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Shooting non-repeatable events: weddings, recitals, plays, performances...


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Old November 23rd, 2005, 01:09 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ben Lynn
I invested in the Fig Rig and it's done as well as any other stabilizer. And just like others it takes time to learn.

Cons- Difficult to hold and also operate your camera settings. Most situations require us to run the camera in auto while on the rig.

.....
Ben Lynn

Hey Ben, would a remote for the camera help in this situation, I remember seeing a demo of the Fig Rig and he had a remote control mounted. I have a remote for my cam. I need to work on my run and gun and was thinking that the Fig Rig might work good. I've not really used anything other than hand held at this point for running.
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Old November 24th, 2005, 02:56 PM   #17
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Yes, the Bogen remotes help considerably. The problem is that they don't have a controller to support iris control. So as you work with the rig it's tough to use the manual iris setting. The answer is to run it on auto iris which works well for 85% of the situations you encounter. The rest of the time you have to work to adjust the iris and just to what you can.

Overall it's an amazing rig that really adds a lot of value to a production. It's a very good investment and a great tool. You won't regret investing in it because it's very versatile. Just the fact that it adds some many mounting options for your mics and wireless systems makes it worth the money. Couple that with the fact that it allows you to get great handheld shots and it's well worth it.

Ben
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Old November 24th, 2005, 10:16 PM   #18
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I love the monopod. Very underappreciated tool. They're for close up work only though. We have a Steadicam JR too, and I'd say it's much easier to get a steady telephoto shot with it in the shoulder mount position. Monopods are also really good for getting shots in awkard angles and situations where there isn't a lot of room. On our last shoot i was able to get a really cool close up of an actor lying on his back on the floor with one. I put the foot of the monopod under his armpit and was able to zoom in right on his face. It was a fairly long take and I think it would have been impossible to get the shot handheld or with a tripod. Monopods are great for low angle shots too.
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Old November 25th, 2005, 10:49 AM   #19
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I am currently looking at either a Monopod or the SteadyStick. Anyone have any experience with the SteadyStick?
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Old November 25th, 2005, 04:36 PM   #20
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The steadystick looks quite expensive considering it is missing the one thing that makes shots more stable.

There is only one thing that makes shots stable. That thing is INERTIA.

"But, how about this thing with gimbals?" No. The gimbals don't make the camera stable. They only help prevent transmission of shock from the operator's body.

"There is this one with titanium bearings that...." No.

"...a counterweighted arm..." No.

"...hypereutectic pistons..." No.

"...distributorless ignition..." No.

There is only one...INERTIA.

"To support that much weight, I need a rig that..." No.

I am a couch potato and I can use my "rig" all day because it distributes the weight to the perfect position - to the GROUND.


The answer to this amazing device is:

First, I should explain how a stabilizer works. A stabilizer has three points of mass which are supported in the center. That's it. No. Don't go any further. That's all there is. Nobody believes me. If you make three points of mass seperated by distance and support it in the center, the object will remain stable. There is nothing more to a stabilizer than that.

Three points of weight separated by distance and supported in the middle is all that any stabilizer does. There is no room for deviation. That is all that any mechanical system does. The only stabilizer with gyroscopes is a million-dollar rig that is mounted to a helicopter.

So, what is my MIRACLE DEVICE?

I use a monopod with counterweights.

It is stable and can put all the weight of the rig to the ground. It is simple to construct. It is easy to learn. It does not require wearing a big vest that is hotter than a expletive-described hot thing on a hot Texas summer day.

What are the downsides?

It takes a few tries to remember not to kick the monopod during travelling shots.

It is inexpensive. What? Inexpensive is a downside? Yes, because nobody will believe me that a counterweighted monopod can achieve stabile shots and can also be used on a day-long shoot without bursting the vertebrae of the operator.

