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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)

Oglutte Lee May 16th, 2009 09:45 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Charles Papert (Post 1137939)
What exactly were you thinking to shoot at 300mm on any type of Steadicam...?!!

Wow.. 300mm is pretty much for this. By the way, I can use the pilot with my A1 and Sgblade (with flip module) + rails + nikon 50mm without too much trouble. However, it's too heavy for the Pilot for sure.

I have a quick question here. I know that the Pilot comes with BNC to RCA adapter but the A1 use 3.5mm video input on its rear. So can I use RCA to 3.5mm adapter to connect A1 to the Pilot LCD? Something like Cables To GO 3.5MM Stereo Male To RCA Female Adptr: Compare Prices, View Price History and Read Reviews at NexTag

Charles Papert May 17th, 2009 12:27 AM

The A1 also has a BNC output on the side.

Oglutte Lee May 17th, 2009 05:18 AM

I've never notice that before. Thank you so much Charles!

Christopher Brown June 7th, 2009 07:06 AM

Pilot Monitor Inputs
 
What inputs does the monitor on the Pilot use? I'd be using the Pilot with a Sony EX-1.

Dave Gish June 7th, 2009 08:11 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Chris Brown (Post 1155173)
What inputs does the monitor on the Pilot use? I'd be using the Pilot with a Sony EX-1.

Composite. See here:
http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/stabilize...or-signal.html

Christopher Brown June 7th, 2009 03:53 PM

Quote:

What inputs does the monitor on the Pilot use? I'd be using the Pilot with a Sony EX-1.
I'd prefer the component signal only 'cuz I'm already using that kind of monitor. Does Steadicam offer to substitute the monitor for one with different inputs? I guess I could always replace their monitor with mine (which uses component inputs) and replace the cabling. Not an option I'd like to do if I'm paying $3500+ for the unit.

Great thread, by the way. Thanks for all the info and "discoveries".

Dave Gish June 7th, 2009 08:34 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Chris Brown (Post 1155324)
I'd prefer the component signal only 'cuz I'm already using that kind of monitor. Does Steadicam offer to substitute the monitor for one with different inputs?

No steadicam offers component video monitors - too many wires down the shaft. I'm almost certain Steadicam & all other brands use a single wire for video. So your choices are: 1) Analog composite, 2) Digital SDI, or 3) Digital HD-SDI. Note that options 2 & 3 are expensive.

For steadicam use, analog composite is generally good enough. The most important aspect of a steadicam monitor is how it performs in bright sunlight, so nits and anti-glare coatings are more important than the number of pixels or other specs.

Another issue is wireless video. You don't wan't other people crowding around you trying to see the monitor as you are operating the steadicam, so a wireless video transmitter is really good to have. Composite wireless systems start under $200. HD-SDI wireless systems costs many thousands of dollars.

As an example, the RED One camera only outputs high definition digital video (HD-SDI), and most professional steadicam operators still use composite video wireless & monitor, so a standard part of most professional operators kit is a downcoverter to work with the RED One.
AJA | HD10MD3 Miniture Digital Downconverter | HD10MD3 | B&H

Charles Papert June 7th, 2009 09:57 PM

A few thoughts:

There are actually component video monitors out there on Steadicams, specifically the Tiffen units (the Ultrabrite, and I'm not sure which other ones). They have been offering component since before HD-SDI became a common standard. Quite a number of their rigs are now HD-compatible with integrated HD monitors and wiring. A number of other manufacturers offer HD wiring in the sled and HD monitors (generally third party).

It's true that a lot of us still use our SD CRT's which are still the ones to beat outside, but the LCD panels are coming along. We are having a monitor shootout next weekend to evaluate these, as a matter of fact. With very few operators untouched by HD cameras these days, it's becoming more of a "thing" to be able to monitor a higher res and color image.

Few Steadicam operators have traditionally owned downconverters as a standard part of their package, but that is changing fast as the price drops and new models emerge. I am now repping the Redbyte Decimator, which for $395 does as good a job as the $1000+ AJA, and is both smaller and lighter. The unfortunate irony of course is that as we move to HD monitors, there is less of a need for a downconverter--what are you going to do.

