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Old February 22nd, 2008, 01:41 PM   #1
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Steadycams....Would you buy this???

I was looking on the internet and found this site. Anyone have any experience with them? Any opinions?

What would a "real" stadycam set me back?

TIA!

Here's the link: http://littlegreatideas.com/steadycam/

Last edited by Kelsey Emuss; February 22nd, 2008 at 01:51 PM. Reason: forgot a link
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Old February 22nd, 2008, 02:43 PM   #2
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I built one of these once long ago. It definitely removes vibrations that would be there if just shooting handheld. It's also just a good experiment in the principles of stabilization. Unfortunately, I wouldn't consider it to be of any practical use in a real production environment. But, for under $50 of materials you can get at the hardware store, it's hard to go wrong.

A "real" Steadicam can start at around $800 and go up to the hundreds of thousands.
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Old February 22nd, 2008, 02:56 PM   #3
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I built one of these once long ago. It definitely removes vibrations that would be there if just shooting handheld. It's also just a good experiment in the principles of stabilization. Unfortunately, I wouldn't consider it to be of any practical use in a real production environment. But, for under $50 of materials you can get at the hardware store, it's hard to go wrong.

A "real" Steadicam can start at around $800 and go up to the hundreds of thousands.
I made one of these, and I do want to warn you - it takes forever to drill through those metal end-caps, and you need to get that sucker 100% straight, otherwise all your stabilization footage is going to look like it's shot at a dutch angle.

It absolutely helps but not so much that I considered my adventures "worth it."
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Old February 22nd, 2008, 03:22 PM   #4
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I built one a few years ago, and actually found a way around drilling the end cap by using some sort of plumbing reducer. I threaded it onto the top post, and was able to bolt into the camera directly through it. I subsequently changed it by mounting an old tripod head to it. This enabled me to "trim" it slightly.

At the end of the day, it's an amusing little project, and it can have a nice effect on your shots, but it doesn't compare to a Steadicam AT ALL in my opinion.

You can often find older Steadicam JRs on that evil auction website that is frowned upon here in the forum. I've seen them go for under $100 to over $400. I got two JRs that way.

A stabilizer with a good gimbal makes a huge difference. Just be advised that any kind of stabilizer requires a lot of practice. Just as buying a table saw doesn't make you a furniture builder, neither does buying a stabilizer make your shots for you. It's only a tool that you get out of it what you put into it.

Happy flying!
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Old February 22nd, 2008, 03:38 PM   #5
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One of my favorite parts of Johnny's site is where he frowns on gimbals, claiming they are "not critical to the existence of a steadycam" (sic).
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Old February 22nd, 2008, 05:02 PM   #6
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What would I do without this board!! Thanks for the quick and informative responses!!

Another question: I was looking on line and found a Varizoom Flowpod Steaycam for a reasonable price. Is this a good make/model?

I'm so "virginal" in this area that I "don't know what I don't know" so any input is appreciated!!

Thanks again!
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Old February 23rd, 2008, 08:09 PM   #7
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A good steady cam can be as much as $10,000 (Believe it or not). Those DIY "Steady Cams" work, but really it's all in the user. If you have no clue how to keep a camera steady even a real steady cam won't help you.

Realistically securing a weight to the bottom of a camera will work to keep the camera steady.
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Old February 23rd, 2008, 08:51 PM   #8
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A good steady cam can be as much as $10,000 (Believe it or not)
Would you believe $60,000? that's for sled, vest and arm of top-of-the-line models (such as the one I haul around)--the complete "essential" package with cables, brackets, wireless lens controls and the like is closer to $120,000.
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Old February 23rd, 2008, 09:00 PM   #9
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Would you believe $60,000? that's for sled, vest and arm of top-of-the-line models (such as the one I haul around)--the complete "essential" package with cables, brackets, wireless lens controls and the like is closer to $120,000.
Wow.

Maybe I should re-mortgage my home and buy one of those.

But I guess in a Hollywood movie whatever makes the shot look good behind a great steadycam operator is worth the dough.
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Old February 23rd, 2008, 09:04 PM   #10
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www.indicam.com

$60,000/ $120.000??? Let's get real, the GL2 only weights about 5 lbs, and the cheaper Steadycam systems are just fine for it. If you want to get serious about a Steadycam system, check out the IndiCam www.indicam.com This unit cost under $2,000.00 and is directed to the independent film guys like us. Truly, if I had an extra 2 grand, I would probably buy a second camera, and just keep using my $60.00 dolly and a $15.00 iron pipe rig. But that's just me :)

Interestingly enough, I have a cousin that is a machinist and we are presently working on a steadycam system. Hopefully with only a few hundred dollars in parts we can produce a respectable system. I'll keep everyone posted on our progress.
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Old February 23rd, 2008, 10:01 PM   #11
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$60,000/ $120.000??? Let's get real...
Actually that is quite real. Charles makes his living as a professional Steadicam operator; it's been his career, and if you watch any television or if you've been to a movie theater in the past decade then chances are high that you've seen his work.

