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Old August 30th, 2003, 04:56 PM   #1
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par-t-com steadi-cam test

Devin and Spencer here - Spence and I just recently completed construction on his homebuilt steadi-cam rig (plans from As soon as we put the springs on we spent a good two hours + balancing it. We then headed out to Spence's backyard for the virgin run of the steadi-cam (AKA "the secret weapon") Upon testing we found a number of things that need to be trouble shooted (including our technique with the steadi-cam!) More tension is needed in the arm, the elbow needs to be more stationary, and the vest needs lots more support.

Other than that, we only had a slight problem white balancing Spencer's VX-2000 (the jib camera), and we used my GL1 with a WD-58 on the rig. We're still practicing day and night to perfect our skills and attain those ultra smooth shots! Input is welcome. (about 6mb, right click and save as for best results)
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Old August 30th, 2003, 07:03 PM   #2
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Did the plans and website accurately depict the cost of the project? The shots look great and I am thinking about building one. Did the plans have enough detail and would you recommend?


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Old August 30th, 2003, 08:26 PM   #3
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Cody's Plans

Spence here - My rig, although I haven't really totaled all of the receipts yet, will probably come in at around $350-$400. The difference though, is that my father has access to his shop from work, and we manufactured many pieces ourselves. Manufacturing yokes, gimbals assemblies, and lathing various bushings down to the thousandth and would not be easily done without an extensive shop like we had access to. We probably put in a couple thousand bucks worth of man hours…basically it’s a labor of love, so if you can be your own labor it’s all the better.

As for won't find anything like it...literally, unless you want to go and research, and test, and spend more money to fix it, and retest, for about a year or so, this is your only option. He's not a machinist, so my dad had a bit of grief with some of his measurement techniques, but for the most part you will be astounded with the lists and illustrations. Hell, just the fact that it's printed on thick paper and bound nicely did it for me.
In short…I recommend fo' sho'.

Keep the comments or questions rollin', we've done some more work to the springs tonight and fixed some issues from the first test. Next up is modifying the back mounted vest to distribute the weight more evenly.
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Old August 30th, 2003, 11:24 PM   #4
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Devin and Spencer, congratulations on your project! It's looking really good.

Kudos on going after a back-mounted vest design, it's much harder to do but if you can make it work comfortably, you'll be doing your body a good service. Right now it looks like it is pulling down and to the right under load, which is not surprising.

In a perfect world, you should be able to stand reasonably straight and let go (really carefully!) and the rig just floats in front of you without pulling away--I can't say for sure, but from appearance of the pitch of the arm, it looks like it's ready to take off to the next yard. Some of that is surely due to the rotation you are experiencing with the vest.

I do have to wonder about Spencer's hand position--you will find the best results if you operate with the hand just under the gimbal, assuming you have the rig slightly bottom heavy. That's the center of gravity of the system, and your control is best at that point.

Ideally, the camera should fly only a few inches above the gimbal. If you were able to reduce the bottom weight, you could achieve this and end up with a lighter system overall. This will be a more ideal flying mass. To get the system raised back up to eye level, you can use a longer post between the arm and the gimbal (I can't see from the video what your physical connection is at that point).

Other than that, the arm appears to be tracking nicely (i.e. taking out the bumps without introducing too much bounciness due to friction) and your work looks good for a first time effort! You guys must be really happy to get this thing up and running. You'll have a lot of fun with it!
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Old August 31st, 2003, 04:54 AM   #5
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Really nice job guys. Pretty impressed. Now Cody should be proud. Hey guys, what about some pics for HBS site aka homebuiltstabilizers website? :)
Nive intro video too. Kicking off at a good start. Hey Charles, don't forget you promise to visit and give us some of your wisedom.
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Old August 31st, 2003, 10:00 AM   #6
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Charles P - Thanks for your kind words! After modding the vest last nite Spencer's father encouraged us to place a piece of wood in front of the belt to further distribute the weight - and it worked! The vest still hangs off of you a bit when strapped in the rig, but not as bad now. We're working to make this piece a bit more comfortable. Some more restraints are also in the works to hold the vest tighter to your body.

We also tried your idea about lowering the camera to a few inches above the gimbal. Works like a charm. We were able to balance the sled without a hitch. As Spence mentioned we also put more tention in the arm by adding some springs - it's like an all together new rig from what was shown in the test. The arm ACTUALLY holds the sled itself now, and the shots are a lot smoother. We actually added some more tension in the elbow joint that connects the vest to the arm, as well in the elbow between the two arms. Before the elbows clanked on themselves - hence no "location" audio in our test except water ;) - but with a little bit more tension the elbows are free to move, but stop before hitting themselves.

Charles K - We'll be taking pictures of our rig tonite and hope to upload some detailed pics of Spencer's rig to HBS.

Other than that both Spencer and I are highly impressed with this complicated piece of machinery. Although I was only around for part of the construction I know how complicated it is to get this thing off the ground! We're both extremely pleased and can hardly wait to practice more. Thanks so much for your input!
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Old August 31st, 2003, 08:45 PM   #7
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Nice DIY setup! On a side note: what program did you use to create the intro for this? It kicked ass!
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Old August 31st, 2003, 08:56 PM   #8
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Bryan, thanks a lot for your comments! I must say that intro was all Spencer, he's the SFX man. The whole shabang was done in AE....took Spence the afternoon. While I edited the footage he compiled the intro. Thanks again for your kind words Bryan!
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