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Old October 24th, 2005, 02:38 PM   #1
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Basic stabilizer questions

Hello,
Please excuse my lack of knowledge on the subject of camera stabilizers as I've only shot from the shoulder and off tripods in the past.
Over the past 20 years I've been hefting large ENG cameras around as a news camerman, weight and standing still were my only stabilizers.
I'm looking forward to doing a long term steadicam type project using the smaller LIGHTER DV camera format aside from work.
A few questions here:

How stable is a static shot held for about 10 seconds?

Is there a way to zoom in or out while using the steadycam withoput disrupting the stable picture?

Can you control the iris as well without touching the camera?

I've never shot anything without using manual focus and iris so I'm a little apprehensive of using a stabilization platform.

Thanks for your input!

Tom
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Old October 24th, 2005, 03:46 PM   #2
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Tom, welcome to the forum.

Stabulizers are complicated things that require some knowledge and a lot of practice to become proficent in.

>>How stable is a static shot held for about 10 seconds?
The great thign with a Steadicam is that it compleatly isolates the camera form teh operator, provided you are in balance a shot will remain static indefinatly (untill you get tired) - it's all based on Neuton's laws. If you dont' move it, it wont' move :)
However to remain in balance will take a bit of time to get proficient in.. and expecially coming to a stop from speed, and then accelerating again.

>>Is there a way to zoom in or out while using the steadycam withoput disrupting the stable picture?
Yes. However yrou assumption that it will disrupt the rig if you touch the lens is very true, therfore you will need to do it remotly. Any decent DV caemra will have a LANC/zoom controller connector alowing you to connect a wired remote to the camera, that you then attach to teh gimble.. there will be a wire there, but it's generally not too bad.
Some cameras also offer manual focus control in the similar mannor, and some even offer remote Iris control (like the just beeing shipped DVX100B..it has all 3 control options).
The best option, and msot used profesionally is to use wireless onctrol, normally of focus and iris - and then of zoom if you use it on the rig (often you just move the camera ;-)
So yes the are control options for most all levels of camera.

>>Can you control the iris as well without touching the camera?
Ok, I answered that one allready, but curently the only DV cameras that can have remote iris controll are teh DVX100B and the soon beeing released HVX200, and those that have a true manual lens.. so the full manual lens for the Canon XL cameras, or a coupld of JVC DV cameras.
Again, remote is the key, preferably wireless, but a thin flexible wire wont' kill you.

>>I've never shot anything without using manual focus and iris so I'm a little apprehensive of using a stabilization platform.
Auto focus sucks.. rigging up some sort of remote Follow Focus is a very good idea. At least with these small cameras you have a big depth of field on your side if you stay zoomed out.

however, just a coupel of words of caution: Steadicam is not somethign to be taken lightly. It is a profesion of it's own, and as you will apriciate from your experience with ENG, it will take a long time to become good, and some formal training is VERY much recomended to get you started. I woudl strongly sugest you take a Steadicam workshop. Thsi will also answer many of your questions as well as teaching you to operate.

Go to www.steadicam-ops.com and look at both their "workshops" page for into on workshops, and then take a good read of the material on the "manuals" page.. it will give you a good idea of what this is all about.

What camera are you plannign on whooting with, what is the project and when do you plan to begin shooting?

Good luck, and as any Steadi op will tell you; Fly safe.

- Mikko
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Old October 24th, 2005, 04:16 PM   #3
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Mikko,
Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions, your answers were very helpful.
I will be shooting naturally lit interiors where the only thing let in (no tripods,lights etc.etc) is the operator. I could do the project handheld but I'd like the added stability of the steadycam for the static and pull-out shots. So as you can see, my purposes of the steadycam will be for static stability more than flowing movement (at least right now)
I have posted in the general forum that I am looking for an excellent low light 1/3 or 1/2 inch chip camera, XL2, HD 100? Z1u? Or any 1/2 Sony JVC under 10,000. Suggestions?
Some of the stable mounts I have been researching are the Glidecam smooth Shooter and 4000, the Steadicam Flyer, and the Animagique Magiqcam.

Thanks again,

Tom
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Old October 24th, 2005, 04:32 PM   #4
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Hi Tom,

I own a JVC GY-DV5000U camera with Fujinon s20x6.4brm-sd lense and I also manufacture stabilizers.

JVC GY-DV5000U is a 1/2 inch chip camera and quite good and I really like it.

