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-   -   Steadicam Pilot - Getting Started Q & A (https://www.dvinfo.net/forum/stabilizers-steadicam-etc/115235-steadicam-pilot-getting-started-q.html)

Charles King February 23rd, 2008 05:32 AM

Dave I hope you don't mind but I posted your Q & A on HBS forum. I thought it was very insightful and very useful to others. Of coarse you re also accredited.

Dave Gish February 23rd, 2008 05:38 AM


Originally Posted by Charles King (Post 831281)
Dave I hope you don't mind but I posted your Q & A on HBS forum. I thought it was very insightful and very useful to others. Of coarse you re also accredited.

Great! No problem.

Charles King February 23rd, 2008 05:41 AM

Thank you. It's under the HBS 101 forum, if you're interested. -----just so if there are any quetions it would be nice if you can answer them directly.

Steven Davis February 25th, 2008 08:03 AM

Since this is the closest thread to my comments, I figured I would toss them out here.

A couple of observations on the pilot, or you could call them a wish list.

I wish the 'choice of mount' AB in our case, came with a power plug on the top of the sled. What we have to do is drop a wire to the bottom to run the light off the top of our camera. Alternatively we could run a battery on or under the camera, which might be a better solution (Frezzi makes one.) But to me, it would seem that a plug underneath the top of the sled would make more sense, as we run both the lcd and light off the battery on the bottom of the sled. hehe, the wire is getting annoying.

The more we use the pilot, the more I'm learning the stock pilot lcd is really not a good one. Might look into changing it out down the road.

We used the pilot for an 8 hour live event this weekend, these were some observations we picked up.

Charles Papert February 25th, 2008 08:17 AM

The Pilot has a 12v DC output on the front of the top stage, shown on the 2nd page of the manual.

Steven Davis February 25th, 2008 08:45 AM


Originally Posted by Charles Papert (Post 832511)
The Pilot has a 12v DC output on the front of the top stage, shown on the 2nd page of the manual.

Hmm, time to call Frezzi and ask them for a cable. Thanks Charles.

update; I'm having to call Steadicam and get specs that Frezzi can work with, this is to modify my cable or get and adapter etc.

Charles Papert February 25th, 2008 01:09 PM

Very good Steven. I see that also in the manual it shows an included cable with the 2.1mm tip for connecting at the top of the stage; can't see what is on the other side of that cable? Perhaps you could tell me since it should have been in your kit.

Nick Tsamandanis February 25th, 2008 05:14 PM

Charles, there's nothing at the end of the cable - so you can attach device of you choice.

Steven Davis February 25th, 2008 06:59 PM


Originally Posted by Nick Tsamandanis (Post 832925)
Charles, there's nothing at the end of the cable - so you can attach device of you choice.

Yep, Nick you beat me too it, so I think I'll have to send my light back to Frezzi or get them to make an adapter.

Dave Gish February 25th, 2008 07:50 PM

I'm sure glad I know how to use a soldering iron to make custom cables. I've already made 2 for the Pilot stage: 1 for wiring up a wireless video transmitter tap on the camera composite out to sled composite in cable, and another to get the wireless video transmitter's 9v snap connector to the 2.1mm power connector on the sled. The wireless transmitter will work from around 7 to 16 volts.

Thanks to Charles for recommending the transmitter over on the steadicamforum.

I'm still trying to figure out how to get better reception on a regular TV, but the transmitter was dirt cheap and, even with the reception issues, it does what I need it to do (i.e. lets other people see if the shot worked).

Nick Tsamandanis February 25th, 2008 08:11 PM

I have this: http://www.allthings.com.au/Catalogu...%20set%204.htm
It's the size and weight of a box of matches.

Nick Tsamandanis March 2nd, 2008 07:38 AM


Originally Posted by Charles Papert (Post 829714)
re: bubble level:

The use of bubbles for Steadicam is a complicated one. Many very successful operators have eschewed them entirely, while others use them (myself included). The problem is that during periods of acceleration (particularly laterally) the information from the bubble is inaccurate. One has to learn when you can trust it to give you an indication of level. Certainly it is useful for last-minute trims before you roll as the rig is not moving; on straight-ahead walking shots it's great for making sure that your horizons are dead-on, and for me a multitude of moments within a given shot as well. The folks who don't use them insist that they can extract all the information on level that they need from the picture itself (using verticals in the frame). For me, when the rig is panned a certain amount away from my eyeballs the verticals are now a series of diagonals and I don't trust my perception to figure it all out as much as I trust the bubble.

So my recommendation is to indeed use a bubble, and regularly make sure that it is true (by placing another bubble on a known level area of the camera, or pressed up against the bottom of camera plate if it is sticking out from the stage and comparing the two levels). Use it for balancing, use it for straightaways, learn what it does when accelerating. By the way, I only use one in the left-right orientation, I don't see the point of having one mounted fore and aft seeing as that axis is constantly being adjusted for a given shot, and you can judge it as being level by eye when dynamic balancing.

Thanks again Charles, this is my solution for the Pilot: I have now attached the bubble level at the top of the pilot monitor with velcro. To calibrate I put another bubble level on top of the flat surface of the lens hood and make sure that the rig is level (of course this is removed afterwards). I then calibrate the Pilot monitor's bubble to the one on top by slowly twisting the Pilot monitor until the bubble is centered, then lock it in position. When shooting I am very wary of knocking the monitor.

Charles Papert March 2nd, 2008 12:32 PM

Good on ya Nick. I forget which camera you have but I'm sure that you have determined that the lens hood itself is perfectly square to the level of the camera's sensor...? Can't be done physically but visually works just as well. Also consider that occasionally LCD panels have a very slight rotation to them within the housing. Best way to make sure that everything is telling you the right info is to output to a known monitor or maybe bring a clip with strong verticals into your computer and determine that your verticals are indeed dead-on by measuring (with wide lens, put the vertical in the middle of the frame to avoid keystoning/wide angle distortion). It's a bit anal but it will tell you if there are any off-variables in your system. Many operators including myself have screwed ourselves by our bubbles going off-true and turning in footage that has a consistently tilted horizon (you can see it occasionally in movies/tv shows, it's not hard to spot).

FYI for others (Nick having been to a workshop would have seen this already), on the bigger rigs we have remote level sensors built into/onto the rig that insert the level display into the monitor video, where it can be repositioned and manipulated in sensitivity etc. However the holy grail of an acceleration-proof level has yet to make it to market. And none of them are HD-compatible, which means everyone who has moved on to an HD monitor is back to using a $1.50 hardware store level.

Another fun tidbit--our beloved green screens, how much do they cost? On the average, $15,000. That's right folks, for the cost of nearly 4 Pilots you can own a 6" standard-def CRT...

Tom Wills March 2nd, 2008 04:03 PM

Hey Charles, I decided to hard-mount my level to the base of my sled. I actually built a level housing out of plastic, and put bolt threads in it so I can attach it securely. Do you think that that's an appropriate setup? That way it can't change with the monitor or anything else changing positions.

Charles Papert March 2nd, 2008 04:14 PM

The question, Tom, is whether a base-of-sled level is going to be perfectly slaved to the top stage (and indeed, the sensor--again, there's always the possibility of the physical camera body and the sensor being slightly rotated relative to each other, unlikely but possible). To me the best place for a sled level is under the camera platform, and then you true the monitor level to that. As far as using a sled-mounted level as something you reference during the shot, it's too far away. I like mine at the top of the monitor as that is where the eyeballs are glued most of the time judging headroom. You need to be able to easily view the level within your peripheral vision, not have to shift your gaze to see it.

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