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Help with hand held F 900


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#1 Frank Barrera

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Posted 14 March 2006 - 09:53 PM

Ugh. The F 900 is so freakin heavy and then you add matt box and rods and down converter and two audio recievers and brick. We wieghed it and it's 36 pounds. I am shooting a seven week reality TV show that's 70 % hand held with lots of "MTV styled" zooms and dutched angles and all the rest. After two days I am ready to quit.

But I won't... The question is this: Does anyone know of a high tech gel pad that can be used on the shoulder to cushion the pressure this rig puts on the old shoulder? Something designed for handheld work.

I am currently using a thick gel cover for a bicycle seat. It works alright but has gotten permanetly smooshed down pretty thin. Not to mention it slides all over the place when I put the camera up. (And I don't even have a dedicated utility to help me with the camera 100% of the time.)

Any suggestions out there?

Thanks

FB

Edited by Frank Barrera, 14 March 2006 - 09:55 PM.

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#2 Frank Barrera

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Posted 16 March 2006 - 10:03 PM

okay well how about this:

If I invented something for this purpose would anyone buy it? Let's say it cost around $50 US.
Does anyone see a need for something like this or am i just a big baby when it comes to heavy cameras on the shoulder?


Thanks

FB
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#3 Eric Steelberg ASC

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Posted 16 March 2006 - 10:33 PM

I consider myself well informed on your particular situation.

I shot about 95% of QUINCEAƑERA handheld on the Panavized F900 which weighed in at 43lbs. This was over three weeks.

What I did was take some scrap duvetyne and some foam (carefully cut out of a camera case) and wrap the foam with a few layers of the duvetyne. I then wrapped tape around that. It worked pretty well.

But it's not going to eliminate the weight, just prevent bruising on your shoulder.

The problem isn't the weight itself, but rather the inbalance of weight between the two sides of your body. It bends your back sideways and then you tighten the muscles on the opposite side of the weight to try and keep yourself straight.

Occasionally when it was bad I would ADD weight to the opposite shoulder by taking a shot bag or two and tape them on my shoulder (around my torso). It REALLY helps having weight on the other shoulder. Sure it's 0-70lbs totoal BUT your better balanced side to side and it relieves a lot of stress on your back.
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#4 Frank Barrera

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Posted 17 March 2006 - 11:29 PM

"Occasionally when it was bad I would ADD weight to the opposite shoulder by taking a shot bag or two and tape them on my shoulder (around my torso). It REALLY helps having weight on the other shoulder. Sure it's 0-70lbs totoal BUT your better balanced side to side and it relieves a lot of stress on your back."

Soooo, you're like some type of super hero or something? I mean I'm in decent shape but 70 POUNDS? I only wiegh 160 as it is. I couldn't imagine. Yes I realize that the pad will not help with the wieght- just the bruising. I have tried the duvatine foam trick but it doesn't protect my bony shoulder so much.

I suppose I should look into adding a some wieght to my left side. ( I can't believe I just wrote that...)

Anyway today we shot and I experimented with my bike seat gel cover and some velcro and attached it to the suspenders of the back support belt that I usually wear when doing hand held. It worked well but I still need to work out some kinks...

And so it goes...


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#5 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 18 March 2006 - 02:16 AM

This has been a problem for operators doing handheld for years. There is no real solution, only some kind of fix that works best for you. I've found that when you do a lot of handheld over an extended period of time you get used to the weight and the forces it puts on your body. No amount of padding has ever really helped me. I've used weight as a counter balance on occasion to make the camera balance on my shoulder, but I've pretty much given up on the padding. After a certain amount of time the padding is no longer helping anyway. I'd like to give you an easy solution, but I'm afraid I haven't found one yet.
Regarding Eric's solution of adding weight on the other shoulder.....I can see that helping. 70lbs well balanced is much easier to live with than 45lbs unbalanced. Steadicam is a perfect example of this.
I'm currently doing a TV show that is about 95% handheld with the worst camera I've ever used. Balance, usablility and ergonomics are atrocious, and we're often doing 20 minute takes and longer. And since this is a brand new camera (XL1H), there are no shoulder brackets available yet. On the first day I thought my arms were going to fall off, but after the first week I'm feeling a lot better, and my arms are hurting less. My body is getting used to it.
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#6 Rupe Whiteman

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Posted 18 March 2006 - 05:28 AM

This has been a problem for operators doing handheld for years. There is no real solution, only some kind of fix that works best for you. I've found that when you do a lot of handheld over an extended period of time you get used to the weight and the forces it puts on your body. No amount of padding has ever really helped me. I've used weight as a counter balance on occasion to make the camera balance on my shoulder, but I've pretty much given up on the padding. After a certain amount of time the padding is no longer helping anyway. I'd like to give you an easy solution, but I'm afraid I haven't found one yet.
Regarding Eric's solution of adding weight on the other shoulder.....I can see that helping. 70lbs well balanced is much easier to live with than 45lbs unbalanced. Steadicam is a perfect example of this.
I'm currently doing a TV show that is about 95% handheld with the worst camera I've ever used. Balance, usablility and ergonomics are atrocious, and we're often doing 20 minute takes and longer. And since this is a brand new camera (XL1H), there are no shoulder brackets available yet. On the first day I thought my arms were going to fall off, but after the first week I'm feeling a lot better, and my arms are hurting less. My body is getting used to it.


