my merlin footage. where am i going wrong? - Page 3 at DVinfo.net

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Old October 16th, 2006, 04:09 PM   #31
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I have tried for a different type of shot, slower with panning. That is tough. I have so much respect for steadicam operators. You guys make it all look so easy!

uploaded to the same page.. file name is merlin 5

http://homepage.mac.com/philip.bloom/FileSharing25.html
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Old October 16th, 2006, 04:23 PM   #32
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Phil:

Some beautiful natural light in that bedroom!

Hope you've got yourself sorted out with the top heavy/front heavy business. One way to tell which sort of pickle you are in is if the rig is front heavy, it will want to tip forward (but not beyond horizontal). A bottom heavy rig can tip forward or backwards, and will want to fall below horizontal, i.e. upside down.

From watching the clip with more challenging operating business than walking in a straight line, it looks overcontrolled to me--I think you may be pinching down too hard with your operating hand. Always remind yourself to use the ABSOLUTE MINIMUM amount of touch to get the job done. I used a little trick years ago with this where I would squeeze the other hand tightly which would remind me to chill out with the operating hand. It's very common to tense up when performing a shot but this will always bone you.
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Old October 16th, 2006, 04:38 PM   #33
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I agree that you are probably controlling the rig too hard. Lighten that gimble hand more!

Also, some parts of the shot - the parts that wobbled - looked somewhat forced. Start thinking about how your shot will "flow" from one part to another and you will find that the rig will also want to flow naturally with the shot. Don't over control, but rather concentrate on where the "zen" of the shot is going and take the rig there.

A very important part of Steadicam operating is shot selection. Awkward shots are also normally Awkward to shoot. Shots with logical progression will progress themselves naturally.

- Mikko
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Old October 16th, 2006, 04:43 PM   #34
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Thanks,

There was still some wobbling at the beginning of the shot as I moved forward. I thought I was barely touching the gimbal. Even if I walk forward and dont touch it at all it seems to bob and sway lightly.

Am going to do some more practising tonight. The balancing is getting better, but i am convinced it isn't 100% right yet. Does anyone live either in Miami at the moment or by this weekend in London who fancies being my tutor?!?!

Phil
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Old October 16th, 2006, 11:30 PM   #35
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I went out tonight did some more interesting stuff. I have just slapped three shots together of a sequence that I did with some local key west guys.

I will keep on practicing until I get it!

The new file is called Merlin6, probably the best stuff so far...I hope!

I have also done stuck together 3 walking forward shots to see if my swaying has improved, just for fun have stuck on a shot of the same last guy that I did yesterday using my 35mm adaptor. The walking shots file is called Merlin7

http://homepage.mac.com/philip.bloom/FileSharing25.html

Phil

P.S. By the way Charles, your reel is amazing. I have seen so much of your work. You are an inspiration. Are you from the London, did you just move to the states for the work?
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Last edited by Phil Bloom; October 17th, 2006 at 08:51 AM.
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Old October 17th, 2006, 08:27 PM   #36
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Phil, here's the A1>Merlin settings we used

Your latest video definitely looks better to me (until you hit the wind...), but still a tad bit top heavy? I asked our house Merlin expert his opinion and for his measurements and here's what he gave me:

He is flying the Merlin/A1 with almost exactly the same setup as you (Armour mod, .7x, big battery, mic) and worked up to doing some pretty good and fast trucks, dollies, pans, arcs. When he finally used the following rough measurements and a VERY light touch on the gimble, he's gotten some pretty nice stuff...consistently:

Arc 34 centimeters with -2 Z
Weights: Front = 1 finish, Bottom = 3 mid, 1 finish
He said the Stage needs to be set at -2 with hole "O" ...and he ISN"T using the screw in front. Doesn't seem to really be needed.

If I can rope and tie him down, maybe I can get some video up here to show! Hope you get yours worked out. Hang in there....

