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Old February 2nd, 2003, 07:07 PM   #16
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John, if my conversion math is correct, you are considering spending $3200.00 for something you have never even demoed. Remember, this is the same company that makes the V2000, which IMHO, is a piece of crap. Is there no way you can rent one of these rigs and see if this is where you want to spend your hard earned money? When you get to this amount, you are not far from an actual Steadicam Mini, and that should enter into your discussions. What is your intent for this device? Are you interested in becoming expert at operating a stabilized camera? Or, do you just want it for the occasional shot? If you really want to become a highly skilled operator, then maybe it is worth the extra money for the industry standard; the Steadicam. You can then rent yourself and your gear out to others who want the shots, but don't want to make the investment. It would be a lot more impressive to say, "I am a Steadicam operator," versus anything else. And eventually, you may move up to the full-sized rigs.

But if you just want to do the occasional shot, this is a pretty expensive toy. It would be a shame to spend that kind of money for a device that sits in your closet most of the time. And that is exactly what happens to a lot of these units if you read enough of these posts.

If there is any way you can demo one of these units, please do so first. Then be certain that you have a good return policy in place, and pay with a credit card. Proceed with caution.
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Old February 3rd, 2003, 08:29 AM   #17
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Hi Wayne,

Video is actually a sideline for me, I've got my normal day job that pays for my expensive toys :-) I have been happy with the 2000pro it just becomes too heavy for me after a while and was looking for a fairly reasonably priced vest/arm support stabaliser. I can get the Glidecam V8 for just over 2000 UKpounds but the steadicam is just over 5, so there is too much of a price difference for me to justify it.

I would use the 2000 alot more if it wasn't so heavy so I imagine I'd use the V8 alot if it does what I want. I don't want to become a highend operator or anything like that I just enjoy doing any type of video project I can get my hands on, If I can make money out of it then great, if not then I just enjoy it, I'm not planning on making this my sole career but when I do video projects I like to do them well, hence the reason for wanting a good stabaliser.

There's only one Glidecam distributor in the UK so it's pretty difficult to demo this stuff.

John.
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Old February 3rd, 2003, 11:51 PM   #18
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Hi John, I'm finally able to look over this post.

Casey Visco is the man to talk about the specific differences between the Glidecams in detail. I have played with them but not recently or extensively enough to speak with enough authority.

A vest and arm system will make a massive difference in your shooting stamina as you guessed. A dual section arm is designed for more weight, but also will give you a bigger boom range (close to three feet of vertical travel for some systems). This is often overlooked when folks think of these systems purely for smoothing out their footsteps; it's a very valuable thing to be able to do small booms on the arm, like a miniature crane. In fact, by starting on one knee and eventually stepping up onto an apple box or something similar, booming the arm all the while, you can achieve a solid five feet of vertical travel, as much as a small jib arm. That's a great effect! With a single section arm, you are much more limited in this regard.

Adjusting the spring force in the arm allows you to optomize it for different weight cameras. The arms in general should be set so that they hang at or slightly below horizontal, which gives you the maximum boom range with minimum effort.

The bouncing effect you have experienced is unfortunately quite common with this class of stabilizer. It has to do with both the lightweight masses involved with a DV camera and the simplified design of the arms supplied. To make an arm that truly "tracks" the movement of the operator without any kind of springy effect is not an easy task, and such arms command a premium (here's the arm I use.--it can be yours for just $20,000...! ugh!)

Finally, Wayne makes some good points, but I should point out that while the name "Steadicam" is a trademark held by Tiffen and specific to their rigs, it has become a fairly generic term like "Kleenex" and "Xerox" and we all pretty much use it to describe our rigs, even though many operators are not using Tiffen products. The company that I linked above makes the rig that is used on probably 85% of movies & TV series at the current time, and it has no affiliations to Tiffen. So you can call yourself a Steadicam operator if you have a Glidecam, and it is unlikely that mysterious men in dark suits and sunglasses will show up at your door!
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Old February 4th, 2003, 03:17 AM   #19
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Is $20,000 a competitive price for a steadicam arm? How much could the engineering expense really have been? Your average production automobile (< $20 k) is a ~$2 billion engineering investment. I suppose many more cars are sold than steadicams, but I can't imagine $20,000 being justified... this must be a high profit business...
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Old February 4th, 2003, 05:26 AM   #20
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Hi Charles,

Thanks for your words of wisdom :) The actual up and down motion I was meaning was due to the hand held stabaliser and I was hoping that this would be reduced by using the arm/vest type, I've looked at the video in one of the posts above made with the V8 and I didn't really notice the same up down that I see with the 2000 pro. I guess I'm just looking for reasurrance that the investment will be worthwhile and my shots will be improved. With the handheld you can still tell that I'm walking with it rather than floating with it, if you know what I mean :-) and I was just hoping that this wouldn't be so apparent with the V8.

John.
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Old February 4th, 2003, 05:37 AM   #21
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Just had a look at the prices for your setup charles, it made my eyes water :-) Jeez that's some serious money, anyway I actually had another question, I was wondering when the camera is boomed up and down is it still stablised properly, what I mean by that is when you using the stabaliser at it's normal resting height I presume the spring arm absorbs the movement because of the tension of the spring, if you move the arm up how does this work???? surely there's not the same tension in the spring to provide the support. (sorry If I'm being stupid here)

Thanks.

John.
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Old February 5th, 2003, 12:48 AM   #22
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John:

No sir, no stupid questions when it comes to this stuff.

