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-   -   My advice for those interested in Homebuilt stabilizers or steadicams (https://www.dvinfo.net/forum/stabilizers-steadicam-etc/31537-my-advice-those-interested-homebuilt-stabilizers-steadicams.html)

Charles King September 7th, 2004 02:44 PM

My advice for those interested in Homebuilt stabilizers or steadicams
Hi all, it's me again. I thought i'll share my experince and knowledge about this slowly growing genre to those who are interested or who are contemplating such a venture. It's a long article so please bear with me.

Due to all the interest and confusion I decided to sum up everything into one little article for those concerns. I hope it helps everyone. So here goes:

Homebuilt rigs are not for everybody let alone building them. Regardless of what people say, it takes time and patience. Some would think it's as easy as just knocking two pieces of metal together.

It's only easy if you are not too serious about it and really don't mind the quality of the finish work. Another thing that people don't think is regardless of the unit, you must practice to get perfect shots. Charles Papert has stated this time and time again, and I concur hundred times over.

One thing I don't do is, encourage people to build. I prefer to inspire than to say go out and build one and you will get perfect shots.

There are certain elements that need special attention - like the gimbal for instance. One false move and you'll pay for it with the system going of balance regularly. I always say, if you want a descent gimbal then get it machined. You won't regret.

The gimbal is simply not to be taken too literally), a bearing system that allows the sled to rotate freely in all three of it's axis. It is made up of bearings which control the pan, tilt and roll of the sled. It is simply a part of the steadicam system that helps control the sled with it's mounted camera in time and space and at the same time helps in preventing outside forces from acting upon the sled.

To be exact, it uses inertia to resist rotation whenever a force imminates through the steadicam Arm. It is also responsible for placing the sled at it's center of gravity or CG, or usually just below it. It is also one of the most important part in the steadicam system. Next comes the arm.

I have chosen to build my system and have been doing so for the past 7 1/2 years. Boy! that long?!! Well, I enjoy it. I always try to better the system even if it means spending more time. That's the key, having the time to produce something of quality will result in a happy operator - ME!

You have to know what you want in a system and what you are willing to sacrifice in order to get the system that you want. Sure you can build a hand held version and practice with it. If it's not a hobby then you will crave for something better and that's where a full rig will come to play.

Don't be discourage by what I'm saying. It's better to know the truth up front and be prepared than walking in ingnorant to the facts. One thing is certain - it can be done but you have to be willing to go the extra mile.

If you're serious about building yourself a full rig then you got to understand what the job entails. It' really takes time.
Again, before I even start my ranting you gotta ask yourself if it is worth it in the first place. If you want something quick that will get you up practising right away then save your time and buy a commercial one. It all depends what you want. Simple stabilizers? Will you be doing lots of shots with it; long shots, short ones?

You know, that kind of stuff. Yep, many questions. There are many pros and cons about building a stabilizer, whether simple or complicated. You have to decide on your preference and how much work you are willing to put into it.

Many people here will tell you to just buy one and save yourself the headache. They will say homebuilt rigs don't work. Well, we know the truth about that one now, don't we? As for me, I went ahead and built mine, knowing exactly what I was getting into.

Seven years later, I havn't regreted. Like I mentioned. If you have the time and pateince then by all means but your criterias will decide the path you will choose. I'm a person who hates when people say 'it can't be done' Well they said you couldn't get a man on the moon, right? Well, what do you say now?

So the question is, can a homebuilt perform just as well as the a commercial rig of the same calibre? The answer is yes. But only if the build methods are met with tight tolerance. I've said this many many times. You have to know what your criterias are and how far you are willing to go to pay for that extra perfection.

In the end it's the operator who decides the end result. You can look at as many homemade stabilizers to see the result but the fact of the matter if you don't know how to use a stabilizer and you see a bad clip it should not ultimately be decided that the result is from a badly built stabilizer, right?

Like Charles Papert said:

...is that a skilled operator can do more with a lesser rig than a novice with the best rig available. ...But only if the operator is has the patience to put in the practice time and learn the skill, 'cause no mechanical stabilizer is plug-and-play by their very nature...
There is one tape I truely love. It's an instructional video Jerry did together with Ted Churchill before his death. The instructional video was done when the EFP first came out way back. don't remember the exact year. Now that was a video worth buying. I've learned so much viewing that video, even though I didn't have the EFP.

Ted did such a terrific job in his explainations it's a joy just watching him at work. Both Ted(at the time) and Jerry are wonderful at what they do. It's a joy watching true pros at what they do best.

Oh yeah, here is a link I posted of a member of HBS who flew a film camera with his HomeBuilt rig :


It certainly gives people some inspiration.

So, that's it. I know this is a long post but I hope it has all the necessary explaination for anyone wanting to build a rig. Thanks for reaching this far.

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