Glidecam 2000 vs Hollywood lite at DVinfo.net

Go Back   DV Info Net > The Tools of DV and HD Production > Support Your Local Camera > Stabilizers (Steadicam etc.)


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old June 6th, 2004, 06:34 AM   #1
New Boot
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: new York usa
Posts: 22
Glidecam 2000 vs Hollywood lite

While in NY, I purchased two glidecams this week, one for a friend in Europe, one for me. We both have panasonic dvx100a's. Before I packed them in my suitcase I thought I would try one out. Balancing it was not that difficult, but my wrist was shaking after a few minutes of use. I said to myself this would be impossable to hold on a shot where an actress was talking for more than 20 seconds; yeah maybe if she got it right on the first take!
So I called the glidecam guys (who were very nice on the phone), and they suggested I buy the body pod, or the hand brace.
I jumped in the taxi, went back to B & H, and was about to buy the hand brace. I asked if there might be a better solution? The salesguy suggested the hollywood lite, but it was not on display. So I jumped in the cab, went back downtown, picked up one of the glidecams, and went back to B & H for the exchange.
I opened the hollywood lite up at home...pretty disapointing construction, and componants. The "gimbal", was the same crappy ball head Bogun thingy that I owned more than 15 years ago.. in fact I still have one. But I tried it out, and in fact it is a lot easier to hold.
So, I'm looking at the two of these things, the glidecam is much more well made, and really looks like a rig made up by a pro, looking for a serious solution for an amatuer. The manual is complete, where as the Hollywood lite's is a one page flyer. The gimbal is really smooth, well made etc...
Honestly, it seemed to me that the well made one had to be the better choice; certainly it was the sexier choice.
I kept switching between the two of them trying to decide, which to keep for myself.
The Hollywood lite's gimbal is sticky, and the weight system does not offer a precise way to balance. If you try and pan the camera, it works, but is a not nearly as smooth...the glidecam's is like butter.
But the more I played with both, the more the weight issue became apparant...I can practically hold the hollywood lite indefinatly as there is almost no torque on my wrist.
Finally, I ran down in the street with both of them, and recorded a minute of video with each; no practice, I hardly read the manuals etc..
The Glidecam's smooth action made the thing virtually impossable to keep from moving while running, walking upstairs stc...you have to guide it with one hand, but that means you are not letting the weight do it's job.
Because the Hollywood lite is a sticky piece of crap (made by a big company to make lots of money), it's stickyness seems to help the camera from moving too much.
The video footage is not interesting to watch, but the Hollywood lite footage is much more controled, with an occasional 'hand jerk'. The glidecam's footage is smoother, but I ended up losing my framing, and control of where the camera was pointing.
In resume; my super amatuer test revealed, that for a super amatuer, the H lite might deliver better results...and you have a real chance of holding the thing long enough to make a movie. Whereas the Gidecam might be better for someone who is willing to take the time to use it properly, practice weird ways of running and who has strong wrists.
So I'm keeping my hollywood lite, and giving the glidecam to my friend, who feels he would be embarassed being seen with the h lite.
I have to say, I wish the other one performed as well as it looks...
feedback anyone?
jl
Jonathan Lennard is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 6th, 2004, 07:52 AM   #2
Wrangler
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Posts: 6,781
Re: Glidecam 2000 vs Hollywood lite

Wow Jonathan, that's quite a story.

<<<The Glidecam's smooth action made the thing virtually impossable to keep from moving while running, walking upstairs stc...you have to guide it with one hand, but that means you are not letting the weight do it's job.>>

That's not the case. Every handheld stabilizer needs one hand to support the rig and the other to guide the camera, i.e. pan and tilt. The smoother the gimbal, the more isolated the rig is from your own body and movements, which is a good thing. But you have to use the other hand to aim the camera, which requires a very light touch.

