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Old November 29th, 2007, 10:54 AM   #1
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Pilot, anyone received theirs, thoughts?

I ask because I'm down to a decision between the GT system from Varizoom and the Pilot. I like the design of the Pilot better, but since I'm in DV nowhere land and can't touchy feely, I need to rely on what I can read.

My cams are the Z1u and the V1u. Thanks in advance for info you can provide.
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Old November 29th, 2007, 01:48 PM   #2
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Mine's due soon, possibly by the end of next week. I'll put up some impressions after I've had a chance to work with it a bit.

The manual has also just been posted on Tiffen's site if you haven't seen it yet. It's at:

http://www.steadicam.com/pilot.html

It shows a lot more about some of the many adjustable settings in particular, which I found very impressive.

Mikko Wilson is probaly one of the most knowledgeable people on it here. If he doesn't pick up on this thread soon you might try PMing him about it.
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Old November 29th, 2007, 02:06 PM   #3
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Thanks Ted. I'll throw at DV tape at him or something.
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Old November 29th, 2007, 02:55 PM   #4
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The Pilot is the best system in its weight class, hands down. The arm is untouchable by any other manufacturer, and the adjustability and ability to increase inertia by adding the little Merlin weights to the ends of the sled is great.

I'm very enthusiastic about the Pilot, more so than the Flyer which was my previous favorite in this group of stabilizers. It flies like a perfectly scaled version of my big rig.
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Old November 29th, 2007, 03:51 PM   #5
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*picks up the DV tape from the floor as he rubs the small bump on his head* ... You could have at least used MiniDV! :)


I share Charles's sentiments on the Pilot .. and no, the Varizoom's don't even come close, not by a long shot!

I'll leave the general reviews of the production units to those who own them (and I wish I had the spare money for one to be honest) ... though I'll of course be happy to answer any questions about it.

- Mikko
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Old November 29th, 2007, 04:13 PM   #6
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I see in the manual that one can mount weights fore and aft on the top stage, which will greatly help with those flying little bitty cameras. Those were missing on the prototype but I'm pleased to see that they have been incorporated into the production model--don't think I can take credit for that but it was something I brought to their attention.
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Old November 29th, 2007, 06:58 PM   #7
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Charles,
Yup, threaded holes fore and after on the stage for weights. Very slick.

On the flip side, you can't screw then into the bottom of the post like the prototype. But the ends of the base alone is brilliant! Add the stage spots and it's VERY flexible.


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Old November 30th, 2007, 06:46 AM   #8
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Ive had my Pilot for a little bit now. hehe, even customer service had been surprised a had one when I called them about a bad AB mount.
When I got mine, I didnt yet have my Anton Bauer batteries, so i ran it without power to the lcd screen, just weighted. wroked great even in that setup. three of the the people involved in the shoot were all "artists", meaning film school students, who turned up their nose at the sight of it. A strange elitist attitude i did not expect or understand. within 3 hours of shooting, two or them (actors in this piece) were asking to try on the rig. By the time they viewed the final vut they were talking about the use of the pilot in the shoot with pride, as if it was their own idea. I loved it.
Had to send it in for repair once i got my batteries, as i had to power and the mount heated up within 2 min of the battery being on. They fixed it and had it sent back FAST. VERY helpful customer service. I have seen someone else post about getting instructional vhs with the unit, I only got a 3 page printout that was tough to get through. Once I had run the balancing procedures a few times though, it all made sense. Downside; Instructions contained no info on how to power the camera via sled or what to do with the power cord with nothing on the other end.
Now Ive got the battery on, and the Pilots lcd screen is a SUPER help for focus on the JVC HD-110u, aside from the fact that I can now run the rig on the proper side of my body-much easier on the back. before i had to try to see the flip lcd screen on the side of the camera, creating an akward position.
My JVC with AB mount is hitting about 8 1/4 pound, and though I need to re-balance it, I currently run all my weights off the front end f the sled. I still need to add the powertap-4pinXLR plate that will run cam power off the sled, but I think that will make the whole set right at 10 lbs. the telescoping post allows even the high weight cameras to have some distance from the gimbal. handy.
My first concern during the shoot was the director's wish to do stationary shots with the steadi. Even standing still without motion, breathing can transfer into the camera creating a constant shifting. During filming and on review i found it very obvious and distracting, but after cutting it together the static stuff worked as well as the dynamic movements. As inexperienced with the rig as I am, it felt more like watching scenes from Battlestar Galactica (intended, stylistic motion during Steadi shots) than the low end junk I though I had. Even walking backwards over an uneven dirt trail that curved, ladden with doggie land mines (I think I hit them all while recording) I managed usable material. This of course was before i saw someone walking forward with one aimed backwards past their shoulder.... DOH!
Well, there's my personal experience info. Judgement; 4000 VERY WELL SPENT. this is going to offer a quality and artistry to my work that most others in town have no interest in achieving.

