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


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Old February 13th, 2007, 04:59 PM   #1
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Glidecam4000 with Pod or Varizoom

hmm.. i never really thought id ever want one of these.. in the past, ive just done it by hand (werre talking 5 second shots here) sometimes i jsut wish iu could keep the stability going just for a afew seconds longer..
As i shoot progressive slow pans are paramount so with practice, ive been able to pull off some pretty decent results without the need for one of these..

Now to the nitty gritty..
Im gettin lazy
its that simple... id rather just wack teh cam on one of these and shoot away as opposed to stabilsing my arms, and then doing afew practice swings with my body to get my shot.. instead, id rather jsut swing the camera knowing that i'll get teh shot i want..

Obviously this will come with practice as its a new technique for me, but im wondering how worthwhile are these units?
I dont like loooooong extended shots, but sometimes its shots like this which allow for some pretty intense slowmo ramps and fluctuating filter tweaks
I feel im missing out on this post production flexibility by NOT having these long stable shots..
Over the years, practice has allowed me to shoot entire ceremonies handheld or with a monopod, but then as we zoom, we lose stability, so i guess im looking for another alternative..

The reason i write ths in teh wedding forum is becuase i am a little concerned about the impact of "what i look like all kitted up" would have. Especially during ceremonies as im usually shooting ARoll from centre aisle
A major part of our service is the fact that we are predominately discreet, so im trying to fathom wether discretion outweighs image quality/flexibility

what are your thoughts on this? Id particualrly like to hear from those using these types of units and would love to hear about the kind of feedback you recieve about its initial impact on the day, and of course the shots you get.
I dont particularly need to see what these can do, and i have afew ideas as to how i intend on using it (a little differently to the norm... more like a crane/jib... dolly...tracking... and alot of boating stuff (for afew corp clients) Moreso to replace a monopod during ceremonies...

I have seen many demos which overuse these tools and end in the, by overusing these tools in teh way in whih is predictable, the shots end up losing their impact.. i DONT want this to happen... which is why im looking at alternative uses for them (in addition to the stock standard of course)

So if anyone has any experience in using these tools, in the aforementioned manner, id love to her your thoughts. How did u fair with the Doly like tracking shots? How did the clients respond when u asked them to play "chasings " through the vineyard ? How long were you able to support the camera with one arm? Did you use a Lanc controller with the unit? Do you use a W/A lens in addition to this? Do you use a monitor or simply use your camera LCD? how did on cam lighting work out with the balance? Did you ever have a guest comment? Good or bad? Do you have a vest and spring arm unit? was it worth the extra investment?

Anything you'd like to share would be greatly appreciated.

The units i am considering is the Glidecam4000. The cameras are DVX100's and Canon A1's. maybe even an XLh1 from time to time. Now i distribute this sort of stuff here in aus, but our distributors are a little pricey. what i can buy from the us for 850AUD, I would end up forking out over 2k AUD for if i was to get it from here.. even at wholesale...

Cheers
Pete
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Old February 14th, 2007, 11:46 AM   #2
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Obviously this will come with practice as its a new technique for me, but im wondering how worthwhile are these units?
I dont like loooooong extended shots, but sometimes its shots like this which allow for some pretty intense slowmo ramps and fluctuating filter tweaks
I feel im missing out on this post production flexibility by NOT having these long stable shots..
Over the years, practice has allowed me to shoot entire ceremonies handheld or with a monopod, but then as we zoom, we lose stability, so i guess im looking for another alternative..

<< For us, these units are huge. So much so, that I am now looking at upgrading from the Magiqcam, which is a very nice unit, to a mid range varizoom or a steadicam system. Not only can you get great moving footage but it is also works so well for steady shots during the preps and other parts of the day and makes things like a rack focus very easy to do. Throw a remote on there and you can zoom and everything while keeping full stability. It was one of the best investments we made in our company. I could do a lot of what I do with a glidecam alone, and many shots handheld, but this offers greater flexibility, and when it is easier to shoot and you have more options, you can focus more on new ideas.>>


The reason i write ths in teh wedding forum is becuase i am a little concerned about the impact of "what i look like all kitted up" would have. Especially during ceremonies as im usually shooting ARoll from centre aisle
A major part of our service is the fact that we are predominately discreet, so im trying to fathom wether discretion outweighs image quality/flexibility

what are your thoughts on this? Id particualrly like to hear from those using these types of units and would love to hear about the kind of feedback you recieve about its initial impact on the day, and of course the shots you get.
I dont particularly need to see what these can do, and i have afew ideas as to how i intend on using it (a little differently to the norm... more like a crane/jib... dolly...tracking... and alot of boating stuff (for afew corp clients) Moreso to replace a monopod during ceremonies...