Dave Gish June 8th, 2009 05:04 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Charles Papert (Post 1155424)
There are actually component video monitors out there on Steadicams, specifically the Tiffen units (the Ultrabrite, and I'm not sure which other ones). They have been offering component since before HD-SDI became a common standard.

Didn't know that. As always, you're a wealth of information.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Charles Papert (Post 1155424)
It's true that a lot of us still use our SD CRTs which are still the ones to beat outside, but the LCD panels are coming along. We are having a monitor shootout next weekend to evaluate these, as a matter of fact.

Great! I'm hoping to read another one of your excellent reviews!

Quote:

Originally Posted by Charles Papert (Post 1155424)
I am now repping the Redbyte Decimator, which for $395 does as good a job as the $1000+ AJA, and is both smaller and lighter.

Wow! First you show us where to buy cheap wireless video, then you review a good wireless follow-focus system for way less, and now a better downconverter for way less. All the pieces are falling into place. You're making me want to buy a big rig.

BTW: How would you think the Hocus Focus unit would work with a RED One?

Quote:

Originally Posted by Charles Papert (Post 1155424)
The unfortunate irony of course is that as we move to HD monitors, there is less of a need for a downconverter--what are you going to do.

Don't you still need a downconverter for SD wireless video? I've heard HD wireless is really pricey.

Charles Papert June 8th, 2009 06:39 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Dave Gish (Post 1155489)
BTW: How would you think the Hocus Focus unit would work with a RED One?

Quite nicely for those who are using still camera lenses. It doesn't have enough throw to manage some of cine lenses that require more rotations of the barrel (or have more torque).


Quote:

Don't you still need a downconverter for SD wireless video? I've heard HD wireless is really pricey.
Yes, good point. The IDX system is about $6K and the upcoming Boxx is about $1500 more than that. Great looking transmission though, super clean.

Dana Love June 11th, 2009 03:00 PM

The poor Hocus Focus guys. Their site must be getting pummeled now, and still no update on their market launch date.

Charles Papert June 11th, 2009 03:32 PM

I'm in regular contact with Peter Hoare, the inventor of the HoFo. The latest upgrades are coming along nicely and it's a smart move that he hasn't announced a release date until he knows he can deliver (how many startups have you seen that have had to backpedal and continually push their dates). It will be worth the wait, it's looking solid.

Dana Love June 11th, 2009 06:03 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Charles Papert (Post 1157299)
(how many startups have you seen that have had to backpedal and continually push their dates). It will be worth the wait, it's looking solid.

Startups? He's showing more marketing savvy than Palm by hardening his 1.0 release and working on robust delivery. I'm pleased it's getting closer; a constant thread of good news helps keep us on the hook. I've not gotten any word from their mailing list since your post about them at NAB. That you're serving as that thread is, to quote an ex-felon, a good thing.

Dave Gish June 21st, 2009 04:03 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Charles Papert (Post 1155424)
We are having a monitor shootout next weekend to evaluate these, as a matter of fact. With very few operators untouched by HD cameras these days, it's becoming more of a "thing" to be able to monitor a higher res and color image.

Who won? ......

Scott Shama June 22nd, 2009 05:41 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Nick Tsamandanis (Post 829484)
The monitor should have a bubble level. The first thing I did when I got my Pilot is velcro one at the monitor base.

I am having a devil of a time trying to find a bubble level similar to yours... anyone seen a place online to buy one like Nicks?

Thanks,
Scott

Nick Tsamandanis June 22nd, 2009 06:04 AM

1 Attachment(s)
Just google "bubble level" and you get plenty, btw I have now glued mine to the top of the lcd monitor, much better. You will also need to buy another one to cailbrate the one on the monitor. Ever since the workshop I have been so obsessed with keeping a perfect horizon.

Charles Papert June 22nd, 2009 09:51 AM

Nick:

If yours is glued on, how are you "calibrating" it...? If the Pilot monitor is not dead-nuts square to the camera platform it will give a false level. Another option is to use velcro and attach it to the bezel of the monitor which allows one to easily make adjustments--you place a second loose level on the camera or on the top of the camera platform, wherever there is room (if one the camera, make sure it is a section that is parallel to the camera platform, there's a lot of swoopy material on cameras these days) and then true the bubble on the monitor to that--and do this before every mission-critical shoot.

