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clyde v
stabilizers
on Jan 26, 2008 at 12:32:40 am

I'm comparing two models of stabilizers. One has two articulating arms, the other just one. Is double/two articluating arm better than the single ones? Does the two articulating arm model provide better stabilizaton or just a wider range of angles? Also, what do you think of the Indian made Magic Arm as compared to Varizoom? Thanks.


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Emre Tufekci
Re: stabilizers
on Jan 26, 2008 at 3:50:08 am

The two part articulating arm is better not because of more lift, but because of more range (or larger sweet spot).

The Indian made models are junk, not worth your money. Varizoom is also bottom of the totem pole. If you intend to do serious work but are not looking to make a huge investment go for steadicam flyer. Even though it's 6K it's in a league of it's own.

The flyer is entry level for steadicam and it goes up all the way to 70K. But it's worth it.

The most important thing to remember is if you wish to be a steadicam operator, you need to take classes.

Good luck,


Emre
http://www.productionpit.com
Boxx Tech PC, dual-dual AMD 2.0,4BG ram,Avidexpress HD w/Mojo,UVW-1800,DSR-25, Adobe Premium CS3.Steadicam OP/Owner.

"Creative cow is udder madness."


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clyde v
Re: stabilizers
on Jan 26, 2008 at 7:37:48 am

I have heard people saying that the Indian models are worthless. But none of them say exactly why. I would like to know why the Indian made steadicams are junk. Is it hard to balance the camera? Is the gimbal not smooth enough? Is it close to impossible to make a camera glide smoothly?

I would like to buy the most affordable stabilizer, but if someone can tell me exactly why these Indian models can't perform (based on experience), I will not waste money on them. Thanks guys and God bless.


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Emre Tufekci
Re: stabilizers
on Jan 26, 2008 at 2:32:18 pm

A Friend of mine bought the indian version and here are the problems I noticed;

-Weak response from the arm
-Excessive vibration
-Socket block was poorly placed
-No monitor
-Incorrect gimbal angle and ratio
-Arm Pin incorrect placement (Major mistake)
-Difficult dynamic balancing
-High friction gimbal
-No lower battery mount
-Low boom range
-No arm ride control (not spring tension)
-It squeaks


This is like comparing a Kia to a BMW. But you still need to get something that will work for your clients and budget.

The best units are;
-Steadicam (10 out of 10)
-Sacthler (8 out of 10)
-Glidecam (5 out of 10)
-the rest (let me know if I missed any major manufacturers)

Again, if you intend to do steadicam; you need to go to training(my reccomendation).

Cheers,


Emre
http://www.productionpit.com
Boxx Tech PC, dual-dual AMD 2.0,4BG ram,Avidexpress HD w/Mojo,UVW-1800,DSR-25, Adobe Premium CS3.Steadicam OP/Owner.

"Creative cow is udder madness."


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clyde v
Re: stabilizers
on Jan 27, 2008 at 8:06:48 am

Are you talking of the "comfort arm" (one-piece arm) model or the "magic arm" (two-piece arm)? When was that bought? I will also browse the web for the varizoom and the glidecam.

I am also not sure if there are any training schools here in Manila, Philippines. There could be one in Cebu but that's too far.


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Emre Tufekci
Re: stabilizers
on Jan 27, 2008 at 12:47:40 pm

Are you talking of the "comfort arm" (one-piece arm) model or the "magic arm" (two-piece arm)? When was that bought? I will also browse the web for the varizoom and the glidecam.

It was the Magic arm, bought 6 months ago

I am also not sure if there are any training schools here in Manila, Philippines. There could be one in Cebu but that's too far.

You're right, it might be harder to find training there.

Good luck.


Emre
http://www.productionpit.com
Boxx Tech PC, dual-dual AMD 2.0,4BG ram,Avidexpress HD w/Mojo,UVW-1800,DSR-25, Adobe Premium CS3.Gspeed ES.Steadicam OP/Owner.

"Creative cow is udder madness."


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clyde v
Re: stabilizers
on Jan 28, 2008 at 10:32:15 pm

I've got an email message from Cine-City, the Indian company. They told me that they can assure me that I will receive a "good quality product." I will let them know of Creative Cow so they can listen to customers and what they have to say about their products. That way, they can improve their stabilizers, make us happy, and probably increase their sales. This is one great forum!


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Steve Wargo
Re: stabilizers
on Jan 29, 2008 at 7:35:36 am

[clyde v] " This is one great forum!"

the really important thing about on-line forums is that you get all opinions, good and bad. We have a stabilizer which is now sold by Varizoom and it has worked with no problems for cams from 9 lbs to 30 lbs. It's the dual arm type thet used to be "HollyWood Lite" and retailed for around $8 thousand when we got it, 8 or 9 years ago. I actually bought it from a friend for $2500 used.



Steve Wargo
Tempe, Arizona
It's a dry heat!

Sony HDCAM F-900 & HDW-2000/1 deck
5 Final Cut (not quite PRO) systems
Sony HVR-M25 HDV deck
Sony EX-1 has arrived and it's fascinating.


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clyde v
Re: stabilizers
on Jan 29, 2008 at 8:45:12 am

So how's it as compared to a competing Steadicam model?



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Steve Wargo
Re: stabilizers
on Jan 30, 2008 at 8:25:00 am

It's cheaper. I've never owned or operated a Steadicam so I have no real way to compare the two. i think that an actual SteadiCam has a higher level of machine work and a far better monitor.

Steve Wargo
Tempe, Arizona
It's a dry heat!