<< I think your perception of how you look will determine how others see you at a reception. At first, I was pretty nervous about wearing the full setup and I got a lot of comments from people. While they were all good, it also meant that they were noticing what I was doing, which isn't as good. Now that I have shot so many weddings with the unit, I don't think twice about using it, and I very rarely get noticed or stand out in any way. Overall, I have never had a bad reaction or anybody comment on us not being discreet even when using that unit for a good part of the day. If you want to hide it even more, check out Indicam, they have a nice unit that lets you put a suit jacket over the body harness.>>


I have seen many demos which overuse these tools and end in the, by overusing these tools in teh way in whih is predictable, the shots end up losing their impact.. i DONT want this to happen... which is why im looking at alternative uses for them (in addition to the stock standard of course)

<<I think 'overuse' of any particular tool can be bad and is going to be a personal decision. Personally, I would much rather see overuse of a stabilizer rather than overuse of a handheld static camera- but thats just my style. By thinking that using a stabilizer too much also makes shots predictable, I think your looking at it from your point of view and not from a potential client, who has likely not seen many wedding videos that use a stabilizer and are going to call your work anything but predictable. For what its worth, I use stabilizers more for some weddings than in others and those that I use it more get a much stronger reaction from couples and their family over those that it was used less, but perhaps I'm not 'overusing' in the way you are talking about...>>

How did u fair with the Doly like tracking shots? How did the clients respond when u asked them to play "chasings " through the vineyard ?

<<I find that even after a couple years, our technique is constantly improving, and the motion can be very very fluid. When we do lovestories and have time during the photo-session, couples love to do 'chasing shots through the vineyard ( I actually did that exact thing a month a go) and you can get some great candid footage as they have a lot of fun.>>

How long were you able to support the camera with one arm? Did you use a Lanc controller with the unit?

<<My response is geared towards a glidecam type unit with the body mount, in which case you can use it all day. Without the body mount, I could still use it for most of the preps and other parts of the day, but you would need breaks here and there. You get used to resting it on your body whenever you can and it becomes very easy to use it for long periods.

I don't use a LANC controller but I did get one and will be trying it out shortly.>>

Do you use a W/A lens in addition to this? Do you use a monitor or simply use your camera LCD?

<<Yes to the W/A lens as well as a fisheye or just the stock lens (and soon to be a 35mm adapter on there too). So far I have used the on camera LCD which works great, but I will be trying an external 7" monitor to see if it helps with the 35mm adapter (which flips the image).>>

how did on cam lighting work out with the balance? Did you ever have a guest comment? Good or bad? Do you have a vest and spring arm unit? was it worth the extra investment?

<<I got a good unit and threw two macro adjusting plates on there at right angles so you can quickly adjust the balance and it is very precise. They allow you to turn one know and the whole plate moves down a threaded rod in very small increments so adding a light into the mix or switching lenses becomes very quick and easy.

I have only had good comments and mostly asking how it works and wanting to see what it can do.

My unit has a dual stage arm with the body harness as well.

It was worth much much more than what we paid. As I mentioned earlier, I think we will be trying a better unit out soon as it has made such an impact (so I may have one for sale too).

Anything you'd like to share would be greatly appreciated.

The units i am considering is the Glidecam4000. The cameras are DVX100's and Canon A1's. maybe even an XLh1 from time to time. Now i distribute this sort of stuff here in aus, but our distributors are a little pricey. what i can buy from the us for 850AUD, I would end up forking out over 2k AUD for if i was to get it from here.. even at wholesale...

<<my unit would handle all of those cameras. I have it setup now so I can use a vx2100 and with a couple quick adjustments (without adding or removing weights) I can switch to an XL2 and have it perfectly balanced. I would check out indicam, they are pretty well priced. Or try and find a good unit on ebay.

Hope that helps.

Patrick>>
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Old February 14th, 2007, 03:25 PM   #3
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Pat, i knew youd come through mate.. :)

Im also looking at this unit, http://www.bargain-camera.com/store/...cat=286&page=1 to go with teh glidecam now..

ive passed it through the financial manager.. (wife..lol) and shes cool with it.. so now, its jstu working out whether to ditch the 2xZ1s and go for 2x A1 (which id most likely do, or go for 1 a1 and this set up...
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Old February 14th, 2007, 08:52 PM   #4
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forgot to ask, do you charge extra for using this , and do you bring an assistant along to help with everything else while you shoot as your wearing it? The vest i mean.. i can see where sometimes it could be a hindrance to space.. but also, the fact that it would take several minutes to set up before u can use it, so im thinking whether or not i need to bring someone along to cover me...
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Old February 14th, 2007, 11:38 PM   #5
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Patrick pretty much nailed it on the head. We've also been using the magiqam for over a year and a half now and it's been a great asset to our success. I also agree that you can over use it, but once you get it down you'll be able to use it not only to get the fluid sweeping/moving/walking or whatver, but you'll be able to get tripod like shots as well, like patrick said you'll learn very soon that (with the glidecam 4000) can rest the whole unit right on your belt, (at least that's what I use), we don't use a remote or anything so when we do a zoom or change the settings we just rest it on our belt and switch things around or get a nice zoom or pan shot, it sure has been nice not to have to huff around a tripod all over the place during photo shoots etc. but that all depends on the style you're going for. the 4000 is also nice because with the A1 you can just take it off the unit and go without it for a while if needed, the H1/XL2 good luck!