A word about levels. They are prone to acceleration and a great deal of interpretation must be used when starting to work with them; if for instance you make a quick lateral move (sideways), even if you maintain a perfect horizon, the bubble will kick out one direction when you start and the other when you stop, eventually settling at the "correct" orientation. You have to train your brain to know when you can trust the level and discard the information it provides the rest of the time, otherwise you will be constantly attempting to "force" the rig into a level that is incorrect. It is for this reason that many operators don't bother with levels (I do).

If you are unable to find one with a square housing, any hardware store will have inexpensive line levels (the type that hang on string)--you can just pop the cylindrical level out of the housing. The square type is preferable for mounting but they all work essentially the same (some might have different fluid spec'd so that they respond at different rates). FYI we have electronic levels for our big rigs that have the sensor located near the center post, which reduces the forces of acceleration especially in pan, and then inserts a digital level into the video which we can move around screen as desired.

Nick Tsamandanis June 22nd, 2009 04:58 PM

Hi Charles, I calibrate it by adjusting the monitor's position until the bubble matches the one on the camera stage.

Charles Papert June 22nd, 2009 05:25 PM

You can rotate the monitor (around the horizontal lower spar)? huh...didn't realize that.

Nick Tsamandanis June 22nd, 2009 05:38 PM

Yes, the ring that that loosens and tightens it is a bit of a pain though.

Paul Mailath August 5th, 2009 03:23 PM

Just getting used to the pilot and I have a question

I can balence the pilot with the Canon XH-A1, static & dynamic without using any extra weight - after reading here I've done the same thing with extra weight so the top stage is around 8 pounds.

apart from being heavier - whats the difference?

Dave Gish August 5th, 2009 05:24 PM

I can balance my HVX without adding any weights at all, but it doesn't seem to fly as smooth this way.

Adding weight to the top moves the gimbal closer to the lens, and adds a little inertia in general.

Adding weight to the bottom moves the gimbal further from the lens, but adds a lot of inertia in the pan axis.

To understand the gimbal position issue, grab a pencil. Hold it between thumb and finger of your left hand, and wiggle the bottom of the pencil with your right hand. When you hold the pencil in in the middle, the eraser moves a lot. But if you hold it up close toward the eraser, the eraser moves much less. So having the gimbal closer to the lens decreases the effect of sled movement at the lens.

Adding inertia makes it harder to move he sled inadvertently. Since the Pilot is such a relatively light rig, it reacts to the slightest pressure on your left hand, giving you that squirrelly/seasick look. Adding weights in general seems to help a little with that. Adding a couple of weights to each end of the bottom crossbar increases pan inertia significantly, which make for smooth pans.

So that's why I recommend 8 pounds of total top weight (camera, accessories, & weights), and two pounds of bottom weight (Pilot battery & weights). This seems to be the best compromise for good inertia and minimum lens-to-gimbal distance.

But as always, proper technique helps the most. Where you place your hips, your posture, your balance - that matters most. It's like learning to ski. Good equipment, properly adjusted, makes a big difference. But in the end, you have to learn to ski. And don't forget to have fun!

Terry Thompson August 5th, 2009 09:56 PM

Well explained Dave. For a moment I thought I was reading something from Charles P. Now that is a compliment.

Tery
Indicam

Sean Seah August 5th, 2009 10:52 PM

Well said Dave! I tried the Flyer last week with a JVC Hm-700 and it was a big difference from the Pilot. The weight really makes the entire rig a lot more steady.

Charles Papert August 6th, 2009 07:45 AM

I'm currently on a feature with a relatively light film camera (Moviecam SL) and I'm having to work a little harder to control the rig due to differences in inertia between this and a "normal" camera. I'd guess the total weight of the rig (including arm and vest) is around 72 lbs vs the 82 I'm used to. Yet still, the inertia is so many times more than either a Pilot or a Flyer, of course.

