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Old January 26th, 2009, 05:28 PM   #1
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steadicam workshop

Hi everyone,

Well I just signed up for a steadicam workshop....yah.Does anyone have any advice for me.Should I bring my rig?

Thanks!
Ryan
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Old January 26th, 2009, 10:49 PM   #2
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Hi Ryan,

They have their own rigs for you to use in the class. I didn't know this, so I brought my rig and the teacher wouldn't let me use it for insurance reasons. However, they did use my camera, and they did allow me to use my own vest, which helped speed up switching the rigs from one person to anther when our group was using the Pilot.

Our class was split up into 3 groups of 3 people each. There was a separate rig for each group, 2 Flyers and 1 Pilot, and the 3 groups rotated between these 3 rigs.

I'm assuming you signed up for the Feb 7 - 8, 2009 Hauppauge, NY class. That will give you 2 weeks to practice before then.

Start out with the exercises in the Flyer manual, pages 28-36:
http://www.steadicam.com/images/cont..._Manual_Lo.pdf
Do this for 3 days or so, maybe 2 hours a day or more if you can. Get used to changing positions, changing from forward to backward (over the shoulder), and vice-versa.

The next thing may not be so intuitive, but it really helped me. When I was in the class, I started out in balance, so that I could let go of the rig with both hands and it would pretty much stay put. This is really important because you want a very light touch on both hands, especially with the Pilot. If you're out of balance, you will be flexing the muscle in your right arm to hold the sled in place. This not only wears out your back really fast, it also makes your shots much less stable.

Anyway, I knew this going into the class, but I hadn't really practiced it enough, so when I started doing anything challenging with framing, my balance would go off, and the teacher would say I was "not under the rig". In other words, I could only concentrate on one thing at a time, so when the framing got more challenging, I lost my balance. Then after the class I practiced some more at home with the same result. I realized that I needed to get the whole balance thing down as second nature, otherwise I would continue to lose balance when I needed to focus my concentration on framing the shot.

So I decided to take a whole week, 7 days, just to practice balance. I turned off the camera, let both hands go of the rig, but sill kept my hands within an inch or two in case I lost control of it. I practiced this way 2-3 hours a day for 7 days straight. Within a couple of days I could walk the line and control the rig fairly well without touching it. Within 5 days I could switch positions within the shot, forward, backward over the shoulder, all without touching the rig. By the end of the 7 days, balance had become second nature.

This helped a lot. When I started working on framing, which is still a challenge, I no longer got out of balance, so I was able to keep a really light touch and keep things nice and stable.

I really wish I has gotten the balance thing down before the class. This way I could have used the time with such a great teacher like Peter much more effectively.

So that's what I would do before the class. Spend 3-4 days working on the exercises in the Flyer manual, and then practice hands-free (keeping your hands close but not never touching) for 7 days straight.

Hope this helps.
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Old January 27th, 2009, 08:44 AM   #3
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Dave, it may be useful to clarify what you are talking about with the term "balance" as many people getting into stabilizers associate that with getting the sled to hang level, equally important of course.

Dave is focusing here on the fact that one's center of gravity is somewhat shifted when wearing a stabilizer, and that the attitude of the rig is entirely dependent on the operator's body position. Shift your hips one way or another, and the rig will follow (or counter), just like riding a bicycle. Nearly all operators have a tendency to lean into the rig, intently studying the monitor but this will cause the system to try to fly away from you which then requires a white-knuckle grip on the handle to keep it in check and ramps up the fatigue factor as Dave describes. As Steadicam instructors the phrases "stand up straight!" or "lean back!" are like a mantra as we chant them over and over in the early phases of a workshop.

So that is balance as it relates to the human interface of the rig, but not to be confused with either static or dynamic balance as we use those terms in the Steadicam world which are specific to configuration of the sled itself.
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Old January 27th, 2009, 12:14 PM   #4
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Hi Dave,

You are such a huge help both here and in the steadicam forum.I have actually been practicing the hands free balance for the last couple of days.I'll try and have it nailed by the feb. class.I don't have anything going on until the 15th of Feb. work wise so I'll have some additional time after the workshop to concentrate on actually filming with the rig.I hope to learn a lot at the workshop.I'll definitly leave my rig at home then.Maybe I'll just bring my vest in case.

thanks again,
Ryan
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Old January 27th, 2009, 12:17 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Charles Papert View Post
Dave is focusing here on the fact that one's center of gravity is somewhat shifted when wearing a stabilizer, and that the attitude of the rig is entirely dependent on the operator's body position. Shift your hips one way or another, and the rig will follow (or counter), just like riding a bicycle.
Yeah, Charles said it better than I did. Listen to this guy! He's the real deal. I'm still just learning.

It also helped me when the instructor talked about learning to walk all over again. Normal walking is so common, we don't even really know exactly how we do it anymore. It's automatic.

So think about exactly how you walk normally, without the rig on. When you go to take the first step, what's the first thing you do? Do you put your foot out? Try it. Stand up straight and put your foot out. Nothing happens. You're just standing there with your foot out...

When you walk normally, the first thing you do is lean forward slightly. You end up putting your foot out to keep from falling over. As you continue to walk, you keep leaning forward. If you want to walk faster, you lean forward more, and so on. This is how we walk.

Controlling the movement of the steadicam is very similar, except it's better to control the sled more with your hip position than by leaning. If you want it to move the sled forward, start by moving your hips back slightly, and then start walking to keep up with the rig. If you want to walk faster, move your hips back more. If you want to stop, move your hips forward to slow down, and then back to neutral when you've stopped. If you want to change positions between lens forward and lens backward within the same shot (like the exercises in the Flyer manual), then you have to do this little dance with your hips. Once you can do all this without touching the rig with either hand, and you've done it long enough so that it's second nature, then you're way ahead of the game. I wish I had gotten to that point before I took the class.

Last edited by Dave Gish; January 27th, 2009 at 05:34 PM.
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Old January 27th, 2009, 03:02 PM   #6
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thanks Dave and Charles...I'm on it.This helped me more then you can imagine.The better I get the more excited I get for the workshop.I think I have my work cut out for me for the next 15 years or so,but you have to start somewhere right? You guys are great!

thanks again!
Ryan
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Old January 29th, 2009, 06:57 AM   #7
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Well between you guys and the efp dvd that I just got yesterday I think I should be prepared for the workshop next weekend......Thanks again for everything guys!

Ryan
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