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tracks or steadicam


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#1 LondonFilmMan

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Posted 07 February 2006 - 12:31 PM

Hi all:

I am going to be filming lots of tracking movements over rough ground/paved road, 10m-20m tracking shots from side, and on the road and want to ask, do you think steadicam is a better than dolly tracks? What is cheaper and will give me more versatility?

Edited by LondonFilmMan, 07 February 2006 - 12:37 PM.

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#2 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 07 February 2006 - 12:53 PM

Hi all:

I am going to be filming lots of tracking movements over rough ground/paved road, 10m-20m tracking shots from side, and on the road and want to ask, do you think steadicam on a better than dolly tracks? What is cheaper and will give me more versatility?


Both could do the job, costs depend on the dolly or Steadicam model you want to use (the Steadicam model will depend on which format you're shooting on). The Steadicam may need a remote focus control fitted, which adds to your costs. How many shots are involved? Do you see the ground you've just moved across? What lenses do you want to use? Longer focal lengths require a more skilled Steadicam operator, but are less difficult for the camera mounted on a dolly using tracks.

However, the Steadicam should allow you to shoot a lot faster, with less setting up time between set ups.
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#3 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 07 February 2006 - 01:25 PM

A grip with track & dolly (a Fisher 11, for instance) will set you back about £600+ vat a day. Steadicam operators are frequently around £1k per day. So, hiring a grip will be cheaper, but you'll probably get more done with a Steadicam, purely because you won't be laying track.

Aside from financial considerations and time, there are certain types of shots that are better done from a dolly than a steadicam, and vice versa.
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#4 timHealy

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Posted 07 February 2006 - 01:52 PM

However, the Steadicam should allow you to shoot a lot faster, with less setting up time between set ups.


That is not necessarily true. Steadicam can easily be more complicated because there are no marks to hit etc, etc. Using it could be more complicated. Repeatability may be off each take. It depends on each individual shot.

Aside from financial considerations and time, there are certain types of shots that are better done from a dolly than a steadicam, and vice versa.


This is absolutely true. Each shot needs to be looked at objectively for what is trying to be accomplished.

Best

Tim

Edited by heel_e, 07 February 2006 - 01:53 PM.

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#5 John Dann

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Posted 07 February 2006 - 02:07 PM

Hi all:

I am going to be filming lots of tracking movements over rough ground/paved road, 10m-20m tracking shots from side, and on the road and want to ask, do you think steadicam is a better than dolly tracks? What is cheaper and will give me more versatility?


Hi londonFilmMan,
Take a look at www.makohead.com camera head stabilizer.
See demo with track on car carrier.
john
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#6 Jessica Bennett

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Posted 07 February 2006 - 03:07 PM

Hi londonFilmMan,
Take a look at www.makohead.com camera head stabilizer.
See demo with track on car carrier.
john


First, you gotta love that Makohead. It's obviously incredible! Love at first sight! Oh My Mako!
Also, you gotta love that Steadycam or Dolly. Pick one look. And don't forget Mako.
But last, remember you can put your steadycam op. (if you already have one) on wheels to ride, with or without a garfield mount. Almost any wheels - without track.
So what's more affordable? Steady or Mako? What is this world coming to?

I Love Grip.
Jessica Bennett
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#7 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 07 February 2006 - 03:09 PM

Hi,

If you just want linear dolly-style moves without having to lay down the track, you could get someone capable of doing that for a lot less than £1000/day. Me, for instance.

Phil
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#8 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 07 February 2006 - 03:58 PM

That is not necessarily true. Steadicam can easily be more complicated because there are no marks to hit etc, etc. Using it could be more complicated. Repeatability may be off each take. It depends on each individual shot.
This is absolutely true. Each shot needs to be looked at objectively for what is trying to be accomplished.

Best

Tim


Straight tracks shouldn't be a problem with the Steadicam, you can put down marks if required. The main problem outside tends to be wind, that came really upset things unless you have windshields.

The best tool for the job depends on the style of shots you want to shoot.
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#9 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 07 February 2006 - 08:21 PM

A dolly is cheaper than steadicam upfront. But that may not be the case by the time you've done all the overtime you may have to do in order to get all your shots done. On rough terrain dealing with tracks can be a real pain, but with steadicam dealing with rough terrain is a snap in most situations.
Either tool can do the job, but I think if you make the decision based solely on money you may be tripping over dollars to pick up pennies.
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#10 Jonathan Bryant

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Posted 08 February 2006 - 03:16 AM

How much does a MakoHead run? Can you rent them?
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#11 Stephen Williams

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Posted 08 February 2006 - 05:09 AM

Hi all:

I am going to be filming lots of tracking movements over rough ground/paved road, 10m-20m tracking shots from side, and on the road and want to ask, do you think steadicam is a better than dolly tracks? What is cheaper and will give me more versatility?


Hi,

What format are you shooting? A heavy 35mm camera can exaust a steadycam operator quite quickly. A lighter camera will cost more to rent.

I had a shoot with a steadycam, using an Arri III on a football pitch. I was so dissapointed with the results I had to reeshoot most of the shoots the following day on a dolly!

