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Old March 17th, 2010, 12:57 AM   #16
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Actually Perrone, Chris asked specifically whether a Fig Rig could match a steadicam in the original post, and my reply was to this question, not to the responses in this thread. Chris even pointed to this question in the title of the thread. Also, I never wrote that the idea of a stabilizer should be scrapped. Instead, I wrote of the wonderful shots that can be captured without any rig at all, reinforcing the point that a stabilizer is not a necessity, and in some ways can even be a hindrance, thus giving Chris my full support for ditching his rig. I made no suggestions about what stabilizer he should or should not look to instead.

The hypothetical scenario I presented was a case of "either or," as in...use a full steadicam setup or nothing at all. My best guess is that you mistook the word "rig" (not capitalized) in the description to mean "Fig Rig" (capitalized), though it was actually a standard reference to a full steadicam, with vest. I think that if you reread the post with this in mind, you'll see how this fine point could distort what you took away from it.

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Old March 17th, 2010, 03:18 AM   #17
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Thanks Perrone

The stabilization makes a big difference!! Those shots could easily be mistaken fro stedicam shots. Nice job!!

Shows what can be done with footage that has a few wobbly bits!!

Chris
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Old March 17th, 2010, 04:56 AM   #18
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I don't own a steadicam but I do own a FigRig. So I shoot "the making of the Photoshoot" always with that Rig but with the HV30 on it and not the XHA1. Photoshoots are mostly outside where there is plenty of light so you don't see the difference. I learned to walk the Rig and with the HV30 on it I can make nice steady shots. Even 360's when I want. And I often don't need to deshake it in post anymore. I love the Rig. And since it has the same QRA as all my other tripods and shouldermount and glidetrack and crane I'm in business in no-time.
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Old July 4th, 2010, 11:53 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alec Moreno View Post
If you're used to editing footage shot by a good steadicam operator, then Fig Rig footage simply will not impress you...especially if you're talking about doing 360s. I use a narrow-profile handheld steadicam that that doesn't slow me down one bit, so I don't have to worry about compromising, but if my only choices were to shoot with a full steadicam rig (with vest), or to bypass it altogether, I'd go without it and just shoot handheld. I'd rather capture more moments than put up with the down time and hassle of getting into and out of a rig. Also, using a steadicam can be very restrictive. What about a killer ground level shot or a shot from over your head? How about an extreme tilt, or setting the camera down on something stable for simple rock solid framing of the couple in motion?

I vote for dumping the vest if you feel it's that much of a hassle. You can easily make up for the shots you'll miss in other ways.

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Alec. I have viewed some of your cinematic wedding samples and they look great. I was wondering what type (brand/model) of steadicam system you were using for the smooth fluid shots. Especially the low and overhead shots. Thank you.
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Old July 4th, 2010, 04:31 PM   #20
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I know next to nothing about shooting weddings for a living, but I'm curious to read this thread anyway. Actually I'm exaggerating--I was brought in to operate a full-size Steadicam back in the 80's on a lavish and expensive wedding shoot; shot my brother's wedding reception with a Steadicam JR in the 90's; even helped Garrett Brown shoot his son Jonathan's wedding early in the 00's (he was wielding his JR prototype which ended up turning into the production Merlin). So yeah, I guess once every ten years I dip into that world!

Apropos of carrying a 60 lb rig around through a ceremony, reception AND party, guess it's surprising to hear Chris describe his rig with 8lb camera as being "heavy"! Which rig are you using, Chris? I have concerns that you may be fighting it if you are finding it burdensome--flying 8 lbs of load with a vest and arm should be a barely strenuous experience. Perhaps the system is not properly adjusted for you, or your flying technique could use some tuning. I would personally find it much more tiring to do the same 5 minutes with a Fig Rig, with all the weight leveraged out from the body purely supported on the arms.

The semantics of what would be the "best" way to achieve a smooth 360 are entirely wrapped up in one's subjectivity; just how smooth does it need to be? And also, how much prior practice has one had with a stabilizer? I think we've all seen test shots of people's first day with their new rig where the frame is rolling around, barely in control--in that instance, it's probably "smoother" to shoot handheld or equivalent.

Bear with me on my lack of knowledge--when you guys do weddings, do you use carts for your gear, or just hand carry bags in? Reason I'm asking is that if a cart was possible, it would make it that much easier to get in and out of the rig (avoiding the "walk back to the car" business) as you'd just have it with you. Theoretically, if the camera is built in exactly the same way each time, it should be possible to pop it onto the sled, attach the BNC and mount up and be ready to shoot within 3-5 minutes (even less to get out of it and back to handheld). Picture of a typical commercially available cart (Magliner conversion) with Steadicam mount attached--enterprising homebuilders could easily do something along these lines themselves.
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Old July 4th, 2010, 07:44 PM   #21
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Hi Charles

It's indeed an honour to have one of the greats of steadicam work respond!! It's not the camera weight at all that's an issue, it's purely the fact that you have to have suiting up and suiting down time and more often than not, everything is a rush and while you are suiting up the photographer has whisked the bride away and you have to walk fast to catch them up. Once the rig is on it's not an issue at all but purely a time restraint!!

