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Old August 28th, 2002, 09:00 PM   #1
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xl-1 steadicams

has anyone used xl-1 with a steadicam or steadicam jr. i am looking for a "dirt-cheap" steadicam that is suitable for the weight of the xl-1
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Old August 28th, 2002, 09:02 PM   #2
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Do a search for "stabilizers". There has been much discussion of this.
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Old August 28th, 2002, 11:30 PM   #3
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I have a recent post on here about using a monopod and a few wieghts as a glidecam like stabilizer. Works great. Not my original idea though so I can't take credit. You should be able to find the post fairly easily.
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Old August 29th, 2002, 12:04 AM   #4
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I'm sure if Casey Visco (who works for Glidecam) checks in, he'd want to clarify that the primary difference between their line of products and a weighted monopod is that the Glidecams all incorporate a gimbal which allows for much greater angular isolation from the operator. The other type (born some years ago in the film industry as a "Pogocam") uses the human arm as a "bounce remover" but still translates angular movement into the frame to a certain degree. Nevertheless it is possible to improve on a handheld shot, particularly running or climbing stairs, with the setup Dylan describes.
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Old August 29th, 2002, 12:40 AM   #5
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Agreed. There is a definite value in a Glidecam setup and it will be an improvement over a monopod home job. However for $30 most of us can afford it compared to a $400 (or more) Glidecam 4000. Murray did say "dirt cheap".

I'm still saving for a Glidecam V8. :)
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Old August 30th, 2002, 11:55 PM   #6
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Ya, I made one of those mono pods with the weights on the bottom a long time ago. The footage looked excellent!!
...but after about 2 min. of using it your arm says "forget it!"
Good for a few special shots but not a whole days worth.

I have some footage tapes I made a couple of years ago when I used my "steady-pod". I ran up and down stairs, climbed up and down on furniture, tables, chairs and tried to make it shake. The footage still looked great. I used the base of a weighted microphone stand. I posted a picture a while back somewhere.

I'll post some footage as well too..soon, hopefully! :)
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Old August 31st, 2002, 11:07 AM   #7
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Glide Stick

I was suprised, when I bought a Glide Stick from www.macresq.com It was cheap, easy to use, and gave me a great picture. I'm happy...but will upgrade some day soon!
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Old September 2nd, 2002, 01:08 AM   #8
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What about the Steadytracker?

Murray,

I use the steadtracker on my XL1S and found it to be very beneficial, I just love the fact that it can stand on top of your shoulders to give you those high angle shots. And the fact that you can use it with the low angle cage and shoot some ground level footage.

but it is as heavy as everyone says it is if not heavier. if you are looking for something to help you shoot non stop steadicam footage, then I would recommend you save up for a body mountable system, if like me you are only trying to do goodfellas steadicam shot them this should be good enough.

daniel
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Old September 2nd, 2002, 05:20 AM   #9
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Daniel:

I wouldn't want to sound overly discriminatory about this but...a vest and arm setup will do much more than allow the user to shoot for longer periods of time. As I mentioned earlier in this thread, the presence of a gimbal on a stabilizer system (such as in all brands that incorporate a vest and arm) will allow for more subtle operating than a "weighted stick" type stabilizer such as the Steadytracker.

I only make this distinction because you refer to a shot from "Goodfellas" (I'm assuming you refer to the long tracking shot through the kitchen and dining room of the Copa) as being your yardstick. The shot in question incorporates truckloads more subtlety than simply following two people through a room--it's one of the more brilliantly designed and executed Steadicam shots of all time. If you have the movie in your DVD collection, I recommend watching that scene closely, it's a veritable textbook of blocking and framing techniques that I could prattle on at an inappropriate length here if I got started! (Sorry--got a little sensitive about the phrase "if you are only trying to do goodfellas steadicam shot then this should be good enough")
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Old September 2nd, 2002, 10:44 AM   #10
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Whoa another one of those comments

I must have mispoke... it so strange to see a lot of posters who are very sensitive about comments regarding time, practice, patience or anything to do with experience and all of a sudden harmless comments can be taken as something that undermines everyone's knowledge and completely discredit years of hard work...

What is also very strange to see is people padding their responses with the "hope this is not too critical" lines...

I thought this was a forum for people to help each other out... if you have something to say then the least you could do is do simply that... instead of having to go through the routine preventative action hoping that your comments may or may not insult or offend anyone...

By writing this response I am in a way NOT helping Murray in deciding a solution for his problem at all instead I should really be starting a new thread...

Sorry Murray.

If Murray has the resources to get himself a vest and arm steadicam then Murray forget the "weighted stick" in fact if I have the money, I wouldn't be trying to give advice on budget filmmaking.... comments like these doesn't help me to become a better filmmaker... I am here to learn period and try to at the very least return the favors many has done me by giving my two cents...

Hope I haven't been too critical...

