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Glidecam: Bodypod or Smooth Shooter?


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#1 Brian Rose

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Posted 02 December 2007 - 11:58 AM

Hello All,

Recently I purchased a used Glidecam Pro 4000 for my XL2. It is a wonderful device, and I've been having a great time learning to balance it properly, and practicing with it. However, it is not the lightest piece of equipment, and for my purposes, I know I'll be needing to get some kind of support for it in the near future.

I will be using it to shoot a documentary, specifically a biopic on James Polk. I'll be visiting historical sites, and I want the glidecam so I can do some nice tracking/walking shots of the homes he lived in, and the plantations that surrounded him. So that gives you an idea of what I'm after...nice, slow, steady, gliding shots, over which will be voice over narration. Almost meditative, if that's the right word. Nothing too fast or stylized. Nothing music video like.

Now, on to the question at hand. I'm faced with choosing between getting the glidecam bodypod, or the smooth shooter. Each has their pros and cons. The bodypod is much cheaper, which is good since I'm a grad student on something of a limited budget. But, the smooth shooter would certainly lend more to shock absorption and overall steadiness than the rigid bodypod. But it sure is pricey.

My question is: is it possible to, with a lot of practice, overcome the limitations of the bodypod? Or is it better to spend the extra money to get the support system for my glidecam that will better ensure steady, quality image capture? Any thoughts and opinions would be very much appreciated!
Best,
Brian Rose
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#2 Chris Keth

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Posted 03 December 2007 - 01:56 AM

I'd spend the extra money. The bodypod is an awful idea. It sits very strangely and is nearly impossible to use without imparting movement to the camera. It is also very uncomfortable and wouldn't do for more than a shot here and there.

By the way, why is this in the gripping section? :huh:

Edited by Chris Keth, 03 December 2007 - 01:57 AM.

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#3 Brian Rose

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Posted 03 December 2007 - 10:05 AM

By the way, why is this in the gripping section? :huh:


I posted here because there wasn't any forum (that I saw) dedicated to steadicam/glidecam/flycam/etc equipment, and since gripping has to do with more complex camera support like cranes, jibs and dollies, it seemed most appropriate here.

Brian
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#4 robert duke

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Posted 03 December 2007 - 11:17 AM

I posted here because there wasn't any forum (that I saw) dedicated to steadicam/glidecam/flycam/etc equipment, and since gripping has to do with more complex camera support like cranes, jibs and dollies, it seemed most appropriate here.

Brian



Off topic, but hey Brian, Do you ever get over to Jackson Falls? It is just east of you in the Shawnee forrest.
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#5 Brian Rose

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Posted 03 December 2007 - 11:43 AM

Off topic, but hey Brian, Do you ever get over to Jackson Falls? It is just east of you in the Shawnee forrest.


No I haven't. What's it like? Think it might be good scenery for my doc?
Best,
BR
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#6 Todd Ferguson

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Posted 03 December 2007 - 01:50 PM

There is a forum, it is called the SteadicamForum.com
It is dedicated to steadicam.

Todd Ferguson.
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#7 robert duke

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Posted 04 December 2007 - 01:41 PM

No I haven't. What's it like? Think it might be good scenery for my doc?
Best,
BR


It is a beautiful horseshoe canyon with a primitive campsite. I used to go climbing there years ago every weekend. It has some coll history. It is about 15 min from carbondale.
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#8 Brian Rose

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Posted 06 December 2007 - 10:52 PM

Thanks for the heads up Robert! I'll definitely put it on my list of sites to check out. I definitely want so scout as many spots as I can for stock footage.
Best,
Brian R.
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#9 Tim O'Connor

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Posted 08 December 2007 - 01:45 AM

Thanks for the heads up Robert! I'll definitely put it on my list of sites to check out. I definitely want so scout as many spots as I can for stock footage.
Best,
Brian R.



Maybe this will get in before you leave for other forums.

I really like the Glidecam 4000 but the bodypod is really just to let you rest. Glidecam's literature says
that you'll get smoother shots with the forearm brace than with the bodypod. Plus, with the forearm brace
you can rest by setting it down. It'll stand straight up, although I wouldn't walk away from it because
somebody or something could knock it and your camera over.


The Smooth Shooter is really nice but yeah it is a big $ jump for a lower budget.

I've learned that people tend to oversteer their Glidecams. You should use your steering thumb and
forefinger gently, miserly. Most people use it way too much.

Some people whine about balancing but once you get the hang out it, it's pretty quick. Keep in mind
the center of gravity and you'll get it right.

After using the Glidecam 4000 for a year, I tweaked it, with some help from a real experienced
Glidecam guru, and it was incredible. I walked 40 feet straight into a cross painted on a wall and I
barely, if at all, used my steering thumb and forefinger, and it looked like a dolly shot, a really good
dolly shot.

When you get to that level of balancing it perfectly, you may be as amazed as I was at how sensitive
the balancing is. I had it perfect and set it down, then put the lens cap on to see how that would affect
the balance. Maybe a little, right, you would guess?

The camera nosedived when I lifted it, all because of an extra ounce of plastic. That's how sensitive,
and therefore good, these can be when you balance them.

For a documentary, I would suggest balancing your Glidecam with your camera outfitted as you'll
use it, with battery, tape, microphone or receivers or whatever, and a quick release plate too.

You'll get great stuff and be able to move really fast between the Glidecam and tripod or anything else.
Get the forearm brace and spend the Smooth Shooter money on other stuff and buy one when you
do dramatic narrative stuff.

Glidecam occasionally offers operator workshops. They're pretty inexpensive (at least the official Glidecam
ones. I've seen some expensive ones offered by people who may very well be good but are independent
of Glidecam.)

Glidecam has some info. on its website plus they're pretty good if you call them up with a question.
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#10 Brian Rose

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Posted 08 December 2007 - 11:56 AM

Awesome reply. Check your pm. Thanks!
Best,
Brian Rose
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