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Old September 16th, 2008, 08:39 PM   #1
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Flying the Pilot

So after month of field testing new gear I finally got around to the Pilot. The sled, the vest, the velcro, how many weights... so many things to consider and I am still nowhere near flying the rig. Drop time and static balance seemed relatively easy.. but dynamic balance is a whole different story. The steadicam section of this site has been a tremendous source of insight and knowledge... All of the people who contribute to these boards, whether looking for something, or getting something, are providing a immeasurable service to the community. Too many people to mention in this thread, but anyway, I am now at the point, with the help of all of you, where I have actually suited up and worn the rig for the very first time... and WOW. I have the utmost respect for anyone who has ever been paid to fly a steadicam rig.

My emotion went from the sheer excitement at the anticipation of finally putting it on, to a sobering realization that I have alot of work ahead of me. I was completely humbled, bordering on depression, at the difficulty factor involved in mastering such a unique skill set. After just minutes of wearing the rig I literally felt physical pain and mental anguish. I know there is much pain ahead.

In the weeks to come I would like to post some footage for critique... but I definitely need to work on the basics at this point.

Just wanted to share my experience and thank all of you for getting me this far on the road to flying the steadicam pilot.

Greg
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Old September 16th, 2008, 09:48 PM   #2
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As a new Pilot owner myself, maybe I can add some input that I've gleaned over the past few weeks and months, thanks mostly to the people here.

Dave Gish really helped me with my dynamic balancing. After re-reading the Steadicam Pilot - Getting Started thread, and having Dave re-iterate it in another thread, I found it very simple to obtain dynamic balance. As Dave said in his instructions, get a good 3 second drop-time and then get the rig in perfect static balance. This should take just a couple of minutes, thanks to the great adjustment knobs on the Pilot's head. Give the sled a slow spin, making sure not to impart any swing with your hands. watch the sled and see what it does. In my case, I could tell that it appeared the battery seemed to be lifting the lens up. It does this because centrifugal force is trying to make the heaviest object fly horizontally. If the battery is "pulling the system down", then it's having too much effect on the entire system. To minimize this effect, loosen the allen bolt at the bottom of the post and slide the entire bottom spar so that the battery is about 1/4" closer to the post. Spin again, and see what happens. Keep adjusting back and forth until you've got it. It literally took me 2 minutes to achieve dynamic balance.
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Old September 17th, 2008, 09:12 AM   #3
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Hi Greg,

Thank you for making this thread. You are correct, this site offers endless help for stabilizing systems.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Chisholm View Post
I literally felt physical pain and mental anguish. I know there is much pain ahead.
While flying a Steadicam, there should be no physical pain. I do not know if you meant this literally, but if you did, your vest may not be adjusted properly.
There will be some new muscles that you will have to build up at the start, but this should not limit your operating.
If you have any questions, please feel free to call or email me.

Best regards,
Michael Craigs
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Old September 17th, 2008, 02:40 PM   #4
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thanks Michael,

I think it was new muscle pain.... but the anguish was real mental anguish.

Thanks for reaching out. I won't hesitate to do the same if needed.

Regards

Greg
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Old September 18th, 2008, 12:42 AM   #5
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Greg:

Take it slow and don't anguish! All in good time.

I wouldn't get too anal about dynamic balance at this stage, just get in there and get comfortable wearing the rig. Learn how to fly it on your body, how your hips determine where the rig sits in space, how to walk with the rig on. Don't even turn on the monitor just yet, and again, don't worry about perfect DB. It's become something of a "buzz word" in the past few years, and while it is a good thing to understand and implement, it's not absolutely critical to have a perfectly dynamically balanced rig ("The Shining" was shot on a system that was built way out of dynamic balance--try watching that and seeing if the results are less than satisfactory!)
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Old September 18th, 2008, 02:56 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Charles Papert View Post
...it's not absolutely critical to have a perfectly dynamically balanced rig ("The Shining" was shot on a system that was built way out of dynamic balance--try watching that and seeing if the results are less than satisfactory!)
...then again, the operator was none other then the Great Garrett Brown, so that probably says it all, why the shots were so dead on.. Ha Ha
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Old October 27th, 2008, 11:13 PM   #7
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Defaintely agreed with Charles here.

I do love flying the pilot more when it's dynamically balanced then not; but as a beginner I would first ensure that the other components of the rig are properly setup first.

If there is back pain; one of the first thing I would ask is:
- does the arm/sled balance properly on it's own when you have both hands free from the system? The sled should not pull away nor towards you when the socket side-side adjustment is set correctly.
- another problem that could contribute to back pain in addition to the steadicam arm bottoming out (causing an jittery shake in the footage) would be factory socket block height on the Pilot vest is set too high. I would set it one level down right away.

Hope this helps.
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