Ditching Steadicam Pilot for Glidecam 4000 at DVinfo.net

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Old November 30th, 2012, 09:25 AM   #1
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Ditching Steadicam Pilot for Glidecam 4000

Hello All,
I've had a steadicam pilot for about two years and have only used it on a handful of shoots. I think I'm looking for a simpler solution than the vest, arm, sled setup, and was looking to move to just the sled with the Glidecam 4000.When out on location and shooting by myself, I want to be able to switch rigs quickly and the steadicam pilot isn't really fitting the bill.

Does anybody have any recommendations besides the Glidecam4000? I'm looking for a quicker solution to rock-steady shots. From some youtube clips I've looked at, it looks like a relatively simple setup and I won't have to worry about putting on a vest and arm. Am I missing the downside?

For reference, I'm shooting on 7Ds and XF300's.
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Old November 30th, 2012, 12:19 PM   #2
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Re: Ditching Steadicam Pilot for Glidecam 4000

I would suggest you do the opposite of what you are thinking.

If setup time is killing you on the Pilot it may be because you don't use it often enough to be completely proficient in setting it up and using it. I'm not saying that to be flippant. It takes a serious commitment to be truly good at that.

How much weight are you putting on the Pilot? If you are using a 7d without adding 4-5lbs of ballast you are not getting the best out of that equipment. Get the sled up near its max and you will see it is much easier to control. Setting it up is all about using some quick release stuff and having a set recipe for your camera. If you are in tune with it you should be able to have a camera mounted and balanced in a few minutes.

Going with a lesser and lighter rig isn't going to make things any easier or quicker. That isn't the solution for rock steady shots.
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Old November 30th, 2012, 03:36 PM   #3
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Re: Ditching Steadicam Pilot for Glidecam 4000

One big downside to consider is the weight since all will be on your arms, with the 7d you"ll manage for a while but forget using it with your xf300 for a longer period.
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Old December 1st, 2012, 04:27 PM   #4
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Re: Ditching Steadicam Pilot for Glidecam 4000

Hi Chris and Noa,
Thank you for your input --I've viewed the basic setup video and a couple other videos and its still taking me an embarrassing amount of time to setup. Would you recommend any videos/tutorials/classes on setup and usage that could help?

Also, you mentioned the use of a quick release, which would be GREAT. Right now if I'm switching to a dolly or tripod shot its taking forever to switch.
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Old December 1st, 2012, 05:02 PM   #5
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Re: Ditching Steadicam Pilot for Glidecam 4000

A quick release will help tremendously in reducing your setup time. I put a Manfrotto on mine so I could quick change between my tripod and steadicam. I ran a Pilot for several years before moving up to the Zephyr.

Once you get everything put together and balanced put some white gaffers tape on everything and mark it with a pen/pencil. You'll be surprised and pleased how fast you can be up and running with a few simple pieces of gear and some white gaffers tape.

For sure look into taking a class. You can see the schedule for the Tiffen backed ones here - The Steadicam Workshop Solution authorized by Tiffen instructed by Peter Abraham
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Old December 27th, 2012, 06:31 AM   #6
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Re: Ditching Steadicam Pilot for Glidecam 4000

I own a Steadicam Pilot. I have attended a couple of workshops & have practiced lot so that I am now pretty confident in using the Pilot but 90% of the time with my Canon 5D I use a Glidecam 2000. I wouldn't like to fly anything much heavier on a hand-held stabiliser. I have vivid memories of the nightmare that was trying to fly an XHA1 on a Steadicam Merlin. I mainly shoot weddings & apart from the odd occasion when I can wear the arm & vest continuously & concentrate on just using Steadicam I need a hand-held stabiliser that I can pick up & put down quickly. I normally leave the 5D fixed on the Glidecam. Compare to 'proper' Steadicam gear a Glidecam is pretty rudimentary but it does the job for me. I don't need a shot of several minutes duration while we walk up & down stairs & I keep the subjects perfectly framed. I just need a 5-10 seconds of the bride on the arm of her father walking down the aisle. Using a wide-angle lens (14mm or 16-35mm at the wide end) stopped down for a deep DoF I don't need to worry about focus & can just concentrate on keeping framing accurate. A touch of stabilisation in post improves it too.

It doesn't take me long to set up my Pilot but if I am using it then it means that I need to cart around the docking stand & wear the arm & vest which I need to get out of to do most things like setting up audio etc. Keeping the vest on & just securing the arm with the velcro ties isn't enough as it still swings about awkwardly.

Last edited by Nigel Barker; December 27th, 2012 at 09:39 AM.
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Old December 27th, 2012, 08:54 AM   #7
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Re: Ditching Steadicam Pilot for Glidecam 4000

Jordan:

You indicated that you are looking for "rock-steady shots".

In most cases, this is going to be more achievable with a good vest and arm system like the Pilot than a handheld unit like the GC400. The qualifier "in most cases" is because a great operator can perform better with a mediocre rig than a mediocre operator with a great rig.

The bottom line is that if you aren't in a position to use the Pilot because of the one-man-band aspect, then a handheld stabilizer may help you in this regard. However, the balancing process requires just as many steps with the GC as it does with the Pilot, and on an older rig like the 400 it will definitely take longer because the adjustments on that setup were much cruder than the Pilot (involving nudging verses precision controls).

As Chris noted, a quick release is critical for those jumping between the rig and sticks throughout a shoot. And the more you do it, the quicker you get at balancing until it is second nature. I was just talking to a colleague about the speed of basic Steadicam technique that came with years of daily use. In the last few years of my career I used to get lazy about rebalancing once a lens or filter had been changed; I'd pull the rig off the dock just before we were about to roll and realize it was out and then do all of the balancing (gimbal height adjustment, fore-aft and side to side) while walking to my mark. Fifteen seconds to perfect balance while wearing the rig and often finishing just as the slate exited the frame and action was called. That's an extreme example but even for a casual user, static balance shouldn't take more than a few minutes.

One of the dangers of using the exact same camera setup each time is that the user doesn't become adept at this process; it's well worth putting the rig deliberately out of whack and practice getting it back in again for when you really need it (last minute addition of an accessory etc). Years ago at the workshops we'd diabolically screw up all of the rigs at lunch so that when the students came back, they had to get them properly tuned again.
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