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Old September 9th, 2008, 04:45 PM   #1
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I need Friction

I currently shoot with the Smooth Shooter and Glidecam 4000, the "frictionless" joint that allow my camera to spin 360 is too smooth for my liking, I sometimes tend to swivel a little from side to side and was thinking that introducing friction would help for better control. Does anyone know if there are solutions available or have any suggestions?
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Old September 9th, 2008, 07:23 PM   #2
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Friction is generally a bad thing in a gimbal. Your fingers are what you use to control the cameras turn rate. Your meant to be able to move your entire body around the camera, and it stays still unless you add drag with your fingers. Sounds like you just need to practice a lot more, and perhaps set up your static and dynamic balance better.
You could also add more weight, which helps as long as you control the extra mass.
It don't know how much tutoring you've had, but this little video for the Steadicam Pilot covers a lot of the basics. They are universal to all brands of stabiliser.

YouTube - Steadicam Pilot - How to demonstration
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Old September 10th, 2008, 02:11 AM   #3
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Nicholas,

Early in my vast steadicam career (tongue in cheek) I bought a sled off of ebay. Not ones that are available today. Anyway, I had a heck of a time getting shots that didn't have a side to side movement in them. I tried everything I could think of to get rid of the problem by adjusting the dual arm support system bearings that we developed but nothing worked. I finally found out that the gimbal pan bearing that was used was a sealed bearing instead of a shielded bearing. The result was that the pan (side to side) bearing had too much friction. I managed to fix the bearing so that it was very smooth and voila, the side to side movement went away.

This is a long way of saying what David has already said and that is you want the gimbal bearings to be as frictionless as possible and control the sled movement with a light touch of your control hand (the one just under the gimbal).

We have a demo showing a video of what a sled without a three axis gimbal looks like when compared to one with a three axis gimbal. It can be found at:
http://www.indicam.com/media/Flash/flvplayer.html
The clip is the last one on the bottom. Both shots are done with the same camera on full telephoto to exaggerate the movement more. Note for Charles...we know we didn't control the horizon well at all but our purpose was to show how smooth a full gimbled sled could be.

Anyway, this was my experience with a gimbal that had too much friction. The gimbals we use in our systems have been reworked to make them as frictionless as possible. This shows up in the before mentioned video.

Remember the steadicam motto...Practise, practise, practise.

Smooth Shooting,

Tery
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Old September 10th, 2008, 09:36 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nicholas de Kock View Post
I currently shoot with the Smooth Shooter and Glidecam 4000, the "frictionless" joint that allow my camera to spin 360 is too smooth for my liking, I sometimes tend to swivel a little from side to side and was thinking that introducing friction would help for better control. Does anyone know if there are solutions available or have any suggestions?
As other's have said, friction is a bad thing. More friction means more connection between your body and the camera, which means the shots are less stable.

From what you say above, I think what you really mean is more INERTIA, not friction. More inertia will keep the camera from panning inadvertantly.

I use the Steadicam Pilot, so I'm not that familiar with the Glidecam products, but the pictures on the Glidecam site show weight discs on the bottom. How many weights do you use? How heavy is your camera? It looks like the weight discs move on a slot. Are they all the way out from the center post?

Here's why I ask. The more weight you have further out from the center post, the more pan inertia. So you want to have those weight discs at the bottom as far out from the center post as they will go. If your camera is light, you may want to add some weight to the camera so that you can add more weight discs to the bottom and still keep the right vertical balance (drop time).

If you're handy, you can make a camera weight using strips of wide metal stock. The weight goes between the camera and the Glidecam. You'll need a longer 1/4-20 screw to make it work.

Hope this helps.
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Old September 10th, 2008, 05:11 PM   #5
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After reading these I am convinced friction is not what I need.

David thanks the videos, helped, my hand placement for control was always at the bottom of my rig not under the gimbal. Dave I recently added a lot of extra weights that came with my rig after shooting almost a year with few weights and this had made an remarkable improvement. I'm thinking a lot of practice is what I need! Glidecam has also released an upgrade to the smooth shooter that allows me to connect and extra spring unit (X-10) to my rig, I couldn't afford the dual action arms from Steadicam, this is a great upgrade.

I am finding the finger control on the post not as accurate as I would like, for rotation shots around a subject I get great results however the side to side movements that I get sometimes ruin my shot. I would like to experiment by adding grips in the form of rubber stubs or 2cm long clips on both sides to give me steering ability for my pans.

Dave in your experience, does the monitor at the bottom of the Pilot make a huge difference? I don't have an external monitor and use the one on my XHA1 to see what I am doing, could this also be the reason I'm struggling to get the shots I want?

Appreciate all the input.
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Old September 10th, 2008, 06:05 PM   #6
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Nicholas,

I'm a new Steadicam Pilot owner, having upgraded recently from a Glidecam 4000 Pro. I have to say, the Pilot's monitor is a great help and much better than having to rely on the camera's LCD. The main reason for this, other than having a much bigger display, is that it's very hard to see the camera's LCD from most angles other than straight ahead. The LCD is off to the side, which means that when the camera is panned, even a little, the LCD's position (relative to the operator) changes a lot. Also, if you operate "Don Juan" (with the camera facing behind you), you cannot see the camera's LCD at all, unless you change it before making the switch. With the Pilot, the display is visible if you're operating "Missionary" or "Don Juan." The same goes for operating in low mode.
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Old September 10th, 2008, 07:09 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nicholas de Kock View Post
Dave in your experience, does the monitor at the bottom of the Pilot make a huge difference? I don't have an external monitor and use the one on my XHA1 to see what I am doing, could this also be the reason I'm struggling to get the shots I want?
The Steadicam Pilot was my first rig, so I can't say how much worse it would be without it, but I can tell you the general issues:
1) being able to see the ground as you walk
2) being able to see the monitor in all positions

Julian Frost describes issue #2 very well in the previous post. The only thing I would add here is that if you are doing something that requires a change of position mid shot, then having a monitor on the bottom is practically essential. For example, if you are walking in front of somebody with the lens pointing backward over your left shoulder (Don Juan), and then the people stop, turn around, and walk the other way, then you have to turn around and follow them from behind with the lens pointing forward (Missionary). Making this kind of change mid-shot kind of requires a monitor on the bottom.

As for issue #1, it's not bad on even ground, but on stairs, in the woods, through the grass, in tight places, etc, it's really nice to be able to see where you are going. The monitor down low really helps with this.

But, if you mostly just point the lens straight ahead and walk on level ground without any obstructions, a monitor on the bottom probably isn't necessary.
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Old September 10th, 2008, 07:16 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Nicholas de Kock View Post
Dave I recently added a lot of extra weights that came with my rig after shooting almost a year with few weights and this had made an remarkable improvement.
What is your drop time? If the drop time is too short (less than 2 seconds), you may get a lot of swaying as you start and stop. Adding weight to the bottom without adding weight to the top or adjusting the position of the gimbal will shorten the drop time. I'm not sure if the Glidecam 4000 allows you to change the position of the gimbal.

The XH-A1 is not light, but it's not heavy either. You may want to add a pound or two under the camera, depending on your drop time.
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