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Old April 17th, 2008, 10:10 PM   #1
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A question for the long time operators...

I've done hand held work with a Glidecam 2000 and used a simple Glidecam single arm stabilizer and vest. They do OK but I would like to step up to a better rig to fly a Sony V1 or EX1. If it progressed to more advanced rigs I would be OK with that.

My question is.. I'm 40yrs old and wonder how long it would be realistic to consider this as a vocational skill. Am I wasting my time to develop a skill that due to the physical demands isn't practical to start at my age?

I know everyone is different so I'm not asking for an evaluation of anyones specific physical condition. I'm just curious to know what the long time operators here have seen in themselves from the physical strain placed on their body and ask.. Do you think there is an age where it isn't the best idea to strap on a stabilizer and fly a camera??
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Last edited by Chris Medico; April 18th, 2008 at 06:25 AM.
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Old April 17th, 2008, 10:55 PM   #2
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Chris,

40 isn't very old.

Are you planning on going into the motion picture industry and flying the large video and film cameras? If so Charles Papert would be a great person to ask as he is an accomplished Steadicam operator.

If you are planning on flying your EX1 or V1 cameras and shooting corporate or other types of video that you can do most anywhere then the answer is...go for it. You can learn the basics in a reasonable amount of time but it does take practise, practise, practise to get really good.

It would also make a difference if you have a natural talent for steadicam work. Some people can take to a stabilizer system a lot quicker than others.

There is a saying...If it was easy, then anyone could do it and a good steadicam operator wouldn't be valuable.

How long do you want to be in the industry?

Tery
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Old April 17th, 2008, 11:15 PM   #3
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I certainly don't consider 40 old. I do know that this work is physically demanding. I'm in pretty good shape from running and walking so I know that today I could handle a pretty heavy rig strength and endurance wise. Its the future that I am considering. If I decided to take this more seriously and expect the skill to be a revenue generating thing is it realistic for me to try and do it for the next 10-15 years.

I have been using hand-held rigs and a simple single arm vest for a couple of years. I don't use it every day so I know more practice would be better. I would consider myself OK but not great. I do enjoy the challenge of operating a rig and take it seriously when I do.

I don't have any aspirations to be on the same level as Charles Papert. I know its not likely that would ever happen even if it was an aspiration. What I do know is here in NC there is some pent up demand for flying full sized cameras for shoots. I also have need for flying smaller cameras on some of my own projects. If I got good enough provide the service for others then that would be even better. I don't want to start with a rig of the size for a 30lb cam though as the cost is a bit more than I want to bite off without a clear plan for it to pay for itself. Plus that rig would never fly the cameras I actually own.

For now using the V1 or EX1 would be enough for me to get really proficient at using a better quality light weight rig. With that in mind I am considering the Steadicam Pilot. I tried most all of them at NAB and the Pilot stood out significantly from the others in the same weight class. I really liked how it was set up and it handled the EX1 they had rigged on it quite well. As for smoothness it was totally in a class all by itself here. Some of the others seemed clunky and awkward by comparison.

These are just the thoughts running around in my head right now..
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Old April 17th, 2008, 11:26 PM   #4
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Ops.. I missed answering this question..

My day job is much less creative than my desire for creativity so I use my part time video business to fill that void. If I take this to the level of a full time job I would be happy to do it until I was no longer physically able. This is really at the heart of asking the question in the first post.

Chris


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Originally Posted by Terry Thompson View Post
Chris,

There is a saying...If it was easy, then anyone could do it and a good steadicam operator wouldn't be valuable.

How long do you want to be in the industry?

Tery
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Old April 17th, 2008, 11:46 PM   #5
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Chris,

I have a friend who is a steadicam operator and he is in his late 40's. He's been in the industry for a number of years and has used the big rigs. He's kind of tired of the big stuff because he's done it for so long. He now has our system and flies a HVX200. He's happy with this type of set-up but will still take the steadicam job with the big stuff when it comes along. $ is $.\

If you have developed the muscles you use for steadicam work and are in good shape you should be able to put out some work to get known and go from there.

We're looking for Charles P. or equivalent for the professional point of view.

Tery
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Old April 18th, 2008, 08:26 AM   #6
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Some of the top Steadicam operators are in their 50's and I suspect one is in his 60's. As long as you're in relatively good shape you should be fine, especially with the lighter cameras.
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Old April 18th, 2008, 11:56 PM   #7
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Certainly 40 is not too old, especially today where the potential work on all levels exists unlike it did in the past.

As far a longevity, a key steadicam operator is perfectly positioned to transition into DP and director jobs on the right projects. So, if you only lasted five years you would have had the opportunity to build contacts and reputation to keep your career going in other ways.

To me the steadicam Pilot seems like a rig to start with. It is the top of it's class, and in your situation, I think that's what you want. You can fly your cameras and there are more and more projects that are going to be done on the small cameras as they get better and better. From what I've read, the Pilot is also legitimate practice for moving up to bigger rigs.

From my background working in big time TV and movies in L.A., the unfortunate fact is that there are very few who will ever get into the Charles Papert group of operators. I think it is reasonable to make a comparison to pro sports. Very, very few have the physical skill, talent, mental tourghness and finally luck to 1) get a chance, and 2) succeed when they get the chance.

However, one never knows. And since this isn't your goal, and there's a pool of work in your area, it almost seems foolish not to make the effort if you want to... especially when the Pilot is affordable and -- if you're any good at all -- could pay for itself in no time. And it would have a pretty decent resale value if you just got sick of it.

Seems like a step-by-step approach, in fearless mode, is called for.
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Old April 19th, 2008, 01:01 AM   #8
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I'm 42 and I'm fairly new to the Steadicam industry, trying, planning to get sustainable work to justify the aquisition of an Archer, but most probably the sexy new clipper. You are only too old if you think you are.
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Old April 22nd, 2008, 10:27 AM   #9
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I do appreciate the responses. It does help with working through the decision process. Looks like as soon as the budget allows I'll be buying a rig and getting into a workshop or two.
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