Merlin tilt shot - please help??? at DVinfo.net

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Old April 14th, 2015, 10:43 AM   #1
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Merlin tilt shot - please help???

Hi all - I'm tearing my hair out here - I have my merlin pretty well balanced with my A7s and Sony pancake 16mm. Drop time of about one and a half seconds. I'm trying to master a shot where I start with the camera tilted up to the sky and then set off at a steady walk as I let the camera come down to be level.

The problem is that it tilts all the way down down and then through so that it's facing down, before coming back up to level. I've tried feathering the gimbal to slow it's progress so that it smoothly gets level but it looks clunky.

I've seen this shot many many times by folks using hand held stabilizers so I know it's possible.

Any tips?
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Old April 14th, 2015, 02:51 PM   #2
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Re: Merlin tilt shot - please help???

That's difficult to pull off on such a stabilizer, same issue with the blackbird, if you have something like a glidecam 2000 you have the vertical bar from the sled all the way to the horizontal bar and you can use that to slow down a downward motion or to make a upward tilt motion using your fingers to either pull or push on the vertical bar. Both the Merlin and blackbird are missing that part because of their construction.

It's not impossible to do but just very hard, one thing that helps is to make your set up as heavy as possible like adding weights on the sled that holds the camera so you need to add weights to the bottom as well, this will increase inertia on all your motion which makes it easier to control. I have use the sony nex-ea50 on my blackbird and it was much easier to control then with my gh3 because that last set up is very light and sensitive to the touch.

You should also increase your droptime, the slower it drops, the easier it will become to control your tilts, if you make it too bottom heavy you almost have to apply force to make it tilt upwards.
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Old April 15th, 2015, 03:26 AM   #3
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Re: Merlin tilt shot - please help???

Cheers Noa - My setup is fairly heavy - Sony A7s with Metabones adapter and Samyang 14mm - I'm still having a little trouble getting it steady as I've swapped from the 16mm pancake lens that was very light. The Merlin is great to use but a pig to set up!
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Old April 20th, 2015, 01:01 PM   #4
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Re: Merlin tilt shot - please help???

Peter, what do you think of the Merlin?
I'm after a camera stabilizer but not sure what one to go for.
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Old April 20th, 2015, 05:03 PM   #5
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Re: Merlin tilt shot - please help???

Hey Peter, I had a quick play with mine, and I had the opposite issue to what you describe. It wasn't a problem that it would swing too far, but just how to smoothly make it tilt down in the first place rather than remain at current angle -- so I had to exert strength with guiding fingers to push it down, and I also had problems with Dutch tilt.

I think the key difference might be: my drop time is more like 2-3 seconds.

Here's the clunky shot, in all its wobbliness, of my dirty dishes. I think you'll see the problems I'm talking about. When I watch it back, it feels like I'm fighting all the way -- fighting to get the thing to go down, then fighting to regain balance.

Password: "merlin".


If I had a few more attempts, I could have made it smoother and more level (honestly I could!). But I guess the key point is that I didn't find it an easy move to execute smoothly. Thank God for stabilisation.

Other thoughts:

-- I'm kind of at medium speed here. Doing the shot faster (cheat's method) would make it smoother. Doing the shot slower, if possible, would make it look more impressive and more deliberate.
-- Giving yourself a "run up" and starting the tilt down while you're already moving might help (rather than going from a cold start as I'm doing here). I also tried standing stationary tilting it down like a tripod, and that was even less smooth than tilting down while moving.

Last edited by Adrian Tan; April 20th, 2015 at 06:44 PM.
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