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


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Old March 6th, 2006, 03:47 AM   #31
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Marcus,

Although it's cool that you've developed your own device, I think you're being a bit unreasonable. There's a vast difference between what a monopod (with or without weights) can do and what a true stabilizer can do.

Now, before you get defensive, please understand that me and my associates use monopods at our weddings, not stabilizers. I would rather have the versatility of the monopod system over the steadiness of the stabilizer system. But I am also willing to appreciate the differences.

The weight on your monopod will certainly help your stability, but it can't compensate for movement in your wrist and arm like a gimbal can, especially the gimbal handles that can also move up and down.

So be proud of your home-made device, and feel free to tell us all about it, but don't be so hard on true stabilizer systems. Just recognize that both have their advantages and disadvantages.
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Old March 6th, 2006, 05:14 AM   #32
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This is an older thread of which I haven't been keeping abreast. I really don't want it to start a flame war, but you may have detected that my frustration with overly complex systems elevates my blood pressure a bit.

I will start by agreeing that I am wrong about gyro-stabilized systems. There is more than one and they can be mounted on more than just helicopters. Still, they are expensive and not easily man-portable. I don't really think they are something that can yet be considered by wedding videographers.

"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."

I stand by the fact that inertia is the only factor that stabilizes the rig. It is the inertia that isolates the camera from the operator's actions. I also re-iterate from my explanation that "A stabilizer has three points of mass which are supported in the center. That's it." It must be supported from near the center and less than three "points" and the rig will rotate easily around one axis. More than three points is excess and will add equipment that can get in the way of operating the rig. Three points of mass is correct in the same way that three legs are the best way to support a camera. A camera quadropod would work, but that extra leg would be unnecessary and get in the way.

"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."

I must strongly disagree. A two-point system would rotate around the central axis easily, even with a 50 pound point of weight. I tried a rig with just a camera, monopod, and heavy weight at the bottom. The rotation around the central columm results in the camera lens jolting left-to-right frequently. A heavy bottom weight will also make it difficult to support the mass near the middle which is the second of my two criteria for a stabilizer.

"And since the rig is thus in delicate balance, a gimbal is necessary to properly isolate the three angular axes."

There is no better powered gimbal in the known universe than the human hand. The drawback to a monopod is that one hand is taken away from camera operation during motion shots.

As you said, the separation of the mass points increases their effectiveness due to leverage. I find that about two feet is practical since more would cause the weights to bump things. More distance would be more stable, and I could make my shots just as stable in all dimensions with a large crossbar as a very expensive system, but there are the other significant benefits from portability that can not be duplicated by ANY other system. My ability to go high-angle and low-angle in seconds is unsurpassed. NOTHING else can perform the range of motions that I can with my stabilized monopod. I will also argue that I can get better quality since I can do it all in one take. If you took the ability to practice a shot and do multiple takes away from a major motion picture steadycam operator, his shots would look no better than most of mine (I'll back that up with a clip some day) and I can go to angles impossible with a conventional system. I can also switch to a tripod in about 10 seconds for telephoto shots from the back balcony of the church. There are few instances where I need a tripod, but it is easy to switch when the time is right.

With any rig, the quality of the shot really comes down to the operator. The operator MUST practice and gain experience until they are comfortable with their rig. I am an expert with my rig because is is my rig that I created through trial-and-error and became versed in the details of stabilization through direct experience. There is no substitute for training your brain to take better shots.
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Old March 6th, 2006, 12:50 PM   #33
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If it really were possible to get BETTER shots with a monopod with some weights versus a 24k stabilizer system, I'm pretty sure Hollywood would be using the monopod system. There's no way they would be spending thousands of extra dollars for a system that wasn't worth it.

If I'm wrong, and your system really is better, then I suggest you patent it and get it on the market for 24k a piece.
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Old March 6th, 2006, 02:45 PM   #34
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I'm glad I learned a new word today, 'gimble.'
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Old March 6th, 2006, 03:31 PM   #35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steven Davis
I'm glad I learned a new word today, 'gimble.'
Didn't you ever see Apollo 13? :D Just kidding of course. I've actually been weighing in on this issue myself. I have a Flowpod (my cousin's actually, but I use it more than he does) and I've found that it works rather decently. The nice thing about it is that you can use it as a monopod for those steadier shots and then pull up the monopod and use it for steadicam-style work.

