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Old July 27th, 2007, 08:08 PM   #16
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I think what a lot of this is about is the idea that the issue of camera stabilization is not fully explored, that an individual entering into it may or may not be able to bust out a new concept that everyone else has overlooked.

Amish, is probably true that you could research and design a handheld stabilizer that can approximate the Merlin in effect (many have) but it will very likely weigh more, be less compact and be more difficult and time-consuming to trim out. All of these factors make for a less desirable and more fatiguing handheld stabilizer. And as always, DIY projects are all about how you value your own time. How many hours of your life are worth $800 to you? That's an individual question.

The thing to remember is that the Merlin is a 3rd generation product that comes on the heels of 30 years of research into the science of stabilizing cameras. And as suggested above, many of the alternative methods of achieving the same results have been attempted and discarded. Yup, gyros are indeed great for full-size camera mounts such as the one you linked to, for helicopters as well as crane and remote heads. However the science and physics of body-mounted stabilizers have a very different set of requirements, particular when it comes to power and weight issues. Having used the Kenyans a number of times, let's just say I don't own a set.

The type of system Dave refers to that incorporate processor-controlled motion sensor gyros have indeed been implemented, most notably the Alien Revolution. I've had numerous conversations about the software required to run this device and it cost over a million dollars to develop. Very, very complicated stuff. Incidentally the camera portion of the Skycam is something along these very lines also.

It's my belief that the next generation of stabilizers will be very different as HD cameras continue to evolve. At some point we will likely see a camera that is essentially an optic with a sensor attached (and the rest of the electronics remoted) which will allow for a very different type of stabilizer, either mechanical or digital. Imagine an external gimbal with the teeny camera in the middle, something like a FigRig mixed with the apparatus they built in "Contact"...or possibly some version of motion stabilizing software (real time?!) will be the answer.

Garrett himself has said from the beginning that he fully expects the Steadicam to be eclipsed by some sort of black box. In truth he thought it would happen much earlier, and the fact that the rig still uses basic Newtonian physics and hasn't changed much in operating concept for 30 years says a lot.

Anyway--it would be cool to have someone zip in out of nowhere with a whole new mechanical stabilizer, but suffice to say that there have been many, many folks over the years who have puzzled over this and come up empty (and they had CNC machines too)! So take your best shot Amish, we all wish you luck I'm sure and make sure to show us what you end up with. But understand that many DIY homebuilders (including the ones who ended up with working rigs) will tell you that if they could do it all over again, they would have just sprung for the commercial rig for the time and energy they went through, so those that are suggesting this are likely just trying to save you the trouble.

p.s. Jaron, the Mod. 1 had the advantage of the "dumbbell" or "I" shape, similar to the upcoming Pilot, but in real life, gotta tell ya--it was rough to dyanmically balance! The dual center posts made it impossible to spin balance, there was no side-to-side adjustment on the top stage (you did it by articulating the battery from side to side with a coarse adjustment that was both annoying and dynamically questionable), the gimbal was nowhere near as good as those of today, and let's not even talk about what happened with the monitor in low mode...well, you can probably tell I'm not too nostalgic about my first rig (the two of us seen below, circa 1989)
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Charles Papert
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Old July 27th, 2007, 09:00 PM   #17
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Anything's possible with sufficient budget...

Amish - If you wanted to see the design of the old VS1 hollywood stabilizer (long out of production AFAIK) shoot me a PM and I'll take some detail pix - you could probably build something similar fairly quickly, and it does balance my HC7 rather well which is in the same weight class as the HV20, so your HV10 is not much less...

The VS1 looks much like a glidecam, but shrunk by about 50% - can't fly anything over about 4 pounds, and that's pushing it (much more than that kills your arms anyway, and fast...), but it's a fairly refined design, good gimbal handle, and OK balancing - I'd redesign the stage myself, but it's OK for tiny cams...

As you research, keep in mind that the size of the cam needs to match the rig - and the HV10 is diminutive compared to most of the rigs out there - these new little HD cams with amazing picture quality are sorta changing the rules, and they need stabilizing far more than older SD cams...
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Old July 27th, 2007, 09:55 PM   #18
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CP - Yeah, I don't think I'd trade my rig for a model 1... but if I were (under duress) to build a tiny rig, I'd base it on the dumbell for simplicity.
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Old July 28th, 2007, 02:25 AM   #19
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Hi there Amish. Just wanted to comment on something. Everyone here gave some real good advice. Especially those from Mikko & CP. HBS has never been quoted has being the only solution to a goal but more likely a challenge of creative wiliness. I for one have never tried to 'PR' HBS or make it seem easy. As most here will know that HBS stays true to its purposes of what the site and forum is all about. It's hard work and never a one or two day project. If you want a damn good stabilizer you have the pay the price.

Just remember, there are many many talented people on HBS with very high experience in machining and metal works. So I hope most people do not think HBS is all about making stabilizers out of broom sticks and glue. But again, it can be time consuming if you want the best results.

Remember, HBS was created as a challenge and wasn't meant to compete. But I say that you can build a stabilizer system to equal the pros. Most won't agree with me but when I say that, it means that it will ultimately come with a price. That price would be experience, dedication, time and money.

So if your sole purpose is to build because you find it expensive to purchase one for a one day shoot, than rent one. HBS is a whole different ball game but the results will reel its fruits.

I'm happy folks like CP & Mikko respect HBS and the way information is handled, with professionalism There are many pro operators that recommend HBS. Some even get ideas from HBS and incorporate them into their system. I know this for a fact.

I'm sure you've read the info in the 'HBS 101' forum, especially the introduction post?


Originally Posted by Ben Winter View Post
That said, I saw a really nicely well-built steadicam on this forum a while back...the arm looked to be constructed with anodized aluminum with patterned holes in it...anyone remember that?
Ben, I assume you mean Andrea's system that I posted here a couple of years ago:

'What we perceive to be may not be what we believe to be.'
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