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Old October 12th, 2010, 06:22 PM   #16
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Clip-on mattebox preferable. A light one with two filters should be under 2lbs.
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Old October 13th, 2010, 07:40 AM   #17
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Nice RED set-up there Charles. Here in the middle of the outback I'm yet to even SEE one yet.
There had been concern on how they'd go here in the heat and dust, but maybe that was several versions ago, and I'm sure the conditions in LA are really not that much different! Your post prompted me to try something myself. Just weighed my Sony PMW-350K and with battery, matte box and Rode mike system weighs in at just a hair under 19lbs, which I think was the original maximum spec for the Zephyr.

So I still have 5 lbs (2.3 kg) to play with on the new spec, but would have had to mix and match a lot for different configurations on the old. All I can say is.... whew!

Will add the Fujinon 0.7 wide converter and nanoflash on top of that, which I think should be handy for a few operators on this forum to know, and report back on the total in the morning (night-time here)
Any other bit of kit anyone wants me to add ? (if I've got it..)
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Old October 13th, 2010, 12:02 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Tangey
Any other bit of kit anyone wants me to add ? (if I've got it..)
Wireless Video:
If you're working with other people, wireless video makes things a LOT easier, to the point where I would almost consider it essential. In other words, you don't want people hovering close to you trying to see the monitor as you're trying to move around. In the U.S., there are some cheap light transmitters that work very well:
RangeVideo!, Wireless video solutions.
There is a switch on the back of the transmitter that allows for international frequencies, but due to legal issues in the U.S., Range Video adds epoxy to make the switch setting perminent. Maybe there's another dealer near you that has the same transmitter with frequencies for your area.

Wireless Audio:
There are basically 4 ways to run sound with Steadicam:
1) Shotgun mic on the camera
2) Use a wireless link from a boom or lav mic to the camera and hope there are no drop-outs.
3) Use a wired link from a boom mic to a small field audio recorder, and then a wireless link from there to the camera. The field audio recorder acts as a back-up in case of drop-outs.
4) Forget about wireless, use a field audio recorder, and slate everything (2 system sound).
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Old October 13th, 2010, 06:50 PM   #19
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Dave, I don't think I made myself clear enough. What I meant was did somebody want me to add any other bits of kit on top of what I had already weighed to see if I was still within Zephyr operating range, but only bits I might already have. I don't have a wireless video set-up but your suggestions are excellent, which I'll get to in a moment.

I added the nanoflash and Fujinon wide converter (but of course had to remove the matte box to do this leaving the rails in place) and it came in at 9kg or 19.8lbs. so well within range. When I get the Zephyr I'll mainly use it for music video so sound won't be much of an issue. When I do need sound, the budget will probably allow for an Audio Operator with boom, lav mikes and field recorder. The jobs in between are where it gets hard, on those I'll more than likely use a combo of your 1 and 2 and end up doing audio monitoring through my Bose noise cancelling headphones which I've found to be excellent for that type of work. But of course trying to do both vision and audio always risks compromising one or the other! I have the Sony proprietary dual frequency receiver on the camera and drop outs seem to be extremely rare.

I can't believe how cheap those Range video units seem to be, any in particular you would recommend? I've used them before when people have brought them with them but always saw them as a luxury I probably couldn't afford. I'm not too concerned on super high quality, just best performance for price, so the Director client can get a good idea of what's going on in the frame.

And getting back to this thread I presume a wireless video transmitter is going to weigh next to nothing?
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Old October 14th, 2010, 01:36 AM   #20
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Chris, not sure what type of battery you are using on your camera but you may want to consider powering from the sled via cable. That will free up another chunk of weight for you.
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Old October 14th, 2010, 03:50 AM   #21
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Thanks Charles, yes i was thinking that would be a great option, especially considering the v-locks on the 350 tend to last about 5-6 hours just for the camera, so I'm hoping for a combined 3 hours. Or do you think I'm dreaming? Also I could wade through all the material but what are the actual power connectors on the cable from the sled usually? Is it one of these 4 pin XLS types, as in straight into the back of the 12v input of the camera? I think the high end gear you use is where there are lots of weight considerations. Then again I suppose it's in all our interests to keep the weight down for our own health. I'm just happy to plod along with my HD format for a few years and am hoping the Zephyr will be fine for the stuff we do, which is usually shooting beautiful scenery and/or shooting beautiful scenery with people in front of it! I'm getting too old to be lugging jibs (especially the weights!) and dollies through red sand and up and down mountains. No doubt I'll have lots of operational questions for you after I play with it, but I promise I won't bother you until I've given it a good try out first.
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Old October 14th, 2010, 07:08 AM   #22
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The Zephyr uses the same 3 pin Lemo found in the higher end Steadicams; a 4 pin XLR for 12v power is supplied with the system. There are various reasons to consider powering off the sled. If you are working with a setup that is already near the top capacity of the sled, having the extra weight up top will force you to have to work with an extended center post, which is less desirable from an operational standpoint. It keeps your battery changes to a more predictable changeout routine (less to have to keep an eye on). With a heavy load, it frees you up to use other accessories that are needed, and to minimize the weight of the system for long operating periods. However, with a light camera it may be advantageous to retain the battery as extra ballast as the rig is always more stable the heavier it gets. It's a useful option to have.

For the kind of work you describe, sounds like you will be doing a lot of shlepping so the reduced weight version may be preferable. At the same time, shooting vistas where the only motion comes from the Steadicam (vs shooting people on the move, which tends to distract the eye) presents operating challenges that may be a bit easier with the heavier payload. You'll likely encounter issues with the wind, so having a windblock in your kit will be important (standard issue is a 4x4 double, however for small crews carrying gear up into the mountains, a bit bulky--a portable system like this may be better for you).

