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Old June 26th, 2007, 10:48 AM   #46
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I wonder what they'd say if you proposed that!
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Old June 27th, 2007, 05:12 PM   #47
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Hey Philip make sure to let me know what you think of the Indicam vid, if you could please. I am in debate on whether to go for the "glidecam smooth shooter" or the "Indicam". Unfortunately I am a very visually inclined individual, as most of us are, and I have found a-lot more vids about the glidecam over the Indicam so it would be nice to see a little more of it in action. I might just have to buy a copy of "stabilizer basics" if it's pretty good.

Thanks,
Ryan
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Old June 27th, 2007, 06:40 PM   #48
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Ryan,

Almost 90% of the "Stabilizer Basics" training DVD was shot using the Indicam PILOT with the Sony Z1U. It would be a fairly good way to see what the rig can do in a training situation.

You can also view some Flash clips including the latest showing the difference between Gimballed vs. Non-Gimballed sleds. The gimballed shots were done using an Indicam PILOT.

http://www.indicam.com/media/Flash/flvplayer.html

We shot it in full telephoto mode to exaggerate any movement and show the differences between the two types of systems. As you know, using full telephoto is not what most steadicam operators do unless they are real professional like Charles P.

Tery
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Old June 27th, 2007, 10:38 PM   #49
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The Video definitely looks well made. One thing I have noticed as a difference between the Smooth Shooter footage and the Indicam footage is the tendancy of the camera to pop occasionaly from side to side and kind of float around on the shooting plane with the Indicam Pilot. I'm trying really hard to talk myself into the Pilot, but the footage shot with the Smooth Shooter just looks a little smoother. Help me out here Terry, talk me into the Pilot. After all it does seem like a better bang for the buck.

I shoot with a Canon XL2 (front heavy) and would be using the rig very often. I would do quite a bit of walking/running and am really looking for the option to capture flying (floaty) tracking shots as well as precision mapped dolly style shots.

Will this unit suffice without years of practice?
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Old June 28th, 2007, 12:15 AM   #50
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Ryan,

Could you give me an example of an Indicam clip that you're talking about so I can better answer your questions? I hope you weren't referring to the "Gimbal vs Non-Gimbal" demo I just did as it was done in full telephoto.

We believe the Indicam PILOT gives a much better bang for the buck. We are friends with the guys at Glidecam and we respect them and like their system and but we like ours much better. This is why:
---------------------
Our system is a lot easier to balance with great gimbal linearity and one of the largest boom ranges in the industry.

Our gimbal adjusts up and down the post for greater balancing options. After all, where can you find a sled that can balance a half pound camera and then and eight pound camera?

You can carry the whole rig in the backpack and then be operating in less than ten minutes once you get used to it.

We give you a mic stand adapter so you can "carefully" use it with a good, wide base mic stand to help you balance the sled. (Please be careful and put some kind of counter weight on the base though as Murphy's Law always wants to make your camera fall over. We haven't lost one yet though.)

Our camera stage is simplified with only two wing nuts (not eight bolts) to loosen in order to adjust the x and y positions.

We have a "hybrid arm" which means the lower arm is made of twice as thick aluminum as the upper arm so it won't torque under stress. Kind of like the human arm.

We have specially worked bearings with a low insertion force so they can remain very frictionless.

Our arm is an endo-skeletal design where the "bones" are in between the springs (muscles). While the arms are very strong they are lighter that arms with the "bones" surrounding the springs. A lighter arm reacts quicker to outside forces i.e. bumps etc.

We offer the "Discreet Vest" which can be used under a jacket etc.

We also have the "High Shot" for a higher perspective.
----------------

With regards to dolly style shots...they are the hardest to achieve. Faster moving shots are much easier. It's sort of like a luxury car going over a bump fast or slow...the slow bump is more noticeable and harder to cover up.

We know about the XL2 as we finally found one in our area and set it up to see how hard it would be to balance. It wasn't that bad. You can see the video here:

http://indicam.com/media/PILOTflyingXL2.wmv (Our new springs are black by the way.)