The thing I have been debating is which is better: the Flowpod or a Glidecam 2000/4000? The Glidecam seems to have an edge in that it can move on a vertical basis if needs be. The Flowpod can move in all horizontal directions, but there's no room for vertical movement. It certainly moves smoothly, don't get me wrong, but I'm wondering if the Glidecam might be better. I'm sure one day my cousin will want his Flowpod back so I'm just trying to decide what will be the best. Thank you in advance for your thoughts.
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Old March 6th, 2006, 03:52 PM   #36
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Originally Posted by Mike Oveson
Didn't you ever see Apollo 13?
Ironically, I don't watch many movies after 1980, but that would have been one I did see.

I know what gimble ment, but I was trying to make a joke out of my purchasing frustration on what to buy for run and gun at weddings.
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Old March 6th, 2006, 04:22 PM   #37
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I was just teasing you as I know very little about gimbles aside from the point that gimble lock is a bad thing. =) Wish I knew more, but this thread has at least given me a better understanding of the different systems and their advantages/disadvantages.
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Old March 6th, 2006, 10:24 PM   #38
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Marcus, I'm glad that you have a system that works well for you, but I can't agree with your interpretation of physics (although we do agree on some issues). That's OK though, like I said, if it works for you, stick with it--the important thing is that you are making shots that you are satisfied with.

Quote:
If you took the ability to practice a shot and do multiple takes away from a major motion picture steadycam operator, his shots would look no better than most of mine (I'll back that up with a clip some day)
Boy, that's quite a bold statement. And considering that you are having a conversation with someone who fits that description, I'd have to call foul on that one. We have devices like weighted monopods in the film industry (Pogocam was the classic one, now the best known system is Doggiecam) and while they certainly have their place, I have never heard anyone claim they can duplicate the subtlety of a Steadicam, regardless of the number of takes involved.

Please do post some clips--I'd be very interested in seeing them!
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Old March 6th, 2006, 10:51 PM   #39
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For some reason, a tune Mac Davis did years ago comes to mind.

"Oh Lord it's hard to be humble..."
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Old March 7th, 2006, 05:55 AM   #40
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Robert, what's with your obsession with Mac Davis? You're posting all over the place talking about him. :) Seeing as my humility is in question, I will iterate that I have so little ego as for it to approach zero. A person can not have less ego than myself and still function.

The word for the day is "gimbal", not "gimble". Gimbles are a type of dry dogfood. "Give me my gimbles and bits!"

Charles, please be fair to me and read the entire intention of my sentence that you quote:

"If you took the ability to practice a shot and do multiple takes away from a major motion picture steadycam operator, his shots would look no better than most of mine (I'll back that up with a clip some day) and I can go to angles impossible with a conventional system."

I used the word "most". I did not denigrate steadycam operators by saying thall "all" of my shots are better than theirs. To the contrary, I said that theirs, in the same conditions, would be no better than most of mine. That statement acknowledges that my shots would be equal to most of theirs and some of mine would be inferior. I simply state that they are not the right solution for wedding videographers since a monopod with stabilizer adds such valuable options. Would I like to have a guy with a steadycam at my disposal? Of course, but I would take the stabilized monopod first. For some similar shots like walking down the aisle backwards tracking the couple as they exit the church, I have no stability issues at all. This makes those shots exactly equal to a steadycam.

I went and looked at Doggicam, but could only find a description of the Pogocam. They sound identical, but I will only discuss the Doggicam. It does not have the third distinct point of mass, so it will not be as stable as my monopod. It looks like a fine system for taking low-angle shots, but it does not have enough "leverage" on it's mass to prevent the main column from rotating. It will keep the column from spinning like a baton, but the camera can move side-to-side too easily without mass perpendicular to the main column.

Concerning the gimbal vs. mass. If you remove the gimbal from the system, the stabilizer will still work handheld (assuming you can lift that weight). If you remove the mass from the camera sled and keep the gimbal, the system is useless.

