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Old November 17th, 2008, 12:33 PM   #1
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Flying with 10" HD LCD?

Hi,
I'm trying to create a nice little setup with my D90 to shoot mainly music videos. Because of all the shortcomings of this camera, I wanted to use a Manhattan LCD 10.9 HD monitor (Manhattan LCD) when flying it for the best monitoring possible. My budget is around the Glidecam 2000/4000 or Steadicam Merlin with or without vest level. Since the D90+lens is about 2.5lbs and the LCD+battery about 2.7lbs, I was thinking of mounting both of them on top. A B&H employee swore that it would never work. Any ideas on how to make this possible?

Thanks,
Richard.
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Old November 17th, 2008, 07:01 PM   #2
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For a steadicam monitor, size and resolution aren't that important. Placement, anti-reflective coatings, and nits make the difference.

If you are considering a Merlin with arm/vest rig plus the Manhattan LCD and batteries, you're already at the Steadicam Pilot price point. Having a real sled with the monitor and batteries mounted on the bottom makes all the difference, allowing you to do all sorts of positions not possible with a top monitor. For example, you can walk forward with the lens pointing backwards and still see the monitor. I just used use this position for a music video in Manhattan. Plus, with the monitor on the bottom you can see where you're going and not trip on things.

The Steadicam Pilot allows you to add weights to the top to get your D90 more stable. More info here:
http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/stabilize...started-q.html
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Old November 17th, 2008, 10:03 PM   #3
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I don't see how you could mount them on top and balance a Merlin or Glidecam. If budget is an issue, you can get the Glidecam 4000 with arm/vest, and they have a lower sled mounting option. The Steadicam Pilot would be better if you can afford it.
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Old November 17th, 2008, 10:11 PM   #4
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Hi Dave,
Thanks for the reply. That's a thoughtful Q&A you made there.
It seems that the LCD included with the pilot is not HD and has no HDMI, is it possible to replace it with the 10.9" one?

Thanks,
Richard.
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Old November 17th, 2008, 10:15 PM   #5
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Thanks Bill.
The 4000+vest was where I was leaning but the B&H guy told me that the 10.9" LCD would not work with it. What do you think?
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Old November 18th, 2008, 08:46 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Ruzo View Post
It seems that the LCD included with the pilot is not HD and has no HDMI, is it possible to replace it with the 10.9" one?
HDMI is not really an option on any steadicam. Steadicams with HD monitors use HD-SDI connections. All the internal wiring of a steadicam sled will be either standard video (composite) or HD-SDI.

If I was flying a D90, I would just use the supplied SD video cable, or buy another cable:
Nikon EG-D2, Audio-Video Interface Cable.
and make a shorter custom cable out of it.

The main attribute of a steadicam monitor is how well it works in bright daylight, so the number of nits is more important than the number of pixels or the size. Anti-reflective coatings are also very important. The main advantage with steadicam HD monitors is reduced lag time. In other words, with a camera that doesn't have a standard def video tap, an SD monitor will require an HD to SD down-converter:
AJA Video - Serial Digital Video Interface and Conversion
and this may introduce some delay in the steadicam monitor.

With the D90, the main issue will be weight. A 2.5 pound camera is too light for really stable shots, so I would want to add weight by the camera. With the Pilot, you can buy extra screw-on weights:
Steadicam Middle Balance Weight
but that is limited to 2 pounds (8 extra weights) up by the camera. For the D90, I would probably use some sort of weight plate under the camera to get the top weight up around 7-8 pounds. This makes things much more stable.

By the way, if you're shooting with a director, a wireless video feed is really important. You can get this for less than $200, the transmitter weighs less than 1 ounce, is really small, and just velcros onto your camera. Check out supercircuits.com.

Hope this helps.
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Old November 18th, 2008, 09:42 AM   #7
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Good answers as always Dave (although I would point out that the AJA doesn't cause any noticeable delay in downconversion).

Something else to think about with this setup: focus. Video shot with autofocus (especially with large sensor) is going to be a debacle. I don't know what the solution to this will be other than putting a geared ring on the lens and using a not-yet-on-the-market inexpensive remote system.

I can't wrap my head around why one would need a 10" HD monitor on a stabilizer--simply too big.
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Old November 18th, 2008, 11:45 AM   #8
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I agree, it's way too big. Plus with a camera that light the extra weight of a monitor on the bottom probably means more weight on top would be needed. I mentioned the Glidecam 2000 but that would be overkill for that light weight. If you look at their double arm they sell for the 2 handheld systems, one has a monitor mounted on the bottom; I'd guess you could do that with the 2000 too. Again, as others said, the Steadicam is going to be better, no doubt, but if cost is an object (when isn't it!) there are other options.

Glidecam has an upgrade out now for both those models, called the HD2000 and HD2000 pro. They're at B&H but not on Glidecam's website, which is weird. Allegedly they are supposed to make balancing easier and better, which people say has been a hassle with them. I checked all this out because I was interested in one for my XH A1, however I'm getting the Steadicam Merlin with the arm and vest, now that I found it will handle the weight OK (up to 7 pounds).

Unfortunately, you couldn't use the Merlin because of no place for a monitor, and you don't have an LCD screen. However...I wonder if you could use a small 4-6" monitor on a hotshoe? That might be something to consider. All the monitors I've seen on Steadicams and other equivalent stabilizers are very lightweight. I had a 6" one on a Varizoom Blackhawk and it probably didn't weight more than 2 pounds, if that.

