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Showing content with the highest reputation on 07/12/20 in all areas

  1. I thought I’d take a moment to share little bit of history which might be fun. Scrounging through some really old photographs I came across a couple of beauties dating back to around 1989. As aged as they appear, they indicate a counterculture that was taking root as Cinema Products struggled to understand the needs of the Steadicam Operator. While still living in South Africa, I met some aeronautical engineers whose day job was designing the Heads Up Display for the Rooivalk Attack Helicopter. As the technologies that applied to Steadicam covered some common ground, it seemed like a good place to start. I explained some of the quirks that we endure with the Steadicam, particularly its desire to depart perfect level when in the hands of a faltering and inadequate operator. As a member of that club, I pitched the idea of a cradle coupled with level sensors and a stepper motor that would take away our pain. It took a few months and these photos are the only evidence of what we came up with. It was a rough prototype but mechanically it worked pretty well as long as I kept the post travelling from left to right. The hitch in the giddy-up was the processing speed along with the level sensors of the time. As a concept it was limited, but the best sensor of that era, which might have improved our chances and which were probably only the equivalent of the sensor that was put in the very first iPhone, would have cost us around $18,000. If I remember correctly, it worked on the basis of a harmonic or acoustic signal that would distort as it departed level. After playing with the prototype for a while, it was clear that we had a long way to go. When I arrived in the USA and got into similar discussions with George Paddock, the challenge seemed more achievable. We were sadly humbled as we endured however. It is one thing to produce a rough prototype, but to consider putting it out to the world is another thing completely. Over the years we tried three times to launch the project but each time we encountered another problem and I have to say that the cash required was somewhat daunting. In a strange way, I was divided between the elegance and exclusiveness that lived within the Steadicam, while at the same time trying to create what amounted to be both a shortcut and a crutch. One of our attempts was in the era of Lynn Nicholson’s development of the Alien, and with the amount of money he had already invested, we felt that it would be underhand and deceptive to proceed with a vaguely similar concept. A group of us had been invited to a private demonstration of the Alien in a motel room near Universal and essentially Lynn demonstrated that he had solved the challenge of Camera Orientation according to planet earth. As the years past and the dust settled, we took one more stab at it and agreed to call it a day. It started to feel like we were in conflict our initial intention of keeping the PRO simple, clean and beautiful. I kept these two photographs which I carried with me when I settled in the USA on the off chance then I would find myself in a complicated conversation regarding the origination of the idea and the tricky issue of “Prior Art”. That may have been astute but as the years passed it became redundant. I'm also including in this collection a particular design that George and I approached along the way. We came to the conclusion that the arc of the leveling system actually needed to run in the inverse of what was conventional. When we mounted a camera and wore the Steadicam, we fully understood in about 2 seconds the concept of a mechanical system that has become un- coupled. That has to be one of my strangest Steadicam sensations I’ve ever felt, and thousands of dollars lay at our feet. It was with a certain amount of whimsy that I watched Chris Betz so elegantly achieve what had eluded myself and George for so long. It is one thing to tinker with prototypes, but to bring a product as complicated as the WAVE to a fickle and demanding market is a sign of incredible perseverance and fortitude. When George and I ran out of gas, others were better equipped to embrace the emerging technologies. What may have been telling, is that throughout the years we never came up with a name for it. The future is now saturated with camera stabilization that we couldn’t even imagine back in the 80’s and 90’s. Ironically, no matter how much technology is brought to bear, the best results still emerge from a neutrally balanced system and Garrett’s fingerprints can be found throughout.
    1 point
  2. Put more weight on your waist rather than your shoulder. Put your socket block as low as possible. Getting your vest as tighten as possible is a good start. But soon you'll appreciate to give room to your chest so you can breathe easier. Focus on trying to stand up straight, and let the weight flow down your back, through your legs. Yes, your vest positioning should give you the ability to raise your legs almost freely.