<<Because the Hollywood lite is a sticky piece of crap (made by a big company to make lots of money), it's stickyness seems to help the camera from moving too much>>

Hollywood Lite is a smaller company than Glidecam, FYI--neither of them would be considered "big" in a corporate sense.

In resume; my super amatuer test revealed, that for a super amatuer, the H lite might deliver better results...and you have a real chance of holding the thing long enough to make a movie. Whereas the Gidecam might be better for someone who is willing to take the time to use it properly, practice weird ways of running and who has strong wrists.
So I'm keeping my hollywood lite, and giving the glidecam to my friend, who feels he would be embarassed being seen with the h lite.
I have to say, I wish the other one performed as well as it looks...>>>

"The other one" being the Glidecam? If this is the case, then it does actually perform better--you indicated that the Hollywood Lite was stickier which covered up your lack of operating experience.

I'm sort of at a loss for words about this situation. It's sort of like comparing an entry level, all-automatic $600 camcorder with a $40K Dig-Beta camera, and suggesting that because the D-Beta doesn't have autofocus and the cheaper one does, you got "better" results with the cheap camera and thus the D-Beta isn't as good because your shots were out of focus. And really, the differences between these two stabilizers in question shouldn't be nearly as pronounced as the above example.

Since you didn't give the specific model names, I can only guess at which units you bought. But I am surprised to hear that you found the Hollywood Lite as shoddy as you did, I hadn't found that to be the case last time I played with them. I wouldn't say which manufacturer I prefer, but generally I find them comparable. It would have been interesting to see what you thought of a Steadicam JR, which has the center-mounted gimbal design like the Lite but at least as free a gimbal as the Glidecam. Thus it would have spoken to your fatigue issues, but I don't know if you would have liked the results because it takes time to learn how to control it.

Unfortunately, I think it comes down to this: if you want really good results from a stabilizer, you need a non-sticky gimbal AND willingness to practice. If your friend chooses to put in the time, it's likely that he will eventually be able to do shots with much more precision and smoothness than you would be able to, if the unit you are using is as unresponsive as you say.

I don't know if any of this helps. Mostly I'm sorry that you've had such a confusing and negative experience. I hope it works out for you.
__________________
Charles Papert
www.charlespapert.com
Charles Papert is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 6th, 2004, 08:38 AM   #3
Wrangler
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Posts: 6,781
As a follow-up:

I looked on the Hollywood Lite website to get a sense of which rig this might be; is it the Ultra-Lite? If so, I think I am starting to see what might be going on here.

Rather than utilize a gimbal with bearings, this unit uses a ball-and-socket mount which cannot by design be as smooth in operation. And the supplied lock-down on the ball effectively turns the system into essentially a "weighted stick" design that provides inertial stability but not angular isolation from the operator, limiting the results but making it initially easier to use (also allowing one-hand operation). To understand this, once you have locked the pivot on the handle, from a physics standpoint you can just substitute the curved body and handle with a straight pole; the effect will be the same.

The key advantage of this type of system is that it is much easier to use out of the box. The disadvantage is that it can never achieve the subtlety and precision of a true gimballed system. However, many users prefer simplicity over ultimate results, hence this line of products. (Hollywood Lite's other systems as seen on their website incorporate more traditional gimbals). The Ultra-Lite, along with the Varizoom Flowpod are hybrid products that can offer the user a locked-down simplified stabilizer that converts with a twist of the knob to a free-floating, isolating stabilizer, although the design of both will limit the effectiveness of this application compared to systems designed with pure stabilization in mind (Steadicam JR, Glidecam, other H. Lite units etc).

The market has clearly spoken: "we want an option of easy-to-use stabilizers, even if it means less-than perfect results", and these products are in response to that desire. I think that what makes it difficult to evaluate which products might be right for the individual is that the "easier" one will be more instantly satisfying while the "harder" one may seem unruly and deliver less impressive results at first.

