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Shoulder rig for a mirrorless camera - how not to go overboard?

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7 hours ago, Dude_ger said:

 You won't use it all the time- it's a tool for special scenes like a Steadicam or Dolly, you only use it when needed. (Or if you do like an event all day long)

^ This in spades. ^

I've learned this quickly over the years. So many people understandably focus on the camera, but really that's only half or less of the entire picture. 

In my view you want a tripod, a shoulder rig, a 3-axis motorized gimbal, a glidecam, a slider, a vest, a drone, a jib/crane, a gorilla pod. You want it all basically. It is not very difficult to find justifications to purchase or rent it. 

To not have it available to you is like a mechanic trying to fix everything on a car with just one socket wrench. It's not happening. 

This is an expensive field. You're going to be paying considerable costs for this interest and profession regardless how big or small your setup is. The tools of the trade are pricey, and if they're cheap they're pricey in other ways that make you uncomfortable on location or set. 

37 minutes ago, ntblowz said:

This guy done a reasonable compact shoulder rig without overboarding 

C5D70BDC-EBBE-4C55-9DA3-1B290CAB63DC.jpeg

 

me went overboard the other day

B5557BAE-4E58-4841-9C7E-983CCC8EDDD7.jpeg

Give us your set up time. 😆

Do you show up to the gig early or are you having the client waiting on you for setup? 

I always try to show up early. I personally hate having clients and talent watch me set up my rig and start asking technical questions, or look at me like, "Is this really nessecary, can't we just point the camera somewhere and hit record?" 

I worked recently with a very impatient Director. It was hell. Instead of mitigating the expectations of the talent on the ground, the director made setups much worse by trying to rush me through them and encouraging the talent (mostly amateurs) to start telling me what my job should intel and how long it should take. I mean, how much time does it take to whip out a smartphone and hit record, right?  

Lots of sighs and moans and sideway looks. It put a lot of pressure on me and ultimately the shoot suffered big time. Also, the Director didn't believe in blocking or storyboarding or anything that resembled planning.  

Never again. 😁

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30 minutes ago, Matthew Hartman said:

In my view you want a tripod, a shoulder rig, a 3-axis motorized gimbal, a glidecam, a slider, a vest, a drone, a jib/crane, a gorilla pod. You want it all basically. It is not very difficult to find justifications to purchase or rent it. 

This is an expensive field. You're going to be paying considerable costs for this interest and profession regardless how big or small your setup is. The tools of the trade are pricey, and if they're cheap they're pricey in other ways that make you uncomfortable on location or set. 

I hate to admit to, but with time I find this unremarkably true.

All the more so, because this is just a hobby which sometimes allows me to learn some cash while still enjoying doing it.

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1 hour ago, Matthew Hartman said:

Give us your set up time. 😆

Do you show up to the gig early or are you having the client waiting on you for setup? 

Client is all good with us since he is a former all black and our producer is a big rugby fan, they hit off really well 😆 beside he is paying over 10k for this job so we have to show him we are “pro”  lol 

 

Yeah setting up and shooting is bit of pain but client know where his budget gone to, he will be disappointed if a tiny camera showed up instead 😝

 

Btw we never shoot without blocking or storyboarding, even if it’s the shoot day, sometimes you need to man up, too much time we bow to them like low peasants and in the long run they are getting spoiled 

 

 

This is what I shot usually for my own stuff, a simple cage with handle is all I need

5458010B-91A6-492C-BF9E-FAD87BA903E4.jpeg

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32 minutes ago, ntblowz said:

Btw we never shoot without blocking or storyboarding, even if it’s the shoot day, sometimes you need to man up, too much time we bow to them like low peasants and in the long run they are getting spoiled.

