Steadicam Flyer Dynamic Balance Help please? ;) at DVinfo.net

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Old February 27th, 2009, 12:45 AM   #1
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Steadicam Flyer Dynamic Balance Help please? ;)

Hey watsup...

I just got my flyer yesterday.. and 9 hours later.. i am still trying to figure out this dynamic balance thing... the whole process has tested my will to not drink!!! lol..

being the cocky prick that i am, I naively thought i could master this thing overnight and use it on a big shoot in the morning... its safe to say that all my dolly and tracking shots were done with a golf cart..

Anyway, ive read the primer (well i skipped the math part, ill get it to it when im less busy), seen the 1990 "Classic" DVD twice and also the VHS tape that came with it twice.. btw, VHS?!?! really??? that's like shipping a learn spanish audio lesson with casette tapes...

and my 360 degree pan looks like it had a couple shots of black label.

this is my process (forgive any terminology that is used wrong, im new to this stabilizer world):
-adjust the length of the pod holding the batteries and monitor
-adjust the monitor angle
-mount the camera which is on the stage (i used a jvc 200 with an anton bauer attached, assuming that a heavier load will lead to a more stable image... probably weights 11lbs)
-make sure that the camera cg is a half inch away from the center post
-do the vertical static balance thing where you put the rig horizontal and make sure the cg is a bit bottom heavy.
- make sure the vertical swing up is about 2-3 seconds
- do the fore aft balance
- do the side to side balance
- check to make sure the rig is upright and not leaning forward or to the side (no, im not using a leveler)
- then do the 360 pan test (at that point i was super eager to do those ultra spin moves that the pros do, but was utterly disappointed)
-when the wobble occured.. i would adjust the battery up and done until the wobble was non existant.. (which never occurred)

The best i did was a slight wobble...

Anyway, am I doing something wrong?? I eventually will want to use my other 200 that is equipped with a red rock m2 adapter... and that setup will probably push the weight to around 17lbs...im estimating...

So if the camera setup is 17lbs.. and im using 2 anton bauer at the bottom for about 4lbs... and the monitor is probably no more than a lb... does the dynamic balance hinge on some equation that the monitor should have weight in proportion to the other 2 items on the rig?? (maybe i shouldve read that math section in the primer)

Also.. is this the reason why my dolly shots look wobble as if i was on a boat in the middle of an ocean storm?? or is it just my novice skills... maybe a combination of both...

Any help will be really really appreciated.. really..

thank you in advance..
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Old February 27th, 2009, 01:59 AM   #2
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The simplest method to use when you first start out is the suck it and see method. Later you'll start to grasp things more intuitively, and be able to balance much quicker with confidence in what your changes will do.
Once you have static balance, but still need dynamic balance, drop or raise the battery pack by an half an inch, re-trim the stage, and give it a spin. If it's worse than before, go back the other way, past the original point by 1/4 of an inch. By trial and error you will narrow it down.
Eventually you will know which way to move it first. Don't make the post too long at first either, it's more difficult to balance, and keep your drop time closer to 2 seconds till you get more skill at control.
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Old February 27th, 2009, 04:01 AM   #3
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hey boss thanks for the response...

so, quick question... i was practicing trucking to the right and left, both walking forward and backwards... when i reviewed the footage... the shot either swayed to the left or right.. or just swayed like i was shooting on a ship...

is this a matter of being a novice learner??? is it because of bad dynamic balance?? or a combination of both???

thanks
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Old February 27th, 2009, 04:27 AM   #4
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That is usually the result of being too bottom heavy, you get a pendulum effect. You either need to set the gimbal lower if practical, shorten the post perhaps, or learn to better compensate with your post hand. Still it could be fine, you just aren't used to compensating yet.
Your sled has to be bottom heavy to some degree, but it can be a fine line between too much and too little. Most people seem to start out thinking the rig should control itself mostly, but it's not really like that. You always have to adjusting, even standing still to compensate for your breathing, the wind, whatever.
Perhaps your grip is too light, it's really impossible to diagnose over the internet. Best thing is to do a class or two. That way an Op can eyeball your technique one on one.
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Old February 27th, 2009, 05:03 AM   #5
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hmmmm so does dynamic balance really just affects panning movements then???

