Steady Suggestions 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 April 11th, 2007, 12:19 AM   #1
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada
Posts: 61
Steady Suggestions

Hi, so I'm about to start leasing a whole bunch of new equipment, including the XH A1. Now, last summer I shot a bunch of documentary work around a bunch of fiddle players. I'd often be walking around them as they played, perhaps up and down stairs and over their shoulders etc. Later when I got home to edit it all I had to play with a lot of steadymove type software to get it to look good, since it was quite bouncy and jerky.

My friend has a Glidecam 2000 Pro (might be 4000 im not sure off hand) and uses his with his Z1U. He's cam opd on a few projects of mine and they turn out quite smooth, if not perfect.

So now I'm wanting to get something similar but I'm not quite sure what to get. I was thinking about the Steadicam Merlin, but the equipment guy thought it was too much to spend ($975 canadian), and he recomends either getting a Fig Rig (~$400) or just using a Monopod.

I'm sorta leaning towards the fig rig since it does allow you to get some pretty steady shots without adding a whole ton of weight. But at the same time it wont be as good.

Should I just rent something like a Steadicam Flyer when the occasion warrants it?

thanks.
-dave
David Warren is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 11th, 2007, 01:41 AM   #2
Wrangler
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Posts: 6,781
David:

I have used the A1 with the Merlin, it is at the upper end of the weight limit of the current system but it flies perfectly well. There will be a vest and arm version coming out shortly, which will be less than half the price of the Flyer.

The main difference between a Glidecam 2/4000 and the Merlin is that the overall weight in the hand is greater with the GC, as the Merlin is more sophisticated in design and construction--this leads to earlier fatigue. The Smooth Shooter will alleviate the fatigue, but the Merlin or Flyer arms will produce smoother shots. Of course there is a price to pay for all of this.

Ultimately what type of gear you get depends on the results you want. If you need to be able to walk with the camera and entirely remove your footsteps, a Fig Rig is not going to do this, but it will smooth out a certain amount of the jitter than a non-shoulder mounted camera produces simply by adding inertia into the mix. With a certain amount of practice, one can achieve extraordinarily smooth shots with a Steadicam-type device that cannot be done with other types of rigs. A monopod is normally used for a completely different application where the camera does not need to move--if one is intending to walk with it, it will again remove a certain amount of jitter but still not stabilize the shots entirely.

The simpler the rig, the less it will cost. The Merlin is frankly not overpriced for its functionality--it's just that cameras have become more and more affordable so it makes other gear look expensive.
__________________
Charles Papert
www.charlespapert.com
Charles Papert is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 11th, 2007, 06:47 AM   #3
Major Player
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: NY, NYC
Posts: 367
Quote:
Originally Posted by Charles Papert View Post
David:

The Smooth Shooter will alleviate the fatigue, but the Merlin or Flyer arms will produce smoother shots.
??

I don't think the vest and arm (for Merlin) is out yet, so I'm not sure where that info comes from...(edit: I discovered that you have tested it out -- fair enough)

I fly my A1 (and ElipZ 10K battery) with the Glidecam 4000 + the Smooth Shooter vest and arm. Works great and produces excellent smooth shots.

As with any stabilizing system, there is a learning curve. How smooth the recorded shots are is primarily dependent on the person doing the shooting. To say that one system is better or smoother than another is purely subjective.

And of course price is a consideration: the above mentioned Glidecam system is roughly $2000 combined – which is very reasonable for a system that produces results as it does.

BTW – I don’t work for Glidecam!

Last edited by James Binder; April 11th, 2007 at 09:24 AM.
James Binder is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 11th, 2007, 07:20 AM   #4
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Munich, Germany
Posts: 135
stabilizers options

I shoot mostly run n gun documentaries in difficult environments and events.

Im thinking in a portable easy-to-carry rig like the MultirigPro/Frezzi Stable-Cam/PAG Orbitor/DV MediaRig (anyway my bugdet is maximum around 600$).

I will mostly shoot with shotgun mic+Canon WD+970 batt (and cam light when needed)

Any experience or suggestions about these rigs?

Thanks!
Hernan Vilchez is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 11th, 2007, 07:55 AM   #5
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: New York, Boston
Posts: 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by James Binder View Post
??
I don't think the vest and arm (for Merlin) is out yet, so I'm not sure where that info comes from...
No kidding. Charles, perhaps you should stick to a topic in which you have a little more experience.

James, the Merlin arm/vest has not been released for sale, but it has been shown and demonstrated. The smaller arms released by Tiffen in the last several years, beginning with the first Flyer arm, have been amazing in terms of design and performance.