I don't think you should "charge extra" for using the equipment as brides won't really care/understand what the benefits really are. The added style and look to your videos will up your worth though. Once they see you w/ the rig they will be impressed and you'll get a lot of compliments from other people, we used to think that people would think we looked funny, but that's not the case, they think it's quite professional and that you are really serious about what you're doing. That's just what we've experienced and clients love it, cause in a way I'm sure they feel that they "got their moneys worth" not only in the final product, but it's a way to really show their guest that they went all out if that makes sense.

Just my thoughts.

Eric Hansen
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Old February 15th, 2007, 12:27 AM   #6
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Makes perfect sense Eric, reason i mention additional fees, was for an "assistant" not for the actual use of the equipment itself.. im usually a one man band coz i dont really trust anyone, but im thinking about the ramifications of setup and time required compared my "no more than 8 minutes" setup time now it makes me wonder if can set this unit up and start shooting in 8 minutes (8 minutes to unloading the car (2 kits and a stills kit, Dolly, tripod and lights, audio)

oh one other thing, do u guys think the spring arm is worth the $1300??
As for the way i shoot, the only time i use a tripod is during the ceremony and speeches..
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Old February 15th, 2007, 08:18 AM   #7
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Hi Peter,

I ahree with what Eric said regarding including that in your prices. With that being said, I don't always use it for smaller packages just because 30 minutes of preps can usually be better covered with just the glidecam itself rather than pulling out the whole rig, so anything but our smallest packages, I would almost always use it.

I don't charge for an assistant and I think if your used to shooting by yourself, you can easily still do that. I travel with my camera munted ot the top of the rig so total setup time to get a perfect balance is roughly 30 seconds. While it can be tougher in tight spaces, it gets very comfortable working in almost any situation very quickly. Like Eric said, with the right cam you can pull it off the arm and use it like that for a while.

Unless your doing handheld during the ceremony, I would sitll plan to use a tripod for that part of the day, as well as speeches, and the rig can be used for pretty much everything else. The ability to use full zoom and keep it amazingly steady is a huge benefit of the rig that is often overlooked.

As for the price, I would happily pay $1300 for the arm and vest, in fact I would spend three times that knowing what I do now. And yes, it will also make your job much much easier from a fatigue point of view. If I were to sell my unit, it would be in that range for the sled, arm and vest- so I would keep looking for something used and get a whole package. An old Glidecam V-8 would work well too.

Patrick
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Old February 15th, 2007, 09:07 AM   #8
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What, no love for the Fig Rig? :} It's a decent 300.00 alternative to handheld. It won't do what a full rig will do, I know. I was just throwing in my 2 international monetary denominations.
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Old February 15th, 2007, 09:09 AM   #9
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I've actually had somebody come out and shoot with us who used a fig rig while we used the glidecam. Most of the footage wasn't useable as the motion had acompletely different feel to it- but thats just my style, I'm sure others would have been happy with it. So yeah, no love her for the fig rig.
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Old February 15th, 2007, 09:17 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Patrick Moreau
I've actually had somebody come out and shoot with us who used a fig rig while we used the glidecam. Most of the footage wasn't useable as the motion had acompletely different feel to it- but thats just my style, I'm sure others would have been happy with it. So yeah, no love her for the fig rig.

It takes a lot of practice. Even then sometimes the action gets moving to fast. One of the hardest things to do with it is walk backwards and shoot. I joke with my wife that my technique gets better after using it for an hour or so, or in other words, the more tired I get. Like every tool, it has it's place.
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Old February 15th, 2007, 11:39 AM   #11
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We bought a bogen quick release plate to put on the top of our glidecam so when we go to shoots after you'ver already balanced the system and have the quick release in the right location you can put the system on and get the camera balanced by adjusting the posistion on the quick release plate and you're off, I've got it down to where I can have the thing on and balanced in a min. or two, now if you show up and the thing is way off, it'll take a few more min. depending on your knowledge and intelligence when it comes to counterbalancing. So with all the other stuff and the system it might be a little more than 8 min. Now if you're going to do a whole shebang with it, you'll probably want to have someone else there to cover the rest of the work, because you are somewhat limited and you won't be able to keep the camera perfectly steady the whole time, you be switching between walking around with the camera and pulling it in to zoom in or just to rest or whatever.