There is a more complicated explanation, but it is unnecessary. Imagine a way to make three points of mass on a monopod separated by distance. Hold the monopod in the center of the mass while moving and it is a stabilizer. Put the monopod up in the air and you get a stabilized high-angle shot. Retract the lower sections and you have a stabilized rig that you can run with.

Any questions? Most people wouldn't even read past the statement that gimbals aren't necessary.
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Old November 25th, 2005, 05:35 PM   #21
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If this is something you constructed, can you post a picture of your monopod? If you purchased it, what is it called?
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Old November 25th, 2005, 07:34 PM   #22
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I don't have a web site set up yet, I know...I know...

Actually, I also don't want to post a picture because there are mistakes that I made and want to correct. I am going to rebuild my setup once I get my 35mm lens adapter with 8" LCD setup working.

Here is what I did:

I bought a bogen monopod with a quick-release plate. I duct-taped a lead scuba weight (about 2 pounds) to the bottom of the first section on the monopod. This worked for one dimension. The camera would stay upright and glide along without tipping and vibrations from my hand were reasonably dampened. The camera was one point of mass and the weight the other. I held the monopod at the center of these two masses. The problem with this setup was that the camera was not stabilized horizontally and would wag side-to-side like a dog's tail while I was moving at all. Actually, the image wagged and the monopod rotated in response to vibrations/movements.

To fix this problem, I turned the one weight on the bottom of the monopod shaft into a crossbar with weights on the end. I made it about 24" long out of wood and it clamps onto the monopod with bolts that tighten a groove cut in the wood. The groove grips the monopod. If you can't picture it yet, picture a big "t" shape with the cross of the "t" being about 18" below the camera. I have been shooting like this for years and it works. Regardless, there is a fundamental problem with the design. It is too easy to bump the stabilizer bar and it takes patience to learn how to shoot around the annoyance.

Here is how to get the three points of mass:

Get a monopod and a rod support system or a flat piece of aluminum with the right holes drilled to hold it to the quick-release plate and the camera. This gives you a camera "sled" that can mount to the monopod. Now, using batteries, a monitor, microphones, steel weights, etc. - put a weight at the front of the camera and one at the rear. The further these points of mass are from each other - the better the stabilization. If the camera battery is heavy enough, it may serve as a point of weight. A camera sled/support with weight on both ends will stabilize in one axis.

For the other axis, the camera system is one side and a weight on the bottom of the first section of the monopod is the second. I plan to use a 12V battery that will power my LCD.

The system I plan to use is this:

35mm lens and LCD as the forward mass point, camera, then battery mounted behind the camera. This makes two points of mass. A lead-acid battery attached to the bottom of the top monopod section (just below the grip) will act as the third point of mass that takes care of the second axis. I also plan to put a shoulder pad on the "sled" so I can remove the monopod and work as a shoulder-mount camera. This way, I have a shoulder-cam and a stabilized monopod that doesn't have a crossbar to get in the way.

Any questions?

It is really quite simple, and it works. Anyone can figure it out if they accept the fact that all stabilizers only use three points of mass to dampen movements.
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Old November 26th, 2005, 03:19 AM   #23
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Aviator Steadicam rig

I'll post my 2cents here. I am a true steadicam operator whom films alot of weddings, primarily weddings.

(check our demo footage www.visualmasterpiece.com )

I use the Aviator rig from varizoom with 7" LCD (www.varizoom.com); this is an awesome set up, there's nothing better. I use it in all of the weddings that we do and it gives us an amazing cinematic look to our wedding films.

This past weekend I was filming a catholic wedding and I was wearing the rig on-stage for the entire ceremony walking back and forth getting all kinds of shots including extreme close-ups thanks to the varizoom lanc remote that I have mounted to the gimble/handle of my rig.

There are (in my opinion) more benifits to owning this rig than there are (drawbacks - and there are some); Obviously some drawbacks are set-up time and the ability to be totally spontaious in the moment with different shots. And with this rig I have several things to unmount off of my body before I can get in the car and drive away to the reception. But the stable shots I can get are unreal, I can use it 8-9hrs straight without any strain on my body. It works just as good as a solid tripod even when zoomed in (no floating/shaking shots), and basically I can sprint up and down stairs, walk for blocks and the footage is awesome.

