Does extra weight help make smoother shots? at

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Old June 30th, 2007, 11:05 PM   #1
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Does extra weight help make smoother shots?

I have a lightweight Sony HVR-A1 attached to my merlin... This setup works great for longer shots because it is much lighter than with a Z1 or Canon XH-A1 balanced on a merlin. The main problem is that my setup is VERY sensitive to adjustments at the gimble. And with even a slight breeze the setup rocks like a kite in the wind. Will a heavier camera (like the Canon A1), help with smoothing out the shots. I think that I can probably deal with the extra weight if needed by working out at the gym...

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Old July 1st, 2007, 02:33 AM   #2
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The short answer to the question is yes, more weight = more inertia... literally meaning more resistance to outside forces. Now, the question is how MUCH more. Between the cameras you're comparing, the amount of inertia is pretty negligible. If you were talking the weight difference between an F900-3 and the Sony A1, then yes, it would make a large difference.

The Merlin is a very lightweight system overall, as it's meant to be, but you'll find that even a slight breeze will throw even something as "large" as a Flyer way out of whack. The solution is not necessarily adding more weight (and killing your arm), but blocking the wind. Have someone shield you with a double net or a solid flag or board. The shield should be between the wind and the rig, even if the grip/pa's natural instinct is to shield your body. Your only concern is keeping wind off the rig! If you're walking straight into the wind, some ops have found that a large shield behind you can help neutralize the effect.

In the end, wind is something that will affect your operating, so try and minimize it as much as possible. This is one (of the MANY) reasons why Steadicams don't work with helicopters. The whole point is to use as little effort as possible to finesse the camera. When gusts of wind sweep through, the rig acts like a sail and fights you. Block the wind, or get the biggest rig you can find and load it way down with weights till it has crazy inertia...and then block the wind from it. :)
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Old July 1st, 2007, 04:53 AM   #3
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What do they use when they take very smooth shots from a helicopter?
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Old July 1st, 2007, 06:16 AM   #4
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A Westcam-camera is mounted to the bottom (generally) of the copter and is mounted with and on gimbals that are very sensitive to keep the camera in perfect position. It is then controlled by an operater inside the copter.
Very solid, very precise and very expensive.

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Old July 5th, 2007, 03:13 PM   #5
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One other way to help with wind conditions is to balance bottom heavy and finesse the rig with a little more control hand and/or make less abrupt moves. I did this while shooting a band on the deck of a cruise ship and it helped a lot. When the sled was balanced correctly the wind blew it everywhere.

He's only mostly sDEADy.

sort of from "The Princess Bride"
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