steadicam merlin vertical bobbing motion - Page 2 at DVinfo.net

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Old September 21st, 2007, 10:45 PM   #16
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Charles -

I just came back from seeing In The Valley Of Elah, and as the credits rolled by, I saw your Steadicam credit and I thought to myself "I don't remember any Steadicam shots". That's the biggest compliment you can get - when the work is so transparent that I could concentrate on the story.
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Old September 21st, 2007, 11:16 PM   #17
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Charles,

Before I reply, just wanted you to know that you've been a great help (and others here as well). I've been concentrating on the "things that matter" (as per your advise).

The Merlin arrived sooner that I was told/expected (Wednesday). So I got it here (VA) instead of next week in CO. Yes, I took to it like a fish to water. I happened to have read (study is more like it) the manual on-line the night before. I had it balanced in about an hour the first time (going totally blind). I posted some clips on the newsgroup you should see. They aren't artsy or anything, but I was just having a blast. What an exhilerating experience.

This evening I went for a jog with the Merlin (and Camera) (Wife and a friend were on cycles). There was a slight breeze so it was difficult keeping the camera pointed where I wanted it. As a result I got a few shots that had a dutch tilt to them (look pretty cool actually). Needless to say, I was done in about 20 minutes. When I look at the footage, I can't believe I was practically running with that thing. So yes, I've jumped in with both feet and loving it.

Today the Letus arrived. Another great piece of equipment. I feel a lot better today. A lot of what's and hows and stuff has been answered and now I'm free to imagine and be creative.

The shoot begins next week and I'm really excited. Thanks for asking.

Shiv.
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Old September 22nd, 2007, 02:35 AM   #18
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Glad to hear you are enjoying the gear Shiv, that's what it's all about (and Steadicam is an exhilarating and liberating skill).

Tsu, thank you! I haven't seen "Elah" yet myself. I'm pretty sure that I have at least 4 major Steadicam shots in the movie, but I would imagine that they are fairly chopped up with other shots and also I would guess that the film itself is strong enough that it is not really about the camera pyrotechnics. The sequence where Tommy Lee Jones first tours the barracks and talks to his son's friends was Steadicam; Charlize approaching the crime scene at night (girl in bathtub) was a big shot of mine that involved a crane step-off; chasing the perp through the alleys had plenty of Steadicam, both body-and-vehicle mounted; Tommy Lee touring the amputee ward of the hospital; and a really tough shot of Charlize and Jason Patric walking out of the cross-examination room (and then her walking REALLY fast back in, which required me to backpedal through a narrow doorway at high speed about 25 times...!)

So I don't know which of these shots made it, although most are in the trailer so I guesss some form of them are in the film. I'll find out soon!

Anyone see "Balls of Fury"...?
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Old September 25th, 2007, 10:42 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shiv Kumar View Post
Sam,

Here are my finding:
A balanced my tiny Camera (Panasonic SD HC I think) on the Merlin. As you know, there are many combinations in which you can get a balanced camera/Merlin combination, I find that using more weights rather than the bare minimum will help.

I initially got it balanced using the bare minimum weights:
1 End weight in the front
1 End weight at the bottom
The spars and gimbal adjusted accordingly.

Took it for a walk. There was a very slight bobbing. Nothing like the clip you posted.

Next, I added a start weight to the bottom. In other words I now have a start and end weight on the bottom spar.

I unscrewed the gimbal 3-4 turns and adjusted the spars to get almost balanced (shifting the camera towards the back on the stage as well).

Took it for a walk and the bobbing is gone. So if adding more weight is going to help this, then that's what I'd do.

Maybe start backwards. That is put on more weights.

1 mid weight and 1 end weight on the front.
3-4 mid weights plus 1 start and 1 end weight on the bottom.
Open up the spars just more than halfway.
Get almost balanced by shifting the camera on the stage.
Then fine tune using the gimbal and trims.

Let us know how it goes.

Shiv.
I was finally able to get back to my Merlin kit and try your ideas, I have to say that adding the weight simply made it extremely bottom heavy. I tried many iterations of what you had suggested, and though sometimes it would feel as though it were balanced, it REALLY exhibited the sway that you were first talking about in this thread.
It seems counter-intiutive to me that adding more mid or end weights could possibley do anything other than make the whole thing bottom heavy. Were you able to get it balanced and not exhibit the swaying motion, and was your drop time still good?

Thanks so much for all the time you have put into this.

Sam
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Old September 25th, 2007, 03:24 PM   #20
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Sam -
I don't have a Merlin, had a few other stabilizers along the way, so I think what the other posters mean is to add weight to the overall rig, not just the bottom. IOW you need to add weight at the camera end - bigger battery, a WA lens, etc. Obviously this is a "balancing act" - the challenge with a light camera is may actually create less inertia than the rig, which in turn makes it harder for the rig to control it. Hope that made sense. I gather the Merlin handles a wider range of cameras, but I'm sure that at the high and low end of the weight range it becomes more touchy.

