How to do Closed up circling Shot? at DVinfo.net

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Old April 26th, 2009, 08:37 PM   #1
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How to do Closed up circling Shot?

I am trying to do a tight shot on a couple kissing and circle around them in a fast manner with a steadicam pilot. The frame is only their heads above the shoulder. The background should be moving pretty fast for a dramatic effect.

I have been having difficulty framing and holding the headroom as i have to zoom in quite a bit and move pretty fast from a distance of about 3m away from them.

Is there a better way to do it then zooming in? Or I simply need a lot more practice?

I have tried doing it slowly and speed up in post but i cant get the fast moving background effect as I have seen before. I am working with an EX1.

Thanks!
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Old May 4th, 2009, 01:31 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Sean Seah View Post

Is there a better way to do it then zooming in? Or I simply need a lot more practice?
More practice.
to get nice fast spining BG you need to be zoomed, the more you zoomed the faster it goes, but the more you zoomed the harder to frame the subject;
i have the same setup (pilot/ex1) for about 8 months, and to get more or less usable footage I do 2 - 3 takes,
very hard shot, but one of the best looking one:)
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Old May 4th, 2009, 03:23 PM   #3
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Here's what I would try:

Keep your left hand in line with the motion, not the lens. If you are moving sideways move your left hand around to control the horizon.

Trim your sled so that the headroom is right where you want it just hanging there.

Make sure you're "under the rig" at all times. When you're under the rig, you can let go with both hands at any time and the sled doesn't move. You control the position of the sled with your hips. This takes practice.

If possible, zoom out and move physically closer.
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Old May 5th, 2009, 11:42 AM   #4
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Sean,

Post revised as per Charles' suggestion. Thanks Chas - I was reading too fast.

I'm sure with some more practise you will get it. I would have thought that speeding up the shot in post would have worked. Is the background in or out of focus?

Best to you.

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Last edited by Terry Thompson; May 6th, 2009 at 12:32 AM.
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Old May 5th, 2009, 07:32 PM   #5
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Haha Terry, you might want to re-read Sean's original post again regarding your suggestion...!

This actually isn't all that hard a shot (compared to some)--not to say that it doesn't take practice of course.

If you have time, mark out a circle on the ground with chalk or tape that represents a fixed diameter (have someone stand in the center with a tape measure, go around and place marks every few feet, then connect the dots as needed). This will give you a visual representation of the path you need to maintain to keep size and distance consistent, plus it will help with framing.

It's generally easier to do this sort of shot walking forwards rather than backwards--if it is my choice, I would walk clockwise with the rig pointed inwards, to my right as I walk around the circle. This does place it sort of over the arm, but the hand position is more natural this way than if it was pointing to the left. This is assuming the arm is connected on the right side of the body, reverse this if you fly with the rig on the other side aka goofy foot.

As Dave notes, trim the headroom so that it is automatically the right framing so you don't need to adjust tilt during the shot. Use your boom arm to make subtle changes in headroom if required. One you get going, it takes very little guidance to keep the camera pointed in the right direction, only slight adjustments if any in pan. Over-controlling with a tight hand grip will ruin this shot, just keep everything super-loosy-goosy. It's a great look, I've done this sort of thing a zillion times.

Oh, and if you can, have the couple slowly rotate the opposite direction from you. This will add to the apparent speed.
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Old May 6th, 2009, 04:14 AM   #6
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Thank u so much! All of you are very helpful. I had some advice from Jerry Holway as well and he said something that really struck me. "Do the minimal". Meaning to trim the rig to frame the subject correctly so that I need not "fight" the rig and focus on the movement.

I tried getting closer to the subject and the effect is a little better. Charles suggestion to have the couple move in the opposite direction is wonderful!

One thing I find difficult is to walk in clockwise manner. So far I have done it in anti clockwise. The arm is attached to my right (right hander). The problem I have for anti clockwise is viewing the monitor as my post is kept to the shortest.

Is it advisable to extent the post a little in this case? I have a drop time of 2 sec. 3 sec is quite "floaty" as I found. So far I find Dave's suggestion to keep the 2" gimbal to stage distance very useful for more stable performance.
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Old May 6th, 2009, 07:47 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Sean Seah View Post
Is it advisable to extent the post a little in this case? I have a drop time of 2 sec. 3 sec is quite "floaty" as I found. So far I find Dave's suggestion to keep the 2" gimbal to stage distance very useful for more stable performance.
The sled post length is a trade off and somewhat subjective. If you lengthen the post, the lens moves away from the gimbal, and that amplifies any instability on the sled. But lengthening the sled adds some inertia, which may increase stability somewhat. I usually lengthen my Pilot sled post 2-3" (the width of three fingers).

