Setting up the Steadicam Merlin for the Canon XHA1 - Tutorial - Page 2 at

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Canon XH Series HDV Camcorders
Canon XH G1S / G1 (with SDI), Canon XH A1S / A1 (without SDI).

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Old July 17th, 2008, 11:38 AM   #16
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And if SAG goes on strike, I would like you to write a book:

"Documentary Steadicam: Perfection on the Fly"

...or some such title.

The book will detail how to take the traditional steadicam techniques used to create the planned, rehearsed and beautifully executed shots and apply them to the fast-moving, improvisational documentary world.

And how are traditional steadicam techniques adapted to this different style of shooting.

The focus is on the block-style HDV/HD camera mounted on the Steadicam Pilot, with a special chapter on handheld techniques, perhaps with the Merlin that can also go on the Pilot arm.

Of course there will be a chapter on safety in unfamiliar environments, with a list of definite don't do's, with workarounds suggested.

There will be a chapter on effective use of the steadicam on the documentary, and also what is not effective and a waste of time.

There will be a chapter on how to use a steadicam for shots that don't look like steadicam... presuming that in a documentary situation you want a variety of looks, but don't have the luxury of time to set-up a tripod, a jib, a hi-hat, etc.

Of course, there's a lot more you can cover, but that's the idea.

I will buy the first copy. Don't forget the steadicam documentary gag real DVD... basically a collection of POV steadicam shots where operators ran into unexpected situations, like trees and big drop offs.

For the cover, to show how the once big budget studio technique is now out in the field for everyone (and as an homage, to boot):
Garrett Brown is running in the jungle, leading an attacking lion. He is wearing a giant steadicam rig and flying a Chapman studio crab dolly with a Panavision camera on it, with you the operator, sitting with your eye glued to the viewfinder.

Please, put up a link, so we can pre-order.
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Old July 17th, 2008, 02:11 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Charles Papert View Post
I think you guys may be talking about two different ideas--(correct me if I am wrong)--Shiv, you are suggesting not to shoot with the Merlin at anything other than full wide angle while Ger is talking about zooming within a shot...?

Well I wasn't really Charles, I got a little off topic talking about WA Adaptors for general shooting.
But now that you mention it I do intend to try using the merlin at various focal lenghts over the next few jobs to see how I get on.
I had considered before bringing my A1 remote control to perform some zooms while shooting.

But if this is to work out it will have to be done without my .65 redeye attached.
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Old July 18th, 2008, 06:52 AM   #18
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You're correct in understanding what I said. I didn't know about the X exercize but when I first got my Merlin I tried a bunch of things and one of them was something similar and it didn't look like telephoto shots would be usable at all.

Rather than an article I'd love to see footage by you made using a Merlin, Charles. I think that would be a treat for all of us!
Canon XH-A1, Libec LS-55M, Letus Extreme, Steadicam Merlin, PPro CS3
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Old July 18th, 2008, 11:00 AM   #19
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Actually Shiv, I had some test footage up at one time with the Merlin and the HV20 when I first got it and it was pretty mediocre...I believe that the gimbal on my Merlin is not-so-great and keep meaning to pick up the metal one to give it a fair shot. I don't really use the Merlin much so it's not a priority. Even the concepts are the same and the skill of operating is pretty translatable from the big rig to this, the smallest one, the specifics of using just your thumb and forefinger to control the inertial forces is something that I would still need to practice quite a bit for best results. It's fun watching Garrett wield the Merlin though, he's an absolute wiz at it (terrible pun, sorry).

Jack, regarding articles/videos etc., I've long tossed around the idea of an instructional video (actually a series of them) but there's a lot of time and work involved.
Charles Papert
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Old July 18th, 2008, 04:43 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Shiv Kumar View Post
I've personally not had vibration issues because I use rubber pads between the Mounting plate and the A1 and that's really to do with what I think is a flawed design of the A1.
Just curious, what do you use for the rubber pads? I was thinking maybe cut-out sections from a bike tire tube, but that may be to thin?

I'm excited to watch your video, but I have to leave to film in 20 minutes so I have to check it out later.
Black Label Films
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Old July 19th, 2008, 01:41 AM   #21
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That's a realy pitty! I've found that using a heavier camera is easier (at least for me). I have the HV30 and XHA1 and the HV20 seems to go all over the place :). As in I have to keep my finger on the gimbal constantly to keep it from rotating. And the slightest breeze causes it to shift. With the A1 I have far less "trouble".


The rubber I use is a bit harder than the tube of a cycle tyre. I've cut rubber matsinto small pieces and I use two layers. These two layers are just slightly higher than the air gap you get and so when you tighten up the tripod plate (or merlin plate) it tends to squeeze it in.

I found soft rubber didn't help. These mats I mention are kitchen mats and such, they are rubber, but they are firm/hard. If you can imagine thin foot mats, its kind of like that.
Canon XH-A1, Libec LS-55M, Letus Extreme, Steadicam Merlin, PPro CS3
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