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Old April 15th, 2013, 02:49 PM   #1
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Please help a new Blackbird owner.

I have a brand new Blackbird Stabilizer. Even though I have worked around stedycam operators countless times this is my first attempt at operating one. With that said my hat is off to several of you guys that have posted footage here on this forum. This is obviously one of those “it is harder than it looks things”. With just a few short attempts during set up I have had to remind myself that over fifteen years ago, I sucked when I first hoisted a Beta Cam on my shoulder!

Here is my first question. I have begun with the heaviest camera I would ever want to use it with. I have lighter options but I need to know what all of my capabilities are. That camera is the new Sony NEX EA50 (shoulder form factor camcorder). That camera body has a dry weight of 3.5 pounds but rigged mine is much heavier than that. For steady work I have a Metabones EF Marl II adapter, a Canon 16-35MM f2.8 “L” lens and a Sennhieser EW100 wireless receiver on it. That puts it beyond a reasonable weight for me to operate for anything but short takes but it is within the Blackbird capability range. And it is my understanding that set up is the same (same goals) regardless of camera weight.

Is this correct? The purpose of setting things up to achieve about a 2.5 second drop time is to give the rig just enough bottom weight to naturally return to a “vertical zero” while maintaining as little resistance as possible.

When I get it to a 2.5 second drop time and then adjust the fine tuning knobs for balance, I get an almost perfect balance. Which means the camera does stay above the gimbal, but it still floats around enough that it does not naturally return to a vertical zero. In the instructional video it seems as though his camera is always on plane when he is holding it just by the grip handle.

My results are basically the same with or without tension from the smooth touch friction adjuster. But will I ever be glad I have that as I begin training.

Am I doing something wrong? Should I expect the camera to have a natural vertical zero or should it always require some guidance to be on plane? Should I try more weight? Even with my drop time I seem to be stuck in that zone where it is “too balanced”, according to the video.

Thank you for any input or guidance you may have. So far my first few attempts at takeoff have been crash landings!
Steve
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Old April 15th, 2013, 02:59 PM   #2
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Re: Please help a new Blackbird owner.

If the camera is within the weight limits of the blackbird the principle of balancing a light or heavy camera remain the same.

Quote:
but it still floats around enough that it does not naturally return to a vertical zero
I don't quite understand this, so you have a droptime of around 3 seconds and you have it balanced front to back and side to side so the levels (with that air bubble inside) show that the topplate is exactly horizontal?

What happens if you then just hold the handle without touching anything else, like when does it "float around?"
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Old April 15th, 2013, 03:41 PM   #3
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Re: Please help a new Blackbird owner.

Hey Noa,

I have been adjusting it more. I think I had too much drop time at 2 to 3 seconds. It works better when I shorten it. At the recommended 2.5 seconds the floating around I refer to means: The bubbles are leveled, but even that is hard to do because the camera is so balanced it does not naturally want to "sit level". It may come to rest anywhere within about a 30 degree radius of a vertical level, in any direction.

Steve
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Old April 15th, 2013, 04:23 PM   #4
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Re: Please help a new Blackbird owner.

Shortening the droptime makes it bottom heavy which will make it swing like a pendulum if you start and stop a motion, you could also try to add that extender to make the distance between the handle and the topplate a bit larger to see if that makes any difference. The right droptime is important to get a good balance.
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