also are there theories about the weight of the monitor in proportion to the weights of the battery packs and the camera??

thanks for all the advice and information, its well appreciated
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Old February 27th, 2009, 06:12 AM   #6
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Buy this book - The Steadicam Operator's Handbook :: Jerry Holway, Holway Films Inc - all will be explained :)
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Old February 27th, 2009, 06:54 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marc de Jesus View Post
I just got my Flyer yesterday... being the cocky prick that i am, I naively thought i could master this thing overnight and use it on a big shoot in the morning... its safe to say that all my dolly and tracking shots were done with a golf cart..
If it were a new camera of other piece of gear, you may have been able to get some good results in 24 hours. But with steadicam, it takes weeks or months to get good, and years to get feature film quality shots.

I often compare it to learning how to ski. It takes a while to get good, and much longer if you want to compete professionally, but learning is a lot of fun!
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Old February 27th, 2009, 06:23 PM   #8
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Yah I definitely will have to purcahse that book... and I will just have to keep on trying at the dynamic balance thing...

btw, if the dynamic balance is correct... when you pan the camera on the stand.. it should not wobble at all correct?? meaning the gimble pivot should stay parallel to the floor rather than wobble??
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Old February 27th, 2009, 11:10 PM   #9
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Marc-

While dynamically balancing your rig is a useful tool, I would not get too hung up on it right off the bat. It is certainly not a magic bullet that is key to good operating. It is very helpful for some aspects of operating, but you will need to learn many, many other skills before DB will be a make-or-break for your shots. And remember that Steadicam was around for a loooong time before it even became a known aspect of operating, and operators still got (and get) great shots!

I get the impression (and I certainly could be wrong, please don't misperceive this as an attack) that you want to fast-track the whole learning procedure, and it simply is not possible. Steadicam operating can be likened to many things; like Dave mentions, skiing. It can also be likened to playing the saxophone. No beginning sax player plays pleasing sounding music for quite some time until skills are first learned, then refined. The culmination of many skills are required; embouchure, keying, breath control, etc. are necessary "hard" skils, and then there are all the things that add finesse and style; a keen understanding of "groove", dynamics, etc. etc.

It is only by long and careful study of the many elements, along with a dedication to first understand them and then practice to master them, that will result in "music" as opposed to "notes in a row".

I've been working with various Steadicam rigs for about two years now and am just starting to get predictable results from my shots. It's a long, hard road, but worth every step.

And I'll echo the endorsement of Jerry Holway and Laurie Hayball's excellent book. I just received it 2 days ago, and am only 45 pages into it. So far it has all been "review" for me, but I'm glad I'm taking the time to go through it. There are nuances added to what I already "know" that will only make me a better operator.

Take a deep breath, settle in for the long haul, and take the pressure off of yourself to get great shots any time soon.

Best of luck to you!
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Old February 28th, 2009, 02:41 AM   #10
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Thanks for the recommendation on the book. I'm going to pick it up :).
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Old February 28th, 2009, 05:28 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by David C. Williams View Post
thanks for the recommendation... i'll be sure to order a copy of it... I am assuming this has loads more information then their 1990 VHS training tape "digitally" remastered to DVD
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Old February 28th, 2009, 05:30 PM   #12
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Frank,

thanks for the advice.. i actually thought dynamic balancing was the reason why my truck shots were swaying...

but now i realize its just the fact that i am new to this skill... and just have to practice..
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Old March 1st, 2009, 01:20 PM   #13
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correcting these problems takes constant practice at compensating, controlling your movement, and understanding how the rig reacts to you, the operator. I'm in the same boat as you, being a beginning operator, and I would suggest buying that book, watching that EFP DVD over and over, TAKING A WORKSHOP, and practice, practice, practice...
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Old March 2nd, 2009, 07:59 AM   #14
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Swaying also occurs because people hold the sled too tightly. You want to hold the sled with nothing but your fingertips. You shouldnt need anymore than that if its balanced correctly.

Ive seen vids from people holding it with a full hand or worse yet full hand and towards the bottom.

Fingertips, just below the gimble
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