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Old November 27th, 2002, 08:30 PM   #1
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GL2/Steadicam JR/Side Sway

Is anyone using the GL2 with the Steadicam JR? If so, would you mind sharing your setup?

I've been working on a setup for three days, and I've got the front to back balance down, and level, but when I turn to the right the camera pivots to the left, and if I turn to the left, the camera pivots to the right.

Also, when I walk a straight line, there is no front to back movement, but the camera does move from right to left.

When I start to walk from a dead stop, the cameral will either move to the right or left, and as I'm walking it drifts to the right.

I've tried different weight positions, different mounting holes, but I can't figure out how to keep the camera on the straight and narrow.

I bought the Steadicam JR without the monitor in an attempt to save some $$ and am using the LCD screen for viewing. I have a suspicion that the open LCD screen is acting like a rudder on a ship, but at this point, I'm not sure of my own name.

Thanks
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Old December 2nd, 2002, 06:59 AM   #2
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I don't use the smaller Steadicam's, my equipment is too heavy. but it sounds like the camera is not centered. Bogen makes a plate http://www.bogenphoto.com/product/te...100&itemid=318 for adjusting the camera so it is over the center. It also works as a quick release.

Jeff
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Old December 2nd, 2002, 10:15 AM   #3
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Thanks, Jeff. I'll give the Bogan quick release a try.
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Old December 2nd, 2002, 01:13 PM   #4
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Steve:

Assuming you have been able to achieve static balance as you described, i.e. the camera maintains level fore-and-aft as well as side-to-side, and this given a standard drop time of 2-3 seconds (when you tilt the rig all the way forward until it is pointing at the ground i.e. horizontal, it should take 2-3 seconds to fall back to level/vertical);

This means that you have found the correct spot for the camera mounting and probably don't need to use an extra mounting device as Jeff described. The advantage to this would be a quick release setup for removing the camera; the disadvantage would be the potential addition of flex/play in the system which could translate into vibration, particular on running shots, and "squirrely" operating where the system needs be constantly tweaked to maintain perfect level. The JR is very, very sensitive to this sort of thing, so it would be most advisable to forego an extra assembly between the camera and the mounting platform if you possibly can. Also, I don't know what the weight of that part is, but every ounce matters when flying chunky cameras like the GL2 on a JR...!

Good luck bro!
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Old December 22nd, 2002, 03:17 AM   #5
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I think the key to balancing is to first balance the Y-axis. That is--get the camera to balance right and not tip forward or backwards. You will most likely need to make the camera more back-heavy. The camera seems to tip too much forward and even setting the trim all the way and mounting the camera all the way back won't balance it. A BP-941 battery pack seems to do the job for me. If not you will have to find a way to mount it further back (The sliding plate described in a previous post seems like it could work nicely).
Next you have to balance the Z axis so that the whole rig is slightly bottom heavy. This is acocmplished by a combination of putting weights in the bottom battery compartment and screwing or unscrewing the gimbal assembly. I have a used Steadicam JR and I don't have the original lead weights. Instead I used two AA batteries taped with electrical tape to the outside of the bottom battery compartment. This may differ if you use a different battery pack than I am using. The key is to use a combination of weights and adjusting the gimbal. Test for bottom heaviness. Hold grab the bottom and hold it off to the side so that the whole unit is basically horizontal. When you let go watch how fast it returns back to vertical. If it returns VERY slowly it means you are close but you need a bit more bottom heaviness. I preferr to err on the side of top-heaviness than bottom-heaviness. Even when the unit is slightly more top-heavy than it should be, it still seems to be stable (you want it slightly bottom heavy though so that the camera tends to want to return to a horizontal balanced state). If it's too bottom heavy (it swings too fast) then unscrew the gimbal. If you have to unscrew it too much then you should just screw it back in, remove one of the weights and start again. On my GL2 with the BP-941 battery pack I use 8-9 turns and 2 AA batteries taped on for counter weight. this seems to work really good.
Finally you balance the X axis... this is pretty easy as you just turn the knob until the level shows it's level. Anyhow I hope this helps anyone trying to figure out how to balance cameras on the JR. I've been frustrated for weeks before I finally understood how to do it. I was unfortunate not to have the Tutorial Video so had to go through a lot of trial and error. Does anyone have a copy of this video they don't need anymore? I'll pay for shipping!

