Steadicam Merlin gets vest and arm at CES - Page 2 at DVinfo.net

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Old January 22nd, 2007, 08:04 AM   #16
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it looks terrific. Can't wait to hear what Charles has to say!
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Old January 22nd, 2007, 10:41 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick Tsamandanis
I just realised that because there is no monitor at the bottom and the position of the camera's LCD screen it will have to be operated with the camera on the right hand side of the body. And perhaps that will be the only way?
Yes, there is a monitor for the Merlin in development.


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Old January 25th, 2007, 12:52 PM   #18
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Charles,

Just wonder how your trial with the Merlin Vest went on Monday. Anything you can share with us?
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Old January 25th, 2007, 08:31 PM   #19
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Chris will be posting the writeup on this site shortly--stay tuned.
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Old January 29th, 2007, 04:29 PM   #20
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Now online at http://www.dvinfo.net/articles/camsu...linvestarm.php
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Old January 29th, 2007, 04:54 PM   #21
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Thanks Charles, and Chris, a big help as always. Vest sounds great.

And I'm surprised Charlize brought it up... she still owes me dinner. (lol)
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Old January 29th, 2007, 06:23 PM   #22
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Nice review, Thanks CP!

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Old January 29th, 2007, 06:54 PM   #23
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CP,
I was wondering if you could give us some details on the new Flying Brick Cam. Things like how many folks can you take out with one throw? How long will they stay in the prone position ETC. Any price point yet? It looks like someting I'd like to own for certain clients! ;-0

Seriously though, Thanks for the writeup-it looks like a nice piece of gear as usual from the Masters over there.

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Old January 29th, 2007, 07:47 PM   #24
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Great review. As I understand it, there is some kind of upgrde option for the merlin so you can go over the current weight limit? When will these details be available?
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Old January 30th, 2007, 01:39 AM   #25
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Nick:

Various things are being discussed for the Merlin in terms of upgrades or revisions, but it's too early to know what will be an immediate reality, a down-the-road thing or never happen at all. Whatever changes will be relatively incremental, so I wouldn't recommend anyone hold out on their possible purchase as a result.
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Old January 30th, 2007, 01:52 AM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Barry Gribble
And I'm surprised Charlize brought it up... she still owes me dinner. (lol)
Turns out I wasn't kidding about chasing her around, we were doing full-on running scenes through an alley. That gal has wheels on her, boy--we were mostly tracking her with the rig on an ATV and the speed was downright hairy. Then I got to body-mount a few shots and she zipped past me like a gazelle.
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Old February 9th, 2007, 08:29 AM   #27
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Tiffen uk showed this at video forum in London over the last 3 days.

As a not hugely experienced Merlin owner struggling with weight induced fatigue i was excited at the news of this product when first highlighted on this board. I had been feeling there was no way forward without an arm/vest system...and as a kit fetishist i guess i 'wanted to need' one too! I suspect im a pretty typical merlin owner, not afraid to buy the best tool for the job, not keen to waste money, not concerned with badge snobbery, not concerned with the bigger rigs but am near the merlin weight limit, probably would have got a sled/arm/vest system instead of the merlin in the first place if it wasnt for the money.

However, having tried a couple of systems now, I am developing new questions and thoughts, which i'll offer up for correction by those more wise.

As has been said before by the really eperienced rig operators, the handheld Merlin is really the ultimate steadycam in terms of freedom and flexibility. Putting a rig on, i instantly realised the truth of this...its a restrictive device that just deals with a weight issue.

The closeness (to me)with which i can operate the merlin handheld gets diminished when it goes on the rig(all rigs i'm sure), maybe thats an inexperience thing, but i certainly felt convinced at least that a monitor was an absolute necessity so it must be budgeted for, along with power, when buying any rig.

Dual arm definately has a booming advantage which adds versatility over single arm, but its only a degree of versatility, not a do all...i can handhold the merlin a full extended arms length above me to start a shot on a fancy ceiling mounted lampshade and boom down past dining table height to finish the shot without hitting a sled on the floor....so before paying for a dual arm, is the booming range of a single arm an issue for your purposes AND is the booming range of a dual arm actually a solution for you?

Dual arm definately has a stability advantage once you start jogging. Again, thats a questions of degrees...i witnessed footage of smooth fast jogging being produced from a lightweight single arm by an operator of average experience. Further reduce the dual arm advantage for lightweight systems and i'm questioning is the degree of superiority at speed/steps sufficient to motivate a dual arm purchase (reference Charles P...his view of the merlin arm....exccerpt: "I took a closer look on my next sprint, and indeed, the reduced mass of this system compared to other rigs did seem to result in a tendency for the whole works to bob around a bit on the end of the arm, not just up and down but laterally as well. I'm not sure if this would show up in the image or not... probably not, as fast moving shots are usually pretty forgiving... but my guess is that you might actually see less of this if you were to forego the arm and vest, and just operate handheld"....please read the whole review, i dont want to be accused of taking anything out of context, especially by someone whose opinion i respect over all others on stabiliser matters).

