GL2 and Steadicam Merlin - Quick 2 day ownership review at DVinfo.net

Go Back   DV Info Net > The Tools of DV and HD Production > Support Your Local Camera > Stabilizers (Steadicam etc.)


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old July 2nd, 2007, 01:26 PM   #1
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Dayton OH
Posts: 100
GL2 and Steadicam Merlin - Quick 2 day ownership review

I got my Steadicam Merlin on Friday and took it out of the box yesterday so technically Ive only been messing with it for about 6 hours.

I have to say, the GL2 works pretty well with it. It takes some practice, but I guess Im surprised that its a bit easier to use than a lot of the other threads led me to believe. I trimmed it once and then after an hour, I decided to drop some weight on the bottom of the device and shift some things around and I made it a lot more stable and without the porpousing(sp?).

Quite frankly, its not real hard to set up and use despite what others are telling you. I can control it pretty well and already get most of the shots I need. About the only thing I cannot do yet is run with it.

The GL2 makes the contraption a bit heavy and I use a heavy battery so that makes it worse. I looked into possibly buying a real light Canon 3CCD or HD CMOS handheld at 1lb or less that would not only reduce camera weight, but countering weights as well, but Im gonna live with the weight for a while. If you switch hands you can go a cpl minutes on each hand. I just cant aim/turn it with my right hand because Im a lefty.

Anyway, once you get the thing well balanced, the GL2 seems to feel at home on it. Just remember to balance the thing with the viewfinder out and shoulder straps off and with a DV tape in it. It gets to the point where youve done all the course adjustments on it and then fine tune it with the small thumbscrew dealies that control the balanc of yaw and pitch. I bet these are mere grams at best so you are shifting extremely minimal weight. Just a 1/4 turn on a thread on one of these can be the difference in getting it perfect or slightly off -- but the good thing is youll know it.

I also noticed its not a good idea to balance the GL2 on it with your hand motionless. You can move the thumbscrew weights around in a number of places and it will balance if you dont move the camera, so you need to walk around with the camera to truly test your setting. If it dips or falls in a direction, it will be more prevalent here and thats what you want to sort out.

The thing is, you can use the MerlinCookbook.com settings suggestions but the reality is there are almost an infinite number of settings that can balance your camera because all balance settings are interconnected. If you move the camera on the mounting plate fore of aft, you can compensate for it by altering your Merlin arc or adding/subtracting weight elsewhere. So there are a number of ways to skin this cat. Since the GL2 is somewhat heavy and I use a big battery I tried to keep weight down so I omitted one middle weight at the bottom and increased the size of my arc instead. A few other adjustments and I was pretty close to where I needed to be.

No matter what settings you have, youll need to fine adjust them with the thumbnail screws every time you mount the camera. And if you bump the camera, sometimes that will throw the 'Balance of the Force' out of whack so to speak and when you re-adjust, its just slightly different than what you had last time. The best way to balance is just to do the High-Low Price is Right Game routine and balance one way too high, then the other way too low, then the other way 1/2 half high, and so forth and keeping cutting the fractions down until you starting nearing the balance point.

My biggest hurdle was the camera wanting to tilt sideways just a bit when I stopped motion from left/right. This means you have too much bottom heaviness. Thats when I dropped a weight and increased my arc. Its not what the Cookbook recommends, but its working much better for me.

Also the best way to control the turning wheel to pan your shots is to be gentle. This has been said a million times, but my advice here is to let the skin on your fingers "slide" the turning knob to a stop once you get it panning. Almost like its skidding on your fingers. Thats the delicacy you need. Its not real difficult if you have a light touch.

This thread sucks a mean one without a sample. I have one, but it was before my last adjustment which significantly improved things. Ill post a sample quicktime tonight or tomorrow.

In short, its not an inexpensive tool but Im not sure you can get the same shots for anything less thats as easy to use and as precise. I almost bought the Steadicam Jr but figured Garrett Brown fixed a lot of things in 15yrs to make this worth the price. Im taking it to a 1500-car car show this weekend and plan to use it religiously for a video shoot for the show sponsors.

I just found the setup and tweaking and use to be a lot easier than others had. It takes some patience, but in a day or two you should be pulling off shots nobody else has. Each time you pull it out of the box and attach your camera it may take 10 minutes to dial it in, but once you are there, the fun begins.

Stay tuned.
__________________
Unsurpassed Dayton Flyer Sports Coverage
--------------------------
UD Pride
http://www.udpride.com
Chris Rieman is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 2nd, 2007, 07:55 PM   #2
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Dayton OH
Posts: 100
OK not my best trial run but what I could do in 10 minutes. I lost it a bit on the trip down the driveway.

I had to readjust the steadicam tonight when I started messing with it. Took about 10 minutes.

http://www.ddpnet.com/chrisr/videos/steadicam-test.mov
__________________
Unsurpassed Dayton Flyer Sports Coverage
--------------------------
UD Pride
http://www.udpride.com
Chris Rieman is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 3rd, 2007, 03:55 PM   #3
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: West Rosemary Beach, Florida
Posts: 199
Looks great to me... Soooo smooth!! Gee, I didn't even see your reflection on the cars or the windows. Did you plan that??