Jonathan, check in with us down the line and update us on you and your friend's progress!
__________________
Charles Papert
www.charlespapert.com
Charles Papert is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 6th, 2004, 08:41 AM   #4
New Boot
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: new York usa
Posts: 22
Thanks for your reponse..and I think you are right on most of the issues. I certainly stand corrected about the company who makes the hollywood lite, as I had understood from the vendor that it was Bogen, now I see that Bogen is just a componant.
Now Charles, go to my website, www.jonathanlennard.com.... have a look at the spots page.. I'm a commercial director and have directed over 75 major TV ads...I am not the Director of Photography, but you can be sure I understand the principles behind image making...as I do call the shots, I do spend days sitting next to Techno Cranes, and I have worked a zillion times with real Steadiicams.

I will say again, the Hollywood light is shoddily constructed (so much so I think that B & H does not keep one on display, whereas they do keep all the other brands out), but with an interesting design, and the Glidecam, although much better constructed, has a design flaw..which is, there is too much torque created on your wrist, rendering it very difficult to hold for any extended period of time.
I do think the lousy gimbal actually creates a bit more friction making the Hollywood lite a little less of a race horse, thus a bit easier to use as an amatuer.
But, I do agree, with the proper amount of training and strong wrists, the glidecam is perhaps better.

Finally, I bought all of this stuff inorder to shoot some 'low tech' hi concept work. When I need to use the 'big guns' I use them. I would be the first to agree that neither of these units are pro. I suspect that a lot of the people who read these pages, are looking for low-cost solutions to film making, and that the majority of them are never going to have years of film-school behind them, years of assisting etc...and just may not be physically able to carry the weight or be acrobatic enough to get the most out of the better performing machine.
jl
Jonathan Lennard is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 6th, 2004, 09:26 AM   #5
Wrangler
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Posts: 6,781
Nice site, Jonathan. Me, I haven't gotten around to putting together a true website; but if you're inclined you can see what I've done here.

I do think we agree on much of this. I have long championed the centered gimbal design over the offset for reasons of fatigue. The torque adds to the already formidable task of carrying the weight.

Just to address your final thoughts: while it is true that many readers here are focused on achieving the best results with the least investment, I've seen many who strive to duplicate the level of filmmaking they see in the theatres or on TV (including your spot work, possibly!). They may opt to spend countless hours building their own versions of existing technology to save even a few hundred dollars. And my hats are off to them.

The cool thing is that for many of them, a lack of formal background in film isn't a hindrance to following their dream; armed with a DVX and an NLE, they are making movies and putting them up on the web for the world to see. Certainly there are those who are looking for a quick solution, a shortcut to greatness (i.e. "what filter can I put on my DV camera to make it look like film?") but I never cease to be amazed at those who are have the perseverance and interest to keep at it until it rivals what you and I do for a living (chilling, but true...)

Here's an example: what would you think if a Steadicam operator showed up on one of your sets with this rig? Now check out his demos--I'll tell you what, there are guys listed in the NYPG with the $100K Steadicam package and long resumes that are no better (maybe not even as good!)

Anyway, I just try to keep the information flowing around here when I can, and present it in such a way that our gentle readers get the whole picture. But it was good to know where you were coming from and what you were looking for from out of the gear you bought.
__________________
Charles Papert
www.charlespapert.com
Charles Papert is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 6th, 2004, 10:34 AM   #6
New Boot
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: new York usa
Posts: 22
Hey Charles,
I'm impressed! And we shall agree to agree. Now, one last thing...do you think I've made the wrong choice? I labored over this decision, and I am still asking myself, would the glidecam and the armbrace have been the better choice?
Or was there another option? (steadicam jr. did not seem to be the same thing).
jl

And...weighing the pro's and con's (no pun intended), why won't you take a stand?
jl
Jonathan Lennard is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 6th, 2004, 01:25 PM   #7
Wrangler
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Posts: 6,781
The JR does the same job as the Glidecam, and was in fact the original handheld stabilizer. Did the salesman steer you away from it?

