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Chris Haarhoff

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Chris Haarhoff last won the day on July 12

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About Chris Haarhoff

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  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.
  2. This is a reply to my own topic, but as we are exactly a week out from the beginning of the Great Western Steadicam Workshop I just want to update all that are interested. The final group of instructors will be myself Chris Haarhoff, Andrew Rowlands, Henry Tirl, Kirk Gardner, Jessica Lopez and Andrew Ansnick. There will be a few visiting operators that will address particular shots/techniques as well. As of now we are almost full, but we have lost a few students due to evolving work schedules, so if you are interested or if you know somebody that might be workshop hungry, this would be a great time to sign up. For information go to www.gwsteadicam.com My contact info is chrishaarhoff@gmail.com, and 310-339-6030
  3. I usually dont venture beyond the General Discussion, so I thought that maybe I should place the link to the GWSW a little more front and center. See: www.gwsteadicam.com This is to announce the Great Western Steadicam Workshop taking place in Los angeles from the 19th March to 23rd March. This will be a Beginners Class, with some Intermediate elements. We held a similar Class in 2015 which was very successful. It was led by myself, Chris Haarhoff and the Instructors included Andrew Rowlands, George Billinger, Dave Emmerichs and Henry Tirl. This years Instructor line up will also be A-list Steadicam Operators/Instructors that will bring many decades worth of experience to our students. Upon completing the workshop, students will have all the necessary tools to develop a solid path forward. It will be held at Paramount Ranch and the King Gillette Ranch in Los Angeles where we can accomplish a full curriculum and an intense daily program. We expect a class of 24 students with six instructors in attendance. We already have a number of students committed, so respond as soon as you can. If you are interested in attending I would welcome either an email at chrishaarhoff@gmail.com or a call at 310-339-6030. I invite you to visit www.gwsteadicam.com for all the information you may need.
  4. This is to announce the Great Western Steadicam Workshop taking place in Los angeles from the 19th March to 23rd March. This will be a Beginners Class, with some Intermediate elements. We held a similar Class in 2015 which was very successful. It was led by myself, Chris Haarhoff and the Instructors included Andrew Rowlands, George Billinger, Dave Emmerichs and Henry Tirl. This years Instructor line up will also be A-list Steadicam Operators/Instructors that will bring many decades worth of experience to our students. Upon completing the workshop, students will have all the necessary tools to develop a solid path forward. It will be held at Paramount Ranch in Los Angeles where we can accomplish a full curriculum and an intense daily program. We expect a class of 24 students with six instructors in attendance. We already have a number of students committed, so respond as soon as you can. If you are interested in attending I would welcome either an email at chrishaarhoff@gmail.com or a call at 310-339-6030. I invite you to visit www.gwsteadicam.com for all the information you may need.
  5. Hi Kiril, would love to look at the shot but it comes up as unavailable. Is there a fix for that?
  6. In the spirit of the Maine, Malibu Classics, PRO workshops, I've set up a private class between the 21st and 24th of August. It's a small, very intense structure and I'm looking for one more student. Email me at chrishaarhoff@gmail.com if you are interested. Chris Haarhoff
  7. I'm trying to help a friend find a good arm. Let me know> Chris Haarhoff 310-339-6030
  8. Hey guys and girls, I just want to say a heartfelt thank you for all the kind things that have been said about me. Coming from a great community such as this means everything to me. As Birdman gained traction with the public, I chose to stay out of the conversation, letting others tell the story. Almost two years since we started shooting, the film takes on a life of itself which I've found fascinating to watch. In all, being involved with Birdman was an absolute gift, one that many of you out there would have relished and more than likely improved on what we see on the screen. Thanks again......
  9. Hey there Chris really love your work. It's funny how the guys here in South Africa still remember your doing Steadicam on Rugby. Did a course in 2006 will be buying my first Rig this week....THE TIME HAS COME....speak soon bro, Jurgen

  10. Talking to another operator today it seems that we should not be taking this subject to the web. One suggestion is that we gather as many West Coast Ops together as possible and hash out our opinions and experiences. Once this is done, each in attendance can venture out into the wilderness and relay what was discussed to a few of their closest steadi buddies. This would keep our exchange verbal and away from prying eyes. There has always been apprehension about being seen as price fixing, but we are so far away from that...all we will be doing is communicating a historical perspective and undertaking not to eat our own children. Can we do this?
  11. I've had some recent experiences when making a deals on features, TV and commercials that point to a seismic de-valuation of the steadicam operator and his craft. There is such a downward pressure on rates that the sun may be setting on efforts made by many fine operators to secure steadicam as a valuable contributor to the production process. It may be that we are now dealing with a newer brand of executive that does not have the sense of history that we nurture, but I suspect that the real issue comes from within our ranks. These are no doubt difficult economic times which the studios will take advantage of when severing our tendons but it is our own willingness to roll over too quickly that points to the end. I personally have walked away from two features, a TV oportunity and even a commercial recently. This has not been convenient, but a matter of principal on which I hope other operators feel the same, but what I would like to suggest is that we start re-engaging each other in an effort to keep the value of steadicam where it belongs. Naturally talking about money is a bashful exercise, but I think that the newer operators may be looking to some of the older operators for some historical perspective and possible guidance. This is obviously a way to public forum in which to air our financial laundry, but I wonder if we were able to set up a discussion away from here that would remain specific to our working group. My one thought has been to create a facebook entity that would require a password sign on similar to what was put in place during the " Back To Work" campaign by Jon Philion. Or maybe we all just need to get together and have a piss-up at the pub. Either way I really feel that there is a certain urgency to this and I would be interested to hear comments and ideas. Chris Haarhoff
  12. I must have gotten out of bed on the wrong side the other day, but here's my beef. While the more traditional manufacturers of Steadicam and steadicam-stabilizers tend to market their products honestly while respecting the virtues of other systems, many of the second tier builders and newcomers make claims that are easily believed by young operators, new to the craft and the art of Steadicam. In short, the kids use the internet and the Steadicam forum as a resource, and are drawn to nice shiny objects. A little bit of anodizing goes a long way, but the pages of this forum are filled with the threads where products did not function as promised or service was lacking. What really got me going though was the brazen claim by this manufacturer that their arm is the strongest and most reliable arm ever invented. If I were more uneducated around Steadicam I may believe this, discounting the evolution that has brought the operating community the PRO arm and the Tiffen G70 and G 50. Unless they have access to all the stress analysis data generated when the PRO was designed or have loaded the G70 to the point of failure, they are simply campaigning for executive office. I know I should hold my toungue until I have actually tried this product, but just a casual glance at their product page convinces me that they are short of their own mark. As Steadicam Operators we are entitled to be very critical about what we may choose to further our craft because we stand relatively alone in a difficult business.
  13. Chris Haarhoff

    Action Cam

    Looks like a bit of old poo...
  14. I'm semi-desperate to find a 2nd generation Preston Handset along with the microwave xmtr. I could also be interested in the MDR if anyone wanted to let that go as well. With all the threes getting snapped up now somebody must be needing some cash?? Chris Harhoff 310-476-2603
  15. Hi guys, sorry to bring this out on to the forum, but it's my last hope. Any friendly Belgian Op please contact me by E mail at chris@chrishaarhoff.com....oh come on guys, it's not about that, I'm happily married and I'm not a congressman. Here's a clue....Rugby. Please, time is of the escence... Chris Haarhoff 310-339-6030
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