Merlin-type support v. Fig Rig - your experience at DVinfo.net

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Old July 24th, 2010, 04:13 AM   #1
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Merlin-type support v. Fig Rig - your experience

We have an event coming up soon when we need to have two of our three cameras handheld. We currently use one on a Fig Rig but I'm loath to buy a second Fig Rig but wonder how suitable the options are.

We're considering a Merlin-type mount (probably a Hague variant because of the price difference) but would appreciate the views and experience of others especially anyone who's tried both mounts.

Useful points would be:

a) the principal difference in shots each gives you

b) the relative difference in handling specifically how much strain on the arm

c) how long each can be used for without a rest (by the same operator.

We're using Z1s with MRC1 recorders on the back and a short gun mic (AT897) on a Rode shockmount.
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Old July 24th, 2010, 05:41 AM   #2
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Hi Philip

I have been there, done that, been there again and now I'm back to a stedicam!!
My problem is that my camera with Rode Mic is pretty close to 3kg!! I had a dual arm rig but the main issues were weight and the time it takes to suit up and more importantly the space you need to operate in. Any dual arm probably projects a couple of feet to your side and trying to operate in a confined area in just impractical. I sold that rig and made myself a "figg" (but a square one) Works fine but there are serious limits to the length of the shot...your arms turn to jelly pretty quickly!!!
I have now compromised on a single arm rig which is quick to get on and off and with a vest, there is no weight problem. However even with a camera anything over 1kg I would be very hesitant to opt for a handheld stabilizer.... IMO they are only really practical with cams under 1kg!!! I can, of course use my stabilizer off the arm/vest but at a total weight of 6kg (doesn't sound like much, but try walking with it for 10 minutes!!!!) it's just not practical. If you are going to use anything over 1kg then rather use the fig where you have two hands to hold the weight.

Might be worth looking at a mini HD camera just for using on a handheld stabilizer?????

Chris
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Old August 14th, 2010, 05:22 AM   #3
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Have you considered a DV Multirig Pro as an alternative? DV MultiRig It doesn't require the skill & practice for flying a Steadicam plus the ingenious sprung shock absorbing support pod takes the weight of the camera while still giving the two-handed control of the Fig Rig.
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Old August 14th, 2010, 06:25 AM   #4
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Nigel, thanks for the tip; have you tried one?

It looks to me as though it would provide a stable mount without too much strain whilst you're standing still but I'd be concerned that there doesn't appear to be any stabilising when you're moving. As I say, if you've personal experience it would be interesting to hear your views in this respect. For last weekend's shoot we ended up getting a manfrotto/Calumet monopod which was very useful as a stable mount but b. useless in motion.
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Old August 14th, 2010, 07:11 AM   #5
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Nigel, thanks for the tip; have you tried one?
I bought one about 18 months ago on the recommendations that I found in this forum. Do a search on 'Multrig' & you will find a number of satisfied users.

I originally used it with a Canon XH-A1 but now use it with a Canon 5D Mk II. What doesn't show so well in any of the photos that I can see on the website is that the shoulder brace sort of hooks round either your neck or shoulder so that in combination with the spring support rod you can actually take you hands off the camera. You wouldn't do that for hands-free shooting but you can take your hands off the handles if you need to adjust controls or push someone out of the way:-).

The spring support rod stabilises the camera as you walk. It's no substitute for a Steadicam or even a large shoulder-mount camera but smooths out movement a lot. A nice feature is that you can easily attach lights, mikes, wireless & other accessories. It also folds down to a very compact size so can be packed away easily.

You really don't want to use the 5DII hand-held & most of what I do currently is either on a tripod or Glidetrack. For run & gun I use a Manfrotto 562B monopod more often than the DV Multirig Pro as it suits my current requirements better but I always pack the Multirig for those occasions when I do need to shoot while walking about.
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Old August 14th, 2010, 09:22 AM   #6
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I've been using the DVMultirig for about 3 or 4 years and LOVE it. I keep finding new ways to use it. I can hold steady for longer speeches although there are times during those I wish I was on a tripod but for 95% of speeches it works great. I can do roundy rounds during the first dance and as long as I keep my head in the game it looks great. I can move and stay smooth. To me it's far better than just going handheld and takes away the tripod and dolly wheels for wedding receptions. I've used ot for any number of different jobs besides weddings and while some people give you the funny looks, it works.
One thing I used to do was place my wireless receiver on the back of the rig and now I don't. The reason is that when bringing the camera overhead or at least as high as the spring rod will allow, the receiver made it heavy and slightly off balanced so now with the receiver on my belt using a 4 foot XLR cable getting overhead or down low is quite simple and feels more balanced even though there's so much weight on the front of the rig. Camera, generally a WA lens attachment, hypercaroid mic on the cam and LP Micro.
anyway IMO the multirig is a great tool and investment. Perfect for every situation? No, but a wonderful too for many if not most situations. Actually I've done a number of short non secular cermonies with it, in particular outdoors.
As you might be able to tell, I'm a big fan of the DVMultirig.
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Old August 14th, 2010, 10:42 AM   #7
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I've used ot for any number of different jobs besides weddings and while some people give you the funny looks, it works.
I think that this is probably the number one reason why I don't use the Multirig more. I feel very self-conscious using it in in the street for example where using a tripod, monopod or shoulder mount wouldn't worry me. It's probably because whenever I use the Multirig I cannot get the picture out of my head of of UK comedian Bernie Clifton riding his 'ostrich' YouTube - Bernie by Anil Mistry
YouTube - Bernie Clifton
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Old August 14th, 2010, 11:28 PM   #8
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Hi Guys

