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Stabilizing handheld Epic without Steadicam


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#1 Matteo Cocco

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Posted 03 August 2012 - 04:50 AM

Hi everybody,

I will soon shoot a feature with the Red Epic. Most of the movie will be shot handheld with an Easyrig.

The director would like to do some occasional walk&talks or similar with a steadicam. Since we have only one camera body and are shooting on a very tight schedule, I would rather avoid to switch every time to steadicam and back to handheld in order to save time a be flexible during the shooting.
Do you guys have any ideas or suggestions, considering that a Gyro system won´t work, since we´re recording sound.

I mean, the camera won´t be to heavy since il be using Zeiss Highspeed lenses and a lightweight mattebox, but still I´m looking for some idea that will stylistically make a difference compared to handheld.

Any ideas are very welcome!

Thanks,

Matteo
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#2 Bruce Greene

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Posted 03 August 2012 - 02:12 PM

Hi everybody,

I will soon shoot a feature with the Red Epic. Most of the movie will be shot handheld with an Easyrig.

The director would like to do some occasional walk&talks or similar with a steadicam. Since we have only one camera body and are shooting on a very tight schedule, I would rather avoid to switch every time to steadicam and back to handheld in order to save time a be flexible during the shooting.
Do you guys have any ideas or suggestions, considering that a Gyro system won´t work, since we´re recording sound.

I mean, the camera won´t be to heavy since il be using Zeiss Highspeed lenses and a lightweight mattebox, but still I´m looking for some idea that will stylistically make a difference compared to handheld.

Any ideas are very welcome!

Thanks,

Matteo


An idea: set up your handheld rig with remote focus already mounted. It will be good for the handheld anyway. Have the Steadicam pre balanced and it should take only 2 minutes to make the switchover. Rehearse a few times in prep and you're off to the races!
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#3 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 05 August 2012 - 03:48 AM

An idea: set up your handheld rig with remote focus already mounted. It will be good for the handheld anyway. Have the Steadicam pre balanced and it should take only 2 minutes to make the switchover. Rehearse a few times in prep and you're off to the races!


A pre balanced Steadicam really saves time, keeping any camera rig changes to a minimum so that you can switch very quickly. It's usually the camera accessories that take the time, so if they remain the same on both set ups, very little time is lost. I had one Super16 Steadicam job where the AC kept adding accessories and then I discovered used short ends, so it changed all the time, adding to the rigging time.
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#4 Brandon Arandt

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 12:02 AM

I was just going to buy a steadicam for an upcoming project. Right before I pulled the trigger I was told to look at the CMR blackbird. Im glad i did, it is only $600 and seems smoother than the steadicam, the learning curve isnt bad and it takes 20 seconds to switch. Im may be pitching this and i dont work for the company, just a happy customer. Most "stadium operators" will laugh at a cheap stabalizer but go on vimeo and search for "cmr blackbird" and the footage speaks for itself. Its unreal.
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#5 Chris Keth

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 02:11 PM

Make sure your 1st and steadicam operator meet at prep and have time to talk things over. They should be able to arrive at and pre-balance for a configuration that is repeatable enough that when the word is given for steadicam, the assistants can hit that configuration while the operator suits up. The rig should already be on a stand with batteries and the vest and arm unpacked. Have your operator teach your loader or utility to do this so it can be ready before it's needed. They should all meet in the middle in about 5 minutes and only need very final balancing.

The other thing that you can do for that type of scene is to have an operator handheld sitting on the mitchell crown on a dolly. Many key grips even have or can make a seat that mounts to the mitchell crown. Boom up and down moves can still be done, adding some great possible moves. This will keep the look of handheld but without footsteps. It's kind of a middle ground between walking handheld and steadicam and convenient since I assume you already have at least one dolly on the show.
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#6 Chris Keth

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 02:13 PM

I was just going to buy a steadicam for an upcoming project. Right before I pulled the trigger I was told to look at the CMR blackbird. Im glad i did, it is only $600 and seems smoother than the steadicam, the learning curve isnt bad and it takes 20 seconds to switch. Im may be pitching this and i dont work for the company, just a happy customer. Most "stadium operators" will laugh at a cheap stabalizer but go on vimeo and search for "cmr blackbird" and the footage speaks for itself. Its unreal.



Not at all comparable to a steadicam. If it's smoother than the steadicam, you need to employ a better steadicam operator.
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#7 David M Aronson

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Posted 22 August 2012 - 12:53 PM

Sorry, but if you want silky smooth walk and talks you pretty much need a Steadicam unless you want to haul out a dolly, and it sounds like you don't have time for that. If you use a cat griller or similar quick release system, you can switch to steadicam in less than 10 seconds. I bought a cat griller after having to switch back and forth from my Master Series to sticks 12 times in a half day shoot. I was about ready to kill the director.
As for the CMR blackbird, dude, did you even read the thread? a loaded epic with Zeiss primes weighs well over 20lbs. A blackbird can hold what? 6 lbs?
Also, If you are talking about the merlin vs the blackbird, I've found the merlin to be harder to balance, but has a better build quality and has a almost frictionless gimbal. The blackbird is just meh.
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#8 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 17 September 2012 - 04:15 PM

Most "stadium operators" will laugh at a cheap stabalizer

I'll add that ALL steadicam operators will feel the same way.
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