    1 point
  3. A little personal story that I would like to share. Back in 2012 I started having some right knee problems. My right knee had had issues since I was 15 y.o. as I had a skiing accident and I blew my ACL, nevertheless it never got reconstructed. It all started as pain and slowly I started losing strength on my knee. I was in the middle of shooting a long series so you can imagine the struggle I was going through. The situation kept getting worse and worse. I had made plans so see and specialist but in the Canadian health care system you have to wait for your turn so I was doing due diligence. I began to fear for my job. We still had a few episodes to shoot on my show and my situation was getting worse and worse. Half of my energy was directed towards not letting it show on set. The last thing you want is you Steadi guy to be limping around. I crawled towards the end of the show and finished it. By then, I was a disaster, things like going downstairs or getting out of the car were a huge struggle for me, not alone flying the rig, go figure. I finally meet the orthopedist and the prognosis was a lot worse that my nightmares, I had severe osteoarthritis on my right knee and the only solution was to go for a full knee replacement. Having had blown my ACL at 15 and living through really crappy healthcare (another story for another time) lead to extreme wear and tear of the cartilage on my right knee. I had a long chat with the specialist and he said that I could go for the knee replacement right away back in 2012 but he would recommend (due to my age at the time) that I would wait as long as I could. That the replacement was not a permanent solution and that I could get better with physiotherapy while postponing the knee replacement. My whole world just collapsed, at the end of the day making a living as a camera/Steadicam operator and to make things worse I’m a very passionate downhill skier. My livelihood and my hobby were all of a sudden going down the drain. Needless to say I went into a downwards spiral and I had no idea about where to move to. I was panicking. I started doing physio and spending very long hours at the gym trying to get out of that mess. It was indeed a very slow process. The biggest question on my head was weather I was going to be able to continue doing Steadi on the short term and more importantly weather I was going to be able to do it after having a full knee replacement done. I had nobody to ask to. I asked my doctor, I tried to explain in detail what we do and what it implies and he said than he thought it would be OK. I asked my physiotherapist, I tried to explain in detail what we do and what it implies and he said than he thought it would be OK. But at the end of the day what we do it very hard to explain to a “regular” folk, so I asked myself, “who knows the most Steadicam operators on this planet?” Garrett! I reached out to Garrett hoping he would know a Steadi op that had had a full knee replacement so I could contact him and get some light on this dark hour. I remember his answer very well “ I don’t and if I do probably he/she is hiding it is because of the same reason you are “. Wow! He blew my mind but he was so right, last thing we want is people thinking we can’t do our job. Especially when it is so physically demanding. Time passed and I was fully committed to get ahead and go back to set and to the slopes. It was not easy, it was exactly the opposite of it, it was hard, slow and really annoying but I got there. About 6 months after that I was back on my feet flying the right and skiing. I managed not only to get my strength back but to be pain free. I never took anything more than over the counter Advil for pain. Life went on for 6 years, I was pain free and I kept working and skiing. I had to meet with my surgeon once a year just to make sure everything was still OK. You have to remember that I still needed to get my knee replaced, I was just buying time before the big surgery. Then 2018 came, I had my yearly visit with the doctor and he asked me “how are you doing, can you go for another year without the surgery?”, I just said yes, everything was great. But this time instead of him saying “that’s great, see you in a year” he mentioned that I should not wait for the replacement for too much longer. My cartilage was completely worn out on the right side of the knee and I was bone on bone. Even when I was functional and pain free waiting for too much longer would compromise the replacement efficiency so we went ahead and scheduled the surgery for January 2019. Needless to say I was petrified, I did not what to expect. In 6 years nobody could tell me weather the implant was going to be good enough so I could get back to work as a Steadi op but I had to go ahead with it. I Went into the operating room, things went well and the surgery was a success, now it was time for a very long and very, very, VERY painful recovery, at the end of the day they cut the two biggest bones of your body to place the implant so you can imagine the level of pain. I did my physio and slowly I went back to work, not doing Steadi but operating on a very nice show that I have being doing for a few seasons. Eventually, about 5 months after the surgery I took my first Steadi day, things went actually pretty well. That cloud that was roaming over me for several years was finally dissipating, I could fly the rig with a full Knee replacement!!! Things were not as smooth after that but I don’t want to bore you with details, suming up my implant got infected and I had to have a second surgery and thankfully we won the battle against the bacteria. They say is only a 0.04% chance of these implants to get infected, well… I should have had bought a lottery ticket. I contacted Garrett again to report about the progress of this story and he suggested that I would share my story on the forum so here I am. Sharing it so other operators with similar struggles could reach out. No longer I fear people thinking I can’t do My job. I just did a 2 pages and change oner on my current show (Amazon’s American Gods), 15 takes and not for a second I had to think about my knee, I think that qualifies as trial under fire. Now my story is out in the open, if any of you need somebody to approach about this sort of heath issues I would be more than happy to help
    1 point
  4. Still Available...a great last minute 2012 tax deduction. Just had it checked out by Jack at GPI...it's in great condition. Make an offer if interested...call or email. Thanks! Scott (213) 880-2550 scott.camera@mac.com
    1 point
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