I get comments like "Here comes Stephen Speilberg..." with the stedicam rig but if it gives you the footage you want who cares!!

A lot of people tend to think that you need special skills with a stedicam but not with a shoulder mount rig like the Multirig!! With any motion you still need to pay attention to the way you walk!! Clomp around like an elephant and the footage will be bumpy and jerky whatever you use. I shoot a lot of the reception just with a shoulder-mount camera and adjusting the way you walk and move makes all the difference!!

If you behave something like a "cat burglar" you will find footage is way smoother!! Knees always bent and smooth silkly movements help a lot!! If both your arms and legs are not "locked up" a huge amount of walking motion is absorbed by them and slow smooth movements will make the shots all that better!!

Probably even more reason for people to wonder why you are "walking funny" but it really works!!

Chris
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Old August 15th, 2010, 12:00 AM   #9
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Chris, it depends how you market your product. We advertise a "discreet" production technique; when the rig itself attracts attention that's simply not possible.

I have enough trouble dismissing attention on the Fig Rig ("I was a bus driver in an earlier life") - heaven only knows how you laugh off the Universal Soldier outfit.
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Old August 15th, 2010, 12:02 AM   #10
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With the multirig, when I do roundy rounds or other movements I actually lift the rig off my shoulder and let the spring rod do the work, one of the reasons I don't mount the receiver on the back of the rig anymore. I only lift it an inch or 2 but then I don't worry about my shoulders moving up and down affecting the rig. It's a slow lift just enough to clear my shoulder before I start my move. It's seems to make a hugh difference for me.
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Old August 15th, 2010, 08:30 AM   #11
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Hey Philip, we posted at about the same time so I missed your post.
I hate to sound like this but I'm not a fly on the wall type of shooter, never have been never will be. While I;m not in anyones face unless it a really cool sequence and a really fun group like I had last night, they know I'm there, they know I'm working and they know I'm shooting footage. Maybe it's the LPmicro on the camera that gives me away. ;-)
there are time Im more discrete and there are times I downright sneaky, I keep the front tally light taped over so no one can tell I'm recording, but for the most part I'm there. During dancing, I get out on the dance floor, hell last night I had a couple of ladies try to get me to dance [fat chance-after 41+ years of marriage my wife can't even do that with the help of a good bottle of vino and the promise of a nice cigar later on]
Anyway I don't worry about what people think or say about my multirig or any other piece of geat I use as long as they spell my name right on the check.

O|O
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Old August 15th, 2010, 09:36 AM   #12
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Don, we'll not disagree there!

Ironically it's something I have more trouble with than you might imagine, because in the UK you can only have one tax registration and mine has been in my own name for years. I'd be much richer if I had a penny for every cheque I receive made out to PHP Weddings - and that's despite every invoice being in my tax name and a bearing in boldface a line reminding the payee!
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Old August 23rd, 2010, 08:33 PM   #13
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What an interesting thread. I had never seen the multi rig and can see where I could use it all the time!!! Will have to put it on my list.

When I shoot weddings and events I assure them to not interfere with the event, keeping low profile. However, I do use a steady cam and while it does draw looks I have never had a complaint about using it, After they have seen the footage they are even more pleased! I would consider the multi rig rather low profile!!! It would be an asset in a recveption that is way to crowded to get the steady cam around properly!!!

dale
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Old August 30th, 2010, 03:10 AM   #14
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Does anyone have experience of using a Steddiepod? It looks like it would be very useful for events with the ability to swop quickly from faux Steadicam to tripod to monopod to boom. Barber Tech Video Products I did think at first that it may be over-hyped but there is an independent review here that is pretty positive & it isn't too expensive EventDV.net: The Event Videographer's Resource
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Old August 30th, 2010, 04:51 AM   #15
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Nigel

The biggest problem of using a monopod as the core of your steady rig (not a brand name) is getting the balance right. We have a Manfrotto QR on ours and it helps but you probably want to look at the bigger one to get the balance exactly right - and unbalanced it's worse than useless.

However, I do think our monopod rig is very useful for video - we use it alongside another camera on a Fig Rig.

Since you can buy a monopod from Calumet in the UK (their name but made by Manfrotto) for 30 the thing you mentioned is way too expensive - unless you value the three daft feet.
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