I am only aware of one clip online at this time that has one of my tracking shots using a stabilizer. Unfortunately, it is a high-angle tracking shot so it doesn't show the absolute best steadyness of my system. The site also seems to be down at this time. I don't have a firewire card in my computer at this time, so the best I could do would be to offer to send you a tape of test footage. My conditions would be that you would have to give a fair critique of my footage and post a clip online.
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Old March 7th, 2006, 11:00 AM   #41
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steven Davis
Ironically, I don't watch many movies after 1980.
Why? I'm curious about that.
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Old March 7th, 2006, 11:43 AM   #42
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Why? I'm curious about that.
Hehe, you asked.

Culturally speaking, (in my opinion) the US society took a hard shift to becoming less defined and more a reactionary society which only becomes moral when they themselves lose value of something. I.e. More media value was placed on the Twin Towers falling than the people who just landed in the field. Why? Because we place a higher value on the money link of the trade towers.

Gone are the movies that present a solid value based on something other than the actors self induced and self based belief system. Gone is the 'I fight for truth, justice and the American way.' Now it's 'I'm a leech a sponge, i fight for what ever I can get.' Not all movies are like this obviously. But a lot of what movies draw on is what society lusts for. This is the reason movies like the Chronicles of Narnia draw so much attention, because of thier 'other' focused premise, that there's something more than just lusting after what you can get at all costs. And the Chronicles was one of only 2 movies I saw last year in the theatre.

I wrote a lengthy paper in college about what I abreviated in this post, you can find it here http://stevenandsusan.com/page2.html It is on the upper right.

So I find little value in watching movies that do little service to 'other' service.


That's the short of it. Social theory is a passion of mine.
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Old March 8th, 2006, 12:30 AM   #43
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Sorry gents, I'm out.
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Old March 8th, 2006, 01:21 AM   #44
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Charles...A LOT of guys on here will argue and argue and argue some more with you because they know no better nor will they ever........and they could care less that the info comes from a S.O.C. camera Op/SteadyCam Op....

Charles is one of the few and VERY talented PROFESSIONAL Steadycam Op's to post on these boards, Charles is the real McCoy.....and you should be honored that you have opportunitites to pick his brain about camera stuff in general.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Charles Papert
Marcus, I'm glad that you have a system that works well for you, but I can't agree with your interpretation of physics (although we do agree on some issues). That's OK though, like I said, if it works for you, stick with it--the important thing is that you are making shots that you are satisfied with.



Boy, that's quite a bold statement. And considering that you are having a conversation with someone who fits that description, I'd have to call foul on that one. We have devices like weighted monopods in the film industry (Pogocam was the classic one, now the best known system is Doggiecam) and while they certainly have their place, I have never heard anyone claim they can duplicate the subtlety of a Steadicam, regardless of the number of takes involved.

Please do post some clips--I'd be very interested in seeing them!
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Old March 8th, 2006, 03:32 AM   #45
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Joe, I only asked that people be fair to my statements. I specifically stated that I don't want to start a flame war and that my ego has nothing to do with my opinions. I also did nothing to imply that I am better than anybody else. I only stand by the technique as I feel it is better for wedding videographers to have flexibility first. There is nothing that I do that can not be done by others. That is the point. If I can get this kind of footage with a stabilized monopod, anybody can. It is a matter of two parts practice and one part technology. I would also like to point out that I offered (on condition) to send Charles a tape. Offering to show someone my work is not what I would consider arguing. If I didn't have interest in someone's opinion, would I go to that effort? I don't have editing facilities at this time, so a clip is difficult.

***********************

I had a wedding this weekend where I was the mobile cam. The priest had everyone stand at one point, so I moved into the aisle from the balcony thinking he was going to announce the marriage and tell them to kiss. Instead, he had someone go do another reading. I would have missed that reading if I couldn't go high-angle instantly. Since people were standing, a tripod or steadycam would not be able to get over the audience. I was able to get a decent frame with the couple on one side and the speaker on the other. The congregation was the foreground.

Next, he stood out in front of the couple and briefly addressed the congregation. He was blocking the aisle-view of the couple. He announced the kiss and barely got out of frame in time for people on the aisle to see the kiss. Since I was in the aisle, I had to again go high-angle to get over the priest. I may have missed the kiss if I wasn't high. When I say high, I mean over 7 feet.

Finally, the couple walked down the aisle and I tracked them exit the church with all their family watching and cheering. This type of shot is irreplaceable. If I was not able to operate in the aisle with lots of flexibility, I would have missed either this shot, or I would have missed the earlier shots.
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