Indicam review continued - Page 5 at DVinfo.net

Go Back   DV Info Net > The Tools of DV and HD Production > Support Your Local Camera > Stabilizers (Steadicam etc.)


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old November 18th, 2006, 08:02 AM   #61
Trustee
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Singapore
Posts: 1,498
Ah I guessed so.. just wondering how did u fill up the background if it was from the same photo. Would have take a lot of work to cut the subject onto a new layer, and patch the background. Great job anyway!
Sean Seah is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 18th, 2006, 09:35 AM   #62
Major Player
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Kansas City, MO USA
Posts: 220
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sean Seah
Ah I guessed so.. just wondering how did u fill up the background if it was from the same photo. Would have take a lot of work to cut the subject onto a new layer, and patch the background. Great job anyway!
The stamp tool in Photoshop works wonders ;)
Peter Chung is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 18th, 2006, 11:19 AM   #63
Trustee
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Singapore
Posts: 1,498
OK folks, I'm back with part II of my testing. I I had to do during the afternoon n its hot summer here (all year round!) so I was pretty tired from the whole exercise. I dun think I did as well with the steps. I have no idea how to keep the sled stable... Terry, I need some guidance with the steps man..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sG6bhUPdcZc
Sean Seah is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 19th, 2006, 10:56 PM   #64
Major Player
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Auburn, CA
Posts: 578
Sean,

When you say steps do you mean walking or actual steps as in "stairs"?

The tricks to getting good walking shots are as follows;

1. Have the arm balanced low (below parallel) and hold it up to shooting height with your human arm. This takes some of the bounce out of the shot. It's easy to do as you know from using the PILOT.

2. A heavier sled (camera and weights) will be more stable than a lighter sled.

3. Practice the steadicam walk as much as possible (as seen on our website... http://www.indicam.com/index.php?opt...=28&Itemid=57). Your legs should be bent just a bit and you should make your body flow. This is easier said than done and can take many hours of practice. Sorry, no shortcuts.

4. Work on moves i.e. direction changes and starting and stopping. Spread your control hand fingers out on the gimbal sleeve (the foam below the gimbal) so you can feel the sled if it starts to move one way or the other. You can then make the necessary corrections before it gets noticeable.

5. Keep you control hand out of the shot as much as possible. The big guys can usually get smoother shots easier because their rigs are much heavier and therefore more stable due to inertia. You can still get amazingly smooth shots with the PILOT but you have to be more "delicate" in your rig control as Cody Deegan would put it.

Read the posts and you will see the steadicam slogan: "Practice, practice, practice". If everyone could do it easily it wouldn't be a desired skill. Good equipment is only part of the formula.

Terry
Indicam
__________________
He's only mostly sDEADy.

sort of from "The Princess Bride"

www.indicam.com
Terry Thompson is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 20th, 2006, 05:27 AM   #65
Trustee
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Singapore
Posts: 1,498
oops.. I meant stairs. I had the system a little high up in this case. I'll make some adjustments to lower it a little. I'm worried the arms "bottom out" so I had the springs adjusted to be a little stronger.
Sean Seah is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 20th, 2006, 11:04 AM   #66
Major Player
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Auburn, CA
Posts: 578
Sean,

Adjust the arms so the closest one to you doesn't bottom out and the further one out takes up the rest of the downward motion. It's not hard to do but it does take a bit of adjustment. Once done it's done!

Our section on stairs in the training video starts out with "Do you really need the shot?" as stairs can be dangerous, even with an assistant. That being said here is what I do (if I really need the shot)...

1. Balance the rig with a long drop time (almost neutral) so titlting can be done easily and without very much control hand.

2. Tilt if leading or following the subject to frame correctly. No one wants to see the back side of the subject for 5 to 10 seconds (no jokes). If you have to shoot something from the back and you can't tilt correctly then shoot the feet going up the stairs.

3. With the Indicam "High Shot" you can get a more level shot when following the subject up the stairs as it puts the camera higher.

4. Going down the stairs is much easier for me that going up the stairs. See "Jogging down the stairs" from our video at CES. http://www.ipowerplex.com/indicam/

5. Keep your control hand out of the shot.

Special tip...try shooting practice shots on the level without touching the sled at all (no control hand) and see how smooth the shot really is. Then you will understand the importance of a delicate control hand.