In theory, a Steadicam (used generically) arm should provide a near-constant lifting force at any point throughout its boom range. With the lower-end rigs, you will see the best performance at the center of their range which will diminish the further you get to the limits, but they will still stabilize as long as they do not lock up. What I mean by this is if you were to boom way up and run with the system, the arm would be banging against its stops on each step. With some practice this never happens, one intuitively keeps the arm at a useable range.

The up-and-down movement I was referring to is certainly apparent in the lower-end rigs, and by this I mean even in the Steadicam SK and Provid models which cost a lot more than the ones you were referring to originally. The real test is to walk alongside a horizontal plane such as a bookshelf, and watch to see if the shelf appears to shift up and down in the frame (of course it is the camera doing the shifting). The closer you are to a foreground object, the more pronounced this parallax shift will be. For general photography where one is at least a few feet from the subject, this will not be as noticeable. It is possible for a skilled operator to reduce or eliminate this effect by dampening the springiness in the arm.
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Old February 5th, 2003, 01:12 AM   #23
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Charles, are there any cheap Steadicam clones with the vest and arm that are good to hold 10-15lbs of camera or so?
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Old February 5th, 2003, 05:28 AM   #24
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Charles,

Thanks for that I get it now :-)

I think the V8 will definately be an improvement over what I have now, it's reasonably priced and it will be good experience for me to learn how to use it, so hopefully Casey can comment on some of the specific questions I had on the glidecam, then it's time to order it :-)

Thanks to everyone for all the assistance.

John.
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Old February 5th, 2003, 11:38 AM   #25
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<<<-- Originally posted by Robert Knecht Schmidt : Is $20,000 a competitive price for a steadicam arm? How much could the engineering expense really have been? Your average production automobile (< $20 k) is a ~$2 billion engineering investment. I suppose many more cars are sold than steadicams, but I can't imagine $20,000 being justified... this must be a high profit business... -->>>

It's a sticky question, Robert. One the one hand, you hit thenail on the head when you pointed out how many more cars are sold than Steadicams. In terms of return for R&D dollars, it's a whole different animal, plus these are much smaller companies we are talking about. In addition, the rigs are essentially handmade, automated CNC machines notwithstanding....they are made one part at a time, and there are a lot of precision parts.

One the other hand, this is the film industry and the prices reflect what the market will bear. There have been some recent, cheaper alternatives introduced, and some are arguably close to the PRO in terms of manufacturing quality and design, but they are coming into the game late and most of the rigs at this price point have already been sold to their users (and there' s a lot of used rigs floating around for the newbies).

Equipment manufacture for this niche is tough. You only sell a few units and the owners have extremely high expectations of their performance.

Want to see the hottest support vest on the market today? Check this out. Back-mounted, custom fitted and highly acclaimed--and yours for only $9000...!
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Old February 5th, 2003, 02:32 PM   #26
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I don't know anything about these arms. But just following along on Charles' remarks, we can do some basic elementary school arithmetic to arrive at ballpark costs.

Let's say that each arm requires a total of 200 man-hours to produce (this seems a reasonable figure against the hand-crafting description Charles provided). And let's assume that the average fully-burdoned (base pay + benefits) labor rate for the company is a modest $40/hr.

200 manhrs x $40 = $8,000 labor

Now let's assume that each arm contains $1,000 of raw materials and vendor-supplied parts.

$8,000 labor + $1,000 materials + parts = $9,000 total manufacturing cost

Now let's assume that the manufacturer has $1,000,000 of capital investment (mainly machinery and vehicles) on a 5 yr. depreciation schedule. And let's also say thay he can produce 50 such arms per year (roughly 1/week).

$1,000,000 / 5 yrs = $200,000 depreciation/yr

$200,000 depreciation / 50 arms = $4,000 depreciation/arm

$4,000 depreciation + $9,000 manufacturing cost = $13,000 total cost per arm

So the gross profit margin for each $20,000 arm would be $7,000 or 35%. This is not an exhorbitant profit margin, particularly considering that other indirect costs will eat into it.
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Old February 5th, 2003, 04:54 PM   #27
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Overhead; leases, insurance, taxes, (property not income) advertising, phones, computer, machinery etc,etc,-if you've never owned a 4 walled business you have no idea how big the monthly overhead can be. It will eat you're lunch. That's why over 80%of all new businesses fail in the 1st 3-5 years. It's not that they don't know how to run their business, or that they don't have a good product or service, it's the overhead that get's 'em. The money goes out a lot faster than it comes in and they end up like so many other places! Gone in 60 seconds
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Old February 6th, 2003, 01:13 AM   #28
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Ken:

Can't vouch for the accuracy of your numbers, particular the man-hours, but that's along the right idea. And all the while they are developing new equipment in order to stay current. It should be noted that Cinema Products, the company that originally developed the Steadicam, went bankrupt last year after a long shaky period (Tiffen now posesses the manufacturing license). You would think that owning the Steadicam name would be a gold-mine, but there it is...and the rumor is that Tiffen is not doing so great with it either. GPI (the company that makes the PRO rig) is hanging in there, but there are quite a few competitors, most recently Sachtler who have developed a fine looking piece of gear in the Artemis.
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Old February 6th, 2003, 01:33 AM   #29
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I suspect that the Steadicam product line is quite a conundrum. The market's too small to justify the capital investments required to scale-up/further automate production and lower prices. Meanwhile the prices are too high to expand the market. Personally, I'd consider expanding the potentially more profitable prosumer line to help finance incremental developments to the professional line. But what do I know?
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Old February 6th, 2003, 01:43 AM   #30
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Charles,

If possible could you pop onto your steadicam message boards or use your connections to help me find a used rig, complete, i really don't mind if it is 10 years old as long as it works and say for a price bracket beats out what i could buy one at the same price new for.

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