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Glidecam 'Smooth Shooter': Anyone have experience using it?

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cdolan369
Glidecam 'Smooth Shooter': Anyone have experience using it?
on Apr 13, 2006 at 5:29:38 pm

I'm looking into buying the Glidecam 'Smooth Shooter' soon and would love feedback from anyone who has used/ is using it. The price at B&H is pretty good and is almost half the cost of the next-best model. I'm referring to the stabilizing system, which includes the damping mechanism and vest, not just the Glidecam itself.

I've seen the footage that can be captured while using the higher-end versions, but I wonder if this, the lowest-cost version is as good. I'd also like to know how easy/difficult it is to learn to use it well and how long the process takes.

Thanks!


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SydneyS
Re: Glidecam 'Smooth Shooter': Anyone have experience using it?
on Apr 13, 2006 at 10:31:43 pm

I personally own a Smooth Shooter, as well as a very expensive full steadicam rig. For the money, the glidecam can't be beat, in my opinion. I have used it with the HDV cameras, and while it doesn't really compare to the full rig I own, it is MUCH lighter, and does remove most if not all of the camera shake. It does not perform well in wind, though, but as it is so light, this is to be expected. I've ran with it, chased cars on a racetrack with it, used in on/in cars, ran around mountainous terrain with it, and I think the Smooth Shooter is the best stabilizing system that you can get for the money... Just my 2 cents...


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cdolan369
Re: Glidecam 'Smooth Shooter': Anyone have experience using it?
on Apr 14, 2006 at 11:38:38 am

That's good to hear. How long have you been using it? When you say it doesn't remove all of the shaking, is that while running or simply walking across a room?

Thanks for your input.


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Peter Ralph
Re: Glidecam 'Smooth Shooter': Anyone have experience using it?
on Apr 14, 2006 at 2:58:39 pm

the difference between the stability of light and heavy rigs can be apparent even when mounted on heavy duty tripods. An old article in DV about the making of a sony commercial using a sony handicam explained that they had to add 80lb of dead weight to the head in order to get smooth pans.

But there is a big difference in what passes for smooth on a 15" monitor vs a movie screen. I doubt you will find the smooth-shooter lacking in that regard. If you run a lot at weddings you might want to consider one of these:

http://www.handsfree-transporter.com/



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cdolan369
Re: Glidecam 'Smooth Shooter': Anyone have experience using it?
on Apr 14, 2006 at 4:38:23 pm

Thanks for the reply.

The transporter looks cool and useful, however if it is anything like the Segway, it's probably a few thousand bucks. Furthermore, I think its use in a crowded reception hall would be severly limited. (Most of the weddings I've shot have been this way...very little room between tables and an undersized dance floor.) I think it would be better-utilized for staged shots or environments with more floor space.


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SydneyS
Re: Glidecam 'Smooth Shooter': Anyone have experience using it?
on Apr 15, 2006 at 12:26:30 am

The Hands Free Transporter is 12,500 Euros... (Based on an inquiry 4 days ago) Not going to be paid off anytime soon doing weddings, unless you're SUPER high end...

Regarding shake with the Smooth Shooter, there's two factors... #1, it has a single arm segment, as opposed to two segments, and thereby has less between you and the camera. #2 is as mentioned, the inherent lightness of the setup. I add a custom machined 11 pound plate to my Sony HDV camera when I fly it on the full sized rig. (The arm I use can carry fron 13-63 pound cameras). As far as running with the Smooth Shooter, I've had decent success... When I'm at top speed, there's a tiny giggle, but not too bad... And, it is INFINITELY lighter than the full sized rig.

