Tried out a Steadicam JR today. Initial thoughts and questions. at DVinfo.net

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Old December 13th, 2003, 07:23 PM   #1
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Tried out a Steadicam JR today. Initial thoughts and questions.

A buddy of mine has a Steadicam JR and I played with it today to see if I was interested in buying it.

I've got some questions for those with experience with the JR.

I'm using a GL2 and even with the video it took me a good long time to get this thing close to balanced. He only has the heavy and light stopper and I'm using the light one. I don't know if the medium one would be better or not.

Even though the thing is pretty well balanced, the recovery time is about 2 seconds, it's been REALLY hard to maintain a proper Y-axis balance. (side to side that is, I think that's Y).

The bubble seems way too sensitive to be of use. If it's off and I barely adjust the side to side it goes to the other side. Then if I turn the camera even a little the bubble will move again.

Just walking straight it's nearly impossible to maintain a level picture. Even using the second hand to help it's really hard.

Maybe this is normal and just requires practice but of all the axiseseses (plural of axis?) the Y one seems the loosest.

Another thought, don't try and learn on this bending over shooting your kids. Learn standing up.

I like the GL2 on this because of the start/stop button on top of the camera. It's not a huge thing, but I find it easier to hit it than the thumb one on the side of the camera.

I guess that's really about it. If I can get better or figure out to make the Y-axis a little more solid then I think it's a keeper.

One other thing, on the video he talks about really having to turn the adjustment knobs (both tilt and side to side) full turns to make changes as it's such a fine adjustment.

I'm not finding this at all. Even the smallest turn will make a pretty big change. Maybe this is an indication that my balance isn't what it should be.

Thanks for the help.
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Old December 13th, 2003, 09:50 PM   #2
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Bryan:

It sounds as if you need a greater drop time (from horizontal to vertical--is this what you are calling recovery time?). If the unit is too neutrally balanced, it will tend to waffle around a bit. Too much bottom heaviness will make tilting an effort, however.

Much of what you describe becomes better with practice. No-one gets great results at first.

Try operating it without your fingers on the guide, walking in a straight line. If the "y" axis rolling is minimized, this is an indication that you are overcontrolling the rig (guide fingers exerting too much or too constant force). Too much is actually a very subtle amount with the JR!

The bubble is quite sensitive, yes. And it is not accurate at all times--during a pan, for instance, it will be useless as you have noticed. It's a reference that needs to be interpreted. When it is of use is during balancing, and in straightaways during a move with no lateral acceleration. After a while one learns to discard the extraneous information provided by the bubble.
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Old December 13th, 2003, 09:55 PM   #3
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Thanks Charles. I'll try making it a bit more bottom heavy (this will make the drop time longer right?)
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Old December 13th, 2003, 10:23 PM   #4
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Right. Somewhere between 2 and 3 seconds is pretty standard. You may find that starting out, a shorter drop time will help you get used to the thing and over time you can experiment with going longer. Be aware that the quicker the drop time, the more likely the rig is to pendulum or kick out when you start and stop, or go around corners, but it will be easier to keep it steady in straight shots.
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