Shooting from boats- gyros at

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Sony XDCAM EX Pro Handhelds
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Old August 1st, 2009, 02:12 PM   #1
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Shooting from boats- gyros

Hello - I am newbie to the EX1 and HD- I need to shoot some sailing from boat to boat in light winds & seas. Any tips on hand holding, shoulder braces and use of gyros - much appreciated. Thank in advance.
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Old August 1st, 2009, 02:16 PM   #2
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Tyler makes a boat mount that will keep your horizons correct. It's a big system and works well. I watched another crew have pretty good results with a Schwemm lens. It'a a 2/3" mount stabilized lens. There are other stabilized lenses, I think Canon makes some. Might be pretty akward on an EX-3 unless you have a shoulder mount rig.
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Old August 1st, 2009, 02:23 PM   #3
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Thanks for that but --this is serious low budget in a remote loaction so need to to find reasonable alternatives.
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Old August 1st, 2009, 03:59 PM   #4
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Tyler have the new Minigyro that could be ideal for this. It'll run just about all day off one set of batteries, the whole system fits into a luggable sized flight case. As it doesn't bolt to anything you can use it for handheld, in a boat or copter. The pogo stick that locks into the unit simply rests on a seat or part of the boat.
You cannot buy it, rental is around USD 650 / day I was told. There's only a few built so far, so getting your hands on one might be difficult. On the other hand as it's so new you might get very lucky, worth asking around.
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Old August 1st, 2009, 04:09 PM   #5
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For serious low budget, your best bet will be 1 or 2 Kenyon gyros. I use one parallel to the lens so i get pan and tilt stabilization but not roll. Add another on an adaptor plate to get roll stabilized also. For that camera you'd need the KS6 or 8 model. It will be pretty heavy in the end and your best bet is to handhold it to isolate it as much as possible from your body so you might be feeling the burn after a while. I think the rental rate on these units is a lot less than anything else.

Good luck
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Old August 4th, 2009, 10:50 PM   #6
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So far I've had decent results with a shoulder mount combined with Bendaknees.

The camera (an EX1) is on a CAVision shouldermount. And I Bend Da Knees to take up some of the boat's motion. I try to stay in line with the boat's keel to minimize vertical motion. If you stand at the gunwale, the boat's tendency to roll will raise and lower that part of the deck fairly quickly. The centerline is a lot more stable.

It's also more stable the closer you get to the back, or stern, of the boat.

Gyroscopic stabilizers would be a great help, but while it reduces the camera's motion, it also slows down your ability to pan quickly if necessary. A tradeoff. Also, be aware you'll need to protect anything you take out on the ocean, even on a seemingly calm day. Salt spray tends to get everywhere, and even something as simple as a dry towel draped over the camera can be helpful... although I strongly recommend a properly fitted weather cover.
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Old August 5th, 2009, 08:30 AM   #7
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I have done a lot of shooting on boats. We do boat safety videos.

I use a Stedicam rig with a heavy camera package.

I always used a DSR500 and the Stedicam SK.

Now I use same rig with a EX3 but I use 2 AB battery bricks for added weight. It works really well, but I will admit that it took me a 30-40 hrs of using a Stedicam to get the hang of it. A really light touch use body lean to move rig, and just be really loose.

I have shot offshore with 3-5 ft swell running alongside a Marine patrol speedboat at 40 mph, and got some really smooth shots.

I never have used the Kenyon Gyros. But I think they would be a great help.

Below is some video from the Florida video shot in 2005.

Some of it is from Heli, but most of it is just Stedicam from a boat.

Westside A V Studios Videos
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Old August 5th, 2009, 10:03 AM   #8
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Ocean Pearl on Vimeo

I think that this is about as low-budget as you can go. I shot this last Sunday using a Sony A1 in a sportspack housing mounted in a Fig Rig. It was a tryout for this configuration. It worked out well enough, so I edited it into this sequence (it's a shame the sun didn't stay out but this is a typical English summer).

The shots taken when I was sitting down show some movement transmitted from the bouncing boat but the shots taken standing up are surprisingly smooth.

This is the boat I was using:
Terhi - Products - Rowing boats - Saiman
with a 3 hp Johnson going flat out.

A deep V rib would give a much smoother ride. Or in your case perhaps, a large sailboat.

It's the first time I have tried doing this and I was therefore at the beginning of the learning curve. Issues that I had to deal with were:
- operating the boat singlehanded and shooting at the same time (not recommended)
- seeing everything as a mirror image in the sportshousing's mirrored viewer (hence the uncertain framing - every move is completely counterintuitive)
- not being able to see the reflected LCD (inside a smoked perspex casing) very easily in bright sunlight.

Therefore, shooting standing up, with someone else operating the boat, I reckon that with a bit more practice I could get consistently good shots.

I'm not sure how useful this is for you with an EX1 but I don't see why it shouldn't be if you can fit it in a Fig Rig.

One final thought. I saw some still photographers in the Virgin Islands using waist harnesses with two lines and two anchor points at either side of the floor of the boat, at the bow. They were able to operate these small ribs singlehanded and lean back against the pull of the harness lines (which formed a V) to give them stability.
It was working well. You would want to use a deadman's switch for the engine, obviously.

Last edited by Richard Gooderick; August 5th, 2009 at 10:53 AM.
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Old August 5th, 2009, 12:35 PM   #9
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Someone mentioned in another thread about using bungee cords to spend the camera inside a helicopter. This allows the camera to "float", but you have to keep your hands on it so it doesn't just bounce around.

But I'm just repeating something I read on another thread. Never done this myself, but it sounds like it might work/help.
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Old August 6th, 2009, 06:22 AM   #10
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For low budget (ie. no steadicam) post processing with DeShaker is well worth the time. Necessary to use a fast shutter (say 1/200) to minimise blurred frames. Shoot as wide as possible and certainly position yourself at the stern (if practical for viewpoints etc). After DeShaker (don't set it to fill edges) select cropping to cut off black edges.
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