... Modular51.com make a purpose-built shoulder pad for operators... give it a go... or make up a pad with bubble-wrap and gaffer tape...!

Here's to the end of back-ache!

Rupe Whiteman
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#7 Frank Barrera

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Posted 18 March 2006 - 06:22 AM

Rupe,

Thanks so much for the link to modular. Yes, I like the modular pad design.
http://www.modular51...&products_id=20
The straps are the key part. But it is just foam and I think a gel material is much better... mmm...
"what's he building in there...?" Tom Waits



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#8 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 18 March 2006 - 10:22 AM

Hi,

I suspect many XL1/2 accessories will work with the XLH1. Also, look in the box it came in for the pro battery plate, if you aren't already using one. The HD100 balances way, way better with the IDX mount on the back and a couple of batteries stacked up - I'm sure the same will be true of the XLH1.

But yeah, they're dire ergonomically. Pictures quite nice though.

Phil
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#9 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 18 March 2006 - 12:20 PM

Book yourself a deep tissue massage for the end of every shooting week, and a visit to the osteopath/chiropractor of your choice for the end of the shoot.

I'm not being glib. I did a 12 twelve week reality show a few years back, and this was what got me through it.
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#10 Tim J Durham

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Posted 18 March 2006 - 12:40 PM

Book yourself a deep tissue massage for the end of every shooting week, and a visit to the osteopath/chiropractor of your choice for the end of the shoot.

I'm not being glib. I did a 12 twelve week reality show a few years back, and this was what got me through it.


I second the chiropractor. People think they're suspect because they don't get "cured" in one visit. Thing is, you keep injuring your back the same way again and again. Particularly shooting handheld. Massages are always good.

After a trip to Foam-Mart and hours spent trying to customize a pad for my shoulder, I decided that I wasn't going to do any better than a folded up towel. Another thing that helps is swaying as opposed to trying to act like you've got the cam on a tripod. I spose you need to work that out beforehand with the producer, though. I did.
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#11 Rupe Whiteman

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Posted 18 March 2006 - 07:37 PM

Rupe,

Thanks so much for the link to modular. Yes, I like the modular pad design.
http://www.modular51...&products_id=20
The straps are the key part. But it is just foam and I think a gel material is much better... mmm...
"what's he building in there...?" Tom Waits
FB


... I understand your point - though if the foam support is of the right density it should work... I notice they do replacement pads for it so therefore I presume it unzips - so why not take out the foam pad provided and install a gel one?

... just a thought,

Rupe
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#12 Frank Barrera

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Posted 18 March 2006 - 07:53 PM

exactly. i am going to order one next week and replace the inside with gel.

thanks

FB
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#13 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 20 March 2006 - 12:03 AM

Hi,

I suspect many XL1/2 accessories will work with the XLH1. Also, look in the box it came in for the pro battery plate, if you aren't already using one. The HD100 balances way, way better with the IDX mount on the back and a couple of batteries stacked up - I'm sure the same will be true of the XLH1.

But yeah, they're dire ergonomically. Pictures quite nice though.

Phil

Between myself, the other two operators, the DP, and the rental house rep, we've looked at and ruled out just about every option for one reason or another. We would like to have a shoulder mount fabricated so that we could add Anton Bauers to the back for counter balance, but by the time we get something made the first run of production will be over. I think it's the only option though if the series get picked up for more episodes.
I'm sure the camera looks nice (I haven't seen any dailes yet) but what a crap camera to work with! It won out by a slim margin over the P2 because of the recording medium.
That shoulder pad that someone linked sure looks nice for other handheld work.
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#14 Tim J Durham

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Posted 20 March 2006 - 06:58 AM

Between myself, the other two operators, the DP, and the rental house rep, we've looked at and ruled out just about every option for one reason or another. We would like to have a shoulder mount fabricated so that we could add Anton Bauers to the back for counter balance, but by the time we get something made the first run of production will be over. I think it's the only option though if the series get picked up for more episodes.
I'm sure the camera looks nice (I haven't seen any dailes yet) but what a crap camera to work with! It won out by a slim margin over the P2 because of the recording medium.
That shoulder pad that someone linked sure looks nice for other handheld work.


Have you tried a Spiderbrace? $70.00. It looks ridiculous but I just bought one to shoot handheld with a Z1 and it actually helps. I attached a varizoom LAN controller to the right side handle and if you position it right, it works pretty well. You've got zoom and a roll button off the camera body, sort of like an ENG pistol grip.