Eric
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Old February 15th, 2007, 02:44 PM   #12
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Glidecam Setup

Hi Peter,

I just did my first GC4000 setup yesterday - I'm sure others would have lots of colorful stories. Anyway, after probably 8 hours, here's some tips that seemed to work for me - no need for others to reinvent the wheel (incidentally, I have the basic unit with the arm sleeve - no spring arm). I welcome critique from y'all seasoned GC users.

Regards, Michael

If you get the GC4000, forget the tempting pix in the manual that only show 2 washers on each plate (obviously assumes a GC2000 with a lightweight camera)! You'll need about 1 washer per pound of camera, so for a XL-2 plan on using almost all of them (9-10 on each side of the base plate). BTW, you'll certainly want a quick release adapter on your GC - if you already are using them, fine, just buy another and it will mount up okay on the GC.

1. If you don't already own one, buy a music stand or similar rig to hold the GC during setup. I can't imagine anyone ever adjusted a GC without a rig - if they have, never agree to wrist-wrestle against them! The GC handle is actually a hollow pipe so it can be supported by a vertical rod. I use a portable stand that collapses all the way down for portability at the event: http://www.elevation-music.com/hebsezsefoal.html

2. Okay, once the GC is assembled, sit it on the music stand and make sure everything is stable. You should be able to rotate the GC horizontally 90 degrees.

3. In the 90 degree horizontal position, rotate the GC post clockwise and counterclockwise. Is the unit balanced so that it doesn't always come to rest in the same position? If it does, move the appropriate thumb screws on the plate so when you twist the pipe the camera and GC do not favor one position.

4. Now the famous drop test. With the GC post at 90 degrees, drop the bottom end (gravitational plumb) with the weights and count the seconds until the bottom moves into the horizontal position. The ideal time should be around 2.5 - 3.0 seconds. If not, move the GC back to 90 degrees horizontal, loosen the telescoping clamp and slide the counterweight assembly in (to lengthen time) or out (to shorten time). If you have to add additional washers, you may need to repeat prior steps.

5a. Next set the GC in its normal position. Adjust the counterweights so the GC post is exactly vertical. If you're in a building, you can use a doorframe or other vertical benchmark as a reference. Rotate the music stand so the camera is pointed to the reference point. Frame the post so you can see the doorframe behind it and adjust the counterweights left or right so the post lines up perfectly with the doorframe. Now rotate the music stand 90 degrees so the camera is pointing at right angles to the doorframe. Adjust the counterweights left or right (towards front or back of camera assembly) so the GC post is again perfectly parallel to the doorframe.

5b. If you're in the field without a reference, go to "plan b". Buy yourself two inexpensive small 2 inch leveling bubbles found in most hardware stores. Sit them on the base platform that holds the counterweights at 90 degree angles (front-back and left-right). Actually, this method is much easier than the above method - I recommend getting the leveling bubbles with contact adhesive and mounting them to the base platform.

6a. Finally, take the GC off the music stand and give it the left-right and forward-backward sway test. Initially, a fast movement sway test is okay just to get a feel of the balance. Tweak the counterweights as necessary. If the GC has too much of a pendulum sway, loosen the telescoping clamp and raise or lower the counterweight assembly (but not more than 2.5 - 3.0 seconds per step 4). Next due the GC sway test slowly left-right and forward-backward. Try to get a "read" on what's causing the sway by watching the latency when it makes a slight wobble due to the inertia of your movement.

6b. If you're lugging a heavy camera with lots of counterweights, as a novice you may eventually get wrist fatigue using method 6a. If so, consider placing the music stand on a dolly. Here's the portable aluminum hand truck I use for transporting gear to my events: http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/cta...emnumber=92624 (of course, put a board on the platform that's large enough to support the music stand legs). Secure the music stand to the board and hand truck (wagon, etc). Now you can simply move the hand truck forward-backward and watch the GC inertia. Finally, rotate the unit 90 degrees and do a retest to ensure the GC is balanced in both axis.

PS - I forgot to mention this useful link at the GC site (unfortunately nothing is mentioned in the user manual):
http://www.glidecam.com/article-wedd...ideography.php
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Old February 15th, 2007, 05:54 PM   #13
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Hey Peter,

I just put up my whole Magiqcam setup for sale in the classifieds section. If you like buying any of your gear used, you could grab this whole setup for the price of just the arm and vest new from BH etc.

Patrick
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Old February 16th, 2007, 06:24 PM   #14
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thanks for the insight michael, i wasnt expecting the weights to be so light, as the demos only showed a GL2 which is the lightest 3ccd unit on the market.. lol

Pat, i'll check out your listing mate.. im in Aus, so i dont know how much it would cost for shipping.. :(
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