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Old May 6th, 2008, 02:58 PM   #1
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My pilot has arrived! :)

Yea!! I proclaim while doing the happy dance around my office. Yes, I know the reality of the situation will be crashing down on me as I begin to work with this thing. For now I'm thrilled though.

One thing that struck me as I was taking it out of the box. The word backpack being used for this case of this rig.. WOW.. That is being a bit liberal with the vernacular! :)

Its larger than my largest suitcase. Not a complaint but a very funny observation on my end. The case is well made and looks like it will protect the contents.

I'm looking forward to getting it rigged up this evening and balanced. I'll post back how its going and maybe toss up a few pictures for everyone to laugh at.
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Old May 7th, 2008, 03:48 AM   #2
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Getting it static balanced was pretty easy. Dynamic.. That is much harder. Right now its pretty close. I had to quit after a couple of hours last night so I could get some sleep. If all goes well I'll shoot some video today with it at the track.

I didn't have my mic stand to show the balance issue of the GC 2000. I took the quick release plate off it to put on the Pilot.

So far so good.
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Old May 8th, 2008, 12:39 AM   #3
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Is the top plate (that yr cam mounts to) that interfaces to the stage interfering with the thumbscrew when u adjust it? I heard some had problems with that. BTW, can the arms fit into the suitcase?
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Old May 8th, 2008, 12:56 AM   #4
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Dynamic Balance

Hi Chris,

Yes, I also took a long time to get dynamic balance when I first got my Pilot, but now it's much faster.

Here's the way I do it now:

1) Make sure your static balance is dead-on. If the static balance is even a little off, it will throw off your dynamic balance test. I use the post of the SteadiStand to gauge vertical, but even with the bubble built into the SteadiStand, the post is always a little off of vertical, so I check vertical 4 different ways. For front/back balance, I check with the camera facing left and then again with the camera facing right. If the SteadiStand post is a little off of vertical, I just make sure that both positions look the same. In other words, if it lines up with the camera facing left, but not with the camera facing right, then average the two so they look the same in both positions. Same thing with side-to-side static balance - average the two readings of the camera facing toward and away from you until they look the same. This should give you a really accurate static balance. After you get used to it, it doesn't take long.

2) Don't move the battery pack. When you unpack the sled, just move the battery pack all the way back and leave it there. This is the best position for pan inertia.

3) When you adjust the fore/aft position of the stage to improve dynamic balance, compensate by moving the whole bottom crossbar foreword or backward. Loosen the screw with the yellow handled hex driver, then carefully move the crossbar uphill until you're close to static balance, tighten the screw, and then fine tune static balance with the stage fore/aft knob (again with the camera facing left and right).

4) It helps to have screw-in weights on both the stage (front & back) and both ends of the crossbar. This helps to center the weight through the post, which is what dynamic balance is all about. Also, your stability will increase significantly if your total added weight (camera + camera accessories + screw-on weights) is just under 10 pounds. This thread:
http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=115235
gives Tiffen part #s and ordering instructions for additional screw-on weights.

Anyway, with this method and the additional screw-on weights, I can usually get a pretty good dynamic balance within 5 minutes or so.

Hope this helps,
Dave.
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Old May 8th, 2008, 01:01 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sean Seah View Post
BTW, can the arms fit into the suitcase?
This is answered in post #56 of this thread:
http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthrea...=115235&page=2
See description for picture #4.
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Old May 8th, 2008, 06:17 AM   #6
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Thanks Dave,

I'll give that a try. Yesterday I took it to the track with me to play around some. I didn't need it for anything but took the opportunity to walk around with it some since I had lots of interesting things to shoot. Its not totally balanced dynamically yet. Static is very good.

Yesterday was a bit windy and this rig is much more stable in these conditions than my GlideCam is. Obviously this is much heavier too.

Anyway, I've got to head back to the track today for some more practice. If anything looks reasonable I'll post it later. This is for sure a more complex rig to run than the GlideCam. Wow.. High hopes for good video, so far it looks promising. :)
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Old May 8th, 2008, 06:21 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sean Seah View Post
Is the top plate (that yr cam mounts to) that interfaces to the stage interfering with the thumbscrew when u adjust it? I heard some had problems with that. BTW, can the arms fit into the suitcase?
I've have a quick release plate from my other rig and when I used the screw that came with that plate it did interfere with the top stage going back into place. The screw that was in the accessory bag that came with the Pilot rig did not have any problems. Everything is mounted now and adjusts very smoothly. No interference.
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Old May 9th, 2008, 03:23 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Medico View Post
I've have a quick release plate from my other rig and when I used the screw that came with that plate it did interfere with the top stage going back into place. The screw that was in the accessory bag that came with the Pilot rig did not have any problems. Everything is mounted now and adjusts very smoothly. No interference.
Yep, I had the same problem. I have an aluminum wireless bracket that attaches under the camera, so I needed a longer 1/4-20 screw, which I had, but it caused some interference, so I used a file to take the top down a bit and it works fine now.
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Old May 11th, 2008, 09:05 AM   #9
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I've been working on balancing the sled better. I've got it to spin pretty flat now.