Dual arms also are tricky to operate in the confines of a Church too!! Narrow aisles and lots of people don't exactly make a good environment for a rig.

What I have done is actually sold the rig and backmount vest and have built up a much lighter single arm rig that I can get into and out of a lot quicker!! Ok the boom range is limited but the footage is still pretty good and most importantly, it's a workable solution both in the Church, at the Photoshoot and at the Reception.

Probably the real answer for weddings would be to shoot all the "creative" footage on a DSLR on top of a Merlin or similar, hand held so you can "grab 'n shoot" whenever you need it!!

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Old July 4th, 2010, 08:16 PM   #22
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Hi Chris:

You referred to the setup as being heavy three or four times, so perhaps you can see where I drew that conclusion.

Backmounts generally are wider than front mounts so I can see where that is an issue. Honestly I'm not really convinced that for the small stabilizer form factor there is any need for a backmount vest. Most of the lower-end ones I've seen have been pretty lacking in design. Consider the Steadicam Pilot vest--it literally folds flat and yet provides enough support for 10 lbs of camera (the strap system isn't ideal, but at least there are buckles available for it now).

Seems like there are a fair amount of people doing run and gun wedding shooting with a DSLR and Merlin/Blackbird these days. I would actually wonder if this is really worth it versus a small 3-chip camera--without being able to ride focus on the DSLR, you have limitations of focal length to maintain focus, and limited zoom range compared to a traditional camcorder. The low-light capabilities of the DSLR are probably a good argument for using them, however.
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Old July 4th, 2010, 11:11 PM   #23
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Hi Charles

Yes, it was heavy..I was using a highly modified version of the Indian rig copies (it needs lots of mods to work correctly!!) The BM Vest is huge and a trifle heavy but we are also talking about a huge arm that weighs close to 10lbs and a sled around 17lbs (with the camera). Once suited up there is no real weight issue at all but the individual components are both heavy and cumbersome. I work on my own so you have to get the vest on nice and tight and then fight the arm that wants to swing around and destroy things and still get to the sled on the stand.

It ruled out the opportunity to think "hmmm I think I do that shot on the rig" ...just shots like the bridal arrival and walking down the aisle makes it tricky to get to your second camera to get it running while the rig is still attached to you.

Yes something like a Pilot is ideal and you really need a rig you can slip into (and out of) in 30 seconds. I'm currently now running a real hybrid using a FM vest from India and a single arm built much like the Indicam arm. Not as effective but I can get it on and off pretty fast and the footage is still way better than any handheld!!

Chris
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Old July 4th, 2010, 11:21 PM   #24
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Oh boy, the Flycam--yeah, that thing is trouble.
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Old July 5th, 2010, 03:27 AM   #25
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Thanks Albert.

I use a Varizoom Flowpod. I was not happy with the Flowpod out of the box, but with some modifications, it can work extremely well.

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Old July 5th, 2010, 03:36 AM   #26
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Hi Charles

Actually the light vest is quite acceptable to use if you move the socket connector block about 6" from it's centre position. The single arm is pretty flimsy but easily changed into a durable arm with some aluminium section. If you rip out the gimbal on the sleds and use something decent, the rest is also OK!!

Definately not a "take it out the box and use it" product but it makes life a heck of a lot easier for us DIYers who would otherwise have to try a build a rig from scratch. The 6000 took me around 6 months to "re-develop" and after that was quite a nice rig to fly!! Then again if you were counting the skills and man-hours to do all the mods, a Pilot would be cheaper but I also enjoy making something good out of nothing and enjoy the challenge too so their products have a place in the market. They are probably OK to use for the "guy in the street" who is not too fussed about having perfect footage. I have owned 3 already and would hate to calculate the man hours done on mods but with some inspiration it can be done even if the end result is nothing like the original!!

They are a great source of topic on Charles's HBS board in the mods section..keeps lots of people busy!!

Chris
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Old July 5th, 2010, 10:50 PM   #27
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I would never entertain the idea of suiting up during a bridal photo shoot, just not practical time wise. I always have another camera set up on the Merlin and when suitable swap over for the shot, steadi shots are kept short and to a minimum, nothing worse than over-use or unnecessary steadi shots in a production.
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Old July 6th, 2010, 01:39 AM   #28
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Hi Nick

That's why I scrapped the big rig!! By the time I was suited up the photographer and bridal party had disappeared over the horizon and I had to run to catch them.

My cams are way too heavy for a little Merlin!! (3.2kgs!!!) My arm would fall off after 10 minutes!! With a lighter rig I like to do the brides entrance down the aisle as well as the first dance on stedi and then most of the photoshoot. I'm not into DSLR's at the moment so any handheld stabiliser is a no-no!!

Chris
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