By: Tom Blount It was late 2007, I was at university and one of my classmates had hired a Glidecam Smooth Shooter. I was intrigued by this strange looking device but was quick to strap myself into the vest, little did I know it would be this moment that would determine what I wanted to do in the industry, I was instantly hooked and have been ever since.
I've been a Glidecam customer ever since, moving up through their product range as my experience grew and last year I purchased the X-30. I've attended a couple of Steadicam workshops and got my hands on the various other brands that exist. After testing a variety of systems I settled with the X-30 as I believe Glidecam offered the best products within my price bracket with the spec that I need for my daily work. The X-30 allows me to fly larger and heavier cameras that other systems in the same price bracket simply don't allow.
Setting up and using the rig is similar to other systems. Static and dynamic balance are easy to achieve, it's well built, reliable and the arm handles the various weights with ease. I like the aluminum sled, it's solid and does not flex, something I have found happens on other brands that use carbon fiber posts. The sled comes with multiple 12 volt 2 pin lemo sockets and D-Tap sockets so powering accessories is easy and once everything is tightened there is no play or wobble in any part, something that I've found can cause vibrations on other rigs when walking or running. I have customized the rig slightly, to improve the pan inertia I've moved the monitor bracket to the bottom of the lower post and I'll shortly be adding a third v-lock battery plate to the base of the lower electronics box, this will allow me to keep the post length slightly shorter and bring the monitor back up a few inches for easier viewing.
I've just finished shooting a short film where I flew a fully rigged Red with Cooke S4 lenses, there was a mixture of high and low mode, lock-offs and tracking shots. The Glidecam X-30 performed well, it was easy and quick to balance and very stable on the lock-offs. Having number markings on the posts makes setting up the sled easy when moving locations. Balancing in high mode and then shifting the gimbal down half an inch enabled balanced low-mode operating and I was impressed with the clearance the gimbal handle had, I was able to operate without having a low-mode bracket and didn't have to worry about knocking the camera.
Overall I'm very pleased with the X-30, it's well built, smooth, reliable, easy to balance and simply the best in it's class.