Gimbal Technique at DVinfo.net

Go Back   DV Info Net > The Tools of DV and HD Production > Support Your Local Camera > Stabilizers (Steadicam etc.)


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old March 8th, 2012, 12:07 PM   #1
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Camas, WA, USA
Posts: 5,513
Gimbal Technique

I just got a Blackbird and am starting to learn it. Having briefly used stabilizers at NAB and CES, I'm not surprised at all that my gimbal technique stinks.

I have friends who are aircraft pilots and have briefly taken the controls - and I stunk! It wasn't until I thought about it that I realized that I was trying to drive it like a car. But it's not about where you point a plane. It's about changes - like calculus!

In a plane, let's say you are flying level. After a while it starts to roll slightly to the right. The "driver" part of me now wants to turn the yoke slightly to the left and hold it there. But in a plane, its will roll left and continue to roll left as you hold the new position. So you now correct to the right. Same problem.

The correct way to fly a plane is to make changes - turn the yoke long enough to get rid of the roll and immediately go back to the center position. It's adjust, center, adjust center... You don't correct the flight by trying to find a new center.

So, when flying a rig, is it a similar thing? For instance, to turn, rather than forcing the gimbal through the turn, you apply some force so it starts to spin, then let go and let the rig turn smoothly. As the end point approaches, you apply a counter force until it stops, then let go. Correct?

Same for when it's not level. Apply a small force back to level; let go; apply a counter force to stop the roll; let go. With practice, one hopes to be able to apply smaller and smaller forces more quickly to keep things stable and smooth. Right?

Anyway, the terms "piloting" and "flying" a rig make more sense than ever to me, assuming that my target technique is correct.
__________________
Jon Fairhurst
Jon Fairhurst is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 8th, 2012, 12:24 PM   #2
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Efland NC, USA
Posts: 2,315
Re: Gimbal Technique

The main thing to do with a stabilizer is to balance it for the shot you want. Don't get it close and hold pressure against the gimbal to finish the framing. Take the time to balance it for the frame you want. This is especially important when you are learning how to control the stabilizer.

Fine tune your headspace by booming up and down and not by tilting up and down.

From there you work to keep it level and let the balance of the rig work for you and not against you. With a very light rig like a blackbird less is more when it comes to operator inputs.

Pans are a bit trickier. In a perfect world (and a perfectly balanced stabilizer) you could input pan energy into the rig and let it rotate on its own till you were ready to input opposite energy to stop the pan. In reality your dynamic balance may not be perfect and if you impart a spin without keeping a light touch on the gimbal it may precess and tilt as it spins.

The short answer is you will want to learn keep your fingers in contact with the gimbal so you are ready to react to any undesired movement.
__________________
http://www.LandYachtMedia.com
Chris Medico is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 8th, 2012, 12:43 PM   #3
Trustee
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Toronto
Posts: 1,414
Re: Gimbal Technique

May I ask you Jon,
why did you choose Blackbird?
__________________
I love this place!
Buba Kastorski is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 8th, 2012, 12:54 PM   #4
Wrangler
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Posts: 6,781
Re: Gimbal Technique

The least expensive and best resource available for any and all stabilizer owners is the Steadicam Operator's Handbook (on behalf of my friends who wrote it, please spend the $30 on it rather than "stealing it). Workshops are ideal but not everyone can get to one or spend the money. But the book will answer just about any question and every new operator who buys it tends to refer back to it over the years. It's designed mostly for body-mounted rigs but the techniques and principles are applicable to handheld rigs.
__________________
Charles Papert
www.charlespapert.com
Charles Papert is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 8th, 2012, 07:34 PM   #5
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Camas, WA, USA
Posts: 5,513
Re: Gimbal Technique

Charles,

I've been wanting the SOH for a long time. I'll definitely buy (rather than rip) it!

Buba,

At work, we're nearing the end of the fiscal year. I had some money in the budget (spend it or lose it). After spending on the responsible stuff, I didn't have enough for a Merlin or better, but I had enough to get the Blackbird.

I don't expect to use it all that much. We have a Pocket Jib and track here. I didn't do any deep research, but I flew it briefly at NAB last year and the gimbal felt smooth enough.

Here's a quickie review:
* The gimbal feels smooth.
* The adjustment plates work well.
* Mechanically, it's so-so. Some parts take a while to get together/apart. Some parts stick. It's solid enough though.
* The Merlin is definitely more elegant. I checked out the Merlin 2 at CES. Nice.
* I wish the Blackbird broke down smaller and more easily for travel.
* For the audience, I think the Blackbird will deliver similar results as a Merlin. It all comes down to a smooth gimbal, the ability to fine tune it, solid pieces, the weight, and how the weight is distributed. (And the operator, but that's another story...)

With a 35mm lens on the 5D, I was able to go up and down stairs smoothly enough. Yes, my arm gets tired. And my gimbal control is terrible. But that's me, not the hardware.

I set it up with a two second drop time. I tried faster and slower and liked 2 seconds best. I haven't checked dynamic balance - because you cant. When you spin it, the bar hits your arm. I can try switching hands like jumping rope, but I doubt that I can do that transparently.

Hopefully, I'll improve my skills and get some nice shots with it. Though I have to say, I prefer being able to aim and follow focus with a shoulder rig. The Blackbird will be specifically for walking with a wide lens.
__________________
Jon Fairhurst
Jon Fairhurst is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 9th, 2012, 10:32 AM   #6
Trustee
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Toronto
Posts: 1,414
Re: Gimbal Technique

it is a great unit, Richard send me a prototype for testing when they were developing it, and it can handle heavier load than Merlin, it also has friction controll, which if I am not mistaken, is a unique feature for camera stabilizer, but when I am comparing blackbird-like units with the CG on top of the gimbal, and glidecam-like units with the traditional gimbal and central post, I find that units with the sled are easier to control during the shot, and also easier to get dynamically balanced, which is way more important than I thought at first;
but in any case, best of luck, and time and time again : it is not what you have, it's how you use it :)
__________________
I love this place!
Buba Kastorski is offline   Reply
Reply

DV Info Net refers all where-to-buy and where-to-rent questions exclusively to these trusted full line dealers and rental houses...

Professional Video
(800) 833-4801
Portland, OR

B&H Photo Video
(866) 521-7381
New York, NY

Z.G.C.
(973) 335-4460
Mountain Lakes, NJ

Abel Cine Tech
(888) 700-4416
N.Y. NY & L.A. CA

Precision Camera
(800) 677-1023
Austin, TX

DV Info Net also encourages you to support local businesses and buy from an authorized dealer in your neighborhood.
  You are here: DV Info Net > The Tools of DV and HD Production > Support Your Local Camera > Stabilizers (Steadicam etc.)

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

 



Google
 

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 12:16 AM.


DV Info Net -- Real Names, Real People, Real Info!
1998-2017 The Digital Video Information Network