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can't we made our own steadicam


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#1 VijayVeluvolu

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Posted 20 June 2010 - 02:41 PM

hi

i want make my own Steadicam rig(like original),Is it possible or not.i know mechanism of Steadicam,but i have a doubt after making rig ,how can i prepare follow focus ring and motor.i stuck here.

i need some more details,weight of vest,pilot arm and gimbal etc..

Thanks
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#2 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 20 June 2010 - 03:04 PM

You can, people regularly do, although it is a complex device and will require an awful lot of mechanical ingenuity. There is a sliding scale of cost, mechanical complexity, weight capacity and quality of results, but that's the case with commercial equipment, too.


Look here: http://homebuiltstabilizers.com/

Much of it is also down to the skill of the operator, regardless of the quality of the equipment.

P
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#3 Keith Walters

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Posted 20 June 2010 - 06:30 PM

hi

i want make my own Steadicam rig(like original),Is it possible or not.i know mechanism of Steadicam,but i have a doubt after making rig ,how can i prepare follow focus ring and motor.i stuck here.

i need some more details,weight of vest,pilot arm and gimbal etc..

Thanks

Except for very lightweight models, the engineering required to make a completely reliable steadicam unit is generally beyond the capabilities of otherwise well-set-up small engineering shops.
I've seen an Arri 35BL4 and lens wind up on a concrete floor when a critical spring mount broke on an otherwise impressive-looking home-brew unit. Most rental houses can tell similar stories.
If you're intending to use it with your own camera that's one thing, but in a rental situation you have to consider the insurance angle. Plus the possibility of legal action from Garret Brown!

Trying to build your own follow-focus can just as tricky, although that will only result in spoiled pictures, not major equipment damage.
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#4 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 20 June 2010 - 07:31 PM

Of course the first radio follow focus devices were just radio control servos - many Jimmy Jibs still have a similar set up. This is fine for many broadcast lenses, but they're often inadequate for turning big, heavy film lenses, although that is how it was done at one time. The upscale replacement for it is really just a beefed-up version of the same thing, a PWM controlled resistive-feedback servo with a big gearbox. The trick is making them quiet.

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#5 Chris Keth

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Posted 21 June 2010 - 02:06 AM

You can but, considering the time value of money and all the failure you will endure to reach a successful steadicam, it would cost you more than buying a used rig.
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#6 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 21 June 2010 - 06:46 AM

I don't think that's necessarily true; it depends what level of results you're after. As I say, people do this all the time. Follow the link I posted. Some of them are more serious and capable than others, but it's certainly possible, especially if you're willing to consider it a hobby project and write off the time.

The larger problem, I think, is what you're going to do with a steadicam once you build or otherwise obtain one. Not only is it hard to use from an operating perspective, it's also quite tricky from a directorial standpoint. I've said this a million times, but they work best - spectacularly well - in situations where you are happy to show large amounts of your environment. This applies to both things like sports on broadcast TV where you're in a sports stadium or whatever and happy to show it all. It also works well if you are a very high budget American serial drama and you have an enormous standing set that's perpetually lit and dressed and full of extras and more or less automatically looks fantastic whatever you do with the camera. This is where the "walk and talk" comes in and it's become a favourite of the big US shows because it allows you to burn off page after page of dialogue in no time at all.

In other situations steadicam can actually be a complete liability, showing in a single shot more of your location or set than you had bargained for and quickly exhausting your reserves of lighting equipment and exceeding the available capacity for production design. If you are sufficiently underfunded that you are considering building equipment in your shed - and I stress, I have no great problem with people doing that, these things had to be invented by someone who probably was - then I suspect you probably do not have access to the enormous set pieces that are required to make steadicam really effective on a dramatic shoot.

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#7 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 21 June 2010 - 12:06 PM

Honestly, it's probably a far better proposal to get a great op with their own rig, in terms of cost and stress, and spectacular results. Hell, I had an op once here in Philadelphia (mind you I normally go for dollies instead of steady cams) and I loved the fact that no only was he phenomenal with suggestions, gave great and repeatable movements, but also that I got to spend a few hours without carrying the camera around (I like to op A camera myself).
Now, can you build your own rigs, of course you can. But, if you do- test the hell out of it with some weights to really find out it's limits.
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#8 Bruce Greene

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Posted 21 June 2010 - 08:39 PM

I don't think that's necessarily true; it depends what level of results you're after. As I say, people do this all the time. Follow the link I posted. Some of them are more serious and capable than others, but it's certainly possible, especially if you're willing to consider it a hobby project and write off the time.

