Steadicam using smallHD monitors as weights at DVinfo.net

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Old February 27th, 2013, 06:04 AM   #1
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Steadicam using smallHD monitors as weights

I rigged this up as a joke today, but after flying with it, its actually quite useful to have a "back" monitor for switching positions. I'll have to wrangle cables much better though.

RigJob: Rants and rambles from inside my hillbilly grip truck.: Ha! Steadicam weighted with smallhd dp6's
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Old February 27th, 2013, 08:40 AM   #2
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Re: Steadicam using smallHD monitors as weights

Andrew: I would recommend compacting the center post all the down, which will shorten the rig and most importantly lower the camera relative to the gimbal. It's always best to do the latter, the rig behaves better that way. While it's good to spread out the bottom weight for added inertia in the pan axis, you don't want or need more inertia in the tilt axis.

It can be helpful for DJ to have the rear-facing monitor--I recall doing that with a far less sophisticated LCD some twenty years ago for a running shot on stairs. It does require a little extra brain power to translate the reverse directionality in tilt, but at least pan remains the same.
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Old February 28th, 2013, 12:32 AM   #3
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Re: Steadicam using smallHD monitors as weights

Thanks Charles! Really thankful to hear from a master.

I set the gimble low so the camera will be closer to eye level because... well, i guess because it seemed like it should be. Hmm. Do you have a "default height" you start with or do you tweak it for every shoot?

I was going to buy a pilot, but I wasn't sure if my horribly out-of-shape body could handle a vest mount stabilizer. As a test, I bought a highly rated chinese knockoff of a glidecam (clone of a clone... its like inception). It turns out the unit is surprisngly well made... but my lower back is not. Doh!
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Old February 28th, 2013, 10:05 AM   #4
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Re: Steadicam using smallHD monitors as weights

Andrew:

There's a logic to what you are suggesting (raising the camera relative to the gimbal to achieve eye height) but the physics don't bear out accordingly. For one thing, the camera is pivoting further off its nodal point, so every tilt becomes an arc of sorts.

The idea is that you just hold the rig higher. This is likely less comfortable (probably start to feel it in your upper back). The way it's done with systems that use a vest and arm is to swap out a longer armpost between the arm and the gimbal, which raises the system by whatever length you specify. I don't do Steadicam any more but when I did, I had a set of four different height armposts from 6" to 18" that I would swap depending on the needs of the shot. Being on the shorter side, this was crucial as I was often having to shoot actors taller than me (but I did demonstrate a good advantage when shooting kids)!

As far as being out-of-shape; the lower back muscles always do some "singing" at first, very few people have toned musculature in that region but it responds to repetitive workout like any other. The all-critical aspect of operating practice with a Steadicam also helps build stamina. There are many factors from the design of the inexpensive rig you bought to the way it was set up and adjusted for your body to your actual form with the rig that could have contributed to the discomfort you felt.

In general, it should be much more comfortable on the body to fly a rig via vest and arm than in a handheld configuration. With a rig that light, it should be barely noticeable. Perhaps if you meet up with an experienced Pilot owner, they can help you on a test flight and make sure you are "doing it right" (many novices tend to hold the rig out in front of them rather than to the side, which exponentially increases the back strain, for instance).
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Old March 1st, 2013, 12:15 AM   #5
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Re: Steadicam using smallHD monitors as weights

Thanks Charles.

If there were any steadicam operators around I certainly would have picked their brains. I'm not sure if there are any operators on this island! doh!

thanks man, I'll keep going. Right now i'm trying to figure out how to walk with the massive hip bump that I never noticed i was doing. Its like i've been living a mambo!

cheers!
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Old March 1st, 2013, 09:38 AM   #6
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Re: Steadicam using smallHD monitors as weights

There's an operator named Alex Hubert in Christchurch--don't know him though.

Otherwise, get the Steadicam Operator's Handbook if you don't already have. Treasure trove of knowledge. Keep at it!
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Old March 5th, 2013, 03:25 AM   #7
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Re: Steadicam using smallHD monitors as weights

there are operators here. lots.
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Old March 13th, 2013, 04:08 AM   #8
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Re: Steadicam using smallHD monitors as weights

Quote:
Originally Posted by Charles Papert View Post
... but the physics don't bear out accordingly. For one thing, the camera is pivoting further off its nodal point, so every tilt becomes an arc of sorts.
To better visualize what Charles is talking about, grab a pencil. Hold it between thumb and finger of your left hand, and wiggle the bottom of the pencil with your right hand. When you hold the pencil in the middle, the eraser moves a lot. But if you hold it up close toward the eraser, the eraser moves much less. So having the gimbal closer to the lens decreases the effect of sled movement at the lens.

But since the weight has to be balanced at the gimbal, you generally need more weight at the top to move the gimbal closer to the lens.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Charles Papert View Post
In general, it should be much more comfortable on the body to fly a rig via vest and arm than in a handheld configuration.
Especially if you add weight at the top to move the gimbal closer to the lens.
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