Quote:
Originally Posted by James Binder View Post
How smooth the recorded shots are is primarily dependent on the person doing the shooting. To say that one system is better or smoother than another is purely subjective.
It is true the operator is the final deciding factor in the success or failure of a piece of equipment. I believe what Charles was saying was, all other things being equal, the superior design and manufacturing of the Merlin and Flyer will..... how you say.... allow the smoothness to come more easily. Factors like fatigue, balance, and equipment performance are all factors the operator has to deal with and/or compensate for. The more friendly these factors are, the more the operator will be able to focus on the shot, ultimately leading to better pictures. ...again, speaking in general terms.

As both James and Charles mentioned, to the consumer, price is usually the initial factor that dictates the remainder of the decision. Knowing the intimate details in the equipment, however, can make that decision more educated. Many posts on these forums and the other industry forums have discussed those details extensively. Take some time to read around. You'll find more information than you can process.

Best of luck,
Afton
__________________
Afton M Grant, Steadicam Operator
www.aftongrant.com | www.steadishots.org
Afton Grant is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 11th, 2007, 08:26 AM   #6
Major Player
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: NY, NYC
Posts: 367
Quote:
Originally Posted by Afton Grant View Post

...the superior design and manufacturing of the Merlin and Flyer will..... how you say.... allow the smoothness to come more easily.
Not to start a war over which manufacture is better at stabilizing…

But a statement such as the above in the absence of some type of quantifiable facts or testing, is purely opinion.

Suffice it to say that Glidecam and Steadicam both manufacture excellent professional equipment for flying or stabilizing motion.

In Charles defense – it appears as though he has a great deal of experience actually…

And he has tested the arm…

Charles – I’d be curious to hear your thoughts about the Merlin with arm and vest vs. the Glidcaam 4000 + Smooth Shooter. You said in an early review (about the arm) that it was, “head and shoulders above any other manufacturer due to the patented iso-elastic design.” (the Glidecam has the Dyna-Elastic™ patented design)

In what particular ways does that make it so as compared to the Smooth Shooter? Again, I am honestly very interested insomuch as your experience in this area…

Last edited by James Binder; April 11th, 2007 at 09:16 AM.
James Binder is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 11th, 2007, 08:33 AM   #7
Major Player
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Philly,PA
Posts: 360
steadytracker xtreme produces very smooth results.
it's cheap but can get heavy.

http://www.steadytracker.com/steady10.html
Eric Weiss is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 11th, 2007, 09:17 AM   #8
Wrangler
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Posts: 6,781
Hi James:

As you indicated, it's important to disclose one's relationship with a given company. I don't work for Tiffen either, nor do I own any of their gear although I am using a borrowed Merlin at the moment (my pro rig is a combination of multiple manufacturers). I did just teach a high end workshop for Tiffen but that has no bearing on my endorsing their DV products--I only promote that which I can actually stand behind and gain nothing monetarily from said endorsements.

I agree with you that statements about gear must be made from a place of hands-on experience, and having used both the Merlin and Smooth Shooter systems (the latter on a shoot for a friend about 6 months ago), I do feel confident in speaking about my impressions. The Smooth Shooter is a good piece of gear for the money, but it performs in a non-iso-elastic and non-linear fashion, which is to say that it does not have a consistent amount of lift at either end of its range. The Merlin arm is functionally similar to the Flyer arm, which I have used extensively; it requires very little force to hold it in place at the extremes of its range, and of course being a dual-section arm it has a much greater boom range than the Smooth Shooter. In fact, under many circumstances you cannot get the Glidecam up to the eye level of the person you are shooting due to the limited boom range. There may be interchangeable arm posts for it now which will help this, but not when I used it.

Afton hits the nail on the head as usual, and I believe we are all in agreement that everything is about the operator. I know for a fact that I had a much harder time achieving a truly smooth shot with the Glidecam system than with the Merlin, having to walk much more carefully to keep my footsteps from showing up in the shot as a result of the rougher ride of the arm. For most users this will literally result in less smooth shots. Certain types of shot will reveal this more than others--consider tracking sideways along a fence from a few feet away; a less-smooth arm will result in the fence appearing to bob up and down in the frame.

