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Steadicam Tips


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#1 Drew Hoffman

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Posted 29 September 2006 - 05:30 AM

I'm working on a project where there is a shot tracking someone as they walk through their house. I think this would work really well as a steadicam shot, but the catch is... I'd be the one operating and have never used a steadicam rig. If anyone has any advice on steadicam operating, I'd truly appreciate it.

Edited by Drew Hoffman, 29 September 2006 - 05:31 AM.

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#2 Daniel Smith

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Posted 29 September 2006 - 07:23 AM

I'm working on a project where there is a shot tracking someone as they walk through their house. I think this would work really well as a steadicam shot, but the catch is... I'd be the one operating and have never used a steadicam rig. If anyone has any advice on steadicam operating, I'd truly appreciate it.

What camera is going on top of it?

From what I know safety is the real issue with steadicam. Weight of the camera, making sure you have a clear path to walk along e.t.c.

If there's a heavy camera on top and you fall, it all comes down on your face.
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#3 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 29 September 2006 - 07:38 AM

I'm working on a project where there is a shot tracking someone as they walk through their house. I think this would work really well as a steadicam shot, but the catch is... I'd be the one operating and have never used a steadicam rig. If anyone has any advice on steadicam operating, I'd truly appreciate it.


Operating a Steadicam isn't something that you can just practice a couple of times and just do. It takes a lot of time to just get used to the rig on your body and a lot of practice to learn how to operate well.

I'll be the first one to suggest that you SHOULD always try new things and push the envelope, however in this situation, learning how to do it for the first time on an actual project isn't the best way to go about it. I sincerely suggest that you find someone who specializes in Steadicam to come in for the day. You may get a decent shot if you choose to do it yourself, but you'll likely be assured of getting the shot if you spring for an experienced operator.
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#4 Bryan Fowler

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Posted 29 September 2006 - 10:00 AM

I'd be the one operating and have never used a steadicam rig. If anyone has any advice on steadicam operating, I'd truly appreciate it.


Hi Drew,

If you have even the smallest budget it would be very well worth trying to find someone that owns a rig that would come out. If I was nearby I would.

I rented a rig form a friend of mine, he spent a day with me practicing, teaching me as much as he could. I then practiced for another day, and then shot for a week with the rig. I later bought it from him and have been to a few workshops.

My footage was alright, but not great.

Daniel is right, safety is a concern. You don't want to borrow a rig, then have to pay for it's repair, as well as the camera.

yeah.... I just read what Brian said. I agree...find an operator.

Good luck!
Bryan
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#5 Drew Hoffman

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Posted 29 September 2006 - 03:03 PM

As far as the camera, it'll be a Sony DSR-PD170. Also, it's not a huge production. It's a project for class that's designed to be a one shot. I mostly thought about it as a way to try something new and gain a little extra experience. I'm not sure how much I'd want to find an operator and almost would rather just do it handheld if it's implausible to do it myself. So, is it?
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#6 Bryan Fowler

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Posted 29 September 2006 - 03:12 PM

As far as the camera, it'll be a Sony DSR-PD170. Also, it's not a huge production. It's a project for class that's designed to be a one shot. I mostly thought about it as a way to try something new and gain a little extra experience. I'm not sure how much I'd want to find an operator and almost would rather just do it handheld if it's implausible to do it myself. So, is it?


What rig do you have access to? Any operators you know? Have you checked the url=SOA website?]http://www.steadicam-ops.com/index.shtml[/url]

It can be done with no experience.
It's more a question of will the resulting footage help, or hurt the story. And not having the experience to know what your footage will look like in advance, makes it hard to answer that.

That camera is a light camera, so if you get a lightweight rig, you are in less danger of damage to either the rig, camera, or human....key word, LESS.. =)

Am I helping? or making you shake your head. =)

bryan
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#7 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 29 September 2006 - 03:27 PM

As far as the camera, it'll be a Sony DSR-PD170. Also, it's not a huge production. It's a project for class that's designed to be a one shot. I mostly thought about it as a way to try something new and gain a little extra experience. I'm not sure how much I'd want to find an operator and almost would rather just do it handheld if it's implausible to do it myself. So, is it?


