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Old August 5th, 2008, 10:37 PM   #1
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Bouncy Footage With Merlin & XH-A1

Is it just me or has anyone else out there who uses a Merlin steadicam with a Canon XH-A1 camera noticed a bounce to their footage with the camera's image stabilizer turned on? Until now, when using my Merlin, I've always shot with the image stabilizer on since it makes sense that additional stability equals more stable footage - but sometimes I'll notice a slight bounce when reviewing the footage during 'forward walking' shots. I just dismissed it as being a minor defect in the Merlin or my not having it properly calibrated for my A1. But today I was out filming some steadicam shots and forgot to turn on my A1's image stabilizer until the very end. So I filmed the last few shots with it on. To my surprise, when I got home and reviewed my footage, I noticed that none of the shot had bouncy footage and were still very smooth even with the stabilizer off. But when I got to the end of the footage where I had turned the stabilizer on, sure enough the shots became bouncy again.

I was curious if anyone else has experienced this. If so, and you are puzzled as to what might be causing it, try filming with the stabilizer off and see if it fixes the problem - I would be interested in knowing.
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Old August 5th, 2008, 10:56 PM   #2
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Actually Paul, it is NOT a good idea to use a camera's image stabilization when flying a camera on a Steadicam. "More is not better".

When flying a camera you and your rig become the stabilizing influence. The camera does not know if it is the camera moving or the image, so it tries to take any image that shakes, whether from subject or camera movement, and stabilize it.

Try this test. Lock your camera off stationary on a tripod with the image stabilization turned on. Now the camera is rock solid, so image stabilization will only make sure of that, right? Wrong. Roll tape and go and wave your hand back and forth in front of the camera really fast, then watch the playback. Notice that the entire picture shakes because image stabilization is trying to keep the waving hand in one place.

A camera's image stabilization is designed to compensate for small, jerky motions (usually the result of handholding it). These motions are removed by flying the camera on a rig. So it tries to stabilize movement in the frame instead.

ALWAYS turn off your image stabilization when flying on a stabilizer.
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Old August 5th, 2008, 11:51 PM   #3
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Yes, of course with a tripod and a high-end steadicam the image stabilizer would not needed because that type of equipment there is little or no movement, and as you say, the stabilizer will pulsate and cause a jerk to the image (man, I hate it when I forget to turn off the stabilizer when filming static shots - I wish the A1 had a button on the camera for switching - what were they thinking).

I guess my assumption of the Merlin was that because it is a lower-end steadicam and is more assessable to swaying and movement that the image stabilizer would improve the shot (actually I have found that in some cases it does) - but now I see that for most walking shots it is better to have it off - good stuff! Thanks for the reply.
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Old August 6th, 2008, 10:10 AM   #4
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The difference in performance between a Merlin and high-end Steadicam has more to do with the masses involved rather than the hardware itself. It is possible to achieve shots with the Merlin that are indistinguishable to those taken with full-size rig. It's all in the operator.
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Old August 7th, 2008, 10:49 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Charles Papert View Post
...It's all in the operator.
Two Words...Garrett Brown himself....
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Old August 7th, 2008, 04:30 PM   #6
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Hey Chuck, isn't that THREE words?? :)
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