the tools on the vest so they're right at hand.

I was also surprised when I found out how difficult it is to mount a camera on the Glidecam without a Bogen quick release plate. I can't imagine using it without one.

As far as function is concerned, it certainly does the job nicely enough. Operator skill level notwithstanding.... :-)

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Old July 5th, 2003, 07:35 PM   #15
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One of the guiding principles of the Tiffen Steadicam systems is "no-tools" operation. Some of the lower end rigs require a hex wrench to adjust the gimbal, but all allow for quick and easy x-y adjustments to the stage. It is a generally adopted habit to fine-tune the stage before each and every shot to the particular demands of that shot (and sometimes the gimbal position), usually while wearing the rig, so having a tools-free fore and aft should be mandatory. The rig I use has a coarse adjust that requires a wrench (which I store on the vest) which I will adjust for major weight changes such as accessories being added to the camera, but the fine adjust is done with knurled knobs. I often tweak the final balance just as the slate is coming in, seconds before the shot commences.
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