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Old February 23rd, 2009, 07:16 AM   #1
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Unicycling Glidecam Operator

Hey everyone, I'm new here. I have developed a pretty cool filming technique where I ride a unicycle while wearing a Glidecam Smoothshooter, it allows me to get some pretty wild smooth shots over long distances and rough terrain. I have mounted the L7 monitor to the handle of the Smoothshooter so I can always see what's on the screen no matter where the camera is pointed.

You can check out the cabapilities of this setup in the clip titled 'Unicycling Manhattan' on this page: Balance Productions >> Technology

Timecodes to make note of:

59 seconds...I am not using a glidecam at all, simply riding with a tripod so the camera is above head level...you can see how smooth this technique is already.

1:17...you can see a pretty bad side to side swaying in the footage...i could see that the mirrors of the cabs looked like they were getting closer together, and I couldn't really tell where the arm of my smoothshooter was...the last thing i wanted to do was get hit by a cabbie after crashing into his car!

1:30...a very long chase sequence that I can't picture possible with anything but a unicycling/glidecam set up

2:11...you can see how i transition from a leading shot into a trailing shot in one fluid motion...this was possible by my L7 monitor being mounted on the handle...I was pretty much looking ahead of me the whole time glancing down at the monitor to just make sure he was still in frame..

2:45...uhhhh....well that's just stupid!


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Brian MacKenzie
Unicycling Glidecam Operator
Wedding Videos in London Ontario
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Old February 23rd, 2009, 09:01 AM   #2
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What a great talent....we even find it hard to balance the glidecam alone...

Hands down to you.
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Old February 23rd, 2009, 02:56 PM   #3
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Thanks Julius, I have put two bubble levels attached with velcro to my sled, and one on the smoothshooter arm, this really helps with speedy balancing of the glidecam :)
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Old March 18th, 2009, 08:12 PM   #4
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Brian,

I must say, very impressive!!! reminds me of the Hatchet Brothers origianl snow boarding videos from alaska!!! a bit on the edge!!!

couple things: going down the stairs, did you do that from foot as viewed in the video?

did you let some air out of the tires to help with bumps 3when not on pavement?


At my age, 59 I don't think I will take up unicycling, However I wonder if one could do the same off of a bycicle using a small frame and an elevated seat and handle bars?


I can think of some great uses already!!!
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Old March 18th, 2009, 11:58 PM   #5
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With extreme sports and the people who shoot them, it's "part of the deal" that an accident may happen sooner or later. I'm glad you are wearing protective pads. The obvious danger of a vest-mounted system is that you can't let go, and if the rig were to get away from you, I imagine it would be hard to avoid a painful crash (I know nothing about the physics of riding a unicycle, but I do have some familiarity with the delicate effects of shifting balance on a bodymounted stabilizer)

I don't want to be a finger wagger, but the conventional wisdom is never to wear a rig while riding an inherently unstable device (roller skates/blades, skateboard, skiis, horse etc). I do fervently hope you remain unscathed!

(and the footage is indeed cool, so I commend you for that).
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Old March 20th, 2009, 04:38 PM   #6
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@ Dale:

i ran down the stairs as shown in the video, and that was the most dangerous part of my filming.

filming from a bike would suck, you have two wheels to worry about, and that front wheel spinning crazily without any control as you have both hands on your camera gear. what led me me thinking about the unicycle (i could already ride one) was when i tried to achieve some mobile footage by rigging the camera to my handlebars, which sucked (bumpy footage, that i could only control by pointing my bike)

and a bike is never really stable unless you are going at a certain speed, with no real directional control without the use of your handlebars

@ Charles:

i have been riding a unicycle for about 6 years. I find unicycling easier than walking. I'm not saying this in a bragging sort of way, just as a matter of fact. i am more stable when on a unicycle, with the added advantage of not having to worry where i place my feet, the wheel will roll over it. obviously i have to limit my riding when filming, i had one crash where i was trying to ride down a grassy hill as fast as i could. you can see this at the end of my 'balance productions glidecam demo' on youtube, luckily the glidecam arm came off while i was in the air, and i was completely unhurt, but that was lucky, and an eye opener.

I have done all sorts of sports like you mentioned, skateboarding, rollerblading, biking, etc...and I would never consider filming from any of these methods, they are just too crazy, and uncontrollable. with the combination of subtle hip movement shoulder repositioning, weighting different areas of each foot on the pedals, the control in my quads, and the direct drive effect (one pedal rotation equals one wheel rotation) and the fact that i can instantly change directions and speeds over terrain at will, and when i am done, i can be completely stable just by stopping and putting my foot down, the unicycle is actually an incredibly safe filming platform (if you have already gotten to the point of being very comfortable on a unicycle)

like i said, in that manhattan clip, the most dangerous part for me was when i was running down the stairs. Because of the way my L7 monitor is mounted, all those crazy angles in the manhattan scene were accomplished by my mostly riding in a relatively straight line like a 'normal unicyclist' would travel (and then in between some cars from time to time) and just spinning the camera around, being able to look in front of me and glancing down at the monitor to make sure he was still in the shot)
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Old March 23rd, 2009, 03:52 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dale Guthormsen View Post
Brian,

did you let some air out of the tires to help with bumps 3when not on pavement?

Sorry dale, I missed this one...i do indeed lower the air pressure when off roading, the thick tires (up to three inches) allow for very low air pressure (20 psi is nice) which allows the tire to absorb the impacts and roughness.

On some of the larger wheels (29 -36" diamters...as seen in the manhattan clip) the large diameter allows smoother rolling over of obstacles, so a lower air pressure is not needed as much, and the tires on these larger wheels are not as wide, maybe 2.25"
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Old April 1st, 2009, 08:24 AM   #8
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Brian, I am another 59 year old that would never think of using a steadycam rig on a unicycle. But the videos are really cool and I passed them on to my 14 year old son that is learning to ride a unicycle for a part in a play. He is really getting into it and hopes to use his newfound talent in other gigs as well.
Best of luck to you, you're gonna need it...
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Old April 2nd, 2009, 08:05 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by George Thompson View Post
Brian, I am another 59 year old that would never think of using a steadycam rig on a unicycle. But the videos are really cool and I passed them on to my 14 year old son that is learning to ride a unicycle for a part in a play. He is really getting into it and hopes to use his newfound talent in other gigs as well.
Best of luck to you, you're gonna need it...
GT
Sounds like you just have to let your kid wear the steadicam stuff :)
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Old June 10th, 2009, 05:40 PM   #10
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Hey Brian, just saw the video. Really awesome stuff! Hope to see more of it in the future.
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