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Steve McBride

Adding weight to a camera for Steadicam work.

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I've got a music video shoot coming up that I'll be shooting on an EX1 and I'm going to be shooting some of the artist walking down the street doing his thing on a steadicam. I believe the rig is the EFP which has a minimum weight of around 25 pounds. We've done the EX1 naked on the rig before and it was pretty bad. It didn't have enough weight to balance out the sled so it was not very steady.

 

I'm wondering how I can add weight to the camera and be able to use it on the rig?

 

What I'm thinking is putting it on rails and adding the extra batteries and/or weights onto the rails. We did this before when we had a 35mm adaptor on and it was too front heavy and it worked pretty well.

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Does the EFP come with its operator? Or is this a rig that you're going to be renting/loaning out? If there's going to be an operator, ask them if they have weight plate. If you're doing this yourself, consider investing in one, or having one made. They're generally just large plates of steel with tapped and drilled holes throughout that allow you to screw on your camera, and then screw the whole setup onto your dovetail. I'm sure a little research on the Steadicam Forum could give you some pictures to guide you. Some of the more complex ones even add more weight up top, allowing you to have the gimbal even further up the post.

 

Good luck. (By the way, who has an EFP in Rochester? If it's a private owner, I may be in the market to do a bit of renting!) :P

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I'm actually in New York City now and a friend of mine owns the rig and is coming with it. Are you in the Rochester area as well? I may be coming back after school and will be looking for some work if you need anyone ;) .

 

Good idea with the weight plate. I know the op doesn't have one but I'll ask to see if he knows anywhere to get one out.

 

And another good idea with the boa bag, I'd just be nervous about it swaying around, it seems like it would knock the rig off balance. I'm sure we'll figure out something though. Next weekend I think we're going to work on something to get the camera to be able to be used on the rig.

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Could you just add more weight to the bottom of the rig by adding some ABF140 batteries and/or a larger monitor? Also maybe keep your noga arm and keep your second monitor for your AC. Also a clip on mattebox helps add some weight, but you could probably use the rods...

Edited by Rob Vogt

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I'm actually in New York City now and a friend of mine owns the rig and is coming with it. Are you in the Rochester area as well? I may be coming back after school and will be looking for some work if you need anyone ;) .

 

Good idea with the weight plate. I know the op doesn't have one but I'll ask to see if he knows anywhere to get one out.

 

I'm in Buffalo, not too far of a ride from Rochester. I've got a Steadicam that flies up to 12ish pounds, so I'm always on the lookout for somebody with a bigger rig that I could rent from.

 

There should be plenty of ops with a weight plate in NYC. I'm sure he can find somebody. Another name they go by is Weight Cage - basically 2 weight plates, one on top of the camera, one below.

 

Could you just add more weight to the bottom of the rig by adding some ABF140 batteries and/or a larger monitor? Also maybe keep your noga arm and keep your second monitor for your AC. Also a clip on mattebox helps add some weight, but you could probably use the rods...

 

Rob, adding weight to the bottom of the rig is most likely not the right answer. Adding weight below the gimbal, while making the sled heavier (and better suited for the arm) means you have to drop the gimbal even lower (or suffer horrific drop times - the sled being way too bottom heavy), which leads to more issues. Adding weight up top is usually the way to go with a sled like the EFP, which is meant for a heavier camera weight. Matte Boxes, on-camera monitors (so long as they're not going to act as sails to the wind), and other accessories can help here, but as there is such a big weight discrepancy between the EFP's "sweet spot" of camera weight and an EX1, adding pure weight may be the simplest solution.

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Could you just add more weight to the bottom of the rig by adding some ABF140 batteries and/or a larger monitor?

 

That's the problem, actually: too much weight on the bottom of the post. What I've seen done is to add a longish steel cheeseplate between camera and the steadicam's plate. You'll ahev to use longer than usual 1/4-20s or 3/8-16s. The cheeseplate should stick out in front of and behind the camera body a bit to accommodate bolt heads, because you're then going to bolt chunks of steel or large steel washers to the bottom of the ends of the plate when you need more weight than the plate itself. I like this particular solution because it's adjustable and easily DIY-able. You can add enough weight to get into comfortable balance with the rig but not have to add any more weight than necessary.

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Hi,

 

I used the Steadicam Flyer with the HVX-200 and the SG Blade Pro DOF adapter on it. Unfortunately the bottom counterweight wasn't enough with a monitor and two v-lock batteries.

 

If I were you I'd just pile up a load of weight onto the bottom, tape it, cable tie it, do whatever you can to get some weight there.

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Hi,

 

I used the Steadicam Flyer with the HVX-200 and the SG Blade Pro DOF adapter on it. Unfortunately the bottom counterweight wasn't enough with a monitor and two v-lock batteries.

 

If I were you I'd just pile up a load of weight onto the bottom, tape it, cable tie it, do whatever you can to get some weight there.

 

Whether you add weight to the top or bottom will depend on the weight distribution / inertial response you want from the sled. The EFP is designed to take pretty heavy camera packages, and I have a feeling your problem maybe that you do not have enough weight on the rig as a whole. You would need to add a weight plate to the top stage dovetail to mimic the weight of a heavier camera that the EFP is used to. once you do that and you find the arm is being "challenged" by the weight a little, then you look at your drop time and adjust your sled length / Gimbal position to suit your operating needs.

Do not use a sandbag. It will create huge problems, slopping its weight around. Do not add weight to the bottom of your sled, if the camera is already too light. You will compound your problem by getting an incredibly bottom heavy sled.

If you have an operator with the rig, he will already know everything I have already said here.

 

Good luck

 

Sanjay Sami

www.thegripworks.com

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25 pounds is a lot to bring an EX1 up to!

 

Anyway, a Steadicam friend of mine has the weight blocks another member here describes - just large bits of steel with holes in.

 

If your friend knows anyone with some industrial tools, they should be able to do it. Or his local steadicam repair place.

 

Best,

James Martin

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Use less and lighter batteries, go with ab dionic 90's or something with less mass at the bottom of the sled.

 

I know the flyer comes with a low mode bracket that grips a camera handle then has a geared cheese plate on it, you can just throw the low mode bracket on and tape spare batteries/lead fishing weights/ect to the cheese plate. This is assuming its not a low mode shot.

 

Getting a weight plate is however the best option, maybe reach out to smaller rental houses/steadicam ops and see if you can just rent the weight plates if you cant get them made.

 

EDIT:

post this on the steadicam forum and maybe someone will be generous enough to offer them to borrow/rent.

Edited by Tony Coan

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There are quite a few steadicam operators in NYC that have weight plates. If you post on the steadicam forum you will probably find someone to loan/rent you theirs very quickly.

Adding weight at the bottom is exactly what you don't want to do. Using a sand bag or some other loose weight is possible but not ideal. You really don't want weight that can shift while you're operating. A weight plate under the camera is ideal.

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A fast work around I've use before was to buy leg weights, and take the lead out of them. They are cylinders that are quite heavy and are useful to zip tie to lots of stuff to add a little extra weight. I've used them on a glidecam, steadicam, and a jib before.

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