That's different. If I'm thinking correctly, you should be able to use a Steadicam Jr. for that. It still takes practice, but the learning curve is a bit quicker than a pro rig. You can help yourself out a lot by using the widest lens you've got to help smooth out the bumps.

I would avoid handheld though. Anything but that.
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#8 Drew Hoffman

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Posted 30 September 2006 - 11:30 AM

Am I helping? or making you shake your head. =)


It's helping me, it certainly has given me a lot more to consider. Now I'm just wondering what kind of techniques would make a steadicam shot look best. If not for this time, then for future references as well.
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#9 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 30 September 2006 - 11:43 AM

It's helping me, it certainly has given me a lot more to consider. Now I'm just wondering what kind of techniques would make a steadicam shot look best. If not for this time, then for future references as well.


The first thing is to not make it look like a Steadicam shot. :D In other words, you wouldn't want the elements of the shot to draw so much attention to itself that the audience says to themselves, "Wow, that was a great Steadicam shot" instead of them watching the story.

That said, one of the first things I was taught was to not think of yourself as a Steadicam Operator, but instead to think of yourself as just an Operator. All the normal ideals hold....keep the shot steady, watch your headroom, create pleasant framing, etc etc...

To add additional "coolness" to the moving shot, passing foreground elements is a plus, using walls to "wipe" the frame, don't go so crazy that the audience gets motionsickness....unless that's the point of the shot, of course.
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#10 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 01 October 2006 - 05:45 PM

I would suggest that you don't do the shot yourself. It's true that with a light camera and light rig you probably don't have many safety concerns, but the other concerns are why you shouldn't do it. Unless you train for months in advance with the rig the chances of getting a shot that you like are very slim. Sure, you'll probably be able to keep your subject in frame, but I assume you want more control than that, and without a good amount of time in a rig you're not going to have much control at all. So you'll most likely be unhappy with the shot....and why would you want that? Also, just because the camera and rig are light, doesn't mean that your body is prepared for it. Even the lightest rigs put forces on your body that can become very taxing very quickly if you're not used to flying a rig, so you may not be able to make it through the shot or do more than a few takes.
My suggestion would be to find someone who is just starting out in steadicam to help you out, or do it handheld.
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#11 TJ Williams

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Posted 01 October 2006 - 11:26 PM

NO Dolly? floor too rough?..... Why do you need steadicam? If you need Steadi then you need the operator just that simple. I'm both a steadi. op and a wheels op. steadi was harder to learn.

So no budget and determined to do it yourself!!!!

Why not just rig your self onto some apple boxes stacked n stitched to a doorway dolly can't afford a dolly borrow a grocery cart or steal one from a homeless person put some pads inside. or sit in a wheel chair with some pads/boxes etc to raise the seat. All this is better because it has less cost (since you seem to have no money to spend) and it doesn't raise the issue of you trying to do this hand held making it look like news or trying to learn to operate a difficult device. Main thing is use a wide lens to smooth this out as much as possible.
good luck
TJ
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#12 Sebastian Matthias

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Posted 02 October 2006 - 03:38 AM

Hello !
Unless You have stairs in the house. a wheelchair is an excellent,cheap option.
I wouldn´t try to use a steadicam if You are not an operator or at least had some practise with it.It´s quite a difficult scill to learn and really needs practise. Maybe those little handheld steadicams would work (was it steadi-stick?).you know,the ones without arm and west.I have never worked with it,but i think they work with a small camera like that.
just an idea.

good luck


Sebastian
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#13 Dino Giammattei

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Posted 08 October 2006 - 07:30 AM

If you use anything with wheels, try laying down several layers of indoor/outdoor carpeting. You can always find scraps of this stuff if you try. It has the interesting effect of dampening the tiny vibrations that ruin the look of a moving shot. It also creates a little drag on the wheels that helps in maintaining a consistent speed, . I have used this with everything from office chairs and wheelchairs, little kid wagons, to my favorite improvised dolly, a large heavy industrial flatbed cart with pneumatic tires. Of course the dolly grip, or grips, have to practice the move a gazillion times, and you have to be prepared to do a bunch of takes, but I've saved a ton of time and money for people doing this.

WARNING: This can work so well it might get you on the wrong side of the real dolly operators. One individual still won't speak to me, and it's been seven years.

old uncle dino
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