We offer a 30 day return policy. You just keep the rig in new looking shape and pay for the return shipping and we'll refund your hard earned bucks.

With regards to you question "Will this unit suffice without years of practice?"...do you mean will it last a long time...YES! If you want to know if you can learn to be a very good steadicam operator the answer is...It depends on your natural ability and how much you do practice. We made the "Stabilizer Basics" training DVD to help knock off a great amount of trial and error time. We wished we had it when we first started learning.

Sorry for the long answer but you asked for it.

Any other questions?

Tery
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Old June 28th, 2007, 08:12 AM   #51
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I'll report here on the video, once I get it, but I would probably have bought it if it were in Chinese. There's so little out there for self teaching, I can't be fussy. It's not like it's the Indicam video or some other video to choose from. However, all I've heard about this vid has been very positive.

!!Warning: OT from here on!!

It brings up an interesting point I've wrestled with for a few weeks: The idea, repeated endlessly by the best authorities, that you must take a workshop to get good.

Great. Well, my nearest workshops, in MA and ME, are about a 4 hour drive each way. And they're 2 - 5 days each. And it's a 4 or 6 hour drive each way just to see high-end video equipment. This is just a tradeoff of living in a rural area.

Problem is, much as I'd love to go to a workshop or B&H Photo, I have more work now than ever, and clients who want to see steady progress on their projects. I'm also a one man show, so I can't have an assistant cover for me.

This is why I took the chance that I could teach myself to become fairly proficient. If it doesn't work out, I'll sell the equipment and consider any money lost to be the cost of my education.

I guess you gotta do what you gotta do, given the limitations in your life.
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Old June 28th, 2007, 08:58 AM   #52
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Philip, last October I packed my family in the car and drove for 10 hrs to Melbourne for a teeny holiday and I fitted in a 2 day Steadicam Flyer workshop with Phil Balsdon. It was money well spent, I learnt skills that I never would have picked up by myself an had a lot of fun. There is so much to learn in the art of Steadicam. Apart from Phil I also got to meet other Steadicam greats Luis Puli and Rusty Geller. Photos of the workshop here: http://www.steadi-onfilms.com.au/ste...workshops.html
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Old June 28th, 2007, 09:31 AM   #53
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I want to go to a workshop, and hope to before too long. I have no doubt of the value. I once took a tap dancing workshop -- a real challenge for me -- and I know it was all about the teacher's coaching as I worked on the moves.

I just need to get a project or two off my plate first.
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Old June 28th, 2007, 10:29 AM   #54
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I think the quality of this video is what was hanging me up a bit:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TW4Qm9mpuSc

I think the artistic quality and overall feel of the look had me hooked.

Thank you for the lengthy reply. I think what sold me was the return policy that you guys offer, not to mention the bang for the buck factor. You seem like a great businessman and I truly look forward to doing business with Indicam in the next few months, can't wait actually. With the dual upgrade I will be able to adjust the rig for low angle shots, correct? Also, do you have monitors and monitor mounts available for the rig?

I say it really is quite nice to be able to talk to you here on my favorite forum. The guys here at dvinfo truly are worthy of praise for keeping this site up and running, not to mention under control!

Thanks,
Ryan
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Old June 28th, 2007, 12:07 PM   #55
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Ryan,

Thanks for the link. It had some good assorted shots and lots of them. If you can find some very slow moving shots you can tell how good the operator is as those moves are tuff to get smooth.

Both the Indicam and the Glidecam are capable of nice smooth floating shots. We shine in the ease of set-up, boom range, and options.

I was wondering about the Indicam clip you were talking about. Can you let me know which one it is please?

A bottom mounted monitor can be adapted and I can give you the best place we have found to buy one should you want to (http://www.nebtek.com/). We drilled into the post at the top and bottom and rounted a video cable inside. We then bought an external monitor, mount, and battery adaptor from them and tried it out. It worked fine but we still like the built in monitor better. I know the XL series of cameras don't have a side mount monitor but we used the viewfinder on the camera with the eye piece off when we tried it out.