Gotta ask you one unrelated question.... Did you paint the garage floor???
Tom Blizzard is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 3rd, 2007, 04:19 PM   #4
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Dayton OH
Posts: 100
the reflection is there is you look closely.

thats kiwi tile on the floor. kind of like plastic waffles that snap down like a puzzle. Similar to RaceDeck tile at Lowes or wherever.

One of the things Ive quickly found out about using the Merlin is that the Merlin itself can only overcome so much. And one of the big things it cannot overcome (or any stabilizer for that matter) is quite simple really. While these stabilizers attempt to remove all the friction from your own motion, it cannot compensate for the friction of the air itself against the camera that counteracts some of the things you attempt.

So as you pick up speed with it, the force of the air against the camera naturally wants to push your camera harder and harder. Even quick side to side motions can be affected by this. I guess it goes back to Isaac Newton. The slower you go, the lesser the force against it. In a vacuum, speed would not be a factor. When you are talking only a gram or two to throw the camera slightly off balance, the air can easily meet that challenge.
__________________
Unsurpassed Dayton Flyer Sports Coverage
--------------------------
UD Pride
http://www.udpride.com
Chris Rieman is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 3rd, 2007, 04:42 PM   #5
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Miami, FL
Posts: 2,933
Looks pretty good considering you just got the thing. So you chose the Merlin over a Glidecam because you felt it was easier to use/adjust?
__________________
Black Label Films
www.blacklabelweddingfilms.com
Travis Cossel is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 3rd, 2007, 05:19 PM   #6
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Dayton OH
Posts: 100
Easier to adjust, it seemed more compact compared to other options. The length of the Glidecam was a concern for me. The Merlin's arc can be shortened to a pretty small arc if you have a small camcorder.

It also seemed to be a lighter device and with the GL2 any help I could get, the better. Finally, I figured the guy who basically invented the market for these things probably knows a thing or two about making it work and utilizes a couple important tricks up his sleeve to make it work. The storage and setup time is pretty convenient too, especially with it folding in half. No big saucer sized weights and big poles.
__________________
Unsurpassed Dayton Flyer Sports Coverage
--------------------------
UD Pride
http://www.udpride.com
Chris Rieman is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 3rd, 2007, 07:38 PM   #7
Wrangler
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Posts: 6,781
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Rieman View Post
I also noticed its not a good idea to balance the GL2 on it with your hand motionless. You can move the thumbscrew weights around in a number of places and it will balance if you dont move the camera, so you need to walk around with the camera to truly test your setting. If it dips or falls in a direction, it will be more prevalent here and thats what you want to sort out.
Unless you have it very bottom-heavy, a static balancing session should get you essentially all the way there. Once you start to move, acceleration becomes a factor which may appear to be affecting balance, but is really just a new set of forces on the mass.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Rieman View Post
My biggest hurdle was the camera wanting to tilt sideways just a bit when I stopped motion from left/right. This means you have too much bottom heaviness. Thats when I dropped a weight and increased my arc. Its not what the Cookbook recommends, but its working much better for me.
Certainly the more bottom heavy the rig is, the more it will act like a pendulum and swing out when beginning or ending a left to right move. However, even with an ideal drop time this will still be in evidence (you would have to operate with the rig completely neutral top to bottom to avoid this). However, part of the skill of operating Steadicam is to learn how to absorb this kick-out (which will also occur in the tilt axis when accelerating forwards/backwards), which comes with practice.

Glad you are enjoying your new rig--welcome to the Steadicam world!
__________________
Charles Papert
www.charlespapert.com
Charles Papert is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 3rd, 2007, 08:06 PM   #8
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Miami, FL
Posts: 2,933
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Rieman View Post
Easier to adjust, it seemed more compact compared to other options. The length of the Glidecam was a concern for me. The Merlin's arc can be shortened to a pretty small arc if you have a small camcorder.

It also seemed to be a lighter device and with the GL2 any help I could get, the better. Finally, I figured the guy who basically invented the market for these things probably knows a thing or two about making it work and utilizes a couple important tricks up his sleeve to make it work. The storage and setup time is pretty convenient too, especially with it folding in half. No big saucer sized weights and big poles.
I see. Thanks. I'm looking to purchase a system within the next year, so I appreciate the thread.
__________________
Black Label Films
www.blacklabelweddingfilms.com
Travis Cossel is offline   Reply
Reply

DV Info Net refers all where-to-buy and where-to-rent questions exclusively to these trusted full line dealers and rental houses...

Professional Video
(800) 833-4801
Portland, OR

B&H Photo Video
(866) 521-7381
New York, NY

Z.G.C.
(973) 335-4460
Mountain Lakes, NJ

Abel Cine Tech
(888) 700-4416
N.Y. NY & L.A. CA

Precision Camera
(800) 677-1023
Austin, TX

DV Info Net also encourages you to support local businesses and buy from an authorized dealer in your neighborhood.
  You are here: DV Info Net > The Tools of DV and HD Production > Support Your Local Camera > Stabilizers (Steadicam etc.)

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

 



Google
 

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 01:11 PM.


DV Info Net -- Real Names, Real People, Real Info!
1998-2017 The Digital Video Information Network