Don Juan Vs Missionary Stabiliser Ops at

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Old December 20th, 2006, 05:23 AM   #1
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Don Juan Vs Missionary Stabiliser Ops

Don Juan - an operating position where the operator walks forward but the camera points backward.
Missionary - an operating position where the operator walks forward and the camera points forward.

I'm interested to know how can I operate in Don Juan! I cant imagine having the camera pointing backwards.. I would imagine a second monitor mounted somewhere but to watch the road ahead n the monitor is no easy task I think!

Next question, where does the camera point? Over the left or right shoulder? I'm a right hander n I think left would be better as the indicam I'm using has the anker on the right waist... if yes, that would be really tiring to raise the camera above the shoulder all the time ist it?
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Old December 20th, 2006, 11:16 AM   #2
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When operating normally (In Missionary), the sled should be at your side - not out in front of you - the opposite side to which the arm attaches to the vest.

"Regular" operating has the arm attached on the right putting the sled on your left. You control the gimble (pan & tilt) with your left hand and the arm post with your right. "Goofy" is the other way round.

To switch to "Don Juan" just pan the camera 180* so that it's pointing backwards. With the sled tucked close to your side, you should be able to shoot cleanly past/over your shoulder.

This is similar to panning the rig to either side to shoot tracking shots. In fact any time that your gimble hand is pointing the same way as the camera and monitor, you are in "missionary" and when the monitor and camera point back along your arm, then you are in DJ - so normally the case when you are panned off to the left in regular or to the right in goofy.

If you are using the camera's LCD monitor, DJ can be quite a challenge.
If you are using a sled mounted monitor down at the bottom, it will be much easier as you will be able to see your feet and ahead of you (in your peripheral vision) when looking down at the monitor.

- Mikko
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Old December 22nd, 2006, 06:01 PM   #3
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Hi Sean,

An important note...Many, if not a majority of professional Steadicam operators will shoot in the missionary position but walk backwards. I am told that Don Juan isn't used nearly as much as reverse missionary. Yes, you do need to have a spotter or keep a real good eye on where you are going. Always pre-walk your shot first and make note of any potential problems.

The shot on our website ( ) which shows video using the 1/2 pound camera was done handheld but in missionary position for the whole shot. A lot of it was done in the reverse missionary position where the camera was leading the action.

Mikko discussed the proper way to do a Don Juan shot-sled to the left side of the body with the camera looking backwards over your shoulder. You frame by looking at the side mount monitor-sometimes flipping the screen so you can see it better.

Hope all is well with you.

He's only mostly sDEADy.

sort of from "The Princess Bride"
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Old December 22nd, 2006, 06:07 PM   #4
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I sent you an email a while back...don't know if you got it. My question is, is your rig sufficient for a Canon XLH1 loaded with gear, weighing 13 lbs? I've also been considering the new magiqcam 2p.
Bruce S. yarock
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Old December 22nd, 2006, 07:09 PM   #5
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FYI, don juan isn't usually something that you prepare for specifically. When walking you shot, it's important to figure out your footwork, and plan the best places for switching in and out of DJ.... Sometimes, if you have to lead an actor for a few steps only, it may not be necessary to switch. Sometimes, you have to switch to fit through awkward spaces. It's all a matter of walking the shot, working the dance-steps.

That said, some ops choose never to shoot don juan, even when running (Larry McConkey). However, more important than DJ is the switch. Practice the switch moving in all directions, and DJ will eventually become second nature.
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Old December 22nd, 2006, 07:17 PM   #6
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I have occasionally over the years tacked on a lightweight monitor that faces forward for DJ work but it usually is just confusing (pan stays the same but tilt essentially reverses, i.e. pushing the post towards the monitor usually results in a tilt down, here it is a tilt up).

I'll do anything I can to avoid going into DJ but sometimes it is unavoidable for me. More often I will be working in "semi-DJ" which involves being panned hard right or left for periods during a shot.

There are a few operators who like DJ enough to make that the style of choice for backing up shots--but only a few!
Charles Papert
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Old December 22nd, 2006, 11:49 PM   #7
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Wow thanks for the great info. I must try DJ out.. I tried missionary and walking in he reverse direction, its really tough to gauge where I was heading to.

The other very difficult action is to focus on an object and panning in a circular motion. Imagine an object in the middle, the camera shoots at it while walking in a big circle around it.. holy cow I have a really tough time keeping the frame correct!! I did it by having the sled to my left, and pointing to the left while walking.. prob is I can't see the monitor as it will be facing the left! so I end up trying to figure out if the frame.. So how do u guys do this kinda shots?
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