This is a serious tool and worth every penny. Check it out.
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Old November 26th, 2005, 08:38 AM   #24
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Michael, first I would like to say that I would love to have a guy with this rig at any of my shoots. I believe your advise, so I am not arguing with you.

But, I don't see how you can say that wearing that rig for 8-9 hours is not taxing. Just the heat alone could put someone down in the summer. Wearing a vest like that, as I recall, is like having a winter coat on. Also, the weight is distributed, but it is still weight.

There is another matter and that is the cost. $4500 is a lot of money for a wedding videographer. The Hawaii market is very competetive and it can be difficult for some to justify that sort of cost for $1500 weddings. Your site does not seem to include your prices. Perhaps your market can bear higher rates?

If there is one thing the monopod can do that I could never do without, it would be the ability to go high-angle in less than a second. I can't count how many times a tall person has gotten into my shot. I once did a wedding with 12 bridesmaids and groomsmen on each side. It was in a small church. The church, and therefore the bridal party, was primarily of Samoan ethnicity. Samoan men are not known for their slight stature. The groom was a former football player and the groomsmen were his former teammates. They were crammed in shoulder-to-shoulder. I needed to shoot past them to see the bride's face. Without the ability to go high-angle quickly, I would have no shot except for the back of a bunch of Samoan football players heads. Without the monopod, I would have panicked.

Most of the time, I shoot from the monopod planted. With it stationary, I have both hands free. I suspect you have both hands free all the time and that would be a real benefit. I have thought of putting a lanc controller at the center of gravity of my monopod for that reason. I still don't know if I could hold the weight and use the controller simultaneously.
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Old November 26th, 2005, 12:55 PM   #25
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If I was using anything other than an XL2, rather if I were using a smaller, lighter camera there would really be no need for this type of rig. It all depends I guess on the type of camera. If I were using say a GL2 or PD170, I would absolutly buy a FlowPod (also varizoom) for each camera. Our cameras with batteries, lenses, wide-angle adapters and all weigh in at 12.5 lbs. That's just too heavy for steadicam handheald shots no matter how you look at it. So If I am using these cameras (or other compaired shoulder cams), and I want to get these types of shots, I can justify the cost (and everything else that comes with it) in order to get the creative shots that I want. And no our market is no different than yours, I just want to stand out from the crowd and target a higher market.
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Old November 26th, 2005, 06:50 PM   #26
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I hear what you say about weight. I still think I would use a monopod with the XL2. Regardless, I am going to try to make a belt-mounted support that I can use to put the monopod foot in while I am moving around or getting high-angle shots. Holding up 10-15 pounds of weight over one's head would be tiresome after only a minute or two. Sometimes, I need to shoot high-angle for 10-20 minutes.

I looked at the flowpod, and it is missing a critical piece. It has no crossbar to put weight out perpendicular to the support shaft. The camera at the top of the shaft is one point of weight and the bottom of the pod seems to be another. This only covers one axis of movement. Something needs to go perpendicular to this to provide stabilization in the other axis.
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Old February 28th, 2006, 08:10 PM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marcus Marchesseault
I hear what you say about weight. I still think I would use a monopod with the XL2. Regardless, I am going to try to make a belt-mounted support that I can use to put the monopod foot in while I am moving around or getting high-angle shots. Holding up 10-15 pounds of weight over one's head would be tiresome after only a minute or two. Sometimes, I need to shoot high-angle for 10-20 minutes.
It sounds like a job for the SkyPod!

Could you update us as to what you finally went with (and an update on your monopod mods). The picture referrenced in your earlier post no longer works...