The "Stabilizer Basics" video shows our poor-man's low mode. Normally the lowest you can get in normal operation is as far as your arm can reach down which is about waist height. We do have a poor-man's low mode clip on our Flash Video page that we did just for fun. (http://www.indicam.com/media/Flash/flvplayer.html)

We too are very grateful to the guys who run this forum - Chris Hurd, Mikko and the rest. They spend a lot of their valuable time letting us exchange ideas etc. while keeping some semblance of organization.

BIG THANKS to you all.

Tery
Indicam
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Old June 28th, 2007, 04:32 PM   #56
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Hey Terry,

The video on the site that I was referring to was the sneak and scare vid. Shortly after the operator walks down onto the grass, while following the kids I was paying close attention to the backgroud and it is very apparent that the operator is walking behind them. I have come to the realization though that these stabilization units are great tools if the operator knows how to properly operate them.

I am not saying that the camera operator that did sneak and scare was of poor quality, he probably just wasn't paying attention to the background, but rather focusing on the talent, which is what he was supposed to be doing. The pilot seems like the way to go, and please understand that I have been being brutally picky in my decision making. After all, I will be purchasing a piece of equipment that comes close to the cost of my camera.

Thanks again Terry and I really look forward to doing business with you here in the next few months.
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Old June 28th, 2007, 06:38 PM   #57
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Ryan,

I'm crushed! I was the operator and I thought I did a pretty good job for a manufacturer. I should have found a professional for the demo but I wanted to show a number of different moves-not just straight forward. There was a slight bobble on the deck when I was leading the subjects and went from the Missionary position to a Don Juan. Charles P. said that was a common thing though especially with a ligjht rig. He was the one who said I should frame all three kids as the scene progressed. I did so to the best of my ability with the time I had to put it together.

You have to remember that we are using a light system and don't have the mass of the larger and heavier rigs. The XL2 should do well because of it's weight.

I'm still practicing! I'll work on my control hand more (actually less if you know what I mean).

Tery
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Old June 28th, 2007, 09:33 PM   #58
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Don't get down on yourself now Terry! I guarantee the footage is better than I could do. I have never even touched a stabilizer unit. For the record, I think the video is actually done very well. I thought the shot coming off the deck was pretty impresive, I know that one couldn't have been easy.

Like I said before... I am just being overly critical in my decision making process. After I purchase my rig I'll post some footage so you can give me some grief, if not laugh your rear off. I'm pretty tall, so it should be interesting to see how fluid I can make the movements.
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Old June 28th, 2007, 10:48 PM   #59
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryan Mueller View Post
After I purchase my rig I'll post some footage so you can give me some grief, if not laugh your rear off.
Hey, a new diet secret...watching Ryan's first video.

All seriousness aside though, you are actually right about the video. It needs a little help but it is good even if I have to say so myself. By the way, the ground wasn't grass but very uneven dirt.

You might want to look into the training video we offer so you can get a headstart on learning. Knowledge is power.

Tery
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Old July 1st, 2007, 08:35 AM   #60
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I think Terry did a nice job with this shot, especially, as he says, he's in the business of making stabilizers, not operating them. It certainly shows off the gear as the shot appears as smooth as any stabilizer out there.

If I was to critique the shot purely as a shot, I would give the following notes (again, this is not what Terry should have done, more like what I would suggest as a fix on a subsequent take if I had been there.

The beginning is good. As the camera comes closer to the subject, the headroom should come down a little earlier; it's OK by the time the camera stops but a bit high in the middle. I would have kept wrapping around the two kids to get closer to their eyeline (i.e. continue further to the right), decelerating as I came around to a very slow drift to give them time to find their prey. One reason to do this is that this would allow a cut to a shot of their prey so we know what they are looking at, which could be done as a straight point-of-view, or an over-the-shoulder as needed.