Most of my clients I can educate and they genuinely seem eager to understand how it all works and give me the respect and space I need and deserve. This particular director was from a prestigious film school who studied writing, (whom is actually a pretty good writer) and she was mentored by the director of "Mama". I thought it would be a boon to my personal career to have ties with her and by extension her Hollywood connections, but she ended up being insufferable and offensive when it came to all the things that are less glamorous about the filmmaking process. She also wanted everyone to work for free, which I don't mind doing since I work a regular day job and if I believe in the story/film/message, but you better be respectful and understand I'm going to have input as a cinematographer. 

I am not a puppet. That's what she needed, a simple operator, not a cinematographer. Sometimes that doesn't become clear until you've worked together for a few days. 

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55 minutes ago, Matthew Hartman said:

Most of my clients I can educate and they genuinely seem eager to understand how it all works and give me the respect and space I need and deserve. This particular director was from a prestigious film school who studied writing, (whom is actually a pretty good writer) and she was mentored by the director of "Mama". I thought it would be a boon to my personal career to have ties with her and by extension her Hollywood connections, but she ended up being insufferable and offensive when it came to all the things that are less glamorous about the filmmaking process. She also wanted everyone to work for free, which I don't mind doing since I work a regular day job and if I believe in the story/film/message, but you better be respectful and understand I'm going to have input as a cinematographer. 

I am not a puppet. That's what she needed, a simple operator, not a cinematographer. Sometimes that doesn't become clear until you've worked together for a few days. 

Sometimes work for free means they feel they are entitled to do whatever they want since everything is "free"  I got a friend who owns a FS7 and did a "free" shoot for a "student" project. When it finished they never show gratitude for his time and gears (and the crafty is the usual shit for this kind of stuff) , and cut him off completely after it wrap up so he didn't even get to see what the final one looks like.

 

I usually stay away from those projects as far as possible, I rather do something worthwhile for myself instead, like go on trip lol. No one fucking bossy me around in my own damn free time.

 

 

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3 hours ago, ntblowz said:

This is what I shot usually for my own stuff, a simple cage with handle is all I need

5458010B-91A6-492C-BF9E-FAD87BA903E4.jpeg

What kind of projects / shots do you normally take with this setup?  I'm curious to learn more about how other people shoot and what works for them.

I know that film-making is similar to travelling in that when you start out you take far too much because you don't know what you'll need and you take it 'just in case' and I know I'm definitely in this phase!

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5 hours ago, kye said:

I know that film-making is similar to travelling in that when you start out you take far too much because you don't know what you'll need and you take it 'just in case' and I know I'm definitely in this phase

Amen to that. 

I feel like I'm in the same boat. 

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18 hours ago, kye said:

 

@jonpais what a great rig - reminds me of the contraption I've built for my next family holiday...

IMG_0791.thumb.jpg.42c97f7e2d182b471acb4cd33dd894a2.jpg

It has the XC10 and Rode VMP+ pointing forwards and the GoPro and Rode VideoMicro pointing backwards so that I can get shots of myself included in the video.  Including the GoPro also means that I can do things like time lapses (eg, if we stop to eat by a nice view) without having a separate rig.  I'm also taking my phone with the a phone gimbal for those wide panning shots that I can never get smooth handheld.

Time will tell if this rig is genius, ridiculous, or both!

@heart0less view this as a sign of what NOT to do!

 

Thats a really neat setup.

I have to say though, if I attempted to take something like that on holiday, I'm pretty certain I'd get this sort of reaction from the other half !

 

200w_d.gif

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15 hours ago, jonpais said:

It’s all plastic with a tiny bit of rubber and metal, but in my experience, it’s built to last. Maybe indestructible. 😬

I would even argue that it's the best shoulder rig available if you don't need rails. With its clamp design, it stabilizes significantly better than conventional shoulder rigs.

Btw., the design is derived from Arri's 1970s shoulder mount for 16mm documentary/news cameras.

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23 minutes ago, BTM_Pix said:

Thats a really neat setup.

I have to say though, if I attempted to take something like that on holiday, I'm pretty certain I'd get this sort of reaction from the other half !

 

200w_d.gif

Thanks.  I've also trimmed up the cold-shoe mount between the xc10 and the GoPro to make it a bit shorter too since I took that pic.