Thanks.
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Old February 28th, 2006, 08:35 PM   #28
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We've used the glidecam 2000 quite a bit with our videos, if you're going to do any hand-held work you just can't do without one of these! I hate watching those videos where you can see every step the camera man took, but don't plan on using it alone during a ceremony as your forearm will kill you!

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Old March 5th, 2006, 07:51 PM   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Patrick Moreau
I worked with somebody else to make a flowpod like product, it is similar to a glidecam, except the post is a heavy duty boegn monopod. There are a couple other features as well. .
So, did this ever turn into a publicly available product? Please update us!

Update: Did this turn into the "Plume Handi-Pod Stabilizing System with Telescoping Monopod - Supports up to 1.1 lbs"?

Last edited by Marc Ries; March 6th, 2006 at 12:31 PM. Reason: Relevant related findings
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Old March 5th, 2006, 09:12 PM   #30
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Marcus:

Perhaps it would be best if you didn't surround your comments with such definitive statements that purport to quell any disagreement, since some of them are not quite accurately stated.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Marcus Marchesseault
There is only one thing that makes shots stable. That thing is INERTIA.
To actually make a shot, the rig must be "ordered" to move in whatever direction is desired with a minimum of interference in unwanted axes which will appear as instability in the shot; so to this statement I would add ISOLATION as another critical factor.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Marcus Marchesseault
"But, how about this thing with gimbals?" No. The gimbals don't make the camera stable. They only help prevent transmission of shock from the operator's body.
The gimbal serves to isolate the operator's angular influence on the rig, and have little or nothing to do with transmission of shock (that is left up to the arm, whether the mechanical one in a body-mounted system or the operator's actual arm in a handheld system). So in fact the gimbal IS what stabilizes the camera in the three angular axes (as opposed to the spatial axes).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Marcus Marchesseault
First, I should explain how a stabilizer works. A stabilizer has three points of mass which are supported in the center. That's it. No. Don't go any further. That's all there is. Nobody believes me. If you make three points of mass seperated by distance and support it in the center, the object will remain stable. There is nothing more to a stabilizer than that.

Three points of weight separated by distance and supported in the middle is all that any stabilizer does. There is no room for deviation. That is all that any mechanical system does.
Essentially correct, although the insistence of three points of mass is not an absolute . Imagine a weighted handheld monopod, wherein the bottom weight is, say, 50 lbs--obviously the rig would be exceptionally bottom heavy and impractical, but it would be quite stable, and that with only two points of mass. And a system that spreads the mass out in more than three points (imagine the counterweight at the bottom as extending outwards side to side as well as fore-and-aft) will increase the inertia of the system.

But in real life, where weight is a concern, the counterweight is actually less than the camera and the difference is made up with the principal of leverage by placing it further from the center of gravity. And since the rig is thus in delicate balance, a gimbal is necessary to properly isolate the three angular axes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Marcus Marchesseault
The only stabilizer with gyroscopes is a million-dollar rig that is mounted to a helicopter.
Not true. There are many remote heads that use motion sensors and/or gyros to produce stabilized shots, including the Libra Head, the Lev Head, the Stab-C etc, which are generally mounted to cranes, vehicles, boats, etc. And the helicopter gyro heads are not generally that expensive. Finally, Steadicams can be used in conjunction with gyros for added stability in situations such as wind.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Marcus Marchesseault
Any questions? Most people wouldn't even read past the statement that gimbals aren't necessary.
I suppose this gets into a subjective discussion, but I believe that it is simply not possible to deliver the exact results of a gimbal-based system with a non-gimbal system (weighted monopod). In some situations they can be approximated, but not duplicated with the same precision.

Now, in the arena of low-end stabilizers, casual users and relatively undemanding attention to the results, there is a good chance that you can substitute one for the other (not to say that wedding photographers can or should be "sloppy", but it's a different ball of wax when you are operating on a large studio feature) But since your statements were aimed at an empirical discussion of all stabilizers, I thought it appropriate to chime in on this.
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