Certainly this is opinion, and certainly this is objective. There aren't really test instruments that I know or numbers I can quote to "prove" all of this. The Smooth Shooter is a good piece of gear for the money and it will be great for many users. However, the patented technology in use by Tiffen is, once again, head and shoulders above the rest. The Glidecam folk (who I know) have plenty of respect for what Tiffen does (outside of the natural competitiveness!), and they are fully aware that because of the patents involved they cannot compete with this type of performance--instead they offer a less expensive model based on the earlier Steadicam technology, which again is satisfactory for many users.
__________________
Charles Papert
www.charlespapert.com
Charles Papert is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 11th, 2007, 10:01 AM   #9
Major Player
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: NY, NYC
Posts: 367
Hi Charles --

Thanks for the detailed response -- much appreciated. I am curious to check out the Merlin when the arm comes out. And if it is better as you say -- I will have no problem unloading my Glidecam!

FYI -- I can easily boom up to eye level with my rig (I'm about 6') and down to between navel and chest on the bottom.

Thanks again --
James Binder is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 11th, 2007, 10:38 AM   #10
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: New York, Boston
Posts: 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by James Binder View Post
In Charles defense – it appears as though he has a great deal of experience actually…
Just to clear the air...
I feared this may happen as sarcasm is difficult to capture in a written medium. I'd like to consider Charles a good friend and colleague of mine - hopefully that's still true after my jest. Charles, does the Macintosh have a good sarcasm translator? My comment about Charles' experience was actually intended as a light hearted defense of his knowledge; when you mentioned you weren't sure where the info comes from. It's safe to assume he knows what he is talking about when it comes to these things.

The points Charles mentioned in his reply about isoelasticity, boom range, etc are dead on, and a few of the non-subjective points I was trying to make about the differences in the manufacturing and design. These are performance elements that are the result of years of feedback from professional operators in the field, and Tiffen is one of the manufacturers that is always in direct communication with working operators.

I'll add my disclaimer about not being affiliated with any company. The price barrier is a huge one, and we've all been at the lower end of it at one time or another. The less expensive rigs do perform as they advertise, and in the hands of a capable operator, will produce great results. There is no gratuitous markup on the more expensive rigs, however. Their prices are quite appropriate.

I agree we cannot say one brand is "better" than another since they're all priced to attract different buyers. It is important for the consumer to understand why they are all priced as they are. I think that is the point we are trying to reach here.

Best,
Afton
__________________
Afton M Grant, Steadicam Operator
www.aftongrant.com | www.steadishots.org
Afton Grant is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 11th, 2007, 11:33 AM   #11
Major Player
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: NY, NYC
Posts: 367
Well –

My curiosity is definitely peaked now – particularly after watching the video interview with Garrett Brown (about Merlin)

http://macvideo.tv/MacVideo7.wmv

Afton --

After poking about and learning about your mutual careers -- I figured you were having some fun.

Nice demo BTW...

I guess I should do a little more reading next time before I go blasting off with my comments!!
James Binder is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 11th, 2007, 11:57 AM   #12
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: New York, Boston
Posts: 54
Hey James,

Thanks for the words on the demo reel. That's a great little video you found there. Do we know where/when that was shot? I'm looking forward to seeing what comes out of NAB this year. Should be some great stuff all around.

Take care,
Afton
__________________
Afton M Grant, Steadicam Operator
www.aftongrant.com | www.steadishots.org
Afton Grant is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 11th, 2007, 02:12 PM   #13
Major Player
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Juneau, Alaska, USA
Posts: 624
Afton, the MacVideo interview of Garrett mentioned above was shot at IBC 2006 (Last September) in Amsterdam.
Will you be at NAB this year?


Good discussion and comments in this thread. I'll definaly be refereing back to this one when relevant questions are raised. Great info, as always, from Afton and Charles P.

- Mikko
Mikko Wilson is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 11th, 2007, 02:16 PM   #14
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: New York, Boston
Posts: 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikko Wilson View Post
Afton, the MacVideo interview of Garrett mentioned above was shot at IBC 2006 (Last September) in Amsterdam.
Will you be at NAB this year?
Thanks for the info, Mikko. Unfortunately, no, I will not be attending NAB this year. My travel money has recently been handed over to Uncle Sam. I don't like April.

I do intend to head out for CineGear this year, however. Will I see you there?
__________________
Afton M Grant, Steadicam Operator
www.aftongrant.com | www.steadishots.org
Afton Grant is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 11th, 2007, 07:24 PM   #15
Wrangler
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Posts: 6,781
While I may be zipping to NAB, I'm honestly not looking forward to that as much as Cinegear--more my speed really. See you there Afton (we'll all just have to avoid sitting on any plastic chairs if there is a Steadi get-together this year...yikes!)

p.s. the "sarcasm" thing went completely unnoticed by me--until you pointed it out! haha on you!

no worries daddyo.
__________________
Charles Papert
www.charlespapert.com
Charles Papert 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 04:27 PM.


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