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Old June 28th, 2012, 05:51 PM   #1
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Review & videos: The Blackbird Camera Stabilizer

I've been testing and reviewing the Blackbird stabilizer the last couple of days and made a short video with it at the Botanic Gardens in Utrecht. You can see the 'Making Off' here:

And the resulting video here:

My review of the Blackbird can be found here, if you like: DerranNL: Review: Blackbird Camera Stabilizer from CMR
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Old July 12th, 2012, 03:18 PM   #2
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Re: Review & videos: The Blackbird Camera Stabilizer

Today I received the Z-post to connect the Blackbird stabilizer to the Steadicam arm and vest system. The Z-post provides more room between the arm and the Blackbird, which really helps when operating it.

Here you'll find some pictures and more information:
DerranNL: Blackbird Stabilizer on the Steadicam Merlin Arm and Vest
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Old August 20th, 2012, 01:15 AM   #3
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Re: Review & videos: The Blackbird Camera Stabilizer

Great stuff Derran.
I just ordered a Merlin Vest and Arm to fly heavier cameras on my Blackbird.
Have you got any videos using the vest with your set up.
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Old August 20th, 2012, 04:57 AM   #4
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Re: Review & videos: The Blackbird Camera Stabilizer

Thanks Paul!
You'll love the setup. Unfortunately I don't have anything to show yet except for some walking / running footage around the house. I'm still planning on making an arm & vest with Blackbird demonstration, but I still have a lot of work that needs to be finished first.

Did you also order the Z-post from Camera Motion Research? It replaces the standard post on the arm to provide more clearance. You can read more about it here: DerranNL: Steadicam Merlin Arm & Vest with the Blackbird Stabilizer

BTW, you have some fantastic flying videos on your site flykam.com.au!
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Old August 20th, 2012, 05:10 AM   #5
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Re: Review & videos: The Blackbird Camera Stabilizer

Derran:

Looks good. You don't want to start holding the rig below the gimbal as you show at 1:04. If the bottom-heaviness is properly set, you shouldn't have to change your grip from the ring above the gimbal even for tilts like that.
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Old August 20th, 2012, 05:19 AM   #6
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Re: Review & videos: The Blackbird Camera Stabilizer

Hi Charles!
Thanks for the advice. I just noticed it worked easier to keep this tilted angle for this particular shot. But you're absolutely right. I just didn't expect the king of all Steadicam operators to watch my video, otherwise I would have left it out. ;)
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Old August 20th, 2012, 05:26 AM   #7
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Re: Review & videos: The Blackbird Camera Stabilizer

Uh oh! No "king" here (certainly not any more--I'm out of the Steadicam business). But anyway: it's important not to develop bad habits early on. For an extreme tilt, it's better to either drive the front stage forward to pre-tilt the rig so it requires little force to hold it in place, or if the shot requires recovering from that tilt and continuing on with a more normal attitude, reduce some bottom-heaviness overall. Experienced Steadicam operators tune the fore-aft balance for most if not all shots--it's never a "set and forget" situation.

Glad you are enjoying flying!
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Old August 20th, 2012, 05:39 AM   #8
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Re: Review & videos: The Blackbird Camera Stabilizer

I've actually never thought about changing balance for particular shots. But it does make a lot of sense. Thanks for the great advice on how to deal with these kind of shots!

Now that you've stopped working with the Steadicam, I'm glad to see you're still sharing your knowledge. It's much appreciated! :)
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Old August 20th, 2012, 07:13 AM   #9
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Re: Review & videos: The Blackbird Camera Stabilizer

Derran no I have not yet ordered the z post. Thought I would just make my own. Yes I read your review,well done.

All the videos I do go on the cairnsrealestatetours site. To many now to keep loading to both sites.

Looking forward to the vest anyhow, should allow me to add more weight to keep things smoother and open up more job opertunities.
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Old August 20th, 2012, 09:36 AM   #10
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Re: Review & videos: The Blackbird Camera Stabilizer

That's great if you can make your own. I'm just not handy enough with the metal working. :)
Did you shoot everything handheld and with the Blackbird?

I will keep an eye out for some new videos on the cairnsrealestatetours site!
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Old August 20th, 2012, 08:49 PM   #11
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Re: Review & videos: The Blackbird Camera Stabilizer

Looks like I don't have to make one now, been in contact with them and getting a z post sent over.:-)

Yes everything so far has been hand held with the Blackbird.
I shot a 3 hour Hip Hop street dance a while back and it nearly killed me hand held.
Vest is going to make life very easy for sure.

I will post a video here when I do one with the vest setup.
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Old August 21st, 2012, 12:49 AM   #12
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Re: Review & videos: The Blackbird Camera Stabilizer

Best thing anyone who buys any kind of gimbaled stabilizer can do is buy the Steadicam Operator's Handbook. Has so many great tips and exercises and ways to approach things, regardless of whether you are using a handheld rig or the full-size shmageggie. Well worth it.
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Old August 21st, 2012, 03:49 AM   #13
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Re: Review & videos: The Blackbird Camera Stabilizer

Where do you get that Charles?
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Old August 21st, 2012, 09:28 AM   #14
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Re: Review & videos: The Blackbird Camera Stabilizer

Haha Chris, since you are a DVI regular I won't be impertinent and refer you towards a search engine...!

http://www.amazon.com/Steadicam%C2%AE-Operators-Handbook-Jerry-Holway/dp/0240811658
Seriously though, the book is great and written by one of the chief architects of the Steadicam brand products (and longtime operator). It covers of the points made in the legendary 5-day workshops and since it came out, new operators have treated it as a bible, noting that they continue to refer to it as they progress. It's legit!
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Old August 21st, 2012, 09:42 AM   #15
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Re: Review & videos: The Blackbird Camera Stabilizer

Thanks Charles, sounds like a must have book and I will definitely buy one! :)

Great to hear you'll be able to use the Z-post Paul. Using the Blackbird handheld (or any other stabilizer for that matter) can become painful after using it for a long period of time (not to mention 3 hours!). Having an arm and vest to help carry the weight makes flying it a breeze!
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