One thing I've noticed that even with the same drop time as the Glidecam it takes a lot LESS force to move things around on the Pilot. I'm having to adjust to that.

The video I shot with it at the track doesn't look very smooth. I was fighting it too much and it was a windy day to boot. No excuses though, more practice.

I'm enjoying the challenge.

Chris
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Old May 11th, 2008, 11:30 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Medico View Post
One thing I've noticed that even with the same drop time as the Glidecam it takes a lot LESS force to move things around on the Pilot. I'm having to adjust to that.
Chris
Interesting to hear, Chris, in that the larger rig should show more inertia and thus require more input from the operator (wouldn't want to use "force" as it might give people ideas...!) Especially if you are using the weights fore and aft on the rig. One of the things I admire most about the Pilot are this weight system. If you haven't yet, maybe experiment with adding these to both top and bottom, see what the rig feels like when you beef it up this way. It's a big difference, very elegant feel.
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Old May 11th, 2008, 02:35 PM   #11
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The rig doesn't move quickly but it is easier to pan and tilt. It is so much smoother than the Glidecam its hard to tell sometimes that its moving at all. Since it seems to have more inertia as well as a longer arm the movement is more subtle and slow. I've had to pay much closer attention or suddenly find myself out of vertical or the headspace is way off because I've put a little too much pressure on the sled with my left hand. With the glidecam, its so short and so fast that it is very obvious when you start to over control it. The Pilot is so responsive and demanding of a very light touch that I feel like I'm starting over again.

I have no idea if I'm even describing this in a way to make any sense.

I will certainly put the weights on the sled and see how that changes things. I've been using a 3 sec drop time to make myself lighten up too. I've been working into it slowly and trying to not change too many things at once. I want to really know the cause and effect relationships with everything.

I'm so happy the experienced people here are willing to take the time to help the rest of us out!
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Old May 12th, 2008, 02:58 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Charles Papert View Post
One of the things I admire most about the Pilot are this weight system. If you haven't yet, maybe experiment with adding these to both top and bottom, see what the rig feels like when you beef it up this way. It's a big difference, very elegant feel.
YES! I ordered extra screw-on weights. I use weights on both the stage and the bottom crossbar. The Pilot definitely becomes more smooth as you get the total weight closer 10 pounds. The additional screw-on middle weights are Tiffen part# 801-7920-05, $6.25 each. I ordered 8 of these, but I usually only need 2-4 (in addition to the weights came with the Pilot).

I also use a U.S. Postal Scale to measure things accurately.
http://shop.usps.com/webapp/wcs/stor...1049&langId=-1

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Medico View Post
The rig doesn't move quickly but it is easier to pan and tilt. It is so much smoother than the Glidecam its hard to tell sometimes that its moving at all. ... The Pilot is so responsive and demanding of a very light touch that I feel like I'm starting over again.
If you don't mind raising the camera up a bit, you can lengthen the sled pole to increase tilt and roll inertia. One problem here is that you may need to tilt (e.g. on stairs, uneven ground, as the actor begins to sits down, etc), so adding tilt inertia might make that more difficult.

Unless you're doing a lot of whip pans, I suggest adding 1.25 pounds of weight to the bottom. This equates to 2 middle-weights and 1 round end weight at each end of the bottom crossbar. This noticeably increases pan inertia.

Making the drop time shorter can also help, but then you have to be very aware to compensate on the post as you start moving, stop moving, or change directions.

Charles, what drop time do you use? I've heard that some Steadicam Ops run short as 1.5 seconds. I'm currently experimenting with around 2 seconds, and definitely need more left hand work to correct for movement, but it seems better once you get going. What are your thoughts on this subject?
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Old May 12th, 2008, 08:31 PM   #13
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I generally work with a 2.5 second drop time; occasionally I go slower for shots that have a lot of tilting and I suppose I could shorten it for certain shots that didn't have acceleration or need subtle tilting, but I usually don't bother. However I'm not used to working with smaller rigs and I expect I would use a slighter faster time as the amount of force required to tilt a small rig with faster drop is probably still less than I am used to.
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