Glidecam: Switching to Low Mode at
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Old July 18th, 2003, 07:39 PM   #1
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Glidecam: Switching to Low Mode

Anyone out there have any tips on how to quickly switch to low mode?

There's gotta be a better way than removing the quick release plate, removing the weight plates, attaching the low mode piece, attaching the quick release again, then spending a half hour rebalancing everything.
John Locke
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Old July 18th, 2003, 10:14 PM   #2
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John, Honestly, off the top of my head I'm not sure if there'd be a faster way without having any extra components already set to go...

I would say give Tom a call at the office, he'll be in on monday morning (EST)...he's usually good at coming up with solutions for that sort of problem.

I used to go through roughly the same procedure with my V-8/XL setup though...granted, if you're using the same camera package all the time you can usually mark off where your balance is in both configurations and quickly find it again with little tweaking.
Casey Visco
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Old July 19th, 2003, 04:08 AM   #3
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When shooting video, the absolute fastest way to go to low mode is to flip the rig upside down, adjust the gimbal to make it bottom-heavy again, and off you go. You simply flip the image right-side-up again in post. Obviously there's a modicum of rendering involved, but that's usually preferable to time on set. The other nice thing about this setup is that the camera is more rigidly mounted than if you use a cage (not familiar with Glidecam's low mode setup, but virtually all video low mode mounts are less than ideal). This will help reduce vibration.

The other way to minimize reset time is to build the rig at the beginning of the day to accomodate all the brackets and plates required, in other words have the low mode bracket and dovetails or quick release plates mounted for both low and high mode right from the start. Then it's a matter of flipping the camera over.

As Casey points out, marking the rig so that you can rough in the adjustments required to get you very close is the way to go. Once you get more familiar with the process, you can knock a substantial amount of time off the inversion process. Years ago I had a record 5 inversions over the course of a single day (hi to lo to hi to lo to hi to lo) and by the end, my assistant and I were clocking ourselves just for fun--we made a 90 second switch to low mode our last time out. It was an Arri SR2, with probably five cables to be restrung, monitor inversion, adding the J bracket etc...still haven't beaten that record, but I usually give an 8 minute estimate for inversion and deliver in 5 minutes. Had to do just that tonight in front of 20,000 extras at Miller Park--but I don't think any of them were timing us!

Oh, and the other thing about low-mode--it looks great on screen, but is a royal pain in the ass to operate, as you've probably noticed, John. I don't know any Steadicam operators who like being in low-mode. It's just one of the occupational hazards that come with the territory, like stairs and running!
Charles Papert
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Old July 20th, 2003, 09:33 AM   #4
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I have my low-mode kit on the floor here for my V16. I haven't attempted hooking it up yet. I do find the offset adapters handy though. Charles' upside down approach does seem to be alot easier! (and cheaper too, the low mode kit is a bit pricey)
Andrew | Canon XL1s, ME66, Vinten Vision 3, GlideCam V16 (for sale!)
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Old July 20th, 2003, 04:51 PM   #5
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Weird timing on all this, because we had another day with 20K extras yesterday, and the last shot up suddenly became low mode Steadicam. With 15 minutes left to go for the shooting day (otherwise the production would have incurred $20,000 in meal penalties), everyone was dubious if we could pull the switch to low mode off in time.

Thoughts of this thread flitted through my mind as I raced to the docking stand and told my assistant "we need to break all land-speed records! Go!". With three sets of hands on the rig, which was sporting a full-on Panaflex setup with a bunch of extra hardware onboard, we went into NASCAR pit crew mode and were lining up the shot maybe 2 minutes later. It was a bit of a rush!

Earlier in the night, however, we did a low mode running shot and when I checked playback, I saw an uncomfortable amount of vibration in the shot. I had to go check all the adjustment points on the rig to make sure they were tight and a few other tricks that are specific to my rig, but it is worth mentioning that when running it is essential to make sure that everything is buttoned-up, no loose parts flapping around. Low mode tends to exaggerate this phenomenon.

I have never seen a cage or wraparound bracket such as are used with the V16/20 or V/8, respectively, which didn't foster a certain amount of vibration. The problem is that the attachment point is so far from the center of gravity of the rig that any minute vibration can multiply by the time it reaches the CG. If you can find a way to wedge the top of the camera against the low mode bracket, that will help considerably . As I indicated, very few video cameras allow for secure fastening from the top side the way that film cameras do. For Betacam style bodies, there are clamps that attach to the handles, but the handles themselves are only so secure to the body so there is some potentially flexing there also.

For XL1 users who are serious about shooting low mode, you may want to look into have a custom plate made. The XL1 has two tie-down points (threaded 1/4-20 holes) on the bottom, which is a rarity in the DV world. A plate that allowed you to screw in to both of these holes (assuming you are not using the accessories that require attaching to the rear hole and then wrapped around the left side of the camera and over the top would help quite a bit with stability. Foregoing the viewfinder and having that plate secure to the viewfinder mount would make it completely rigid. A skilled machinist should be able to make such a thing.

Again, the quickest solution is to shoot inverted and flip in post.
Charles Papert
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