For what I think you were describing as your useage (pre-viz? Or ripomatics?), having that fine degree of control and framing may not be all that necessary, so I would put your operating comfort plus your desire to not spend hours of practice time first.

As far as choosing one brand over another, I haven't done exhaustive side-by-side research of this level of stabilizer to the point where I feel comfortable with a straight-up endorsement. I do own a JR and have achieved great results with it in the past. Also I am producing an instructional DVD with multiple manufacturer's rigs being represented, and thus need to remain somewhat unbiased to give them all a fair shake (so to speak). I do have preferences when it comes to the big rigs, but that's a discussion for a whole other message board! (www. steadicamforum.com, to be exact).
__________________
Charles Papert
www.charlespapert.com
Charles Papert is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 6th, 2004, 04:47 PM   #8
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Berkshire, UK
Posts: 107
<<<-- Originally posted by Charles Papert : Nice site, Jonathan. Me, I haven't gotten around to putting together a true website; but if you're inclined you can see what I've done here. -->>>

That's a very impressive and inspiring collection of work you have there Charles.
Pat Chaney is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 6th, 2004, 09:06 PM   #9
Wrangler
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Posts: 6,781
Thanks Pat!
__________________
Charles Papert
www.charlespapert.com
Charles Papert is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 25th, 2004, 12:59 PM   #10
Major Player
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Cass Lake MN
Posts: 221
varizoom vs glidecam

Thanks for all the good information! I'm going to be using some sort of stablizaton for a lot of documentary work that I'm doing. And I've been looking at the varizoom primarily because of the monopod feature. Does the varizoom have the funky gimbal that you have been talking about? And have any of you folks used this solution? Remember I'm talking Doc stuff, so I need portable easy to get in and out of the vehicle, and not terribly expensive.

thanks for the assistance!
Milt Lee
http://realrez.com
Hollow Bone Productions
Milt Lee is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 25th, 2004, 08:56 PM   #11
Trustee
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Suwanee, GA
Posts: 1,241
I have been using my Glidecam 2000 for about a year and a half. It took me six months practice before I started liking the shots. It really is for short shots as 3 minutes is about the max I can use it before fatigue starts adding shakes.

The one thing I can recommend about it over the others is the flat base. I can set my camera down without laying it down. You have to be careful as it is easy to knock over, but it gives you an extra hand.

But, I do lust for a full rig. Charles has me drooling over the new Steadicam. But it is as much as my entire budget for last year ;) .
George Ellis is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 25th, 2004, 10:10 PM   #12
Major Player
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Cass Lake MN
Posts: 221
long shots

Yes, I'm sure that holding something for a long time is an issue. In fact that's why I want something, because I shoot out on the reservation and can be frequently shooting one shot that lasts 10 minutes. Of course, if I know I'm doing something static - then I set up the old tripod, but I'm really looking for something in-between. I didn't know if the varizoom was heavy enough or smooth enough to really be helpful for stablization, but the mon-pod aspect is quite appealing. Anybody used both?

Thanks,
Milt Lee
Milt Lee is offline   Reply
Reply

DV Info Net refers all where-to-buy and where-to-rent questions exclusively to these trusted full line dealers and rental houses...

Professional Video
(800) 833-4801
Portland, OR

B&H Photo Video
(866) 521-7381
New York, NY

Z.G.C.
(973) 335-4460
Mountain Lakes, NJ

Abel Cine Tech
(888) 700-4416
N.Y. NY & L.A. CA

Precision Camera
(800) 677-1023
Austin, TX

DV Info Net also encourages you to support local businesses and buy from an authorized dealer in your neighborhood.
  You are here: DV Info Net > The Tools of DV and HD Production > Support Your Local Camera > Stabilizers (Steadicam etc.)

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

 



Google
 

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 09:41 PM.


DV Info Net -- Real Names, Real People, Real Info!
1998-2017 The Digital Video Information Network