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Old April 22nd, 2008, 10:20 PM   #16
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Location: Efland NC, USA
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Hi Greg,

I hope you don't mind me jumping in here.

I have a glidecam sled and have been using it for a couple of years both handheld and with a single arm vest from Varizoom. It works and the setup is about as affordable as it gets. The results are OK but a far cry from what you see the real pros do with higher end equipment. I'm sure a good bit of this is my own fault but I can also say that after taking some time to try every stabilizer setup at NAB that was under about $6k, having a nicer setup will make your job as an operator SOOOO much easier. The only one I didn't get to try that I wanted to was the Indicam.

Here are my observations from what I have now.. Limitations.. I'll use this word in lieu of the word problems because for the money I think my current rig works well. I have less than $1k invested in the entire thing.

The sled.. It works, its light and I've used it handheld many times for weddings. Everyone loves the moving camera shots on the dance floor. Its not hard to get descent looking video with the rig. Limitation.. The gimbal is not precise. If you change hands and move the handle from one side to the other your static balance will be out. When that happens you have to work to keep your horizons level and your headspace consistent. I've gotten used to it and can compensate but you do pay a price in smoothness for putting more pressure on the rig with your controlling hand.

Add the arm and vest and I've been able to use my V1U for a few hours running around the pits doing standup interviews during races. Worked just fine. Putting more weight on the sled does indeed help you filter out some of the sharp bumps.

Limitations... 1. The vertical travel of the single arm is small. You are not going to run up stairs with this thing and easily keep a smooth shot. Walking around on level ground, its fine. 2. The arm is a simple spring design and the further you move it from the balance point the more tension you feel. Again, this is OK if your shots are straight and level but if you are going to try and move the camera vertically the rig will fight you a bit. The further you move from trimmed height the more it will fight you and it will be harder to stay smooth. Not the end of the world but more work for you.

Flash forward to NAB 2008.. I ran around and tried on every rig I could get my hands on. Several were more similar to the single arm vest setup than I had hoped. Less spring tension gain over the vertical travel but I just didn't like how they felt. Then I put on the Steadicam Pilot with a EX1 on it. Before I attached the sled I thought it was going to be pretty much the same as the others. Once I let the weight come down on the arm I found out, I was wrong. My first thought as I stepped back from the crowded booth and out into the isle to have some room, this thing is smooth.. The word impressed does not adequately convey my enthusiasm as I took this thing for a test run. I ran it forward, backward, spun it around, did a tight circle around my friend that I was with. It was effortless to keep it pointed on my subject. I could tell without question that the video quality I would get from this rig will totally SMOKE what I have now and be less fatigue on me while doing it.

I'm an amateur in this arena but can say one thing for sure, having the right tool is just as important as practicing to use it. In a couple of weeks when my Pilot gets here my old rig will be passed on to a friend that wants to play with it. There is no going back for me..

Find someone with a serious rig or hit a workshop and you'll see what I'm talking about.

I will not minimize in the least the true talent the pros demonstrate with their rigs. Now seeing the light and what good equipment means to the operator workload I can see how much easier their jobs are when you buy the good stuff.

Chris Medico


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Originally Posted by Gregory Lee View Post
Charles,
I love the sample clips on your website! Something that I have not been able to recreate with my handheld Glidecam 2000 is rock steady static shots (or very solid slow tracking shots) What I saw on many of your clips where tracking shots that were zoomed in but came to a gentle but very stable static frame.

Perhaps I just need more practice (in not trying to control the shaft so much), and perhaps it will be easier with a vest/arm (?) but also the bigger rigs are much heavier and maybe easier to get that kind of stability.

I'm tempted to just get the Steadicam Merlin for my DVX100 but I already have the Glidecam 2000 and that is not compatible with Merlin's arm/vest. But if the Merlin produces better results than the Glidecam, that maybe a good reason to get it. My main concern is that with the mic, possible wide angle lens, light etc) the DVX 100 will exceed Merlin's max load of 5 pounds.

For me the solidity of slow tracking shots (zoomed all the way in) and static shots is more important than whether the rig bounces after running up a flight of stairs. Would you suggest I add weights to the top and bottom of whatever rig I have? How much importance does the arm play in slow tracking shots? Do you think the Merlin can produce results like on your webpage?
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Old April 22nd, 2008, 10:48 PM   #17
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Location: Auburn, CA
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Chris,

I wish we could have met up. You would have really liked our system.

The best with your new rig.

Tery
Indicam
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Old April 22nd, 2008, 10:58 PM   #18
Inner Circle
 
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Thanks Terry,

I looked around NAB everywhere hoping to find you guys as a late entry in some corner of one of the halls. I also checked out the website to see if there was any blurb if you were going. I should have sent you a note beforehand to find out directly.

No doubt I would have liked it. I've had my eye on your stuff for over a year.

It was a hard decision to spend more than my original budget. I hope its the right one for our little company. Maybe in a couple of months I'll have some footage I'm not embarrassed by to share.

Chris

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Originally Posted by Terry Thompson View Post
Chris,

I wish we could have met up. You would have really liked our system.

The best with your new rig.

Tery
Indicam
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Old April 22nd, 2008, 11:00 PM   #19
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Location: Los Angeles, CA
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Hi Gregory.

All of the shots on my reel were made on a full-size rig, i.e. 80 lbs all in, so yes indeed inertia was on my side (plus 23 years of experience...)! Heavy rigs will generally show a "quieter" frame, however, it is possible to make really nice shots with a handheld stabilizer too.

If you are really focused on perfecting slow, delicate work, I would suggest you save your pennies for a Steadicam Pilot which is probably the most entry-level rig I would personally feel comfortable for super-demanding shots. If that is impossible for the time being, the Merlin is a well-made piece of gear and I have seen some beautiful work done with it (I'm actually not that great at it myself!).

I too wish I had been able to hook up with Terry at NAB and check out his latest incarnation, but we passed like ships in the night. Hope you had a good show Terry!
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Old April 23rd, 2008, 01:24 AM   #20
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Location: Auburn, CA
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Charles,

I believe he has ordered the Steadicam Pilot already and is awaiting delivery. It really is a fine rig.

I congratulated Frank R. on it's success when I dropped by the booth. He asked if we were still selling our Indicam PILOT and I told him that indeed we were.

You would have also liked our system as it works very well. You will have to see it at another time. We have made some subtle improvements we think you would like.

Today at lunch a friend, who knew I was in Las Vegas, asked if I won while I was there. He knows I don't gamble so it was a trick question. He was surprised when I said I had. Then I clarified it by stating I came away with the new Vegas Pro 8 and a themes package to go with my Cinescore. I won them at the Sony software booth. I was a very good show.

Also found a great place for BBQ ribs and chicken at a fantastic price.

Until next time when our planes cross in the night (or day as it may be).

Tery
Indicam
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