Glidecam 2000 Pro vs. Varizoom Flowpod at DVinfo.net

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Old February 10th, 2006, 02:59 AM   #1
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Glidecam 2000 Pro vs. Varizoom Flowpod

I currently own a pair of Varizoom monopods, and they work great. I'd like to add a stabilizer system to my arsenal of tools, but I can't decide between the Glidecam 2000 Pro and the Varizoom Flowpod.

Has anyone used either of these, or even both of them? Let me know what you think. Thanks!
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Old February 10th, 2006, 06:16 PM   #2
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I've has a flowpod for about a year now and it is a great tool, when used properly. There is learning curve and the more time you sped with it, the better your footage will be, but with practice I have gotten some amazing "floating" shots. One interesting option is the new vest that Varizoom makes to work with the flowpod.

If I lost my flowpad, I would probably buy another one without thinking twice.
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Old February 12th, 2006, 02:23 AM   #3
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Did you ever use a more traditional stabilizer like a GlideCam before the Flowpod?
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Old February 13th, 2006, 07:25 PM   #4
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I have not used a Flowpod, but the Glidecam, as do all stabilizers, also has a learning curve. It will take about 40 hours of practice before you start getting proficient enough to get good video. And remember, when you are learning, it is not a bad thing to retake it.
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Old February 13th, 2006, 10:07 PM   #5
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When using something like the GlideCam do you use the LCD for composing the shot while you are taking it? I use the viewfinder a lot outdoors because the LCD doesn't deal with sunlight very well. Seems like you would have to use the LCD for framing shots. Or do you just 'learn' where the shot will be based on the position of the camera itself?
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Old February 14th, 2006, 12:23 AM   #6
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Travis,

The answer is YES, you need to use the side mounted monitor to frame the shot. Some monitors are better than others outside in bright sun. If you can't see it really well, maybe you can see it well enough to frame the shot correctly.

The other option is to get an external monitor and a battery system to run it and then route a video cable from the camera down to the monitor. Usually the external monitor and battery will cost more than the Glidecam itself.

We've used an external monitor with our PILOT stabilizer but we prefer the side mounted LCD as it's much simpler to set up. An external monitor will also likely add a bit more weight to the sled so if you're using it handheld then it can be a problem. It it's body mounted (as ours is) it doesn't seem to make that much difference.

As George said concerning practice-it will take some time in order to get real nice shots but you can get some decent shots fairly quickly. "Decent" and "nice" depend on who's looking at the shots but the real nice shots do require practice, practice, practice.

Smooth shooting,

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Old February 14th, 2006, 12:34 AM   #7
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The main reason for using an outboard monitor with a stabilizer is avoiding the blind spot when the rig is rotated to the right and the view to the flip-out screen is blocked; also, it's a little safer to be looking down towards the bottom of the rig and allowing your peripheral vision to include the path of your feet. However, you are adding weight (not great for a handheld rig) and increasing power drain by doing so.

The daylight viewability issue is unqestionable. We have still not arrived at a flatscreen that has as much intensity as a CRT based system, certainly not at a price that is consistent with this level of stabilizer. Even on the big rigs, the best LCD's out there are just now beginning to approach the off-axis viewability and ambient light rejection of the well-established green screen CRT's (such LCD's costing between $5K and $10K, with the better green screens between $10K and $15K).
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Old February 14th, 2006, 02:13 AM   #8
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So I'm assuming you usually go with auto-focus while using this right?

Also, I know the FlowPod has a handy C-clamp unit so you can balance the system more easily/quickly (balance, as in initial setup). How difficult is it to balance a GlideCam, and more importantly, do you have to do it every time you take it out into the field?
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Old February 14th, 2006, 04:45 AM   #9
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For hand-held, yes, autofocus is your friend. Some shote you could set the focus, but they need to be well planned. When you get into big boy rigs, someone else handles the focus off camera.
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Old February 14th, 2006, 04:46 AM   #10
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Interesting. I suppose they do that remotely?
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Old February 14th, 2006, 08:51 AM   #11
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Travis:

http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=32827
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Old February 14th, 2006, 11:22 AM   #12
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Travis,

While I was at NAB last year I came across a booth, which had a regular CRT monitor, and a 5" LCD monitor. They were next to each other and had a spotlight directly on them. The LCD was very viewable while the CRT was washed out.

I asked if I could take the LCD outside in full sunlight and see how well it did. As I was testing it out in the Las Vegas sun I noticed the only time I couldn't make out the picture was when it was reflecting the sun directly off the surface of the monitor. Other than that, the monitor worked extremely well. I ended up buying one for further testing at our facility.

Charles is correct about the blind spot while the camera is panned to the right but there are a few ways to work around it somewhat. I can usually get a fairly well framed shot in this situation by looking over the top of the camera to see the monitor. There is only one real "blind" blind spot that I have noticed and that's when the camera is eye height so the back of the camera is obscuring the monitor and I am panned a strong right. You can't see over it, under it, around it, or through it. The way around this problem for me is to either move myself around the back of the camera (if I can under the circumstances) or let the camera move around me if it is a moving shot. This way I end up on the left side of the rig where the monitor is doing a tracking shot etc. This isn't always possible but we do what we can with what we have.

There is still that "off axis" thing to worry about. I feel certain they will find a way to fix that in the future. In the words of Napolean Dynamite's brother..."I love technology".


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Old February 14th, 2006, 04:35 PM   #13
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Having not used a stabilizer like the GlideCam for more than 5 minutes, I'm not familiar with the 'off axis' issue. What is this?
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Old February 14th, 2006, 04:43 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Charles Papert
The daylight viewability issue is unqestionable. We have still not arrived at a flatscreen that has as much intensity as a CRT based system
Have you seen the transreflective (think that's the buzzword) LCD panel on the Sony Z1? I find it quite remarkable; you can see it perfectly well under direct sunlight as it's reflecting the image back at you. I have a handheld Garmin GPS which also has a transreflective color screen, but it isn't nearly as vivid as the Sony LCD panel.

This system may not be great for reproducing any subtle color variations, but it is certainly very good for framing and focusing in direct sunlight. You could also turn off the backlight in these conditions and save lots of battery power. Does anyone make standalone LCD panels like this?
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Old February 14th, 2006, 05:01 PM   #15
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Haven't seen it Boyd, thanks for the heads up. I feel pretty secure that the era of flat-screen technology equalling or surpassing CRT is close at hand, but as I said we (I suppose I should say I) haven't seen it yet.

As far as the demo's at NAB, I should point out that I was comparing LCD's against the best of the superbright Steadicam tube monitors, which have anti-reflective coatings and probably 3x the brightness of standard CRT's.
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