Here are two videos shot by GY-DV5000U using my stabilizer for your reference.

http://www.salenz.com/movie/2005_5_1.wmv
http://www.salenz.com/movie/2005_5_21.wmv

Regards
Leigh

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Mecozzi
I have posted in the general forum that I am looking for an excellent low light 1/3 or 1/2 inch chip camera, XL2, HD 100? Z1u? Or any 1/2 Sony JVC under 10,000. Suggestions?
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Old October 24th, 2005, 05:12 PM   #5
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Tom,
As for camera choice, if want HD then i'd sugest the Z1, or XL-H1 if youc an afford it - or if youc an wait best of all the HVX200.
However if SD is enough, then i'd sugest the DVX100B (will be shipping very soon) .or if you are in a rush the DVX100A-- the XL2 is also a very good camera as is the Sony PD-170 - which prolly has tghe best low light of the 1/3" cameras. ..depends on what is important to you as a shooter.
The good news is that they style of shooting you are describing it won't matter if you manual set focus, iris etc, then stabilize with teh steadicam.. no need for lense control as you don't sould like you will be adjusting during the shot.

As for rigs, if youc an afford it, i would *strongly* sugest the Steadicam Flyer. It is leaps and bounds beyond the knock-off rigs. It will not only perform by far the best, but will also be easiet to learn with.

As you are using the rig for the "use it where you can't use a tripod" solution, and you arn't planning on dooing moving shots, i'm also going to sugest you look into a shoulder rig, like the DVrigPro. .if you go with an XL camera youc an even get Pro battery mounts to make them feel like an ENG camera.
..in fact, i'm tamped to ask, why not shoot witha larger ENG camera? ..just out of curioisty..

- Mikko
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Old October 24th, 2005, 06:10 PM   #6
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Leigh,
Thanks for the info on the JVC and those two links to your steady rig, footage is great. In fact a friend just told me about that very same camera a few minutes ago here at work.About the same price as the smaller 1/3 chip HDV cameras.

Mikko,
Thanks again for the reply.
I will be using infinity for alot of the interiors but there will be times when I will have a foreground focal then opened to infinity as I show the whole room(or maybe the opposite direction) The reason why I'm staying away from the ENG camera (like the one I use at work) is I have a very limited budget and I can't afford to buy a stabilization system that could handle the weight of my camera. So I'm kind of forced into the below $10,000 budget (camera alone). All handheld (on shoulder) would kill me after about 2 hours continuous plus I need steady statics. Also I like the DV format for non-linear editing.

Thanks again,

Tom

Last edited by Tom Mecozzi; October 24th, 2005 at 06:13 PM. Reason: adding info
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Old October 24th, 2005, 06:40 PM   #7
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Well sounds like a Steadicam is the right rig for you, therefore, get the flyer.

What camera do you have a work? ..how much does it weigh?

As for lens contol for the GY-DV5000.. it's a manual lens, so you are goign to need to get a remote follow focus to change focus during the shot on Steadicam. I'd sugest a BFD: http://www.bartechengineering.com/
They have either a wireless system (that would need a assistant to pull focus) or a wired controller that woudl attach to yrou gimble.

you coudl of course get an lens with a built in focus servo (if you allready have a 1/2" camera, the lense shoudl be compatible.. but most ENG lenses dont' have a built in focus servo.) and use just a fucos controller directly to the lense.

I *might* be easier to go with a camera with will take LANC or the Panasonic control interface.

- Mikko
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Old October 24th, 2005, 07:11 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Mecozzi
The reason why I'm staying away from the ENG camera (like the one I use at work) is I have a very limited budget and I can't afford to buy a stabilization system that could handle the weight of my camera. So I'm kind of forced into the below $10,000 budget (camera alone). All handheld (on shoulder) would kill me after about 2 hours continuous plus I need steady statics. Also I like the DV format for non-linear editing.

Thanks again,

Tom
Hi Tom,

How much budget you allocate for a stabilization system?

Regards
Leigh
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Old October 24th, 2005, 07:29 PM   #9
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Mikko,
Thanks for the link and enlightenment on the costs involved in those systems! Looks like I need to keep searching.
My camera with brick on the back and dual wireless with standard Fuji weighs in at about 22 to 28 pounds (wide angle adapter).
Leigh, my budget will be open depending on the system needed, but again WEIGHT of the whole system is a VERY important factor in the complete camera package. I'd love to use my Sony DNW9WS sx and a heavy steadicam rig for a great picture but I'd probably last about 2 years before I'd keel over! Therefore I find the smaller JVC gy hd100, the ag-hux200,and the XL2 VERY appealing!