The larger problem, I think, is what you're going to do with a steadicam once you build or otherwise obtain one. Not only is it hard to use from an operating perspective, it's also quite tricky from a directorial standpoint. I've said this a million times, but they work best - spectacularly well - in situations where you are happy to show large amounts of your environment. This applies to both things like sports on broadcast TV where you're in a sports stadium or whatever and happy to show it all. It also works well if you are a very high budget American serial drama and you have an enormous standing set that's perpetually lit and dressed and full of extras and more or less automatically looks fantastic whatever you do with the camera. This is where the "walk and talk" comes in and it's become a favourite of the big US shows because it allows you to burn off page after page of dialogue in no time at all.

In other situations steadicam can actually be a complete liability, showing in a single shot more of your location or set than you had bargained for and quickly exhausting your reserves of lighting equipment and exceeding the available capacity for production design. If you are sufficiently underfunded that you are considering building equipment in your shed - and I stress, I have no great problem with people doing that, these things had to be invented by someone who probably was - then I suspect you probably do not have access to the enormous set pieces that are required to make steadicam really effective on a dramatic shoot.

P


Of course you can build your own! And don't let anyone's negativity here deter you from your goal. I built my own, and it's the best rig I've owned and I've owned a model II, III, IIIa, and PRO.

That said, I doubt you'll make a very good one, if you don't already know how to operate one very well. Perhaps you do, and then Go For It!

I will say that I only built the "sled" portion, and use a commercially built arm. My vest is someone else's home built, but very good vest. Why build what you can't improve for your needs?

I will also say that building the sled looked like it would be easy when I made the 1st drawing, but the completed sled probably cost over $30,000. It does include a TB-6 green screen monitor that costs over $10,000...

When I first started out, there were no good commercially made radio follow focus, and we used a model airplane remote control that had been modified. As soon as Seitz came out with a much better model airplane conversion that used Heden motors, I switched to that, and then to the Preston system when that came out. I doubt you'll save any money making your own remote controls as there are a lot available now at many different price points.

Do go to the homebuiltstabilizers website referred to above. If anyone can help you, this community can. Good luck!
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#9 Bruce Greene

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Posted 21 June 2010 - 08:51 PM

Except for very lightweight models, the engineering required to make a completely reliable steadicam unit is generally beyond the capabilities of otherwise well-set-up small engineering shops.
I've seen an Arri 35BL4 and lens wind up on a concrete floor when a critical spring mount broke on an otherwise impressive-looking home-brew unit. Most rental houses can tell similar stories.
If you're intending to use it with your own camera that's one thing, but in a rental situation you have to consider the insurance angle. Plus the possibility of legal action from Garret Brown!

Trying to build your own follow-focus can just as tricky, although that will only result in spoiled pictures, not major equipment damage.


:) When my partner first used our homebuilt sled in low mode, he dropped a Panaflex to the floor when the top came off the sled.

But I will say this: I've dropped cameras when my "Official" Steadicam brand rigs failed under stress as well. I have a particularly fond memory of dragging an Arri III down the street held only by the power cord on Beverly Hills Cop III when the the top stage of my Model III cracked open on an insert car.

But I think the odds of destroying a camera are much greater when the operator fails (read: falls!).
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#10 Chris Keth

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Posted 27 June 2010 - 01:52 PM

:) When my partner first used our homebuilt sled in low mode, he dropped a Panaflex to the floor when the top came off the sled.

But I will say this: I've dropped cameras when my "Official" Steadicam brand rigs failed under stress as well. I have a particularly fond memory of dragging an Arri III down the street held only by the power cord on Beverly Hills Cop III when the the top stage of my Model III cracked open on an insert car.

But I think the odds of destroying a camera are much greater when the operator fails (read: falls!).


Bruce, do you know if there is any difference in the eyes of the insurance company whether it was a "production" rig that failed or a rig homebuilt by a non-professional?
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#11 Bruce Greene

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Posted 29 June 2010 - 01:27 AM

Bruce, do you know if there is any difference in the eyes of the insurance company whether it was a "production" rig that failed or a rig homebuilt by a non-professional?


No difference that I've heard of. But in this case, we're talking homebuilt rigs, built by professionals:)

By the way, we had a safety pin in place that went through the main post to prevent the camera drop. Sort of a "blow out preventer" for holding the camera securely in low mode. And it worked just as well. The pin actually cut through the carbon fiber post and made a one inch groove in the carbon fiber. To fix this, an aluminum sleeve has been epoxied inside the post and this has never failed.

And no oil was spilled in our accident!
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