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Old February 28th, 2008, 04:51 AM   #1
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Steadicam Pilot Footage.

Picked a quick shot out of my practice footage today. Sorry about the boring scenery, but it helps me to evaluate the shot afterwards. Will delete in a couple of days:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GF8H6Uq714I
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Old February 28th, 2008, 05:07 AM   #2
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Wow, looks great! Thanks for sharing
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Old February 28th, 2008, 05:15 AM   #3
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I find the pilot does indeed behave like a big rig. When static it also doesn't have that "floaty" look of the Merlin.
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Old February 28th, 2008, 07:26 AM   #4
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I'm still getting use to it, lately I've been having a little bounce to it when I move fast. But I love the thing for what it can do. We used it at our wedding this past weekend, hehe, and trust me, standing on a chair with a rig is a lot of fun.
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Old February 28th, 2008, 07:27 AM   #5
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Nice Nick.

Looks like someone distracted you at the end there( telltale head turn)!

I'm sure you know this from the workshop, but it's good to mention to others who are learning with their Pilots/Merlins/Glidecams etc.: when doing a walking shot like this for practice, the end is every bit as important as the moving section. Land cleanly, and HOLD--HOLD--HOLD for at least 10 seconds. It may seem boring, but the longer you practice your holds the better off you will be. At the end of the hold, smoothly pull back and reverse the move.

Why is this? Because in narrative filmmaking, it's more often than not that you will end up mimicking a tripod with a Steadicam and at some point in a shot you will sit there while dialogue plays out, so it is valuable to practice this. It's actually much more challenging than walking, and you may find to your surprise, often times more tiring. That little gnawing feeling in your back (or arms, if you are using a handheld rig) can turn into a rager mid-hold, but guess what--power through it, don't give up shuffle around, shift the rig etc. You don't get to do that in the middle of a shot, so don't do it while you are practicing.

Another little tidbit that this shot reminds me is that it takes some practice to be able to look away from the rig without it affecting the shot at all. Again, I'm assuming that Nick was checking something else out and not trying to hold the end frame but notice how when he turns his head (as seen in reflection), the frame wobbles. During a shot you may well need to take your eyeballs off the monitor to check the terrain, negotiate doorframes, ogle pretty extras etc. The trick is to separate your head movement from your hands; the tendency is for one to follow the other but you must learn to divorce the two. Shooting into a mirror or reflective surface is a good way to see if you are doing this or not. The best time to take your eyes off the monitor is when the action is in a predictable trajectory like a straightaway; the worst time is when it is about to take a turn or change heights (like camera or actors mounting stairs) because by the time you look back, you're lost the framing.
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Old February 28th, 2008, 07:50 AM   #6
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As always, excellent advice Charles, yep I was distracted by someone in the bedroom, ahem.. If I could add to what you were saying when you finish the shot make sure your posture, positioning is correct/comfortable, in case you are directed to hold it for a long time. Many found this out the hard way at the workshop with sixty pounds hanging off them!
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Old February 28th, 2008, 07:55 AM   #7
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Good addition, Nick. Yes it is true, we instructors are fond of noticing when an operator gets "caught out" with a funky foot position when they come to a stop so we specifically MAKE them hold the shot for an eternity, or until they fall down. It's all part of the fun.
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Old February 28th, 2008, 08:25 AM   #8
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Steadicam "Bootcamp" workshop -))
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Old February 28th, 2008, 12:21 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Charles Papert View Post
Good addition, Nick. Yes it is true, we instructors are fond of noticing when an operator gets "caught out" with a funky foot position when they come to a stop so we specifically MAKE them hold the shot for an eternity, or until they fall down. It's all part of the fun.
I *thought* that Sade took a paticularly long time washing his hands in the mirror during my go at the Grand-Prix test.


(lets just say, that my foot positioning wasn't exactly, how would you say.. "optimal", at that hold.)

:)

- Mikko

Last edited by Mikko Wilson; February 28th, 2008 at 01:00 PM.
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Old February 28th, 2008, 02:11 PM   #10
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If I have a little bounce to my rig when walking; is bottom weight going to help? And it's just a little, not crazy.
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Old February 28th, 2008, 05:09 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Charles Papert View Post
Good addition, Nick. Yes it is true, we instructors are fond of noticing when an operator gets "caught out" with a funky foot position when they come to a stop so we specifically MAKE them hold the shot for an eternity, or until they fall down. It's all part of the fun.
OK, you got my attention.

How exactly are you supposed to hold a lock-off portion of a shot? Knees always bent? Foot position? Any tricks to make it less exausting?

Also, let's say I'm doing a moving profile shot with the sled in front pointing right, then hold, then reverse direction with the sled in front pointing left. Any advice on how to get the sled around my body? Should I just walk backwards for the reverse direction?
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Old February 29th, 2008, 03:06 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Gish View Post
How exactly are you supposed to hold a lock-off portion of a shot? Knees always bent? Foot position? Any tricks to make it less exausting?
As comfortable as possible is the key here. A position with you standing normally (legs straight [but not locked]), rig as close as possible. It's best to have most of your weight on one foot, that way you can instantly take a step with the other foot to start moving, without having to shift your weight first.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Gish View Post
Also, let's say I'm doing a moving profile shot with the sled in front pointing right, then hold, then reverse direction with the sled in front pointing left. Any advice on how to get the sled around my body? Should I just walk backwards for the reverse direction?
What you'd need to do is a "switch".
Basically you'd start the sled moving - take a step backwards with it if you need to. Once the sled is moving, take a step to the side to get out of the way of the sled. Pivot on your feet as the sled passes past you. Then step back in behind the sled as it keeps going.

Basically: move the camera however you want, and then move yourself out of the way and back into the most comfortable position.

- Mikko
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Old February 29th, 2008, 05:43 PM   #13
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This, and many other aspects of Steadicam is something you really can only get a grasp of at a workshop, with an instructor watching and commenting on your form.
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Old February 29th, 2008, 09:42 PM   #14
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Nick makes an irrefutable point.

However, a couple of things in the meantime--for holds, try to land so that your body is turned inwards towards the rig rather than facing straight ahead (i.e your feet are pointing more or less towards the lens), this is generally more comfy.

Regarding Dave's question about the switch--Mikko, I'm wary about recommending switches for those new to Steadicam without disclaimer as sometimes people become "switch-happy" and want to fling themselves around the rig arbitrarily (we see this a lot at workshops). In the instance Dave describes, chances are I would just back up unless something really compelling forced me to switch. I think my general position is that it's best to avoid switches whenever possible; when it is necessary, attempt to hide it in a pan or a close wipe with a person etc., and if it is required immediately after a hold, try to make the switch beforehlanding so that you are set up for the next section of the shot.
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Old February 29th, 2008, 09:56 PM   #15
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I did find a nice description of "the switch" (complete with Arthur Murray-like foot diagrams!) on page 31 of the Instruction manual for the Flyer at the following address:

http://www.steadicam.com/images/cont..._Manual_Lo.pdf

I think it's worth a look to understand the concepts of how to execute the maneuver. However, I would be much more likely to take as "definitive" Charles' advice to avoid it unless absolutely necessary.
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