Terry
Indicam
__________________
He's only mostly sDEADy.

sort of from "The Princess Bride"

www.indicam.com
Terry Thompson is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 20th, 2006, 01:27 PM   #67
Major Player
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Los Angeles
Posts: 439
Just a comment - I noticed the link to the "steadicam walk." Careful what you point out as proper posture, especially in a demo video. Steadicam is NOT handheld, and the job of the spring arm is to absorb the movements of the operator. Obviously excessive hip sway or tilt will upset the socket block, that is absolutely true. But the operator's eye-line does not necessarily remain level as the socket block does, and bending the knees to "walk steady" essentially fights what the arm is trying to do.

The steadicam walk refers to a lot of specifics when it comes to posture. Weight should be on one leg when stopped, the body should be turned slightly towards the rig, the sled should, in "standard" position, hover just outside the left hip. There are a lot of things which steadicam-ops have figured out over the years to make the craft easier from a physical standpoint, so that the artistic side can be explored. Even on rigs as light as the indicam, it's a mistake to get into bad habits early. In that respect, I hope all indicam customers are aware that the video may not be the best example of operating posture.

Also for walking up or down stairs, the drop time is a lot less important than the balance. If you know that 90% of the shot is going to be going up stairs, trim the balance so that the camera is pointing right for 90% of the shot. When the shot is done, re trim the balance for the next. If you change the drop time to basically neutral, it will show every possible flaw in the "control hand." Whatever drop time (top-to-bottom balance) is comfortable for you, use and simply trim the sled to give the framing which you'll be holding longest during the shot.
Jaron Berman is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 20th, 2006, 02:59 PM   #68
Major Player
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Kansas City, MO USA
Posts: 220
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaron Berman
Just a comment - I noticed the link to the "steadicam walk." Careful what you point out as proper posture, especially in a demo video. Steadicam is NOT handheld, and the job of the spring arm is to absorb the movements of the operator. Obviously excessive hip sway or tilt will upset the socket block, that is absolutely true. But the operator's eye-line does not necessarily remain level as the socket block does, and bending the knees to "walk steady" essentially fights what the arm is trying to do.
Jaron,

Can you please explain what proper posture and steadicam walking should look like?

My understanding was that you should try to walk as steady as you can and the arm is supposed to help smooth out or absorb the extraneous motions of your body. I don't understand how bending the knees to walk steady fights what the arm is trying to do... we shouldn't be walking "normally," should we?

Thanks for taking the time to explain and caution us less-experienced ;)

Thanks for sharing the tips about the stairs. That makes a lot of sense to trim for your levels...
Peter Chung is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 20th, 2006, 04:03 PM   #69
Major Player
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Los Angeles
Posts: 439
You're not trying to walk "less steady" you're trying to walk like a dancer... which looks smooth and natural, essentially nothing like that video. Actually, you should get better results if you just walk "normal," because you won't fatigue the hell out of yourself before take 1. Getting dancer-like takes practice, but normal is better than the crouched handheld walk.

One thing to point out first, because it can affect everything else, is that when you're moving around, as long as you're not doing a switch or holding the camera at an extreme angle, panning, etc... basically if you're just moving with the camera, it should stay very close to your body. Indicam, as well as many other light rigs can fool people into thinking it's ok to normally operate away from the body. It is necessary at times, but the video shows the operator with the rig essentially out front of his body... painful and unnecessary. Whenever possible, keep the camera a couple inches off the left hip. Why make things harder on yourself? And, as the rig gets away from your body, you need to stand up more, to fight the torque it puts on you. In the linked video, the operator has the rig in front of himself, and fights it by squatting down. The natural motion when you bend your knees is to bring your shoulders forward of your c.g. This is EXTREMELY bad for your back, you'll feel it pretty quickly. Think of your body as a giant STRAIGHT lever. As the rig moves away, the whole lever leans back as one.

