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Old August 5th, 2002, 12:20 AM   #16
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Hello all, longtime lurker, first time poster.

Well, I just went ahead and ordered the magiqcam. He had one up on ebay for $100 off, plus a free carrying case. Once it arrives I'll play around with it a bit and post my thoughts. If Chris is interested I'd love to write a review...
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Old August 5th, 2002, 05:16 AM   #17
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Daniel I saw that deal on Ebay. I was interested myself. I would love to hear how it works for you. It is half the price of the big names so it was kind of scary. I talked to some of there employees and they say they have a two week back up because they build each unit by hand. That threw me out because I wanted a unit for a trip I leave on Aug the 12th.


Charles thanks for checking at the DV show. I wish I could have gone. I am all the way on the other side of the US. I am going to stop being cheap and start flying to some of these things just for the fun of it.

Thanks for all the replies everybody.
Marcus Farrar
Production Director
Katana Productions
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Old August 5th, 2002, 09:06 AM   #18
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Yeah, it concerned me too, since I was scammed on the XL1s on Ebay- ended up buying the camera twice. That time was my fault for blind faith- the fact that the guy wanted a cashier's check should have been a red flag. Anyways, this guy accepts credit card, so I have that level of protection in case something goes wrong- but I'm not worried, he really looks legit. The other guy was just like that post on who not to buy from on Ebay- chalk it up to a very expensive lesson.
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Old August 5th, 2002, 09:20 AM   #19
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Location: Raleigh, NC USA
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I believe this company is lagit. I have had some communications with the group. I am curious in the performance of the unit.

Keep us (me) posted

You are in fact correct with watching for scams. There are a lot of good scam artist out there.

Marcus Farrar
Production Director
Katana Productions
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Old August 15th, 2002, 09:37 PM   #20
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Well, it arrived today! I unpacked it and started playing around with it a bit. It'll take time to get the hang of, but I could tell right off the bat it will make a big difference. I need to learn the control, but already it is at least floaty instead of jerky when I move. As I practice more and more, there is less and less float. I might use it a bit at a wedding this weekend, so we'll have to see. Already I can tell it is a well built product. It reminds me of Bob Jones's Skycrane- a handbuilt product built by someone who really knows how to do it and has a passion for it. And you can't beat the price!
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Old August 15th, 2002, 09:41 PM   #21
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Daniel, after you've had it for awhile and once you get used to it, I'll take you up on that review you offered. Would love to put some words on the website about this thing. Let us know what you think, and thanks for the update.

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Old September 16th, 2002, 09:16 AM   #22
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I've been thinking about the Magicam. Would you recommend it? What are its pros and cons?


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Old September 16th, 2002, 04:30 PM   #23
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Unfortunately, I only got to use it for one wedding before the end of summer, and now am back to school. I'm a CS major at Harvey Mudd, which takes pretty much my every waking moment, so I haven't had a chance to work with it since.

In the brief use I've had, it has been quite positive. I don't have much of a frame of reference, but it was far smoother than anything I could obtain handheld. Looking at the demos for the Glidecam, it seems to achieve similar smoothness once moving, but it was very rough changing directions - which is a operator issue, as within the first day the later footage was far smoother.

So functionally, I say it is an amazing value. As for build, it is remarkable given it is hand-built, but it has a couple odd points. Adjusting the harness, I could never seem to get it tight enough, even pulling out all the slack. Now, I'd like to think that this means I am just really thin, but I know better. I am of medium build, ~170 lbs, 5'10". Anyways, I fiddled around with it awhile and finally got it to where it worked, but it seemed like a hassle. Perhaps the other vests are similar, I don't know.

The only big problem I have had is a noisy spring in the arm, which looks like it needs some lubrication. It isn't loud, and only occurs when I move it really fast. The documentation mentions lubricating parts, so I think that it would solve that.

So yeah, I'd say it is an excellent value for the money. I am sure a true steadicam is superior, but not nearly by the same factor in performance as it is in price.

Pros: Works very well, very affordable
Cons: Vest fit a little odd at first, springs can make a bit of noise if not lubricated
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Old September 16th, 2002, 04:59 PM   #24
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The key to these stabilization systems is the gimbal and the delicate balance of the camera on the sled.

The other stuff, like the support arm (human or mechanical) simply helps support the gimbal and sled.

The concept is amazingly simple. What costs money is the low volume of manufacture and the need for precision-machined parts.

I've had similar problems when initiating movements, as well as when I'm rounding corners. The sled wants to either weathervane in the wind or roll based on whatever g-forces are generated by any movements.

The trick to prevent this from happening is having the rig delicately balanced. It's less likely to roll when swinging the rig around. But it also makes it less apt to stay exactly upright when at a standstill. Thus the need to have just enough counterweight to keep it vertical.

Another factor is the sled's mass. The heavier it is the more resistant it is to bouncing, adverse roll, yaw and pitch. Unfortunately it's also harder on the back or arms.

Sure makes for a heck of a workout!

