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Old November 21st, 2006, 09:04 AM   #76
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Absolutely Terry, it's all a learning process. And though it's been around for closer to 30 years, Steadicam is still very new (in comparison to many other technologies). Always moving forward.

I know Cody's video was mostly a parody, but I found it difficult to glean any useful information about technique from that clip, so I spoke up. The clip of you walking with the XL is a far better representation of how to walk, and I think your customers would certainly benefit more looking at that than the "instructional" clip about the steadi walk.

Like you said, posture becomes a lot more important as the sled weight goes up. You can do a lot of things with light cameras that you cannot with heavier ones, and that applies across the board of camera movement. However, the one in a thousand of your customers that may choose to step to a larger rig eventually will definitely benefit from learning good technique up front. And I don't exaggerate when I say that the majority of people that I've met who have tried steadicam-style rigs complain of the back ache or excessive fatigue. Not one of them had ever tried a rig with larger than a 6 lb camera! So yes, it's more of an issue with large rigs, but still very important on the little guys - especially because, like you said, less weight = more sensitive. A seasoned operator who flies loaded 435's all day could probably still push him/herself into fatigue pretty quickly on a light rig by holding the camera out or "padding" steps.
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Old November 21st, 2006, 10:19 AM   #77
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Wow, this thread is getting more interesting n beneficial. Thanks a lot for the pointers folks. So I'll do some experiment on walking naturally. I had this tendancy to pull the camera closer to my left hip as mentioned. The big problem is the FX1 has the LCD on the left and I could really see the screen so I had to pull the sled a little closer to the middle.. now I know what that 2nd LCD is for...
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Old November 21st, 2006, 11:51 AM   #78
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Jaron (cool name),

The XL2 video was with a much heavier system and hence more correct operating position.

That is one of the things we mention concerning the differences between the lighter and heavier weight rigs. I agree that one should know and practice where to hold the sled but in some of the cases I need to hold it toward left-middle (kind of like south south-west) to get a little better view. I haven't noticed any greater strain that way. If I did, I would absolutely change my style. The one thing that did make a big difference in strain was when we experimented with the socket block-moving it closer toward the middle and not over the right hip. I noticed a much larger differrence in the strain I felt.

Because our system is intended for cameras with side mounted monitors we suggest the left-middle for some shots. They have worked out very well. As a side note: The way we decide where the system is balanced for our rig is by having the chest plate top clips loose and moving the sled left and right in front of our body. The top part of the chest plate will move left or right depending on the sled position and when it's in the middle-bingo. This is where we try to keep the sled for the most part. We, of course, move it to different positions during a shoot but it's good to know the sweet spot.

Our training tape is for operators with lighter rigs even though much (not all) of the information applies to most rigs.

Anyway Jaron, thanks for the input. The best thing about this whole blog thing is that you can learn a great deal from others. Once learned it's time for the practice, practice, practice thing.

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Old November 21st, 2006, 02:16 PM   #79
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Out of curiosity, does your system allow goofy-side operating? If so, it may be interesting to push goofy operating as "standard," in order to see the screen while staying in good form. What we know as standard-side operating "dumb-side" basically happened because of the dexterity of Garrett Brown. Many operators learn or feel more comfortable on the other side, and many operators also actively practice both sides. For your particular system, without a sled-mounted monitor, it just seems natural to operate in standard posture, goofy. ???
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Old November 21st, 2006, 04:08 PM   #80
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Jaron,

Thanks for the suggestions.

Our system has been built to operate "goofy" if needed but we choose to operate in the conventional manner.

We were just working on the system, trying out a new low-mode adapter (prototype) and noted our system likes the mid-left side spot. With the sled on full left our rig is unbalanced to the left. Lucky for us because we can see the monitor just fine in almost all cases. For a ninety degree right side tracking shot we pull the camera in a bit closer and look over the top to see the monitor or we go reverse missionary.

We will try flipping the cross bar for "goofy" and let you know how it works. We have had a few requests for the goofy set-up so this will give us a chance to try it out for ourselves. It will feel strange though.