Charles, i dont believe they have holes on the top stage. i will double check when I get back to the office, but I think only the bottom has the weight holes. to my memory the top stage is taken up with the dovetail plate, minute adjustment knobs, and a video in on front and power out on back. Again, i MAY be mistaken

Last edited by Damon Mentzer; November 30th, 2007 at 06:50 AM. Reason: late at night, forgot a line
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Old November 30th, 2007, 12:57 PM   #9
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Damon,
nice review from real world action.

Perhaps as you get more familiar and do more real shooting you can continue your observations.

It's on my 2008 list of things to get (along with a 'few' other things) :-O
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Old November 30th, 2007, 02:30 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Damon Mentzer View Post
I still need to add the powertap-4pinXLR plate that will run cam power off the sled, but I think that will make the whole set right at 10 lbs. the telescoping post allows even the high weight cameras to have some distance from the gimbal. handy.
Powertap to 4-pin XLR will be a cable, weight just a few ounces I'm sure. However you will need a stepdown from 12 to 7.2v to power your camera, I don't believe Tiffen is offering one but companies like Dolgin and Anton Bauer themselves do.

Quote:
My first concern during the shoot was the director's wish to do stationary shots with the steadi. Even standing still without motion, breathing can transfer into the camera creating a constant shifting. During filming and on review i found it very obvious and distracting, but after cutting it together the static stuff worked as well as the dynamic movements.
Possible, but more likely the movement you are seeing is coming through your hands than breathing/chest moving/vest/arm.


Quote:
Even walking backwards over an uneven dirt trail that curved, ladden with doggie land mines (I think I hit them all while recording) I managed usable material. This of course was before i saw someone walking forward with one aimed backwards past their shoulder.... DOH!
That's the Don Juan position, helpful for certain things but usually used as a last resort for most operators due to the fact that you can't easily see the actors and the monitor at the same time.

Quote:
Charles, i dont believe they have holes on the top stage.
According to the manual linked in the first post, they do...definitely check to make sure you don't have a pre-release top stage!
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Old November 30th, 2007, 08:01 PM   #11
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You were right Charles. Mine is definately a different piece than is in the tech specs. The two page brochure however, has the plate that i have, without "end caps" to it, just sides. I think i will give them a call. Glad this was discussed, otherwise I'd have never known.
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Old December 1st, 2007, 03:32 AM   #12
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I'd like to ask anyone with experience in both the Pilot and Merlin(+armand vest) systems, which one would you recommend.

I could see the pilot being slightly more capable as a pure steadicam with it's LCD. But the versitility of being able to take the merlin off and fly hand-held is also appealing.
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Old December 1st, 2007, 08:57 AM   #13
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It occurs to me that Indicam's stabilizer is also known as the Pilot, a name that the company's owner, Terry Thompson, who is a very nice man (I spoke to him at great length about it when I was trying to decide what to buy), evidently chose for his design before Steadicam did. I find myself wishing that with respect to Terry, the name of this thread had been specified as referring to the Steadicam Pilot. There are probably other threads that this applies to as well.

Not to be blaming anyone, and it's probably too late to change it, but I feel it's unfortunate that Terry's product is being more or less marginalized by the simple reference to the Steadicam product as "The Pilot".

I hate to see that happen to such a nice guy who's made such a fine product at a very fair price.

I chose to buy a Steadicam Pilot, but had my budget restraints been just a little further south I'd be an owner of an Indicam Pilot right now, and I bet I'd be a very happy one.
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Old December 1st, 2007, 09:12 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Adrinn Chellton View Post
I'd like to ask anyone with experience in both the Pilot and Merlin(+armand vest) systems, which one would you recommend.

I could see the pilot being slightly more capable as a pure steadicam with it's LCD. But the versitility of being able to take the merlin off and fly hand-held is also appealing.
I haven't got my Steadicam Pilot yet, but I think the main differences are, as you mentioned, the ability of the Merlin to be detached and used hand-held, the Pilot's LCD, and perhaps most significantly, its payload capacity (10 lbs for the Pilot vs 7 for the Merlin with its upgraded gimbal). The Merlin also enjoys a hefty price advantage ($2600 vs $3800 at B&H).

The vest and arm are the same in both cases, so those are really the only differences.

Mikko Wilson (geez...I'm starting to feel like his agent, I refer/defer to him so often...) has used both, and can give you more of the hands-on story.
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Old December 3rd, 2007, 10:56 AM   #15
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Well, thanks. I'm trying to choose between the Varizoom and the Pilot. I may have a chance to try on some before the years out, but based on all I am reading, I'm leaning towards the Pilot. I hope production kicks up though, hate to wait a couple of months.
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