Would these smaller chipped camera's really be affected by low light or just depth of field?

Thanks again,

Tom
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Old October 24th, 2005, 07:48 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Mecozzi
Mikko,
Thanks for the link and enlightenment on the costs involved in those systems! Looks like I need to keep searching.
Hi Tom,

You really don't need any focus controller if you use GY-DV5000 with s20x6.4brm-sd lense. These controller price will cost around the same as my 20x lense price.

Due to 1/2inch ccd, the depth of field for GY-DV5000 is quite bigger too. Small er minidv camera will have bigger depth of field.

The two videos I posted does not use any controller. All you need to do is to set lense focal length to 6.4mm and set focus length to be whatever you wish. I usually set to 2 meters.

By the way, my stabilizer support camera from 200g(if that camera exists) to 20kg(If you can manage to carry with counter balance). I can hold my jvc gy-dv5000 camera which weighs around 6kg including everything using my stabilizer easily for an hour without break. You will see in future from my photograph that I am not a tough person, just average guy to hold normal weight.

I also have a video shot by nv-gs400 which weighs around 600g using the same stabilizer to shot.

Here is the link
http://www.salenz.com/movie/2005_10_4.m2p

Regards
Leigh
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Old October 24th, 2005, 08:09 PM   #11
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To tell you the truth, everything I will be shooting will be through a wide angle lense, therefore I don't belive I would need any follow focus at all but it would be mandatory for a remote iris though. Is this a correct assumption?
Thanks,

tom
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Old October 24th, 2005, 08:35 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Mecozzi
To tell you the truth, everything I will be shooting will be through a wide angle lense, therefore I don't belive I would need any follow focus at all but it would be mandatory for a remote iris though. Is this a correct assumption?
Thanks,

tom
Hi Tom,

I guess that you are one man band. Why you need a remote iris? If it is true, then you might need an assistant to control remote iris. I don't have the skill to operate my stabilizer while doing other things all at the same time.

Regards
Leigh
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Old October 24th, 2005, 11:20 PM   #13
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Boy, look at you guys go--lots of conversation for one day!

Tom, I'm trying to read between the lines about your project and its needs. I'm a little confused about the priorities; are your decisions based on cost, mobility/weight or image quality? I mention this because there are many interesting possibilities these days.

For instance, I understand your concern about shooting time and weight bearing. As you surmised, a full-size rig would be impractical for extended shooting--but since you obviously have a certain amount of stamina from your years of handheld shooting, a lighter rig should serve you well. Just make sure that you are able to work in many hours (days...weeks...!) of practice time well in advance of your shoot, not only to tweak your skills but to build up what our noble inventor Garrett Brown refers to in technical terms as "those" muscles, the ones in the lower back that are rarely called on by the general public. Leigh, I'm sure you'll agree that your hours of regular practice are responsible for your stamina (and have apparently discovered the sad fact that building up "those" muscles does absolutely nothing to improve one's general outward physique, but it's a fun surprise for the masseuse!).

In any event, will shooting the project on a 1/3 or 1/2" camera be worth the sacrifice in image quality? What about using a lightweight 2/3" head, including the latest HD box cameras--those weigh hardly more than the aforementioned DV cameras (OK, the lens will beef them up a bit more) and thus could be flown on rigs such as the Flyer--with a CCU cable alongisde the SDI, a remotely located DIT could paint the camera on the fly, or at least ride the iris, and record to an HDCAM deck. The image quality will be substantially greater, and the payload on your back reasonable, certainly less than the setup you've been shlepping around handheld. However the cost factor is obviously much greater, unless renting is a possibility--I heard "long term" in your description though.

Anyway, tossing this in there as food for thought.

For what it's worth, I'm behind Mikko's suggestion of the Flyer for this weight class of stabilizer.
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Old October 25th, 2005, 12:41 AM   #14
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Hi Charles,

You are right. ;-)

I look forward to meeting you someday in future.

Have you recovered?

Regards
Leigh

Quote:
Originally Posted by Charles Papert
Leigh, I'm sure you'll agree that your hours of regular practice are responsible for your stamina
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Old October 25th, 2005, 02:14 AM   #15
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Leigh,

Thanks for asking--up on my feet and doing a course of physical therapy, but still not back to operating just yet. I slipped an Ultra on at a Tiffen demo the other week (the new G70 arm is fabulous, by the way) and took a few tentative steps, but it's still too soon.

I may have said this in the past, but my girlfriend and I were so impressed by NZ when we spent a few weeks there last year that we have fantasies of moving there some day...
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