A few weeks back I had a Panavision XL with two gyros (K4 and a K6) onboard, the whole rig probably weighed 90*lbs and was so inert between the mass and the gyros that it took significant effort to pan--a bizarre sensation!

Rob Epple September 8th, 2009 04:03 PM

EX3 Viewfinder
 
I read somewhere form those who are flying the sony ex3 that they remove the viewfinder - However, I can't figure out how to do that - anyone know how?

Thanks!

Dave Gish September 8th, 2009 05:44 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Rob Epple (Post 1328778)
I read somewhere form those who are flying the sony ex3 that they remove the viewfinder - However, I can't figure out how to do that - anyone know how?

Yup, you want it off.

See page 32 of the manual for removal instructions:
http://ws.sel.sony.com/PIPWebService...ops_manual.pdf

You can see how it looks here:
http://www.dvinfo.net/forum/attachme...x1-3-ex3_3.jpg
http://www.dvinfo.net/forum/attachme...x1-3-ex3_1.jpg

Niall Chadwick September 14th, 2009 12:14 PM

Well Ive got a pilot now as well...still getting used to it.

Have used it already for a filming gig in manchester. Went well.

Need to lose some weight tho...a tad embarassing when the battery goes "bonnnggg" off my belly :(

Paul Mailath September 14th, 2009 03:22 PM

I know the problem :-) you may of course be positioning it incorrectly, I did a intro course recently and it was a huge help.

Dave Gish September 14th, 2009 05:50 PM

Getting in shape is never a bad thing, but I don't think it's critical. I've seen great footage from professional steadicam operators that had a few pounds to spare.

But if the battery is hitting your belly, it sounds like you're holding it wrong. If anything, the battery should be bumping into your left leg. The only time the battery comes near my belly is when I'm switching between shooting forward and backward.

Steven Davis September 14th, 2009 06:52 PM

Belly Busters
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Dave Gish (Post 1353744)
Getting in shape is never a bad thing, but I don't think it's critical. I've seen great footage from professional steadicam operators that had a few pounds to spare.

But if the battery is hitting your belly, it sounds like you're holding it wrong. If anything, the battery should be bumping into your left leg. The only time the battery comes near my belly is when I'm switching between shooting forward and backward.

Maybe he has four bellies like me. It's true about holding it off to the side, I'm horrible about holding it out front, which is easier to see the monitor as well as where I am going.

Niall Chadwick September 15th, 2009 01:46 AM

Well im making plans to go on a 3 day course in November. With any luck Ill sort out any kinks in the technique.

Raymond Tsang October 6th, 2009 01:24 PM

I've been using the Pilot for a couple of weeks and I'm signed up for a workshop coming next March. I've been experiencing shoulder and neck soreness after extended use of the Pilot (i.e. after 5 hour of straight shooting).

Is this muscle/shoulder pain normal or is the vest not fitted onto my body correctly?

Also, my calves have cramped up 1-2 times after flying the unit walking backwards. Is this something that I can prevent in the future by working out?

Dave Gish October 6th, 2009 01:48 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Raymond Tsang (Post 1428660)
I've been using the Pilot for a couple of weeks... I've been experiencing shoulder and neck soreness after extended use of the Pilot (i.e. after 5 hour of straight shooting).

Is this muscle/shoulder pain normal or is the vest not fitted onto my body correctly?

Also, my calves have cramped up 1-2 times after flying the unit walking backwards. Is this something that I can prevent in the future by working out?

Hi Raymond,

Well, if you're going 5 hours at a clip after only 2 weeks, you must be doing something right, but just to be sure:

Make sure you're always "under the rig". Practice hands-free, with both hands just a couple of inches away from touching (in case it gets away from you). Practice walking the line, stopping, starting, switching from missionary to don juan, all hands free. Do this for 10-15 hours, until it becomes second nature. If you can control the position of sled completely with your hips, then your hands are free for feather-touch fine tuning only. Besides making your shots more stable, this will also make it easier to wear for long periods.

Keep the sled close to your body. With the Pilot, this is a nice thing to do for your body, and it makes your shots more stable. With a heavy rig, you basically have no choice - you have to keep it close to your body.

And make sure the rig is properly balanced.