Hope you are planning to take a workshop!
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Old October 14th, 2010, 07:38 AM   #23
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Charles, do you think maybe I should take a workshop?...Only joking!

Yes there's a guy In Sydney who does them, so somehow I've got to get there, and I suppose sooner rather than later as I'd imagine it's better not to learn bad habits early on. Had to look up "shlepping" in the dictionary as I'd never heard that one, but as it turns out I have indeed been quite a shlepper over the years. Thanks for the windbreak link, I hadn't given the wind much thought! Very steep learning curve coming up I fear.
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Old October 14th, 2010, 08:04 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by Chris Tangey View Post
When I do need sound, the budget will probably allow for an Audio Operator with boom, lav mikes and field recorder. The jobs in between are where it gets hard, on those I'll more than likely use a combo of your 1 and 2 and end up doing audio monitoring through my Bose noise cancelling headphones which I've found to be excellent for that type of work. But of course trying to do both vision and audio always risks compromising one or the other!
Yes, I find that operating Steadicam requires my full attention. In particular, the combination of keeping the subject framed perfectly while moving smoothly is quite a challenge. Just moving smoothly is not that hard. Just holding frame perfectly is easy if you use more force, but that compromises stability. So a smooth shot that's framed perfectly throughout, that takes a lot of concentration and practice. Charles has a shot from a feature that puts us all to shame in this area, but I can't find the link at the moment.

By the way, running any kind of wires between you and the sled can cause problems, particularly when you change sled positions relative to your body. You can get a good audio field recorder for around $500, and they're small enough to hang around the sound operator's neck. Most wireless lav transmitters have the option to use a line input as well, if you have the right cable. So what I often do is run a microphone wire from the boom mic to the field recorder and then run a line out from that to the wireless transmitter, all attached to the boom operator. This way, you have the sound from the wireless link aligned with the video on the camera, but if there's a drop-out, you can use the good parts of the wireless sound to line up the sound from the field recorder in post. In other words, the field recorder acts as insurance against drop-outs or noise on the wireless link, which usually makes others involved in the project a lot more comfortable.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Tangey View Post
I can't believe how cheap those Range video units seem to be, any in particular you would recommend? I've used them before when people have brought them with them but always saw them as a luxury I probably couldn't afford. I'm not too concerned on super high quality, just best performance for price, so the Director client can get a good idea of what's going on in the frame.

And getting back to this thread I presume a wireless video transmitter is going to weigh next to nothing?
Yes, the wireless video transmitters from that site are very small and light, but you have to be sure they will work in your area. Countries allocate frequency bands differently. So what I use may not work for you.

I agree that the wireless video link doesn't have to be perfect, just good enough to see framing and a rough idea of content. For lighting, color, and other critical aspects of the shot, its usually better to use the LCD on the camera.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Tangey
Then again I suppose it's in all our interests to keep the weight down for our own health.
As Charles says, it's actually easier in many ways to operate with a heavier rig, within reason, and provided you know what you're doing. A heavier rig has more inertia, so you can apply a little more force for framing and it will still keep stable. With a lighter rig, a feather touch is often required, which can be somewhat limiting.

Bottom line: Since the Zephyr only goes to 24 pounds, I would tend to favor loading it up to the higher end of its weight range.

By the way, when you first start operating, you won't know what you're doing, so your back will start hurting quickly. This is normal. Once you start to learn how to balance the rig properly through hip placement, the weight ends up going through your legs. At the end of a long day, it's my legs and feet that are tired, not my back so much.

And as Charles says, try to plan on taking a workshop fairly soon, otherwise you can pick up bad habits that are hard to break.
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Old October 14th, 2010, 10:59 AM   #25
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haha on the double mention of a workshop (now exised)! wrote that post in a bout of sleepless jetlag in the wee hours...Dave G., I'm somewhat in your neck of the woods, shooting a music video in the Bronx tomorrow.

Chris: there is indeed a significant learning curve; the workshop will get you on the right foot literally and figuratively. It's something like learning to play a musical instrument.
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Old October 14th, 2010, 07:07 PM   #26
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Charles, thanks, yes you've convinced me I've got to get the training as a priority and Dave really good advice in there. I learnt a long time ago to follow the instructions on things AND to listen carefully to advice from people who really know what they're talking about. You guys are really generous with your time and set a great example to others on this forum. Well done!
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Old October 31st, 2010, 04:23 PM   #27
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On the website for the Zephyr, it says the arm can lift 30lbs and the payload is 24lbs.



Steadicam Zephyr Home Page
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Old November 14th, 2010, 07:21 AM   #28
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update on zephyr delivery

I've had many people from all over the world contact me privately for my opinion on the zephyr, (which...and I don't know how to put this delicately...is probably not wise as I've never used a stabilizer before anyway!) thinking it's been delivered. Well, I'm still waiting despite two previous delivery dates given by Tiffen Australia. So just to reiterate, when it does get here, all you'll get from me is really "newbie" impressions, i.e. how easy is it to use for somebody with nil experience with these things, helpful for some, not at all for others.
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Old November 16th, 2010, 03:13 AM   #29
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I spoke to someone at Tiffen UK who said they will not be shipping the Zephyr or the Scout until sometime in December.
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Old November 16th, 2010, 08:00 AM   #30
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If I can, I'll try to get to the factory to spend some time with the prototypes of both rigs and post my impressions here. My schedule slows down next week so I'll put it in the hopper!
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