Ok so now lets not be penny pinching about this...a single arm system might do all i need but a dual arm IS nicer and has SOME greater flexibility and performance so if its a few quid more and im not strapped for cash, maybe thats the way to go. But in the case of the merlin system we dont know the price, but we can bet it will be at a premium on all its competitors. Tiffen uk described the one on demo as a prototype, they couldnt indicate any price level and couldnt say anything about availability beyond 'this year', which is still potentially 10 months!....

So what am i concluding here. Im not rushing to buy a system this week but if i get one in a couple of months and find out the next day the merlin system is available, will i be gutted? Well im unlikely to find ive overspent and im unlikely to find i've missed out on an appreciable performance advantage for lightweight flying.

Have i reached an inaccurate conclusion? With the flyer at $6000, and the cheapest alternative dual arm offering at $2000, the merlin handheld at $800 is anyone prepared to make a case for why the merlin system is going to be less than $3000 ?

Thanks.
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Old February 9th, 2007, 10:45 AM   #28
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Good points Michael. The issue of reduced mobility/range compared to handheld is an interesting one; no other Steadicam is capable of sweeping from ground to over one's head, so it's tough to let that go. The flip side is the reduction of fatigue. I think the nice thing about having the vest and arm is that if you have a shot that requires that range, simply forego the vest and arm; but if the rest of your day's work can be accomodated within the boom parameters of the vest and arm you will walk away less beat up physically (and perhaps having delivered better shots, as fatigue eventually shows up in the stability of the images).

Be advised that when comparing the Merlin arm to other manufacturer's arms, whether single or double, there is a significant performance difference involved due to the isoelastic design of the Steadicam brand arm, which maintains a consistent spring force throughout its range.

It would seem logical that running or jogging would be the most challenging type of shot to compare stabilizers and arms against, but in reality, the amount of peripheral motion going on during such a shot tends to mask many errors (outside of vibration). The true test of a stabilizer's ability to dampen human motion comes when examining a slow-moving walking shot, preferably taken as close to a wall or railing as possible. If there is a tendency to "pogo" up and down a bit (which is quite common in single-section arms, and greatly reduced by the Tiffen iso-elastic arms), it will manifest by making the foreground wall/railing appear to bob up and down (I call this the parallax test). Ironically many people judge stabilizers by the running shots that inevitably appear on the website demos, not realizing that this is less demanding than the above example.
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Old February 9th, 2007, 10:52 AM   #29
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Hi Charles,

As always, thanks for always sharing your wealth of information and thank you for the review.

Can you explain exactly what an iso-elastic arm is? How does it compare to other arm and vest systems in this price range (SmoothShooter, Indicam PILOT, Varizoom, etc)?

Thanks!
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Old February 9th, 2007, 11:10 AM   #30
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Peter, the basic thrust is that an ideal stabilizer arm acts similarly to the human arm, in that it delivers an equal amount of lifting force throughout the boom range. Our bodies, of course, achieve this by adjusting the muscle tension as needed. Most stabilizer arms use springs connected to fixed points, which means that when you boom all the way in either direction, the springs "want" to return to the median position as soon as you let go. Imagine if your own arm acted this way, it would be disconcerting! Over the years various systems have been devised to create an artificial tension that compensates the spring force as the parallelogram of the arm is articulated throughout its range, which historically involved pulleys and cables attached to the springs. The isoelastic concept that is used in the current generation of Steadicam arms neatly simplifies this process via an angle adjustment. Bottom line is--with most arms in this class, you must apply a significant amount of force to keep the arm boomed down or up to prevent it from settling back to the middle, where it "likes" to be, while the Steadicam arms require nearly no force throughout their range. In effect, they become "invisible". Not only is this more comfortable to operate, the isolation from the operator is increased and the level of the camera is generally more consistent as described above.

An interesting axiom about stabilizers is that while they stabilize the camera in both the angular axes (pan, tilt, roll) and the lateral axes (up/down, left/right, front/back), it is the angular axes that are much more critical in the perceived stability of the shot. In other words, a slight variation in tilt or roll will be immediately detectable, while a bit of vertical deflection is not as obvious as most objects in the frame remain in somewhat similar orientation. It is only when objects are very close to the camera that this bounce is noticeable (and almost gives the illusion that it is the object itself that is moving, as the background stays virtually in the same place, as discussed above). Again, this is why running shots are much more forgiving than slow moving shots with fixed foreground elements.
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