Sony HDCAM F-900 & HDW-2000/1 deck
5 Final Cut (not quite PRO) systems
Sony HVR-M25 HDV deck
2-Sony EX-1.


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Steve Wargo
Re: stabilizers
on Jan 30, 2008 at 8:56:17 am

Clyde,

I checked the VariZoom website and our stabilizer is sold as the "Black Hawk".

Steve Wargo
Tempe, Arizona
It's a dry heat!

Sony HDCAM F-900 & HDW-2000/1 deck
5 Final Cut (not quite PRO) systems
Sony HVR-M25 HDV deck
2-Sony EX-1.


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clyde v
Re: stabilizers
on Jan 30, 2008 at 10:46:21 am

Thanks Steve. I'll check it now. God bless.


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Todd at Fantastic Plastic
Re: stabilizers
on Jan 30, 2008 at 4:09:11 pm

Back to the original question for a sec, which was single- vs. double-articulated arms....

Single-articulated arms are ok, but I would say they are best saved for the higher-end "pro" rigs. I'm not sure I would go for one of the more prosumer rigs with a single arm. My rig is a single arm, but it's a Steadicam (an older SK model, not in their lineup any more) and it works just dandy.

I'd say the biggest differences in the more consumer level stabilizers and the high-end ones (such as Steadicam, or GPI Pro, etc.) is not just the arm but the way the who thing works, and the ease and reliability of use...

GIMBAL
A high-end rig will have a gimbal that moves absolutely effortlessly, you can easily spin it around the post with virtually no friction.

MONITOR
A high-end rig will have a good daylight-viewable montior. The CloneCams tend to have little TTF LCD screens that are sometimes not very useful outdoors. The highest-end monitors have things like switchable aspect ratios, TV-safe lines, artificial horizon, etc.

POWER
The higher rigs will have a dedicated built-in power system, and will use pro batteries such as A-B goldmounts... where a single (or dual) battery mount will power both the monitor and the camera itself. Lower end units often do not have any power provisions.

ADJUSTIBILITY
With the cheapest rigs you usually have to physically move weights around on the sled to get the system into perfect dynamic balace... which can be a little tricky. Higher-end units accomplish this by adjusting the camera stage, not the sled itself... there are usually little knobs that tweak the fore-and-aft and side-to-side positions of the camera to keep easy and perfect dynamic balance. This is especially important for film shooters where if you have a horizonally-mounted magazine the weight of the film moving from one end of the mag to the other can change the dynamic balance throughout the roll (I have heard that can be an issue, but I shoot with vertical mags so it's never been a problem that I have noticed much). Ideally, you should be able to make minor tweaks to the balance without even taking the rig off.

SAFETY
Higher-end rigs will have a "rip cord" type system that, if pulled, will allow a rapid "emergency egress" from the rig in less than a second. Of course no one wants to ditch their very expensive camera or stabilizer... but if you found yourself being chased by a lion or falling down three flights of stairs it might be nice to have the option. I personally have never known anyone who had to "emergency release," but I know it has happened.

All that being said, I'm not knocking the little CloneCams. I've seen some pretty darn good work coming out of them. IF one wanted a stabilizer for just very occassional use, then they might be the way to go. However if one wanted to do a LOT of stabilization work on a very regular basis, then I would recommend one of the upper units.

And yes, go to Steadi-school if you can... and if you can't then learn as much about the principals and techniques as you can (books, DVDs, etc), or find an experienced SteadiOp who is willing to teach you.... and practice practice practice. Oh, and practice.

And use a spotter if you are moving backwards or through dangerous territory.

Just a few things I thought were worth mentioning....


T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






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Mark Maness
Re: stabilizers
on Feb 10, 2008 at 10:40:01 pm

Being a Steadicam operator for several years, I guess I'm partial to the steadicam rigs. They are definitely a known entity, finely engineered, and we all know they work, even if a little more pricey then the others, but you're getting quality and years of research and development

I've owned an SK, Flyer, and a provid, and have found all of them to be excellent, but of course, I'm biased.

The dual articulating arm definitely gives more range of motion. I'll never use anything else unless for some reason If I have to.

And, in case anyone is wondering....no, I don't work for Tiffen or Steadicam....just thought I'd throw that in. :)



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Charles Papert
Re: stabilizers
on Feb 13, 2008 at 6:29:03 am

I think it's safe to say that once one has tried the current Tiffen (Steadicam) arms, it's hard to go back to anything else. While all of the competitors and the older lower-end Steadicam arms are quite springy and require significant force to hold in their upper and lower positions, the newer models (Merlin/Pilot, Flyer, G50 and G70) are effortless in comparison. Aside from the comfort afforded, the isolation from the operator's footsteps is improved as well. This all adds up to a greater useable boom range, less fatigue and smoother shots.

This is not to say that it is impossible to get decent shots from the other manufacturer's products (although a few of the cheaper brands challenge this assertion), but it is harder, and thus requires more attention to overcome the design deficiencies.

As far as dual vs single arm models: in general it can be very difficult to get a single arm model to boom up high enough to get the camera to eye-level. If the subject is taller than the operator, it will likely be impossible. Having a 2-3 foot boom range is one of the great assets of Steadicam, and single-arm models cannot achieve this.

Outside of the arm, the other most relevant component to consider is the gimbal, as mentioned previously. The more friction and less linearity a gimbal the demonstrates, the more it will fail to isolate the operator from the rig and the choppier the footage.

These are the two moving parts of a rig; everything else becomes secondary once a shot is in motion (assuming that the rig is rigid enough to not present slop or vibration). However the type of adjustments available will greatly affect one's efficiency with balancing the rig, which becomes a time factor for setups.



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