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Old November 21st, 2006, 11:23 PM   #81
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Yikes! Tried the PILOT in "goofy" position and it was like trying to write left-handed (I'm right handed). It felt like I was learning the whole process all over again. It was hard to figure out which hand went where.

Something else I noticed...different muscles were talking to me. What a strange experience that was. I can now remember what it was like trying to learn for the first time. This will be helpful when explaining to others.

One thing I didn't count on was the back strain I felt. It wasn't bad, just different. I now realize I have been building up certain muscles over the years so operating my rig has been fairly easy. A new person would probably feel the way I did as I went goofy so I can understand their concerns better now.

Thanks for the suggestion Jaron.

A word of encouragement to those new to stabilizers...everything will feel better and more natural the more you practice.

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Old November 22nd, 2006, 11:42 AM   #82
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I hear that! Once used to one side, it's very difficult to move to the other. How was the sight-line on the monitor?
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Old November 22nd, 2006, 10:19 PM   #83
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Jaron,

We hopefully did the final shoot on the training tape. What a chore! 10am to 2:30pm. We did do some clips on the "center" where the weight of the system should be. It's different for the PILOT and my friends Steadicam. His is more over the left hip whereas mine is middle left as previously mentioned.

Yes, the sight-line was excellent. I suppose we should buck the system and go for goofy more. I would hate to relearn skills and strengthen "that other muscle" myself but for newbies, hey why not. I was a good suggestion. Thanks again.

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Old November 23rd, 2006, 01:06 AM   #84
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... (cough)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Luke Springer
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
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Old November 23rd, 2006, 11:25 AM   #85
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaron Berman
Out of curiosity, does your system allow goofy-side operating? If so, it may be interesting to push goofy operating as "standard," in order to see the screen while staying in good form. What we know as standard-side operating "dumb-side" basically happened because of the dexterity of Garrett Brown. Many operators learn or feel more comfortable on the other side, and many operators also actively practice both sides. For your particular system, without a sled-mounted monitor, it just seems natural to operate in standard posture, goofy. ???
Over the years at the workshops I've seen people try it both ways and their body seems to "tell" them which is preferred. It's interesting if you look at the early images of Garrett where he operated with one hand and the rig attached on the right and flying on the right (i.e. the arm positioned under his arm); this made sense because it positions the mechanical elements in and around the body sort of like the robo-outfit that Sigourney Weaver uses to fight the mother alien in "Aliens 3", but in practice this is tough on the body because all the weight falls on one side. It took a few years for Garrett to "discover" two handed operating and swing the rig over the left, which not only offered more control but better weight distribution. Most of us who learned via Garrett never considered goofy-foot operating, and to this day probably 80% of the working operators wear it on the left side. It has been noted than many folks from the video world who are used to carrying a Betacam on their shoulders only feel comfortable with goofy foot.

I myself have converted the rig over to goofy when absolutely forced to perhaps twice in the past 10 years (can't remember after that), but it wasn't a great experience and I will do just about anything to get the shot another way. I know very few guys that can and do operate on both sides. Useful if you can get around to learning it, but relatively obscure in the big scheme of things.
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Old November 23rd, 2006, 01:42 PM   #86
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I agree that for someone who has learned on the left, it's probably best to just work on those skills. Especially if your rig has a monitor...and I'd guess by your work Charles, you could probably see what you were doing!

However, this particular stabilizer (without a monitor) seems to be aimed at those people who haven't had much or any experience. For those people with a blank slate, and with flip-out monitors where they are, it just seems like it could work out well to learn goofy first. Those of us who learn Steadicam, Pro, Xcs, etc..., like you said Charles, learn a certain way because that's how Garrett taught, and his proteges. An operator who learns on this system, or a glidecam (no monitor) could start off the bat goofy (and in good form). Then later, one could step to a larger rig, while remaining in good form. That's opposed to learning on the left but out front of the body (in order to see the flip-out monitor) - which, to me, seems like it could create some pretty bad habits.
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Old November 23rd, 2006, 01:48 PM   #87
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I see your point, Jaron, about the monitor. Hadn't occurred to me before, and it makes perfect sense.

