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Old January 20th, 2007, 10:39 PM   #1
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Say I've got $5000 to spend on some sort of a Steadycam system. . .

Say I'm using the HVX-200. . . (probably 8 pounds with the mattebox on the front end). . .

Say I've got a Redrock M2 system and mattebox. . . (maybe up to 12 pounds and long as all get-out). . .

What vest-mounted "steadycam" type device would you all recommend?

Is it even possible to use an M2 with a Steadycam-type device?

This is completely new territory for me.

Thanks much.

Stephen
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Old January 21st, 2007, 12:57 AM   #2
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It's definitely possible with many of the full rigs out there. The one thing to keep in mind is that with a device like the M2 you're making a whole new round of work for yourself. While it's feasible to pull your own focus with 35mm shallow dof when you're on sticks, it's nearly impossible when you're also trying to operate a rig. On occasion, video operators will rig focus controls to the handle on their rigs... but definitely not for anything as shallow as the dof on a 35mm adapter. So, you have to control focus remotely, wirelessly (so as not to interfere with the behavior of the rig). And, you'll not only need a way to pull focus remotely, you'll need a skilled AC to actually do it. In addition, you;ll need to gear all the lenses you intend to us to accept a follow focus. So the equipment and personnel demands don't really stop at the stabilizer.

You can pick up used wireless focus systems like the Seitz for fairly cheap, but they also have drawbacks - from propreitary battery systems to bad radio interference*****. Of the modern focus systems, the best low-cost bet is the Bartech, which is excellent and easy to use. But, that alone (with 1 small motor, brackets, gears) will run close to $4000. Add the gears for your lenses, and you're closer to $4500.

And, once you get a stabilizer, don't forget that the better systems use batteries, professional batteries. Add about $1200 min. for that. And for low mode, you can cheat a bit and flip your video in post, but you'll still need an F or J bracket - $250 ish. So you;ll find yourself roughly $6000 deep for most of the accessories and no stabilizer.

Should you choose to use the camera without the M2, mini35, etc, you can sorta get away without the focus system. But it limits your focal lengths and blocking.

Deciding to buy a stabilizer to handle that kind of system is an investment not to be taken lightly. There are few ops who feel like they have "everything," so it doesn't ever really end. The best advice when looking to go that route is to take a workshop. It's been said time and time again, but it's really a HUGE help no matter what you decide to do. There are 2-day flyer workshops that run about $500. Peter Abraham, the instructor, is a great guy and basically an encyclopedia of all things production (and history). If you take a workshop and decide to continue, you'll have a great foundation of skills to make your investment worthwhile. If not, you learned a LOT for only $500, and can use the remaining $4500 towards your future productions, gear investments, or crew needs (hiring an op with ALL the necessary gear).

***** I don't wanna start any fight here - I know that the Seitz and similar systems were the workhorses for a long time and that many incredible films were made with similar systems. But, nobody can argue that they had their faults, including terrible rf interference and big delays. Also, the current systems have FAR better resolution and rejection of interference, as well as easier setup and stronger motor options. All things evolve, and while many AC's made a go of Seitz's, there's no question that they prefer (and do better work) with more robust systems.

Last edited by Jaron Berman; January 21st, 2007 at 01:40 AM.
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Old February 2nd, 2007, 01:02 AM   #3
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Stephen,

I think Mary should get you a stabilizer for your birthday. Happy Birthday!

=========

Jaron,

Excellent post. I don't think most operators know what goes into shooting with an M2 or other adaptors on a stabilizer. I'm glad you let us all know.

My Z1U has an option that will let me set the camera at one point and the settings will change gradually as I move to another point (actually you set the time between both points). I haven't used it yet but it's suppose to change the focus as well. It would be real hard to block a shot and set the camera for each new scene though.

Terry
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Old February 4th, 2007, 10:06 PM   #4
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And she did, Terry. . .but you already knew that. . .

:-)

I was sick over the weekend, but I've opened it all up. . . and so I'll give you a call on Monday and see if you can help me figure out how to use it!

Thanks much.

Stephen
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Old February 4th, 2007, 11:01 PM   #5
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Stephen,

I hope you are feeling better. A lot of sickness is going around this year.

Looking forward to your call.

Terry
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