my merlin footage. where am i going wrong? - Page 2 at DVinfo.net

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Old October 13th, 2006, 07:28 PM   #16
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Thanks Dennis,

You are a gentleman!
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Old October 13th, 2006, 08:04 PM   #17
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Nice "death lens" you're using on that recent clip!

Hallways are great to practice in because the horizontals and verticals make it abundantly clear when you are dipping in the roll axis. Do the "line" exercise with a cross or an x on the end wall, walk in and walk back ad infinitum, and don't forget to practice coming to a smooth stop on a regular basis. Walking forward/shooting forward is the easiest type of operating, but more often than not you'll need to be in front of your subjects so it's important to practice backing up; and believe it or not a large percentage of Steadicam shots involve holding still at some point, and the acceleration/deceleration process is where the operating errors often come into play. Thus practice gliding to a stop, holding for a few seconds, then pushing off again, both in a forward/backwards direction, and also side to side (much harder to maintain level!)
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Old October 13th, 2006, 08:35 PM   #18
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yeah. century 0.3x. It's great. Going to do some vehicle mounted stuff tomorrow on a suction mount as i cross over the seven mile bridge in the keys. Should look nice!

uploaded a walking back shot. my still stuff isnt too bad now, i have it balanced well enough so when i start moving from still it doesnt dip forward.

thanks for tips!
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Old October 13th, 2006, 10:00 PM   #19
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maybe a tiny bit top-heavy

It posted twice...
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Old October 13th, 2006, 10:02 PM   #20
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Looks a bit top heavy maybe

Phil, your latest clip looked to me like your setup is just a tiny bit top heavy. That little gentle sway shouldn't be there...

I agree with the practise, practise thing, for sure. This is not really some "casual prosumer" tool. Though costing peanuts compared to the big rigs, it can produce almost identical shots under certain conditions and some they'd kill to be able to do!

It's a bear with any wind though, especially if you have a light cam on it. We are flying a little Sony A1U on one, that has the wide-angle lens and larger battery. The extra weight definitely helps. Also, we found that the best combo with that lens and battery, was three mids and one finishing below and one finishing on the front. BTW, we did the "Armour mod" on the A1U for better balance.

One more thing: It seems like if you go for the hardest types of shots right up front, and can stick with it doggedly and finally get fairly decent results...the rest is a piece of cake!

We shot a runner with it the other day out of an open (back) car door (blocks wind) and also out the back of the same mini van (with the back opened up), on a VERY rough uphill, dirt/rock road. When we could keep the rig from hitting the roof, the results were incredible! Compared to that, dolly shots would be a piece of cake. Arcing pans too, were very nice...if we didn't go too fast and had those "really light touches" on the gimbal.

Good luck, don't give up. The results are worth it!

Stephen Armour - ABE Prod. - Brazil
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Old October 14th, 2006, 07:42 AM   #21
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Phil, nice looking stuff these newer clips.
That wide angle lens is both a blessing and a curse. It hides any shakes, but it makes rotational errors blairingly obvious at the edges!

I like how you managed to get simultanious camera shadows in yoru shot in clip3! :-D

Seriously thoguh, good stuff, enjoy London!

Oh yeah, you might want to add the .mov extension back to clip #4.

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Old October 14th, 2006, 05:14 PM   #22
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here's a question.

you can balance your camera on the rig by theortically putting the dovetail plate on the camera using any of the letters, right? You just move it on the stage backwards and fowards and do some extreme trimming...What effect does this have on the rig's overall balance and control if you have done this. I understand about finding the camera's centre of balance and using that but what if you actually completely ignored it and went for a letter the other end of the dovetail plate?

If you are in roughly the correct letter for your camera should the trims be roughly central, if you have to have them at extremes are you therefore in the wrong letter and will it be harder to control the rig overall, what sort of visible effects do you get?

I ask as I am currently using M for my a1 with armour mod for mic, century wide angle .6x and large battery. Is this part of my problem, should i really be in O? I find being in O makes in almost impossible to get my G-platz to touch the barrel.

I seem in balance and my stuff is okish with swaying, but i do notice that when i do the drop time it can sometimes move my horizontal trim out, not always, just sometimes! is that normal?!

Thanks

Phil
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Old October 15th, 2006, 04:56 AM   #23
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A couple of issues Phil.

First off, no, theoretically it does not matter very much which hole you use for the camera. However it does really.

First off, there's the convenience factor: It's just easier to balance properly with everything lined up. This is what is recommended by both cookbook settings and the "from scratch" procedure. Correct side to side is more important, as there is less room to correct with trim. You can in deed use a different fore-aft hole and then slide the plate to accommodate and you will get exactly the same result - as long as you have adequate adjustment range.

There are other convenience factors too. As you mentioned the G-platz is a big one. It is desirable to position the camera on the stage in such a way that G-platz can contact a solid part of the camera. For example with the Sony PD-150 there is a small flat area under the lens with a little lip at one end. If you blance with the G-platz pressing on the flat part and just touching the lip, it's really easy to re-blance. Just slide your dovetail so the G-platz hits the little lip (without needing to check the stage marks) and you are back in the right place!

