steadicam merlin vertical bobbing motion at DVinfo.net

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Old September 19th, 2007, 05:15 PM   #1
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steadicam merlin vertical bobbing motion

I have posted a similar topic over at the steadicam forum, and got some great feedback, especially fron Charles Pappert (he should be getting paid for all the help he gives users!), but I still have an issue with the Merlin that although common sense tells me I just need more practice to overcome, I am still looking for that magic something that someone will turn me on to that will solve my problem.

In a nutshell, when walking forward with the Merlin I get a vertical bobbing motion that I can not seem to shake.

Here is an example -

http://hv20.info/yopu/bobbing_02.mov

One thing Charles advised me of was that since I am flying a tiny camera (HV20), I should add extra weight to try and help deaden this motion. I did that, and it helped a little. I have also tried various forms of walking, have practiced with simple things like a full glass of water etc., but I still get this bobbing.
As I stated on the steadicam forum, I am just trying to get some solid direction as to whcih way I should be pointing as I travel down this path, I am afraid of reinforcing bad technique by not having a good solid framework to start from in terms of correct technique.

To reiterate, I have re-read tha manual, re-watched the DVD that came with it (looks like those guys are just walking totally naturally, but that is probably deceptive), have tried a heel to toe motion, shorter steps, holding my arms way out in front, arms more to the side, etc, etc, to no avail so far.

Any tips would be greatly aprrecited.

Sam DeWitt
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Old September 19th, 2007, 05:48 PM   #2
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Since you're using such a light camera, you need to have a very light touch on the rig. The more inputs you put in the more unsteady your shots will tend to be. Ideally you should be totally relaxed, if you're stiff and muscling the rig unsteadiness will be apparent.
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Old September 19th, 2007, 05:57 PM   #3
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Thanks for that, I certainly don't feel like I am being tense when I walk with it. I have tried to adopt a "relaxed yet concentrated" approach.

Thanks again for your reply.

Sam
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Old September 19th, 2007, 08:36 PM   #4
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Take smaller steps than usual and slightly bend at the knees while walking. Try and adapt a lighter touch to the gimble. The finesse will come with time & practice.
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Old September 19th, 2007, 11:05 PM   #5
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Yes, smaller steps have helped, but I am not completely "cured" yet.

Thanks much for the reply.

Sam
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Old September 20th, 2007, 03:23 AM   #6
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Sam,

I've only just got my Steadicam Merlin today and posted a few samples on the Clips area for the XH A1 newsgroup.

If I understand you correctly, your issue is to do with too much bottom heavy. Meaning you've either got too much weight on the lower spar or you've turned the guide ring to far in (towards fully clockwise or alomost tight).

If your problem happens when you're standing still and simply move your steadicam out in front of you and bring it right back and out again (kind of like you're boxing someone in front of you), then you're too bottom heavy.
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Old September 20th, 2007, 09:57 AM   #7
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Thanks Shiv, but no, that is not it at all. Through all of this I have gotten quite good at balancing the camera, it is not bottom heavy at all.

I can now balance a camera from scratch, or add attachments and re-balance in a very short time.

I am not getting any of the sway that you refer to, and my drop time is good.

Sam
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Old September 21st, 2007, 01:50 AM   #8
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1. You have your camera too close to your body and your elbow is locked.
2. You are transmitting your torso's up and down motion directly to your hand.

The big steadicams have a double suspension arm which isolates the sled from your torso's motion. Since you don't have a double suspension, try holding the camera farther out in front of you, and relax your upper arm more. In essence, you are turning your entire arm into a spring that isolates your torso from your hand. Use this posture when you're moving, then bring in the camera close to you when you stop moving to prevent fatigue. When you move again, slowly push your hand out, then start walking with slower, gliding steps. Holding your hand farther away from your body helps isolate unwanted torso movement.
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Old September 21st, 2007, 07:31 AM   #9
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Sam,

Here are some questions for you:
1. The bobing up and down, is it in step with your steps?
2. If not, do you see the camera/Merlin combination moving?
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Old September 21st, 2007, 12:28 PM   #10
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Warren -

Thanks, those are great suggestions. I have tried the arm way out in front and other than making my arm get tired REALLY fast, it did not help much with the bobbing.
I was really thinking the extra weight would help, and I think it did a little, but so far the best thing I have found is to walk with smaller steps, and to be REALLY conscious of how I am walking. When I walk this way though I can not get a good pace going. My goal is to be able to walk at my normal stride without the bobbing.
I do think I am getting there though, and I really aprreciate the advice.

Shiv -

Yes, the bobbing is in rythm with my step. The camera is very well balanced. If I stand still and quickly move my arm right, left, forward or back, the rig exhibits no sway at all.

Sam
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Old September 21st, 2007, 01:09 PM   #11
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Sam,

In a way it looks like I'm glad I got a heavy Camera :).

I've got a really tiny video camera. It's not HD but I'll mount it on and balance it and see what I get and let you know.
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Old September 21st, 2007, 01:52 PM   #12
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Shiv -

Thanks, that would be helpful.
Conversely, I have an old JVC GRHD 01 that I think I will mount to see what that is like. I am not where it is right now, but you have given me a really good idea, thanks again.

Sam
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Old September 21st, 2007, 03:11 PM   #13
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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.
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Old September 21st, 2007, 04:05 PM   #14
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Shiv -

Thanks much for your testing!

Sam
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Old September 21st, 2007, 10:09 PM   #15
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Shiv--

Sounds like you have jumped into the Merlin thing with both feet!

How is that job going?
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