It weighs nothing and it's MUCH better weight-distribution-wise.
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#15 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 22 March 2006 - 01:28 AM

Have you tried a Spiderbrace?

I haven't seen that before. It looks good in theory, but the thing that goes on your shoulder looks like it wouldn't be very comfortable since there is very little padding. Is it better than it looks? This may be a good solution. I'll look into it.
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#16 Mike Brennan

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Posted 22 March 2006 - 06:18 PM

Lightwight mattbox is key.
Slim Graphite battery
An in-between battery and camera adapter that has multiple lemo outputs to power
1/Lightweight blackbox video timecode sender
2/ Lightweight postage stamp sized sender (if you have on board down convertor)
3/ radio mic
Arri pistol grip that bolts to arri dove plate (replaces sony camera dove plate)
Carefull positioning of viewfinder to prevent neck strain. Try different magnification monoculars, there are a few types for Sony cameras.

A back tip that has worked for me,
Before your back gets too tired;
Lay down on floor, bend knees upright so heels touching thighs, arms by side palms toward ceiling.
This will relax the back muscles and prevent spasms.
The back is one of the few muscles that does not "give up" before damaging itself, you must stop before you get tired as the back muscles will keep supporting you to the point of self destruction, probably a hangover from cave man days.

Touch wood, 25 years of hand holding these video cameras I haven't had a back problem but have laid down in the most inconvenient of places!

Never needed to see a chiro and no I do not work out.

I did strain a knee ligament by over extension, raising from squat positon to standing with camera.

Mike Brennan
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#17 Frank Barrera

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Posted 22 March 2006 - 08:03 PM

Ahhh. So it can be done. I will heed your words.

Thanks
FB


Lightwight mattbox is key.
Slim Graphite battery
An in-between battery and camera adapter that has multiple lemo outputs to power
1/Lightweight blackbox video timecode sender
2/ Lightweight postage stamp sized sender (if you have on board down convertor)
3/ radio mic
Arri pistol grip that bolts to arri dove plate (replaces sony camera dove plate)
Carefull positioning of viewfinder to prevent neck strain. Try different magnification monoculars, there are a few types for Sony cameras.

A back tip that has worked for me,
Before your back gets too tired;
Lay down on floor, bend knees upright so heels touching thighs, arms by side palms toward ceiling.
This will relax the back muscles and prevent spasms.
The back is one of the few muscles that does not "give up" before damaging itself, you must stop before you get tired as the back muscles will keep supporting you to the point of self destruction, probably a hangover from cave man days.

Touch wood, 25 years of hand holding these video cameras I haven't had a back problem but have laid down in the most inconvenient of places!

Never needed to see a chiro and no I do not work out.

I did strain a knee ligament by over extension, raising from squat positon to standing with camera.

Mike Brennan


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#18 Michael Nash

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Posted 23 March 2006 - 12:12 AM

Would an "Easyrig" help balance the load any? I've never used one myself, and of course the contraption creates its own problems.

I do a fair bit of handheld with cameras that are more in 30-ish pound range; I can't imagine doing 40 for extended periods! On the last TV show I DP'd we used to regularly "die" on a long hand-held scene once a week. If I got too tired by the end of the day, I simply turned A & B camera duties over to the B & C operators (who typically hadn't worked quite as hard earlier in the day).

On a previous reality show, once a week I would do hand held pretty much ALL day, call to wrap. It never failed, as soon as I would dismount the camera during a lull in the action, just to stretch my arm and back, my producer would say, "did you get (x) and (y)?" -- like I was slacking off or something. I learned to simply not book anything for the next day after that particular day of the week. Not always an option, I'm sure.

In the absence of counterweight on the opposite shoulder, I've found that having a properly balanced camera makes a HUGE difference in the fatigue factor. Sometimes it's actually better to ADD weight in the form of a heavier battery in back or matte box up front if the load isn't distributed right. The worst is that wireless receiver bracket in the back that makes the camera right-heavy. And having a matte box to grab onto with the left hand is way better than having your bicep cramp up by holding the barrel all day.

Bear in mind that I've been doing this for at least 15 years am I'm in decent shape, so I'm not just being a wuss!
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#19 John Cummings

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Posted 23 March 2006 - 09:00 AM

I'm in the same boat on an HGTV show that's almost all hand held. I bought the dual heavy-duty handles from Chrosziel that attach to the front mounting plate. They allow me to distribute some of the weight onto my arms, and that makes a big difference. Going dutch on shots is much easier and overall it makes gliding the camera around these houses look much, much better. I can't say enough about these handles. The only downside is you only get VTR stop-start on the right handle....no servo zoom. I'm currently looking into mounting a zoom control on it. Another hassle is you can't easily set the camera down on the floor. I usually look for a chair to park it on between takes or keep my tripod somewhere nearby.
Hang in there buddy, we all feel your pain.
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#20 Frank Barrera

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Posted 23 March 2006 - 09:37 AM

"I'm in the same boat on an HGTV show"


That's funny because my show is also HGTV. mmm...


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