Dan
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Old December 22nd, 2002, 03:32 AM   #6
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Ohh well i guess i am just stupid.

I have a glidecam 2000 + pd150 and i can't get it to balance for the life of me, even after hours of giving it a good yelling that would make anyone weep. *sign*

Any hints at all.

kermie
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Old December 22nd, 2002, 01:26 PM   #7
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Thanks for all the suggestions, and I apologize for not responding sooner.

I am no using the Steadicam with more success than I had initially. I think the biggest problem was just my technique in using the Steadicam, or perhaps my pre-conception of just how it should work. I was imagining absolutely no camera movement whatever, but am learning to adjust to the minute start/stop movements of the camera.

While far from being an endorsement for the Steadicam, I shot this small piece using it. The tree shoot is nice, the rest shows the potential of what the Steadicam can do in experienced hands (no my hands yet, but soon).

http://homepage.mac.com/stefeb/iMovieTheater70.html
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Old December 22nd, 2002, 02:26 PM   #8
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Steve:

Lovely family!

The easiest way to find out if the Steadicam itself is the problem is to attempt a move without any fingers on the guide, just holding it from the handle and walking. If it appears to be much smoother i.e. less floating and wobbling, then you know that it is your influence that is causing the problems in the photography. It is an unexpectedly long learning curve to make very smooth shots with the system. I had been operating a full-size Steadicam for some years when I picked up a JR after they first came out, and it still took me plenty of time to get used to it.

The key is to use the lightest touch possible with your fingers on the guide. Once you've imagined that touch, make it even lighter! You will need to exert a tad more force to initiate a pan, and quite a bit more for tilt, but it is critical to back off as soon as the shot allows. Imagine your fingers like an ABS brake system; squeeze in a little to stop a pan and then quickly release before it kicks back the other way. Generally, though, your touch should be so light as to almost be not touching. I would actually say that when using a JR my fingers are not in contact with the rig almost as much as they are in contact with it.

For instance, the shot of the tree is really nice, very controlled and solid, while the shot of Mom and Li'l Peanut is less so (look out, my years as a tough Steadicam workshop instructor are showing!) The difference is most likely that you were (understandably) distracted when doing the second shot and your technique may have suffered, and you pinched down too hard on the guide (what we call over-controlling).

Kermie, let's get you straightened out. What are the problems you are experiencing?

Dan, I have a JR training tape. Email me your address and I'll hook you up a copy. Incidentally, it may be worthwhile to clarify something in your post: when you said you prefer the rig to be more top-heavy than usual, we should make sure no-one reads that as the rig being top-heavy instead of bottom-heavy or neutral. A top-heavy rig will want to flip upside down, and unless that is desired, it's probably not going to help the photography! It's been a few years since I used my JR (I don't own a camera that fits it anymore) but I seem to remember preferring a 2 to 3 second drop time.
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Old December 22nd, 2002, 06:44 PM   #9
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<<<-- Originally posted by Charles Papert :
For instance, the shot of the tree is really nice, very controlled and solid, while the shot of Mom and Li'l Peanut is less so (look out, my years as a tough Steadicam workshop instructor are showing!) The difference is most likely that you were (understandably) distracted when doing the second shot and your technique may have suffered, and you pinched down too hard on the guide (what we call over-controlling). -->>>

Thank you for your suggestions/technique tips. You're right, in the Mom and peanut shot, I was using too much control. As you say, it's almost a no touch/touch that's needed.

I'm better than I was at the beginning, and will stay with it till I get it right.

Thanks again, and have a wonderful Holiday Season :-).
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Old December 22nd, 2002, 08:13 PM   #10
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Thanks too all ..

Who have posted. When you read the SteadiCam adds they sort of lead you to believe you can start the "Friday the 13th" filming as soon as you take it out of the box. I have been thinking about getting one, and now I probably have more realistic expectations of what I can do out of the box. My patience being what it is, I'll be able to do the peanut shots in a year or two :)
Mark

p.s <<<--my years as a tough Steadicam workshop instructor are showing-->>>Steve, any idea if classes are available in the Houston area?
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Old March 31st, 2003, 01:38 AM   #11
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Ollld thread, new reply

hey I know this is an old thread, but we just attached our GL2 to a Steadicam Jr. and have been testing out our balancing. We've had the same problems with the side to side motion during pans, but luckily it hasn't had any problems with forward or backward motion. How has everyone else been doing?

-Syd
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