Stephen Armour - Lion Cub Productions (ABE - Brazil)

Oh yes, remembered one thing: he said turning cam on the gimbal in an arc or curve is very difficult and it will swing if too fast. If you can get that down while moving fast, you're one up on us! That is one limitation for sure.
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Old October 17th, 2006, 08:36 PM   #37
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thanks stephen

i was literally going to ask you for your settings!

With the bottom weights I assume you are using a start weight too?

the -2 z is that from the -4 start so two up from that?(or two down from the very top setting?)

I also am mainly using the century .6x wide angle, but it is probably about the same weight.

Thanks for comments, god with the wind it's a nightmare. Missed some cracking stuff with the tramps as the wind was blowing a gale! Perhaps I can rotate that shot in FCP as it goes to one side...is that cheating?
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Old October 17th, 2006, 10:06 PM   #38
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no start weight

Negative on the start weight. Just the three mids and a finish on the end.

Wind is a bear. With barriers, you can do it, but without...forget it! Better to go hand/shouldermounted with stabilization turned on! Like I said, we got some great stuff on a VERY rough dirt/rock road in a minivan, out the back side doors (opened to block the wind) and also out the open back. When we could keep the whole rig from hitting the ceiling, it did a great job. Like I said...it was a ROUGH road!

In the back of pickup or truck, tied in and with a wind barrier, you could do some really nice road shots, even zoomed a little. On a big bike, strapped to a "pilot" (and with a wind barrier), it would work well, I'm sure. More room to take the bumps and you probably could get some shots the big rigs would have some trouble with, right Mikko?

If I can find some practise tapes around, maybe I can post a few secs of the harder stuff our "Merlinmagicman" managed to do. It may be classified as "prosumer" by some because of it's cost, but prosumer it's not. The end results prove that. You can certainly spend MORE, but you can't spend BETTER for flying a little HD cam.
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Old October 17th, 2006, 10:27 PM   #39
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I would NEVER have thought about balancing this way. perhaps this where I have been going wrong. It just looked so wrong. I have been trying to make it LOOK balanced on the Merlin as well as actually balancing it!

Just balanced exactly as you said. Done a test in hotel corridor and it was so so much better. Sway, what sway?

Thanks ever so much Stephen.
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Old October 18th, 2006, 10:11 AM   #40
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Lots of good dicsussion here guys.

Stephan, thanks for your settings - somtimes it takes a fresh approach from a different angle to make things better! It's also why I encourage playing and expereimenting with various combinations of settings for the Merlin. Some work better than otheres and you never know untill you try.


Yeah, that wind is tough on the rig. It's about the one thing that can consistantly both even the most seasoned operators. I'm sure Charles Papert [a master operator] hates the wind as much as I [still a relative newbie] do when it's time to put on the rig. And the smaller rigs like Merlin as all teh worse off for it. Perhaps Kenyon could make a K-0.5 gyro for the Merlin. :-)


As for vehical shots, Yes the Merlin is infinatly more versitile that the bigger rigs for vehical shots due to it's small size. You can even use it INSIDE a vehical - something not even the Flyer, let alone the big rigs, can do. In adition to the small size, it's lightness alows it to be used with the felxibility of just the operator's arm, you can take bigger bumps that you can with full rig that's contrained by it's arm. the rule is 2-foot bumps with a soft mounted regular (dual-sprung arm) rig, The Merlin coudl take perhaps 3 foot or bigger bumps as long as the operator can hang on!
One thing to keep in mind that the Merlin is a little more fragile than the big rigs - you still shouldn't jolt the Merlin *too* hard - it's still a precision instrument that should be treated as sutch.
The other danger is that because the Merlin can't be hard mounted, there is always the possibilty that the operator could drop it. And a logn shot can become tiring, where it won't with a hard mounted rig.
But with a small camera like the A1, and a good shield from the wind, vehical work with the Merlin is very flexible and can yeild some fantastic shots. - And don't forget that the Opearator can always leave the vehical (when it's no moving!!) with the rig too - or pass it out of an open window to a 2nd operator, etc.