As for cramps in your legs, well, your legs are supposed to take the load, so they will get tired after a while. Make sure you do stretching to prevent cramps.

For me, the main issue is my feet. After 4-hours or so, my heels start to hurt. But I guess this happens if I just stand around for 4 hours or more without the rig on as well, so I don't really think there's a solution for that.

As for exercises, I run 3-5 miles on most days, and that seems to help. Being in shape generally is good for operating. Some people do yoga. I don't think you need any special exercises for steadicam. Just do it.

Hope this helps.

Scott Shama October 6th, 2009 02:15 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Raymond Tsang (Post 1428660)
I've been using the Pilot for a couple of weeks and I'm signed up for a workshop coming next March. I've been experiencing shoulder and neck soreness after extended use of the Pilot (i.e. after 5 hour of straight shooting).

Is this muscle/shoulder pain normal or is the vest not fitted onto my body correctly?

Also, my calves have cramped up 1-2 times after flying the unit walking backwards. Is this something that I can prevent in the future by working out?

Be sure you're staying hydrated.. calf cramps are normally from dehydration.. also, what kind of shape are you in? If you are not in good shape and are trying to do 5 hours a clip straight off the couch you're going to have problems...

Raymond Tsang October 6th, 2009 02:30 PM

Dave & Scott - Thanks for all your advice. I didn't know that dehydration causes cramps. I actually get dehydrated at every event and wedding that we shoot... so this makes sense.

I am in OK shape and 5 hours on the Pilot doesn't bother me too much, but the shoulder and neck pains the next day is what kills me.

I'll try keeping the sled closer to my body next time and see if it helps. Thanks!

Charles Papert October 6th, 2009 03:07 PM

If you are using the rig every weekend, your March workshop is a long way off and you may well be adopting bad habits in the meantime. If you get the chance to have someone tape you in action, put it up somewhere and let us see if there's any advice regarding your form. It's always harder to unlearn something you've been doing for a while--many times the students I get at workshops who struggle the most are the ones that went years without doing a workshop.

Raymond Tsang October 6th, 2009 03:15 PM

Charles - Great idea. I'll have my wife film me in action and post it on Vimeo for you guys to check out. The last thing I want to do is develop hard to break bad habits - especially ones that may physically hurt me in the long run. Thanks!

Niall Chadwick October 10th, 2009 05:34 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Charles Papert (Post 1428715)
If you are using the rig every weekend, your March workshop is a long way off and you may well be adopting bad habits in the meantime. If you get the chance to have someone tape you in action, put it up somewhere and let us see if there's any advice regarding your form. It's always harder to unlearn something you've been doing for a while--many times the students I get at workshops who struggle the most are the ones that went years without doing a workshop.

Charles

Ive had exactly the problem about using the rig before going on training and thus picking up bad habits. Ive been reading jerry's book every day, and doing the practice, but am mindful of those habits being bad, or at least off kilter.

I know from playing snooker and golf how important a good technique is, and I want to get out there and use it every day but am afraid ill get into a bad posture.

I have used the rig for a recent shoot in manchester, and I found it was such a inspiring experience, I just want to do more.

Just at the back of my mind is that nagging "what if..", thats making me not take out the Pilot and practice further

Am going on the course in Mid-nov, so fingers crossed

Dave Gish October 10th, 2009 07:31 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Niall Chadwick (Post 1430300)
I have used the rig for a recent shoot in Manchester, and I found it was such a inspiring experience, I just want to do more.

Just at the back of my mind is that nagging "what if..", thats making me not take out the Pilot and practice further

Charles, correct me if I'm wrong, but I think practicing hands-free will more-or-less force you into correct posture. If you can control the position of the sled at all times without touching it, keeping the sled close to your body, without touching the sled or gimbal at all, throughout all types of movement, then your posture pretty much has to be good.

During the workshop, I realized that I was controlling the sled too much with my hands, and my posture was bad, so right after the workshop I did nothing but practice hands free (with both hands an inch or two away for safety). After around 15 hours of this kind of practice, my form had changed dramatically, and I was able to start using very light feather-touches to control the rig. I really wish that I had done this before I took the workshop - I might have gotten more out of it.


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