I have a *very* accepting partner, and in a sense it's the price for me being happy I have toys to play with and for getting nice home videos :)

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On 3/16/2018 at 11:32 AM, heart0less said:

Gimbals are not for me; since they are an electronic devices, they're more prone to fail than a simple rig / tripod / monopod. Neither am I a huge fan of the results they give - it lacks the authenticity, immersiveness, naturality.

And I did upgrade my camera - I had used a6000 for 2 years and changed it for a6300 in December.
 

 

Yeah but a electronic Gimbal gives new life to old cameras that never had IBIS in them. If used right and not in excess I think they can look damn good with practice. Most people overuse them, I did also when I first got mine. The better ones are pretty damn good. The biggest failure with them is forgetting to charge the batteries in them LoL!

Ahh yeah a A6300 is a damn nice camera for the money. They are just Too small for my big hands. Crazy thin camera. But they have a great output, and you have a FF upgrade path if you want to stay with Sony. That is a nice option.

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20 minutes ago, webrunner5 said:

a electronic Gimbal gives new life to old cameras that never had IBIS in them. If used right and not in excess I think they can look damn good with practice. Most people overuse them, I did also when I first got mine. The better ones are pretty damn good.

I can't argue with that. 

I've had a brief chance to work with one (Zhiyun Crane, can't remember which version) and what I did not like about it was the delayed response to my actions. Surely, one will get used to it quickly, but sometimes it does prevent you from getting the shot. 

 

24 minutes ago, webrunner5 said:

you have a FF upgrade path if you want to stay with Sony. That is a nice option.

Unfortunately, none of my glasses (besides 20$ Helios) will cover FF sensor, hahahahha. But I do agree their FF line-up has become the most interesting one in the market. Especially with a7 III.

But I'll stick to my a6300, like I said - photo and videography is just my hobby.

( :

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49 minutes ago, heart0less said:

I've had a brief chance to work with one (Zhiyun Crane, can't remember which version) and what I did not like about it was the delayed response to my actions. Surely, one will get used to it quickly, but sometimes it does prevent you from getting the shot.

I'm sure you realize this but it's a teachable moment for others here that may not be aware. You have to practice, practice, practice with these gimbals just as you would a glidecam. They're deceiving when you watch them in action but have yet to use one yourself.

I've stated this several times already in the past but it's worth repeating, they're not a magic bullet out of the box, nor are they the most natural thing to hold. It takes time and practice to get the results and performance you want after some muscle memory has set in, and they have to be balanced correctly, just like a glidecam. I think if you look at it as just one tool in a bigger toolbox the expectation becomes realistic. 

One of my least favorite uses of a motorized gimbal is tracking a subject. You can put the device in follow mode, but you may find this doesn't work for all applications. Using the joystick to track things is unintuitive, unlike a glidecam where you have more natural control of panning. 

To help this, I invested in a device that went up on Kickstarter that automatically tracks your talent by transmitting a signal from a wrist band the talent wears to a receiver that transmits to the gimbal. For tracking shots, this alleviates the need for me to manually track a subject and I can move around the talent and have confidence that they'll always be in frame. Theoretically that is, they haven't sent out the devices yet. Some more info:

 

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On 3/17/2018 at 2:41 PM, jonpais said:

It’s all plastic with a tiny bit of rubber and metal, but in my experience, it’s built to last. Maybe indestructible. 😬

I have one and I broke the camera extension on it in a very short time.  But I am hard on equipment.  Throw it all in the trunk and away we go! I Never found it to be very comfortable, it always seemed to be crooked to your shoulder. Better than nothing. But for the price I guess you can't complain.

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On 3/18/2018 at 7:41 AM, jonpais said:

It’s all plastic with a tiny bit of rubber and metal, but in my experience, it’s built to last. Maybe indestructible. 😬


It was my first ever shoulder mount, years ago, I still have it, and it still very occasionally gets usage when it is the right tool for the shoot. 

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