Daniel
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Old September 2nd, 2002, 10:56 AM   #11
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There was an episode of The Xfiles that did a whole long section with a camera stablizer. It took until the commercial until there was a break! They even went into an elevator and circled around each person. The amazing part I found was the quality of all the lighting in each location. (this was right after they used to film here in beautiful Vancouver BC, then the show died after they went back to Hollywood!...;) )
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Old September 3rd, 2002, 06:20 AM   #12
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Daniel:

Perhaps you were being facetious about the Goodfellas shot. If this is so, let's chalk it up to another example of irony being difficult to identify on the internet (and me being a notably sarcastic type, I'm usually the perpetrator if this sort of misunderstanding).

If the comment was not being made in jest (which was how I read it), I feel that I was in fact trying to help Murray and others who might read this thread by pointing out that the Steadytracker and similar non-gimbalized stabilizers are not likely to deliver results similar to those found in "Goodfellas". They are great for action scenes, basic walk and talks and short, simple moves, in addition to the versatility of easily garnering high and low angle shots as you pointed out. And as you and Adam both indicated, tough to hump through a three minute take such as that shot in the Copa...

You bring up an interesting point though, which has given me pause to consider. Why should I, a working Steadicam operator, be giving any kind of advice on budget filmmaking? After some thought, here's my response:

I started out at the same place as everyone else. Somewhere I still have some test footage of me running around up and down my NYU dorm hallway 18 years ago with a pre-camcorder VHS setup mounted on a tripod, with the center column extended and the legs retracted, essentially the same principle as a Steadytracker. Over the next year I set about to build a homebuilt Steadicam, which I achieved with moderate success--too bad I didn't have the resource of today's amazing homebuilt stabilizer web sites! I bought my first "big rig" (ancient and beat up, but still a bona fide Steadicam) about 12 years ago, but I still kept up on the "consumer"market as it developed. I bought a JR when they came out and had some great experiences with it; when I go to trade shows I check out the Glidecams and Hollywood Lites and yes, even the Steadytrackers and similar setups. There are so many of them these days that I can't keep up with all the variations and manufacturers, but the physics tend to remain constant regardless.

(And as far as keeping a hand in low-budget filmmaking, I co-produce a regular event called "Instant Films" in which 8 short films are made in a weekend on virtually no budget (www.instantfilms.com).)

I don't mean to denigrate the Steadytracker when I refer to it as a "weighted stick", incidentally. Because really, the JR and other handheld stabilizers are just "weighted sticks with gimbals" and the full-size Steadicams are just "weighted sticks with gimbals, supported by arm/vest". As I said, the physics remain constant, mostly it's the features and construction that make one brand different from another.

Unlike "Steadishot" technology (electronic stabilization), the success of mechanical stabilizers is very much dependent on the user's finesse and in some cases, strength/stamina. There are probably many more Steadicam JR's moldering away in garages than in actual use today, and that's because many folks bought them thinking they could pull the thing out of the box and instantly be able to pull off, well, the "Goodfellas" shot. There's an unquestionable learning curve to wielding a Steadicam, but anyone who puts their mind to it and is ready to spend the time will make themselves proud. I've seen some amazing footage made with simple stabilizers, even a shot or two that I would have sworn was made on a full-size rig.


Adam, that was indeed a great episode of X Files, the one on the boat, right? It was shot using a Steadicam-type system called the PRO rig (visible at www.pro-gpi.com; it's the most popular brand in the film world and my rig of choice also). I'd love to see it again, I only caught part of it--the split screens were cool, especially when characters jumped across them! You are also right about the lighting, it's a serious challenge lighting for Steadicam shots that go and see everywhere. The obvious choice is to hang everything from the ceiling, resulting in a look that may not be as flattering as one would like. "ER" relies on practical ceiling fixtures, mostly fluorescent, for their lengthy tracking shots, while "The West Wing" has a more punchy, dyanamic approach with regularly spaced high intensity downlights (MR-16's) in the hallways.
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Old September 6th, 2002, 07:26 PM   #13
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The X-File episode name was "Triangle". The operator was Dave Luckenbach who spent 10 days filming with the 60 pound rig.

I believe that most film magazines holds only about 4 minutes of film. The editors creatively blended each of the steadicam shots with cuts during the "whip pan", steam, dark corridors, etc. Nicely done. Here is an article:

http://www.carterphile.com/Info/TriangleArticleEW.html

Anyways, back to reality ... I tried one of the mono-sticks myself and after about 10 minutes (XL1 fully loaded) my arm was about to fall off.

I'm currently looking at purchasing either the Glidecam V-8 or the Steadicam Mini or Sk2. Both of these uses the vest and arms. These units range from $5K-$15K (Canadian).
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Old September 7th, 2002, 12:38 AM   #14
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Thanks for posting that article, it was decently written. Nice that they gave Dave an opportunity to comment on his personal marathon. We (the Steadicam community) all applauded his efforts when that show rolled around!

The good news for us for years has been that the standard 400 ft mags used on 35mm Steadicam rigs only carry the 4 minutes of film as you mentioned. That bad news is now with HD, the sky's the limit (see the thread about the Russian Ark film at http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?s=&threadid=3320&highlight=russian+ark) and we will have to be shlepping through these endless takes, most of which will not be nearly as interesting as "Triangle". DV being a lot lighter, much less of a burden--but designing the marathon shots remains as much of a challenge!
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