On a related note: Vehical shots are ALWAYS potentially dangerous. Be very carefull when planning, preparing for, and performing vehical shots. Rigs inside a car can be distracting and fly dangerouly in an accident, and operators can easily fall out of an open door if the proper precautions arn't taken. Helmets, Harnesses, Ropes, and EXPERIENCE & CAUTION are all part of the recepie for good vehical shots. And even the Merlin, like the other Stedicams, is NOT suitable for arial work. Helicopters & Steadicam don't mix.

- Mikko
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Old October 18th, 2006, 12:21 PM   #41
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil Bloom
Are you from the London, did you just move to the states for the work?
Born in London, family moved when I was six to Boston; left there ten years ago to go after higher-end work.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stephen Armour
Oh yes, remembered one thing: he said turning cam on the gimbal in an arc or curve is very difficult and it will swing if too fast. If you can get that down while moving fast, you're one up on us! That is one limitation for sure.
That is probably one of the hardest things to nail on any stabilizer regardless of size. The inertia of the rig invites it to kick out in a complicated way and it takes a lot of finesse to rein it in. The technique that I use is similar to whip pan control, which is similar to the way ABS brakes work; you apply a specific amount of force (always, as minimal as it takes to get the job done) for a very brief period of time, then release, then apply, then release, etc. This all happens very quickly. Like the brake system, you are applying a force to correct a drift then releasing before your own force redirects the system (or causes a skid, here the analogy breaks down!), then as soon as the next moment of control is needed you repeat the cycle.

With this technique it is entirely possible to overcome the forces that are acting on the rig and influencing it negatively. It is something that can only be mastered with a lot of practice and trial and error.

There's an example of this on my reel at 4:40, a walk-and-talk from "Office Space" that required me to make a big swing around the edge of the cubicles; the tricky part is that the body and the rig are making a large arc but the camera needs to be panned at a different rate to follow the actors who are a few steps behind. As soon as I start the swing to the left I am doing the ABS thing to the gimbal to keep the horizon from yawing due to the change in direction, then once both actors start to make the turn I need to apply the pan influence to keep them in frame, while still making the little corrections to the gimbal for the arc. I continue to arc around while everyone settles on their marks, and then a flurry of handwork ensues as I decelerate to a stop and attempt to maintain the frame. I'm not to proud to point out that there is a slight deviation in the framing at this point caused by me over-compensating on the pan, which I fixed by extending my move slightly (this looks better than coming to a stop and then panning to fix the shot).

All this is happening within about 5 seconds. Of course once you get used to operating, this is all done by instinct, but it is important to understand that the subtleties of Steadicam operating are endless, and there's so much more than just aiming and shooting. Mikko's early comment about the importance of designing and thinking throughout a shot is well taken. Outside of the purely mechanical aspects of getting through a hornet's nest like the shot described above without losing horizon, there's an unbelievable amount of choices to be made at every second, not all of which lie inside the operator's head--working with the actors and their physical performance is just as important to get the desired results. The "Goodfellas" shot walking through the Copa is the classic example; every single extra in that kitchen is precisely placed and directed with particular actions that dovetail perfectly with the camera move.

I digress of course--but that's the fun of message boards!
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Old October 19th, 2006, 12:02 AM   #42
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Been doing a lot of practising today. My neck, shoulders and arm are killing me.

I had to put the dovetail on N in the end as I did loads of stuff that was vibrating so I needed that G-Platz to touch my lens. I have uploaded some stuff again. File name Merlin re-balanced, its far from great but I think there is some improvement. First shot has slight vibration, before I put it into N. Second shot also has vibration even with G-platz, but it was at the end of the optical zoom, so on the third shot I put in image stabilizer and it fixed it. It is all standard following shots, but it's good practice for just getting control, I did do so more interesting stuff in the file Merlin6 with the old homeless guys.

link for the files is as always: http://homepage.mac.com/philip.bloom/FileSharing25.html
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Old October 22nd, 2006, 06:13 PM   #43
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back home, in the editing suite. Doesnt look as bad as I thought!
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Last edited by Phil Bloom; October 23rd, 2006 at 08:13 AM.
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