Dean Sensui
Base Two Productions.
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Old September 16th, 2002, 10:15 PM   #25
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Dean's points are right on the money. The only thing I would want to elaborate on is that the arm does more than just support the weight--it is integral to isolating the camera assembly from the operator's up-and-down movements (and partially for side to side, front to back etc.) There are some inexpensive arms out there that will support the weight, but transmit enough motion that the rig tends to bounce up and down like a car with bad shocks; a good arm will damp this all out.

The best advice I can give regarding changing directions is to echo what you have already suspected, Daniel: practice practice practice! Mastering the subtleties of keeping a dead-on horizon takes months if not years for most operators; keeping the rig from swinging out when coming to a fast stop or reversing direction is a tough one. The main thing to understand is that it's all about a light touch; keeping a death-grip on the post will ensure "floatiness". Stopping or reversing direction requires one to clamp down or squeeze the fingers on the post for just the right amount of time (fraction of a second), absorbing the inertial forces, then releasing back to a feather-light touch before you over-influence the rig.

The noise in the arm may have numerous possible causes, everything from a design flaw to a loose component to lack of lubrication as you indicated. Best to check with the manufacturer.

Have fun with the rig!
Charles Papert
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Old September 17th, 2002, 03:20 PM   #26
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Hi All,

well, I finally stumbled upon this thread and should chime in
with what I think . . . you asked for it, though maybe not this much ;)

First, The MARzPAK™ ( is not a true
stabilizer in the sense of a REAL steadicam or glidecam system.
In other words, it is not for super silky smooth walking/running shots.
If that is what you need, buy the real deal.

What The MARzPAK offers is handheld support for any camera
from a tiny miniDV (2 lbs) all the way up to a DSR-500 and above (25lbs),
and here's why you need a MARzPAK in your tool set.

Because cameras like the VX2K and XL1 do not weigh very much,
they are prone to shake and vibrate in your hands. Pick up a car battery
and you'll notice that it WON'T shake, because of its mass.

The idea behind the MARzPAK is for the overhead pipe
and the suspension cord
(that runs through the pipe) to float the camera for you,
that makes it much easier to hold still.
The MARzPAK holds not only the camera's weight
(2-25 Lbs.), BUT as you pull the camera down, stretch the cord and lean on your camera, the suspension cord will help float your arms' mass too.
So, your arms act as an additional stabilizing weight while the
pak holds everything for you.

The other issue with with small cameras is their shooting ergonomics.
A super light camera usually produces shaky footage, and
let's face facts, the XL1 is brutal to shoot with, because it is neither
a shoulder cam NOR super light.

Some say, "Okay, I'll buy a shoulder brace."
There are problems IMO with braces.
1) The shoulder brace adds more weight that YOU have to support on ONE shoulder. You can never let go and the weight is NOT evenly distributed.
2) You've trapped yourself into that one camera position . . . ugh.
3) One of your hands is holding the brace's grip, so plan on buying a remote controller or losing one hand's functionality (what's it going to be focus or zoom?).

MARzTech has also sold a lot of paks to large camera people
who are looking to relieve their sore back, shoulders and neck, and others
who can feel the damage being inflicted and would like to avoid these health issues before it is too late.
The MARzPAK does really well for these people and also people
who have to shoot all day long, be ready in an instant, or who are documenting treks and wildlife that they have to hike to reach.

The MARzPAK weighs under 6 lbs. All its and the camera's weight is evenly distributed to the hips and a little to the shoulder straps,
all of which are nice thick/soft closed cell foam.
You can position the camera from as high as your arms can reach in the sky, and still go all the way to the floor, while being supported all the time.

Some people have accused us of using a tripod in making our demo video. Not one shot in there was anything but MARzPAK footage and CG created titles and animations. NO post production shot stabilizer software was used,
and our best footage is not even on that early production.

Since the time that demo was shot, MARzTech has made another big improvement.
We have added an additional stabilizer weight as an option. Basically a 2.5 or 5 Lbs. barbell that threads into the tripod hole and hangs about 6" under the camera by threaded rod.
This additional weight really adds to stability. This principle is how
the glidecam 2000 and steadytracker work, except with those units the camera op uses his arm(s) to support all that extra weight, making a shot several minutes long nearly impossible. In addition, the "sled" and monitor usually hang 24-30" underneath the camera.
That means you can't lower the camera below 24-30" above the floor.
I use a 2.5 lbs. stabilizer weight and mount a battery and wireless on top of that, so their weight is now helping to stabilize too (& usually have to carry them along anyway ;).

Okay, too much info, but in summary,

The MARzPAK is super well made and costs 1/5 the EZ Rig & 1/3rd the Tortle rig (our competition) and is much more flexible. Made in USA.

You can get great tripod like footage while retaining handheld mobility.

There is almost nothing to break, few moving parts and a
30 sec set up . . . a Russian tank.

By changing suspension cords (60 sec.), you can go from a 2 lbs. camera to a 25 lbs. camera.

Instead of suffering and praying the gig will end soon, you stay comfortable for as long as it takes and your ending footage is as good as the beginning footage.

I am now a whimp and won't shoot handheld without a MARzPAK if I have a choice.
Jacques Mersereau
University of Michigan-Video Studio Manager
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