Trimming with the rollers not only effects static but also dynamic balance. After static balancing, if you are out of dynamic balance, the solution is to slide the dovetail one way and then correct with the fore-aft trim roller. (Which way to go is easily decided by trying it one way, if dynamic gets worse, go the other way!)
So it is also a game to get the camera in the right position on the stage to dynamically balance the whole rig - again this may or may not work in harmony with the dovetail plate holes and the G-platz.

As for side to side, you generally want that as close to center as possible. And here's why:
The side-to-side adjustment on the Merlin actually slides the whole rig sideways in relation to the gimble. At the extremes that can begin to have an effect on dynamic balance in the sideways direction - something that is often referred to as "gremlins" in the larger rigs. As you pan the rig, it will being to roll off to the side (differently to the pendulum effect). Because of this, it's a good idea to center the camera side-to-side best as possible on the stage - even if it means using a wrong fore-aft hole as that can be much easier remedied by sliding the dovetail plate a little.

Whew! There's defiantly a lot to think about when balancing a Steadicam! That's why the cookbook is made to get you in about the right place to get started. With time and experience these things become second nature and the cookbook becomes less important, especially with more elaborate setups.



As to trim changing slightly during the drop test. This is normal, and not normally a major issue.
If all the adjustments on the rig where 100% solid they would jam up and you couldn't move them. So there is a *tiny* amount of "slop" in the moving parts, and when taken to the extremes, like during a drop test, they can shift a little. This is simply fixed with a quick turn of the horizontal trim roller once vertical balance is set. :)

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Old October 15th, 2006, 06:36 AM   #24
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Just to confirm: the "Armour mod" to the A1 is to reverse the XLR pod, right? which moves the centre of gravity of the unit back a little?

I must get my Steadicam Jr out again - you have inspired me.

( PS: Phil, I also loved the shadows of you+rig on BOTH sides of the walkway simultaneously in Clip 3. Have to think about the geometry there - I assume the sun was reflecting off the windows, giving the second shadow?! Makes a nice variation from the cameraman appearing in a mirror! )
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Old October 15th, 2006, 08:51 AM   #25
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Thanks Mikko for the advice. Very useful and very thorough!

Martin, thanks! Yes the windows were very reflective giving that nice double shadow, nice accidental effect with the fish eye!

I'm all for starting a trend for the cameramen to be seen in more shots! would make my mum happy!

The Armour mod is to reverse the xlr pod. There is a thread somewhere about it here...
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Old October 15th, 2006, 10:59 AM   #26
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Mikko,

I think the static/ dynamic balance is the thing I have been trying to get my head around. How you can be in balance but the rig to be unstable.

I think I have it pretty close now, am sure my daily practising will help and am planning to do a test shoot down on south beach in miami in a few days, am sure the body builder types with love the idea of being filmed.

if you are balanced, the drop time is around a second (maybe a bit slower) and it seems to operate quite well what does it mean then if during a violent side to side movement the camera tilts over to the left and hangs there until you manual push it up at which point it balances again. is this the gremlin you mean, how do i correct it? I thought it might be top heavy to do this yet my drop time seems spot on!
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Old October 15th, 2006, 04:12 PM   #27
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If the camera will stay tilted to the side, it sounds like your drop time is more than a second. Try shortening it as much as you can, and see if the problem persists.
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Old October 15th, 2006, 08:41 PM   #28
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Had a real nightmare evening with the merlin and my sony a1. Wanted to take it out tonight for some shooting, but could not get a decent balance. tried everything, moving the mounting hole, arc size, weights everything. The one key change I had made was to take the xlr mic module off, it seemed to make getting a good workable balance incredibly hard.

Has anyone else had any similar experiences? As soon as I put it back on I could balance relatively easily, get a nice drop time too. Even changing lenses didnt matter too much, no problem, but without the mic module and big battery it was a nightmare. I was pulling my hair out and my girlfriend was getting very annoyed with me!!

I still havent got my head around the physics, as soon as i do i will be a lot happier. The one that got me tonight was I had cookbook weights on and it was very top heavy, i moved the camera along the stage a bit and it became bottom heavy. Now that confused me, as does telling the difference between top and bottom heavy on occasion, they can have similar characteristics sometimes I feel.

Anyone it's balanced, I missed my shooting chance but will try again tomorrow.
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Old October 16th, 2006, 12:56 AM   #29
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Phil,

I watched the latest footage and it's good. You are using a steadicam cheat though...a real wide angle lens (or adaptor). Not to say it's bad but as you feel you are getting better, try the same shots with a regular lens and after that, do them again with the lens zoomed in a bit. Talk about tuff...but that exercise will help you become a much better operator.

I'm glad you have a way of showing your learning curve on the web. There are many here who can give you valuable feedback.

Terry
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Old October 16th, 2006, 04:36 AM   #30
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Phil,
The XLR block is so big on teh A1, that when you take it off it changes the weight so much that you have to treat it like a whole new camera. Try using the HC1 settings to get started, as they are much closer to the A1 without the XLR block.


Dynamic balnace relates to the way the rig acts when you PAN (nothing to do with actualy movign the camera spcially, just roating it on the Pan axis.
Read the "Dynamic Balance Primer" here for more information: http://www.steadicam-ops.com/soamanual.shtml


Top heavy just means that the camera wants to hang upside down, bottom heavy means that it wants to hang right way up. Actual fine tirmming of tilt & roll are horizontal balance issues to be adjusted with (mostly) the rollers.


- Mikko
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