Steadicam Provides Better Video for KET

I initially thought that such a five pound weight difference on the arm might not be a big deal, but I was wrong.
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Amelia Cutadean readies the Steadicam Clipper 312 for action.. Photo: Lee Clements
LEXINGTON, KY.
I work for Kentucky Educational Television (KET), which operates WKLE, the PBS member station here. We're the largest PBS station in the nation, based on coverage area, which not only includes Kentucky, but spills over into adjacent states. And we locally produce more shows than any other PBS station in the nation.

We purchased a Steadicam Clipper 312 last year for use in live and taped broadcasts, which have ranged from concert coverage, dramas, walk-and-talks and documentaries. I couldn't be happier with this choice of camera support rig.

As our station made the transition to digital video, we went from DV cams to high-definition cameras, with an increase in weight of about five pounds. This brings me to one of my favorite features of our rig, the G50 arm's "Lift and Ride."

REGAINING THE LOST 'SWEET SPOT'

I initially thought that such a five pound weight difference on the arm might not be a big deal, but I was wrong.

The first time I put one of our new high-definition cameras on the rig, my arm quickly dropped and I found that couldn't hold the "sweet spot" that camera operators prefer.

The beauty of the Steadicam G50 arm is in its ability to adjust for "lift and ride." This feature allowed me to establish a very accurate adjustment, not only in connection with the weight the arm is carrying, but also letting me quickly make adjustments when it's necessary to add other items to the configuration, changing its balance point.

I sometimes add a matte box to my camera when I'm using filters for a shoot, and by using this Steadicam feature, I'm able to make a very slight adjustment to the arm's "lift," so that when I'm flying the rig it rests in a more comfortable position.

Another part of this arm's feature set is its "ride." This is controlled as easily as the lift feature and provides an operator with a full range of adjustment when you're operating in conditions outside the norm.

SUPPORT SYSTM NOT JUST FOR WALKING AROUND

I can think of several instances in which the "ride" feature really saved the day. It's an especially great asset when you're called upon to shoot from a moving platform with a car mount.

When I operate a camera rig from a vehicle, being able to adjust the overall "ride" is really critical in obtaining stable video. Small bumps in the road can become big bumps in the picture when you're trying to control the camera rig while facing backwards is a car that is moving along the highway. It's just not that easy to anticipate bumps in the road, and in such cases, being able to adjust the G50 arm to make it less reactive to those bumps is certainly a very positive feature.

I debuted KET's Steadicam rig earlier this year at Kentucky Derby 135, where I was shooting for a documentary production based on the history of the thoroughbred racehorse. This is set to air next year.

I'm sure that the Steadicam rig will continue to stay very busy in connection with many of KET's signature productions, giving our station and the network a great new look for some of the award winning shows that we put together.

Amelia Cutadean has been working in television since 1996 and has been with Kentucky Educational Television for the past nine years. She may be contacted at ameliacutadean@hotmail.com

For additional information, contact Tiffen-Steadicam at 818-843-4600 or visit
www.tiffen.com.