Stephen
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#12 John Dann

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Posted 08 February 2006 - 11:21 AM

How much does a MakoHead run? Can you rent them?


Daily rentals $1000.00, See "Contact" on http://www.makohead.com
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#13 Jon Rosenbloom

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Posted 08 February 2006 - 11:25 AM

I think the answer would come out of tech scout and discussion w/ your grip and operator. You can accomplish some pretty smooth shots w/ a western dolly and a Chapman motion isolator ... Maybe you can design the day so you move the track only two or three times ... Or, track being relatively cheap, you could rent a whole bunch of it and pre-rig different shots ...

Edited by J-Ro, 08 February 2006 - 11:27 AM.

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#14 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 08 February 2006 - 06:58 PM

Hi,

What format are you shooting? A heavy 35mm camera can exaust a steadycam operator quite quickly. A lighter camera will cost more to rent.

Stephen

As long as you avoid non-steadicam friendly cameras such as BL's and GII's, it shouldn't be a problem. An Arri III isn't a heavy camera, so I doubt the weight was the problem. In any situation where a dolly can be used efficiently instead of steadicam, it should. The steadicam is not a replacement for a dolly and shouldn't be used as such. I don't mean to say that that's what you were doing Stephen.
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#15 Stephen Williams

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Posted 09 February 2006 - 10:21 AM

As long as you avoid non-steadicam friendly cameras such as BL's and GII's, it shouldn't be a problem. An Arri III isn't a heavy camera, so I doubt the weight was the problem. In any situation where a dolly can be used efficiently instead of steadicam, it should. The steadicam is not a replacement for a dolly and shouldn't be used as such. I don't mean to say that that's what you were doing Stephen.


Hi,

The producer wanted to use steadycam because he wanted to save money! not because we needed one. It was a very hot mid summer's day (40 degrees), and we needed fairly fast moves. The poor steadycam operator was just exausted and dripping with sweat after the first hour and a half!

Stephen
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#16 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 09 February 2006 - 02:31 PM

Hi,

The producer wanted to use steadycam because he wanted to save money! not because we needed one. It was a very hot mid summer's day (40 degrees), and we needed fairly fast moves. The poor steadycam operator was just exausted and dripping with sweat after the first hour and a half!

Stephen

I can relate to that. Gotta have the right tools for the job.
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#17 Lars.Erik

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Posted 16 February 2006 - 04:49 PM

Just finished a 5-week shoot in the Arziona desert with a Vector Steadicam. This is a place with very rough terrain.

One thing that is pure hell is the wind as said. The operator will need antlers if it's a windy place. That said, the steadicam did give us some amazing shots. We never did want to bring a dolly due to the rough terrain. I am very happy I brought my steadicam. But not all shots work on steadicam. If the tracking shots are very slow, then I think this is better to do with a dolly.

And the lens choice is also very important. But in general, a dolly is a more precise tool than a Steadicam. Unless you have Larry McConkey as the operator... :D

Edited by Lars.Erik, 16 February 2006 - 04:50 PM.

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#18 Laurent Andrieux

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Posted 16 February 2006 - 06:17 PM

I second the fact that, unfortunatley, producers and directors sometimes think to use a steadicam because they think it's cheaper than a dolly on tracks.

But one should consider the fact that a steadicam is far less precise than a dolly on track. For instance, as a director, you can discuss the rehersals and obtain changes that you won't obtain with a steadicam because it has a lot of technical detail limitations that keep from doing what you want.

Personnaly, I hate the fact someone is suffering to operate the machine, just because the production wanted to save money, while the shot could be done with a tracking dollie, with nobody suffering. And I'm not talking of the eventual injuries that mauy occure if the guy falls...

I also know the situation of having to retake/reshoot stuff that was done by a steadicam operator, whether it was because the guy wasn't good enough or because of the wind.

My default choice would be dolly tracking, and if you can't do it with a tracking dollie or any other way, choose the steadicam.
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#19 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 16 February 2006 - 06:56 PM

Hi,

It depends where you are. The quality of operators in the UK is generally very low unless you get one of the big three or four (the "identfiable by first name" guys, where those names are Roger, Alf etc).

And even if you do have a complete expert, it will still never be as precise as a dolly.

Phil
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#20 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 17 February 2006 - 11:40 PM

They're really design for different aplications I have both a steadcam (well Hollywood lite ) and a track dolly. The track dolly is fantastic for reletively short camera moves w/ or w/out a craning move. It tends to be perfectly smooth every time but is limiting and not practical in many situations (i.e. large crowds, certain angles and prspectives, very tight spaces ect.) Operating a Steadycam is kind of an art in it'self. You can't just strap one on and hope to get perfectly smooth shots. It has to be setup (which takes time) and used properly. It takes practice and plenty of it to get good results. You would have to hire an operator which would costs more than renting a dolly so costwise, it's a wash. But if you have a shot over a variety of terrain or an exceptionally long moving shot or if you what to move your camera in certain ways, it's fantasrtic. So in answer to your question which is better the answer is neather, they're only better for a specific shot and not as good for another. Dolly shots are far more common in most productions so if you HAVE to pick one I'd probably go with a dolly.

Edited by Capt.Video, 17 February 2006 - 11:45 PM.

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