Also, how are you holding the handle? It may be that you are trying to keep it "vertical", where a slight angle will help take the bounce out?
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Old September 25th, 2007, 04:52 PM   #21
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For anyone having trouble moving the Merlin smoothly and moving smoothly with the Merlin -- when it is properly balanced -- I highly recommend a few adult ballet classes -- or maybe even some kind of slow motion martial arts training.
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Old September 25th, 2007, 05:42 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by Dave Blackhurst View Post
Sam -
I don't have a Merlin, had a few other stabilizers along the way, so I think what the other posters mean is to add weight to the overall rig, not just the bottom. IOW you need to add weight at the camera end - bigger battery, a WA lens, etc. Obviously this is a "balancing act" - the challenge with a light camera is may actually create less inertia than the rig, which in turn makes it harder for the rig to control it. Hope that made sense. I gather the Merlin handles a wider range of cameras, but I'm sure that at the high and low end of the weight range it becomes more touchy.

Also, how are you holding the handle? It may be that you are trying to keep it "vertical", where a slight angle will help take the bounce out?
Thanks for the reply. I have added weight overall. That was what my original post was about, following the advice of Charles Pappert and adding weight to the camera. I also then tried Shiv's technique of adding mid and end weights, but this made it act bottom heavy.
I have actually tried the handle in several positions.

Sam

Last edited by Sam DeWitt; September 25th, 2007 at 08:50 PM.
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Old September 25th, 2007, 06:11 PM   #23
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Try this:
When making you moves, don't carry the camera with you; but rather move the camera along the path you want it to go on, and then simply move yourself around/with it.

Don't concentrate on carying it corretly, but rather, concentrate on how you want it to move and let your instincts keep your body along for the ride.

Basically: Let the camera/rig lead.

- Mikko
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Old September 25th, 2007, 08:49 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by Mikko Wilson View Post
Try this:
When making you moves, don't carry the camera with you; but rather move the camera along the path you want it to go on, and then simply move yourself around/with it.

Don't concentrate on carying it corretly, but rather, concentrate on how you want it to move and let your instincts keep your body along for the ride.

Basically: Let the camera/rig lead.

- Mikko
Thanks for this Mikko, just to make sure, you do understand that I am simply talking about walking forwards with it? Not moving around, panning around etc?

Sam
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Old September 25th, 2007, 09:28 PM   #25
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What's moving?

Either the camera is rocking back and forth on the gimble, or

your arm is moving up and down, or

you are bouncing up and down on the balls of your feet.

If it's anything but the first, you just have to hold/move the camera smoothly/still. There is no magic.

Perhaps you could post a video of you walking with the camera.
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Old September 25th, 2007, 09:31 PM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jack Walker View Post
What's moving?

Either the camera is rocking back and forth on the gimble, or

your arm is moving up and down, or

you are bouncing up and down on the balls of your feet.

If it's anything but the first, you just have to hold/move the camera smoothly/still. There is no magic.

Perhaps you could post a video of you walking with the camera.
I did post a video, it is in the first post on this thread.

Sam
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Old September 26th, 2007, 12:05 PM   #27
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Sam,
It doesn't matter. Basically I'm saying to stop worrying about how you are moving, but to rather concentrate on how the camera is moving.

If you want the camera somewhere, put the camera there - don't worry about going there and taking the camera with you; if you put the camera there, you will naturally follow.

If you want to make a move, or pan or tilt, do it; concentrate on the frame, on the location of the camera in 3D space, regardless of your position. As you make any moves with the camera, you will automatically follow along, but your shots will be better.

Think of it like a violinist concentrating on the music, not how they are holding the bow; or a painter who is watching the paint on the canvas, not where his arm is going to move the brush.

- Mikko
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Old October 1st, 2007, 12:13 AM   #28
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Sam,

Sorry, I''ve been out of town and just got back...

Add more weight to the rig but still make sure the blanace is correct. That is it is not bottom heavy.

I had the Merlin balanced in two ways. The first used the least number of weights. The drop test was just fine. I found that there was a bit of bobbing (nothing like what your video shows).


Next, I added more weight and got the Merlin Balanced again. Making sure again that the drop test was correct. This time there was no bobbing.

You should probably trying your rig with you barefoot or with shoes that don't have thick rubber soles or something. I find that when one is barefoot one tends to walk with a smoother gait.

This week I did buy an HV20 and used it on the Merlin from inside a car. But if you'd like I can post some footage of walking around with it.
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Old October 1st, 2007, 01:52 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by Shiv Kumar View Post
I find that when one is barefoot one tends to walk with a smoother gait.
Shiv, come now, that's not practical advice!! What if you have to shoot in a factory? And for most people, it's not true, unless they tend to walk around barefoot a lot.

This is a STEADICAM--the idea is that it isolates you from your footsteps. You can run with it and get a stable shot--how could the material of your soles affect this.

Sam, what Jack is suggesting (and somewhere along the line I think I did also) was that you get someone else to shoot footage of you working with the rig so we can see what is going on with your form. It would be helpful if that shot is as stable as possible. I would suggest that they stand in one place and rotate as you make a large circle around them with the Merlin.
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Old October 1st, 2007, 02:35 PM   #30
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Charles,

I was just going through the "process of elimination". I don't expect anyone to actually go barefoot doing a real shoot :).
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