Being all the way around the front of them changes the shot a bit in that as they start to move, we would be tracking them more in a profile with them heading left, but that's OK; we could then accelerate smoothly and end up still in front of them leading them down the ramp.

Regarding the Don Juan switch, I would do it as I was coming around the kids on the initial approach. Bit hard to describe, but picture that you are walking forwards, pointing forwards at the beginning of the shot, and as you approach the kids you allow the camera to pan left but you keep your body pointed straight ahead. By the time you come to your stop in front of the kids, the camera has turned itself into the Don Juan position and you are set to make your next move without having to make a switch in the middle of your walk, which is what hung you up a bit there Terry--it's a really tough place you picked to do that, what with the kids being so small in frame and all.

Myself, I would have stayed in Missionary position the whole time rather making the switch into Don Juan, and simply backed down the ramp. But if there was a compelling reason to make the switch; if the ramp were stairs for instance--many ops will still back down stairs, I've never liked it personally.

Overall it's a bit odd to have pulled back so far when the girl finally spots her prey. Probably it would have been more effective to have had them find her earlier, less looking around, and have the camera move with them (as described above).

I think the ramp descension and eventual switch back to Missionary was really well executed and the framing is great as the two kids are making their initial approach to the 3rd kid, with them on the left side of frame. Unfortunately as they get into the final straightaway, the distance between the camera and the two kids increases, and the result is that the last approach is center-punched (the two kids are just left of center and the 3rd is just right of center), also known as stacked (subjects mushed together in the middle of the frame--very common when shooting over-the-shoulder shots and the person in the foregrounds leans a bit, minimizing the space inbetween the two--the opposite of this would be spread, where the subjects are too far apart in the frame). The simple fix for this would have been for the camera to accelerate a little bit to maintain the initial distance and slide to the right, which would have kept us closer to the 2 kids and given a bit of separation between them and the 3rd kid. Possibly this composition is what Ryan didn't like about this section of the shot...?

Finally, it might have been nice if just as the 2 kids were approaching their prey and holding out their hands, we sped up past them (just catching their hands tapping the little girl) so we could be tight on her reaction. This would increase the tension for the "scare" moment and give the little girl a nice close-up to play her surprise. You could then cut back to the other two kids from her perspective for their subsequent reaction and catching the ball, or perhaps as she backs herself away from her closeup into a medium shot and throw the ball, we could whip pan back to the other two as the ball flies through the air and land in time to see them catch it. This would require the older kids to cheat themselves back as soon as they are off camera to allow us to find them in the proper size (they would be too close to camera otherwise). A great example of this sort of thing is in the Grand Central chase in "Carlito's Way", when Larry McConkey's camera follows Pacino as he looks over the balcony down to the central concourse and then whips back to a shot of Pacino; he moved himself back probably five feet while he was off-camera so that when we re-find him, he is the proper distance for the size of shot that is desired (obviously Larry could not have backed himself off the balcony into space to achieve the same thing, although if anyone could do it, it would have been Larry).

That shot is one of the Steadicam legends incidentally, and anyone who has had the interest (and patience) to make it through this post and hasn't studied that shot would be well advised to do so now! Many of the things discussed here are implemented there, most notably the way that Larry slides Pacino around left to right in the frame throughout the shot in a completed planned way--there are so many compositional choices when tracking a single character in a 2:35 frame and this shot absolutely kills at this.

These sorts of things will be discussed in my upcoming video on advanced Steadicam techniques...that's a half-joke for Terry's benefit, who finally gave up on urging me to do the video I promised to make several years ago and made his own (smart man)! The other half of the joke is that I am still thinking about making this video, where I would share lots of the tips and techniques used in the "bigtime" Steadi-world that can be incorporated into small-format stabilizer work, which I think would make a great companion to the Indicam video as a follow-up for those who have the basics down and really want to give their shots that "Hollywood" polish. It's in the hopper, but no promises on a timeline yet!
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