Now, when half-face the rig, both shoulders relaxed, violinist's grip with the left hand, gentle grip with the right, you are in "classic" steadicam position, i.e. default. You'll notice you have to walk in a bizarre angle to keep the lens of the camera facing its mark all the time. This is what line exercises are for, "walking the line." And yes, you should essentially walk as normal as possible while facing slightly towards the camera. If it feels awkward, you're facing forward too much. Turn slightly more to face the rig, and it should get exponentially easier. Now walk forwards and backwards on a line for a couple hours a day, and you'll get extremely good at the line dance, and consequently basic steadi posture.

The Indicam is a 3A-design arm. That means it tries to find center, and does a very good job of it at all times, even when you're trying to boom up or down. Sometimes, people adjust their posture to compensate for the fact that they've de-tuned the arm, and it carries less weight. Many fantastic shots have been done by de-tuning, and allowing the operator to carry more weight... but generally it's a better time than ever to practice perfect posture. If the arm isn't isolating the movement of your steps either a) you're carrying too much weight with your own arm, or b) the arm is doing a poor job.

If you want to see textbook operating, rent the Shining, and watch the behind the scenes footage. There's a reason why a lot of people who get into the low-cost (and low-training) systems complain about back problems or inability to carry even light cameras comfortably....and why guys like Garrett Brown have been carrying EXTREMELY heavy (70lb) rigs for more than 25 years!

So rule number 1 - steadicam is NOT handheld. If you shoot well handheld, chances are your compositional style will carry over. However your body posture should not. It's a different animal, and if you find yourself "padding" your steps to make the system work, the rig itself probably has too much friction to work.
Jaron Berman is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 20th, 2006, 04:43 PM   #70
Major Player
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Kansas City, MO USA
Posts: 220
Jaron, thanks for the reply!

I found another video on Terry's site that shows him operating an XL2. http://indicam.com/media/PILOTflyingXL2.wmv
Is this more of what you were talking about in terms of proper walking?

I will have to rent a copy of the Shining to see the textbook operating you are talking about. Thanks for the heads-up :)

One last thing, you've repeated twice to emphasize that Steadicam is NOT handheld. I'm not sure I am catching your point. Can you explain again, please? :) If anything, I would think that using an arm and vest system would be a lot easier (hence more expensive) than using a handheld stabilizer.

Thank you so much for taking the time to respond to my questions, Jaron! You are very much appreciated! Thanks!
Peter Chung is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 20th, 2006, 05:12 PM   #71
Major Player
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Juneau, Alaska, USA
Posts: 624
Jaron has a very good point about Cody's operating in that video.
I'll comment briefly as I pass through.

The Steadicam's job is to isolate the camera from the operator. Meaning that the operator can move freely - however s/he wants - and the camera won't pick-up this movement. That means that you can in fact walk, or even run, normally with a good system and it will keep the camera steady.
As it's isolated, you can of course also move the camera freely as you wish, without effecting you!

With handheld, your job is to support the camera and absorb all the motion so that it isn't transferred to the camera. With Steadicam it does that for you, so you shouldn't be expending any of your energy to absorb shock. - There's a nice, untiring, set of springs in the Steadicam arm to do that for you.

About the only adjustment to walking style (in addition to facing the camera at your side a little, like a tennis stance) is to walk with your feet a little closer together than normal - This helps keep your body from lurching side-to side, which can throw the rig around during delicate moments.


Here is some EXCELLENT reading on Steadicam Posture: http://www.steadivision.com/steadipos.htm

- Miko
Mikko Wilson is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 20th, 2006, 05:23 PM   #72
Major Player
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Los Angeles
Posts: 439
Yes, that's a lot better. The walking is good.

You'll see too, he leans forward and lands on 2 feet when he stops, then drops a foot back to land again. You can see very clearly the shift in the hips that happens when you stop with weight on 2 feet. The cartoonish walking in the first demo video we were discussing is very much akin to what happens when you stop on 2 feet. To move, your body needs its weight on 1 foot, and so the transition is basically a big "bump" from 2 to 1 again. To get smooth starts and stops, practice coming to a rest in default position with your weight comfortably on 1 foot, generally the left (when operating normal).