Drop time is also subjective. The pros run from 1.5 seconds to infinity. Shorter drop times require more expert control with the sled post hand to feather out starts and stops. Also, if you are moving in a circle, I believe a shorter drop time will tend to move the bottom out more, so you may be fighting that. You may want to try a 2.5 or 3 second drop time and see what happens.

And as Charles says, keep everything super-loosy-goosy, with a very light touch on the sled post hand.

Specifically, here's what I do with my left (sled post) hand. Most of this came from the 2-day workshop. Let your left hand hang down by your side completely relaxed, with your fingers spread out slightly. Now raise your hand with your elbow, still keeping your hand and wrist completely relaxed. This is your natural hand position. Your thumb should be opposite your first finger. But notice that it's the side of your thumb, nearer your fingernail that directly opposes. So I sort of use the side of my thumb to hold the sled post.

Next, I place my my thumb and first finger right under the gimbal, lightly touching the bottom of the gimbal. That insures my thumb and first finger are right at the CG. That's where I apply the most pressure with my left hand - between my thumb and first finger. This is how I control pan.

The other three fingers are spread out lower, touching the post, with the middle and ring fingers in front, and the little finger in back or on the side. With these 3 fingers, I try to apply no pressure at all unless it's needed. When I do need to feather out a start or stop, the pressure on these 3 fingers is usually super-light - much lighter than the pressure between my thumb and first finger.

Charles, let me know if I have all of this right.

Last edited by Dave Gish; May 6th, 2009 at 02:36 PM.
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Old May 6th, 2009, 10:30 AM   #8
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Sounds good Dave.

As far as lengthening the post,it sounds like Sean's thought is to maintain the same height of gimbal but adjust drop time by adjusting the length of the post. Sean, while this works, remember that this does change the dynamic balance of the sled while changing the height of the gimbal does not, so it is preferable to make subtle adjustments to drop time with the gimbal. You should be able to slide it an inch in either direction without noting a major change in performance (that's a LOT of adjustment in drop time for a little rig, so it likely won't even be that much).

The reason I was suggesting walking clockwise was that even though the arm sort of piles up under you, the wrist position is more similar to walking straight ahead. With your left hand in operating mode, note that it is quite easy to rotate the wrist 90 degrees to the right, but it doesn't rotate very far to the left. Thus when shooting with the rig pointed to the right, one is able to use the same axis of rotation for tilt as when shooting straight ahead, but when shooting with the rig pointed to the left, you have to reset your grip so that tilt is now on a different axis of rotation. Also, your pan is now subject to the fact that you still have limited rotation to the left before you have to reset your hand once again. This is a subtle difference and one that you can get used to, but it does affect operating a little bit. A shot like this will have little to do with tilt anyway, so it may not be much of a factor, and it's good to practice these sort of things in all directions so that you have facility with them.

This is actually a variation on a typical workshop drill and everyone should be incorporating some form of this; the roundy-round is a "classic" Steadicam shot and it does come up from time to time. Take a c-stand and set the gobo head at a typical head height (say 5'8") and mark out a generous sized circle, say 8 feet away from the subject (i.e. radius). Zoom in so that the gobo head is good-sized in the frame. And away you go. Vary it by going both directions, forwards and backwards, different focal lengths and different speeds (as with EVERY exercise, make sure to include an extremely slow version, many people forget to do this and it is the ultimate in control and sublety). If you prefer, use something bigger than the gobo head. A great complication is if you can simulate two people talking or kissing etc. by using two head-sized objects (a couple of volleyballs or something) again stuck on stands, and practice panning between them as you go around the circle. Best of all is if you can corral a couple of friends and have them do a scripted scene which requires you to pan between them on specific dialogue cues as you rotate around them. For REAL fun, try having them talk a little walk and do roundy-rounds on them while in motion! That simple circle becomes a big elliptical orbit that requires you to zip really fast around once side and then slow down on the other to come around the back--it feels very strange but it looks consistent on camera. See the very last shot on my Steadicam reel from "Scrubs" where I did a 360 on Zach Braff walking down a hall, made all the more complicated by the fact that the hall wasn't wide enough for me to make a 360 so it required a little help from Zach.
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Old May 7th, 2009, 05:00 AM   #9
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The notion about the left fingers turning more comfortably in the right direction is very true! My left hand (seld post) has difficulty keeping up my legs when i move in the circle. I actually slow down to manage it.

In this case I will stick to a 2.5 sec drop time and have some practice. Thks again.
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