The only thing you need in a monitor is brightness, and I'd say at least 4", preferably 6" if on a bottom sled. It could be black and white--no need for HD and especially for any as big as that 10". You need to be sure you get one that is designed for stabilizer use because they're always bright enough for outdoor work, whereas most monitors are not. At the price of that 10" one, I'd guess the screen would probably be meaningless in bright light.
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Old November 18th, 2008, 09:28 PM   #9
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Thanks for all your help guys!

Well, it's definitely more complicated than I thought. I think my immediate solution would be to use the merlin and the 3" screen on the camera for framing. I can then connect it to the 10" LCD to verify the shoot before wrapping up for each scene.

To be clear, it will mostly be a one man show (no director) and I needed the 10" HD LCD to mostly catch any artifacts (jello, rolling shutter, noise, etc...) that may occur with the D90 and also to keep an eye on the focus.

I have a feeling that Tiffen or Glidecam will be coming out with an affordable HD LCD pretty soon...or maybe it's just Hope...

By the way, does anyone know of a rail system like this one http://www.mgrip.com/The%20Mrail.html that is easier to get in NY or Florida?

Thanks again...
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Old November 19th, 2008, 06:36 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Ruzo View Post
I think my immediate solution would be to use the merlin and the 3" screen on the camera for framing. I can then connect it to the 10" LCD to verify the shoot before wrapping up for each scene.
For this type of stuff, I use a 19" LCD. Costs less than $300 and fits perfectly in a Storm iM2700 foam case. Looks great in HD using component video cables. Also has HDMI.

This also works good for tripod shots just sitting on the floor tilting up. I just gaff tape it to a tripod leg and the floor to get the right angle. I also made a hood out of black coroplast, gaff tape, and velcro. Coroplast is great for all sorts of things.

I also use this in SD mode as my wireless video monitor.
Attached Thumbnails
Flying with 10" HD LCD?-monitor-case-1.jpg   Flying with 10" HD LCD?-monitor-case-2.jpg  

Flying with 10" HD LCD?-band004.jpg  

Last edited by Dave Gish; November 19th, 2008 at 10:17 AM.
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Old November 19th, 2008, 07:59 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Charles Papert View Post
Something else to think about with this setup: focus. Video shot with autofocus (especially with large sensor) is going to be a debacle. I don't know what the solution to this will be other than putting a geared ring on the lens and using a not-yet-on-the-market inexpensive remote system.
I assume the solution here would be to:
add light and/or use higher sensitivity on the sensor
close down the aperature/iris for more DOF
try to maintain a fairly consistent distance to the subject

Of couse, if you use really shallow DOF on sticks, and then cut to deep DOF on steadicam, it may look weird.
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Old November 19th, 2008, 10:51 AM   #12
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That's a great idea for an LCD setup!
I actually already have the 10" one though and it's easier to travel with. The hood, on the other hand, might be a requirement for my next shoot which will be on a beach. I will definitely do a search on "black coroplast" and try to put one together. How do you attach it to the monitor, velcro around the border?
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Old November 19th, 2008, 11:23 AM   #13
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I will definitely do a search on "black coroplast" and try to put one together.
I got it from a guy on eBay, click the link in my post #10 above.

I couldn't find any Coroplast locally. The minimum I was able to get online was 10 sheets of 18"x24" for around $30 shipped. I've only used a couple of those sheets for monitor hoods and case dividers, so I have a lot leftover.

I'm actually thinking about making a home-made mattebox out of coroplast. I don't really use filters that much, and I can screw them on the lens for those few occasions when I do. Since my HVX already has a little lens hood, I could make a really light mattebox out of coroplast & black gaff tape and just attach that to the HVX hood. I might actually make 2, one for wide and one for more zoomed in.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Ruzo View Post
How do you attach it to the monitor, velcro around the border?
Yep. I used 3/4" wide velcro, cut it into 2" long pieces, and spaced those 4-6" apart.

Last edited by Dave Gish; November 19th, 2008 at 11:54 AM.
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Old November 19th, 2008, 01:29 PM   #14
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Nice...I won't have time to order the material for my first shoot in Florida but I'll surely check the ebay guy out when I get back. The matte box is another great idea...

By the way, I'm having difficulty eliminating a small pendulum effect with the D90 w/ Kit lens on the merlin. Logically, it should mean that it's too bottom heavy but going lighter at the bottom only brings me all the way to top heavy. I can't seem to fine the middle ground.

P.S. The economy is giving me no incentive to make the big leap to the Pilot. It's getting crazy out there!
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Old November 19th, 2008, 07:20 PM   #15
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Check your local sign shops for coroplast. Sometimes the scraps they throw away are of a good enough size to cobble into something useful. If they don't have scraps they'll likely sell it to you by the square foot.

I used to work at a wide-format graphics shop and we used coroplast all the time. It's strong yet cheap and pretty great for all kinds of things!

But I've also fashioned monitor hoods out of cardboard. True, they don't have much lasting-power, but it's cheap, and certainly works. It won't look fancy, but unless it's on camera, it won't need to.

Last edited by Frank Simpson; November 20th, 2008 at 12:38 AM. Reason: typos
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