Charles was responding to correct an earlier post in this thread that said "a good steady cam can be as much as $10,000." He should know since that's what he does for a living as a card-carrying (S.O.C.) cameraman. He was *not* saying that you need to spend this much on a system just to hold a GL2. Let's try reading more closely for comprehension next time -- thanks in advance,
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Old February 23rd, 2008, 10:54 PM   #12
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Actually Charles was probably a bit on the conservative side because of the "essential" bit, at the Melbourne 5 day Steadicam workshop Luis Puli showed us CASES of stuff that he has collected over the years.. power/video cables for all different film/video cameras, (and of course you need 2 of everything), an assortment of plugs, custom made brackets, widgets, you name it he had it. One of the follow focus systems cost $40,000!! It all adds up. Professional Steadicam is not a cheap business to get into. I have yet to see any of these no gimbal home rigs produce footage comparable to a proper Steadicam. They just make crap footage slightly less crap (IMHO). You also can't ignore the 30 years plus of R & D that has gone into these high end systems. You get what you pay for.
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Old February 24th, 2008, 12:04 AM   #13
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Hey listen, this game (and the discussion of it) has gotten complicated over the years.

Up until the early 90's, there was only one size Steadicam of several different vintages. Gradually, smaller, video-only models emerged followed by 3rd party systems, once the original patents expired. Today it's impossible to keep tabs on how many variations on the Steadicam concept are being marketed around the world. Seems like a new one pops up on eBay every week. And of course there's the vibrant homebuilt stabilizer world, well documented by our friend Charles King.

Thus it is complicated when one suggests "if you want to get serious about a Steadycam [sic] system" because that can mean very different things to different people. Nick T. here started off shooting weddings with a Merlin, has moved on to a Pilot and it won't be long before he'll be sniffing out loans for one of the Big Boys. That's my idea of getting serious, but for someone who is on a limited budget and simply wants to move the camera from A to B without seeing their footsteps in the shot, the $14 rig may suffice, or perhaps they will move on to spending the "serious" money on a 3rd party rig like the Indicam. Now that's a perfectly good rig, Terry has worked hard on developing it over the years (I gave him some feedback on it early on) and it's a good product at that price. But even he will admit that the Steadicam Flyer or Pilot have components that perform over and above, the arm in particular.

Is it possible to perform a smooth walking shot with an Indicam (or Glidecam, or Flycam)? Absolutely. I've tried most of them, and I know what their strengths and limitations are. The Pilot, to me, represents virtually no limitations even compared to my own rig. In fact, I have a 5-6 minute opening shot coming up in a feature I'm about to start working on and I'm strongly considering bringing in a Pilot to use for the rehearsals while the timing is being worked out, moving to my full-size rig with the Genesis as late as possible in the process.

I'm absolutely sensitive to the fact that the extra $2K may be hard to justify on a struggling filmmaker's budget, and that choosing to put it into other gear may be a worthwhile compromise. I do believe that support gear like stabilizers and fluid heads are worth spending extra on simply because they will outlast the cameras they are being used with. I bought my O'Connor 1030 used about 6 years ago, and it had been in use for years before that and will be for years to come. I can only imagine what kinds of cameras may end up on that sucker down the road, but I do know that all of my pans and tilts will be smooth as silk and it's worth every one of those hard-earned bucks that it cost me.

Finally, David, if you are looking to build a system similar to the Indicam, definitely check out Charles King's homebuilt stabilizer site if you haven't already. Most of the veterans there will tell you that building a rig like that is something that you should do if you like the challenge and creative aspect, but not if you are looking to save money over the commercial versions, because by the time you are done, you will likely have spent far more than you can imagine even if you don't count you and your machinist cousin's time. And while you are there, take a peek at this young lad--a young starry-eyed version of myself, who spent the best part of a year building that particular rig only to crash it somewhat spectacularly on its maiden voyage (where these pics were taken) and never got it back on its feet...sadly, even when it worked it still produced crap footage (slightly less crap than handheld, as Nick said!)

BTW Nick, yeah, I'm into my Preston setup for something like $45 grand at this point also--and that's after selling some of it! And like Luis, I've got some stuff in my kit that is so long in the tooth, I have to struggle to remember what it is and what it does, even though I built some of it myself! Embarassing but true.
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Old February 24th, 2008, 12:17 AM   #14
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A lot depends on the size of camera/accessories you are trying to stabilize, that's one thing to consider - a small handycam is a while diffferent ballgame from a full size camcorder, and quite again different from a professional film camera...

As a purely practical matter, a properly handled monopod with weight attached as needed to balance the camera will do everything the "poor man steady cam" can, and a whole lot more.

There are other simple ways to improve handheld stability for relatively cheap. They are not going to be the same as a gimballed handheld or full rig, but they might "do" for a casual or even professional event type videographer.

It really comes down to what your budget/use is and what sort of camera you are trying to control.

Then again, with "reality" style shooting, bouncing about seems to be accepted!
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Old February 24th, 2008, 12:20 AM   #15
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Then again, with "reality" style shooting, bouncing about seems to be accepted!
**groan**

true that.
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