One thing you have to learn too is the "kiss off." the more planning you can put into your dance-steps, the better your shots will be. If you know exactly where your stops and switches etc... will be, you can plan for them. When stopping, it is sometimes best to walk away from the rig a little LITTLE bit, so that when your body lands in a comfortable position, you can keep the camera moving slowly towards you until it stops right next to your hip, very comfortably. This is SUPER SUPER SUPER important, because you never know when a director will absolutely fall in love with the shot or the dialogue, and make you hold that spot for 3 minutes longer.If you're carrying the rig a foot from your body, you're totally hosed. Any stabilizer gets heavy when you're holding it way out...and nobody can hold it perfectly steady when they're fatigued.

Golden rule 2 - the camera moves first and last, your body moves in between. Start and stop your moves with the camera.


The point I was making about handheld is this - the rig creates a different effect than handheld, and behaves differently. It is specifically designed to isolate the camera from your body's movement. When shooting handheld, you have to do the bent-knee walk to smooth things out. The demo video was a pretty good example of handheld technique actually, the shooter's eyeline remained basically straight throughout, as would a camera on his shoulder. To go low handheld, you crouch down or go to your knees. NEVER crouch with a steadicam - any loss of balance will literally pull you over. Also, why would you? The boom allows you to boom down and up far more efficiently (and smoothly) than you could handheld. If you need to get the camera lower than you could standing (and it doesn't hit the floor), sit on a stool. The arm and your right arm should be able to compensate for the sit-down and up. Different look, different technique.
Jaron Berman is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 20th, 2006, 05:25 PM   #73
Major Player
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Los Angeles
Posts: 439
Ah, Mikko, thank you! I was seriously trying to find that link for like an hour. Enough brains working together can form a complete thought. Thanks man.
Jaron Berman is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 20th, 2006, 08:34 PM   #74
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Washington
Posts: 60
Hello,
I'm not quite sure how the spring adjustment works on the indicam. Could someone post some closer pictures of the sliding spring adjustment? Does the adjustment bolt have to be pretty tight so the spring doesn't move while you are using the rig?

Thanks,
Luke
__________________
Luke Springer
Luke Springer is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 21st, 2006, 02:01 AM   #75
Major Player
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Auburn, CA
Posts: 578
Thanks to all for the steadicam tips.

We have put in our video the things that we have learned from other operators, web research, and years of operation. We still have more to learn and will continue to do so.

When working with a light set-up we have found that we get better results with our arm balanced below horizontal. Like has been said before, the energy needed to lift the rig to a higher operating position is very low. Also we try to have our legs bent slightly as we walk but we do keep the sled close to our left side. This is more important the heavier the rig. When we were flying lighter cameras we could hold the sled more out in front if we wanted to as it was so light. Now that we have a larger camera (Z1U-small for some of you guys) we try to follow a more proper operating posture.

Cody's final "Groucho Marks" walk was an exaggeration but we were trying to get the point across to move the body as smoothly as possible. Hey, it's worked for us.

We shot straight a three and a quarter hour stage show for one of our latest projects and other than a 15 minute intermission there were no breaks. Yes, we were tired by the end but not overly tired. Unfortunatly we couldn't go into a rest position between scenes as one scene moved right into the next.

Terry
Indicam
__________________
He's only mostly sDEADy.

sort of from "The Princess Bride"

www.indicam.com
Terry Thompson is offline   Reply
Reply

DV Info Net refers all where-to-buy and where-to-rent questions exclusively to these trusted full line dealers and rental houses...

Professional Video
(800) 833-4801
Portland, OR

B&H Photo Video
(866) 521-7381
New York, NY

Z.G.C.
(973) 335-4460
Mountain Lakes, NJ

Abel Cine Tech
(888) 700-4416
N.Y. NY & L.A. CA

Precision Camera
(800) 677-1023
Austin, TX

DV Info Net also encourages you to support local businesses and buy from an authorized dealer in your neighborhood.
  You are here: DV Info Net > The Tools of DV and HD Production > Support Your Local Camera > Stabilizers (Steadicam etc.)

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

 



Google
 

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 03:43 PM.


DV Info Net -- Real Names, Real People, Real Info!
1998-2017 The Digital Video Information Network