From what I've seen though, the temptation for pretty much every new operator to hold these little rigs out in front rather than to the side is irresistible--it's a natural tendency to keep it from hitting one's body, I think.
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Old November 24th, 2006, 02:13 PM   #88
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It's awesome to get feedback from you guys who are out in the field with so much more experience!

Charles, your past posts on proper operating and tips have been a tremendous help to me in getting pretty good pretty fast once I got my PILOT sled :) I'm so thankful that you are so willing to share your expertise!

Anyways, I was reading the Glidecam Smooth Shooter manual (http://glidecam.com/pdf/man/glidecam...ter_manual.pdf) and it says, "The GLIDECAM SMOOTH SHOOTER is designed to work best when the
system is operated with the SLED positioned directly in front of you, as in
figures 17 and 18. This position allows you a clear view of either the LCD
MONITOR on your camcorder or the LCD MONITOR on the BASE PLATFORM
of your SLED."

I've attached a screenshot of the figure showing "middle operation."

I guess Glidecam is advocating bad Steadicam posture and a formula for sore backs... What do you guys make of Glidecam's suggested posture?

Thanks!

P.S. Jaron, I think your suggestion for operating in goofy mode is a great idea for systems without an external monitor. Makes more logical sense and would promote better posture overall.
Attached Thumbnails
Indicam review continued-glidecam_smooth_shooter_manual_excerpt.jpg  
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Old November 24th, 2006, 02:26 PM   #89
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Peter:

Glad to hear you are enjoying your stabilizer.

To me setups like the Smooth Shooter/GC are light enough that the difference in stress on the body when the rig is in front of you vs to one side is negligible. However, that's after years of carrying rigs that weigh four times as much, where you can immediately feel the difference. I know there are many people who do experience back pain from using DV stabilizers. It's my contention that much of this has to do with poor posture, form and adjustment of the vest more than where they hold the rig, however. Most newer operators will tend to hunch forward which requires them to muscle the rig back towards their bodies, which adds to the fatigue. You should be able to let go of the rig at any time and have it float in front of you without pulling away, if you are standing properly and the rig is correctly adjusted (arm/vest combos that allow for 2-axis adjustment will make this a LOT easier to achieve).

That said, I don't believe that centered is the best place to hold a rig for other reasons. Certainly if you have a center-post mounted monitor, it's a no-brainer that holding it in the middle of your body will result in the post blocking the monitor to some degree!

The arm on the Smooth Shooter may not be long enough to comfortably accomodate the rig flying all the way to the opposite side, I don't recall if this is the case or not. The one time I used it, I had to use the flip out screen on the camera and thus was forced into flying it in a centered mode, unless panned to the left.
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Old November 24th, 2006, 02:35 PM   #90
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Charles Papert
You should be able to let go of the rig at any time and have it float in front of you without pulling away, if you are standing properly and the rig is correctly adjusted (arm/vest combos that allow for 2-axis adjustment will make this a LOT easier to achieve).
What kind of axis adjustments do you make on a rig? I thought the only adjustments were in the spring tensions...


Quote:
That said, I don't believe that centered is the best place to hold a rig for other reasons. Certainly if you have a center-post mounted monitor, it's a no-brainer that holding it in the middle of your body will result in the post blocking the monitor to some degree!
I thought the same thing that the post would block the monitor ;)


Quote:
The arm on the Smooth Shooter may not be long enough to comfortably accomodate the rig flying all the way to the opposite side, I don't recall if this is the case or not. The one time I used it, I had to use the flip out screen on the camera and thus was forced into flying it in a centered mode, unless panned to the left.
I recently borrowed a friend's Glidecam V8 and tried operating on the left side but it always ended up middle-left subconsciously so I can keep the LCD in view. I don't know what the problem was but when reviewing the footage, occasionally I would get a knocking sound like the steps I was taking was causing the arm to hit something? Any idea why that might have been? Perhaps the arm isn't long enough to properly fly on the left side like you suggest?
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