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I'm a student prepping for a short that we're going to be shooting in February in London. We've got a fairly good deal on the RED One MX and so I'd quite like to use that camera. However, the director is keen on a super smooth cinematic style of shooting and we don't have the budget for a professional Steadicam operator.


I can't find a stabilization system to rent in London that will take the weight of the RED + lenses etc. as apparently all the Steadicam operators have their own ones so the rental houses don't bother.


Any ideas?

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It's important that you recognize what you do and do not have a budget for. You might be able to still afford to rent a Zephyr or a Glidecam equivalent, either from a rental house, online source, or a generous operator that wants to make some money renting their rig out. The smallest professional Steadicam systems will support the weight of the RED, albeit stripped down. However, you will likely not get a trained, experienced Operator with it, so the trade-offs are that your shots will likely not come out as "smooth" or "cinematic" as you intended, and thereby not worth the money spent.


My suggestion would be to adapt shots as best you can to utilize a nice doorway dolly and/or jib combo like the Portajib, either on track or wheels. When properly used, you can get that very nice controlled, deliberate look that will still feel "cinematic" and "smooth" but within the realm of your technical experience and budget.


Also, it has been my experience that most rental houses don't own/rent out Steadicams, not because Operators own them, but because they are highly advanced, specially calibrated and very sensitive systems. Rental houses have no substantial way of measuring the experience of those who they rent out to, so in all likelihood, rented Steadicams would spend more time in the shop being repaired from misuse than making money, making them a difficult investment for a rental house. Just FYI.

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Short of a doorway dolly or jib, you might want to look into rental of an Easyrig. It's certainly not as smooth as a steadicam, but similar in principle. Shoot at 4K and then stabiliise later on if you have to - assuming you're finishing at 2k or HD.

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