Overall, I'm quite pleased with the results, but it does not completely eliminate all unwanted camera movement in every situation. There is a slight "Bounciness" that is simply due to the craftsmanship of the arm, but it is ever so slight... In some cases, this is non existent. My scenario was, I had been using a Glidecam 4000 with the body pod, (Check Glidecams site, if you haven't seen it...) and when I upgraded to the Smooth Shooter arm almost exactly 1 year ago, (I think it debuted at NAB last year) I was simply thrilled with the results. The differences were quite significant. It got me so excited, I went out and bought a full size rig... (For full size cameras) There's better quality out there, but at $2,500, (Including all accessories) it's totally worth it, in my opinion... The next step up in price is at least twice as much, and it's only a slight improvement... I have a couple of examples of its use on my web site...


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Peter Ralph
Re: Glidecam 'Smooth Shooter': Anyone have experience using it?
on Apr 15, 2006 at 12:39:02 am

the real problem with the hands free transporter for weddings is the top speed - 20mph max


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cdolan369
Re: Glidecam 'Smooth Shooter': Anyone have experience using it?
on Apr 15, 2006 at 1:59:58 am

Thanks again for the input Sydney...

I checked out your 'Coronado Speed Festival' clip... Pretty cool! I'm a racecar driver (hobby) so I can definitely appreciate that piece. I noticed a bit of the shake you mentioned, specifically the side-to-side motion after a quick pull-back and pan from a couple of the close shots. Not too bad though. I think I could live with that. How long have you been using the Smooth Shooter rig? Do you think the shake might disappear with more use/practice? At any rate, it appears to be better than the level of steadiness I've achieved without such a rig.

Another couple of questions if you don't mind: How difficult was it to get the rig set up/ balanced, and how long did it take you to become proficient at operating it?


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SydneyS
Re: Glidecam 'Smooth Shooter': Anyone have experience using it?
on Apr 15, 2006 at 3:30:29 am

Definitely with practice, you can eliminate a lot of unwanted camera movement. I've been using the Smooth Shooter about a year, but you can see the effect of wind in that piece... It was very windy that day. As far as a learning curve, after a couple of hours, you can get useable footage with it... Just stay wide... I use a wide angle lens with it as well. The hard part of steadicam is the slow, precise critical shooting and subtle camera movements... I've learned it will take me years to master this... The whips, wide shots, spinning and fast movements are rather easy to pick up. You can't really get precise critical cinematography out of a Smooth Shooter, mostly due to the simple mechanics, craftsmanship and lack of weight, as mentioned earlier. (Very little boom range, as well) The smaller, simpler cameras and deep depth of field factor into the equation as well. But, I NEVER would have brought out a large rig out onto the race track... I was wearing that thing most likely 8 hours that day... I can't carry the big one more than 20 minutes at a time or so...

Setting it up and getting it balanced takes about 20-30 minutes with the small cameras... Balancing is easy, as it is meant to be bottom heavy, so that part is easy. Definitely get a quick release for the camera, that way adjusting is much easier. ($85) If you've ever learned a jib, the basics are easier. It took me 2 weeks of practice with a Jimmy Jib to get useable shots... 2 years later, I consider myself at an average level with it...
Hope that helps,

Sydney S.


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cdolan369
Re: Glidecam 'Smooth Shooter': Anyone have experience using it?
on Apr 15, 2006 at 3:58:05 pm

Valuable info, and much appreciated... Thanks again.


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cdolan369
Re: Glidecam 'Smooth Shooter': Anyone have experience using it?
on May 2, 2006 at 12:40:47 pm

I thought I might follow-up to my own post with a little information. I purchased from B&H the Smooth Shooter, which arrived yesterday. I have to say it is surprisingly well-constructed. It has a pretty nice finish and is not flimsy at all, quite solid in it's design. Not bad for such a competitively-priced product. I honestly expected less.

I haven't been able to set it up or use it yet because the Glidecam 4000, which I ordered at the same time, arrived damaged. The box was intact but upon unwrapping the packing paper, I found the adjustment clamp at the bottom of the main post was cracked and unusable. I have been in contact with B&H to resolve the issue. Hopefully their customer/product service is as good as every other aspect of their business. I've ordered quite a bit from them in the last two years, and have been happy so far.

I'll try to post another follow-up when the broken clamp issue is resolved, and I have a chance to try it out.


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