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Shooting non-repeatable events: weddings, recitals, plays, performances...


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Old December 27th, 2008, 08:12 AM   #16
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so ive just been out and about in my garden, running around like a madman with the merlin.
I just wanted to try running with it but thank u for the excellent tips from everyone above, i will slow down

one problem though i noticed when i reviewed my footage that there are little bumps visible, shakes almost, obviously when my feet hit the ground. I also noticed in the training dvd he added a screw to stop any unwanted vibration, can anyone care to comment or is this just more practice needed with my stability of the merlin. i realise its gonna take along time to perfect but these judders were a litter disconcerting

luke
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Old December 27th, 2008, 12:47 PM   #17
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Luke:

Definitely check that everything is tight on the rig, that the camera is securely tied down and if appropriate use the G-platz screw to prevent vibration. There's always the possibility that you are creating the judder as well but this sounds more like loose bits to me.

One gent who has done amazing things with a Merlin is Nick Tsamandanis from down under; you can see a reel of his wedding work with the rig here. He's since moved up to a Pilot but I recall that at least the first few shots on this if not all of it was still handheld on a Merlin. My favorite is the one with the couple approaching the car--watch how he uses the driver crossing to the car as a pivot to bring him around to the couple again. This shot is every bit as good as what I would expect from a big-rig practitioner on a network series, and it was unrehearsed and spontaneous to boot! Perhaps if Nick is in the neighborhood he can share some tips with you guys (I'm the first to admit that I haven't spent enough time with the Merlin to have gotten it down the way he has; it's a similar skill to operating the full size rig but has plenty of its own nuance).
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Old December 27th, 2008, 11:39 PM   #18
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Hi, Charles, again thanks for the kind words. Luke, the G-Platz screw must have good contact with the bottom of the camera or you will get vibration in the shot. This is critical. I have applied a layer of masking tape around the screw and the bottom of the camera to make better contact. I concur with Charles that you would be better off without the cook book, you will ultimately get better shots if you can get your head around how a Steadicam behaves with different settings, loads etc.. Most newbies suffer from over controlling the gimbal, must always keep that feather light touch, which is easier said than done. Practice really is the key; there is a great learning curve - not something you can master over a weekend. Charles all the shots were done hand held on the showreel clip - the vest wasn't available then. For anyone who’s interested check out my profile on you tube for more stuff I’ve done with the Merlin. Here are some of the last shots I did with the arm & vest just before I sold it: Steadicam Merlin Arm & Vest Footage. on Vimeo . I enjoyed using it at weddings because of its compact size and quick to set up!
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Old December 29th, 2008, 10:40 AM   #19
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if i am running with the merlin do i need to increase shutter speed. Its uually at 25, it goes up to 8000 or somthing stupid on my sony v1 , im guessing if i shoot 25p ill have motion jitter. i am currently shooting at 1080 50i
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Old December 29th, 2008, 04:56 PM   #20
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also nick how can i use the g screw if it does not reach the camera . i am using the sony hvr v1 e and its sits near the back of the dove plate. i have put the screw in but its below the focus dial and obviously does not reach high enough to provide stability

would love your feedback as im a bit concerned

cheers luke
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Old December 29th, 2008, 05:21 PM   #21
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Hi Luke, jitter in the picture is the result of vibration, perhaps just move the camera forward a bit so you have some contact with the screw and then trim to re balance. Experiment with it.
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Old December 29th, 2008, 06:33 PM   #22
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Nick, very impressive Merlin work. I'm most impressed with your vertical stability on that opening shot. That was a really long shot and to keep the Merlin from moving up or down over the course of that shot was really impressive. Very nice.

Luke, I had the same problem you mention with the Canon A1. With the camera centered on the plate properly, the screw hit the focus or zoom ring (can't remember which). So I had to move the camera forward and then adjust the balancing to account for the new position. I still sometimes get vibration in the shot but usually only if I'm moving quickly and I'm not walking softly enough.
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Old December 29th, 2008, 06:38 PM   #23
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Nick, quick question. How beneficial was the arm/vest combo for the Merlin?
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Old December 29th, 2008, 07:54 PM   #24
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Hi Travis, the arm totally eliminates footsteps from the picture. For long takes you can't do without it , with the metal gimbal maxed I sometimes shot straight for 2 hours. Try doing that hand held...
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Old December 29th, 2008, 08:03 PM   #25
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Thanks, Nick. I shoot handheld at weddings and quite often it's for 1-3 hours straight. It kills my wrist and back. I have a hard time holding the handle with both hands and operating the gimbal .. so I tend to hold the handle with my right hand and operate the gimbal with my left, trying not to touch anything BUT the gimbal with that hand.

I've thought about getting the arm/vest, but I wasn't sure if that made operating the gimbal more difficult, since on the Merlin you have a very small surface you can touch (unlike a larger rig like a Pilot or Flyer). I also wasn't sure if it made it more difficult to be flexible in your shooting style. For example, I often shoot with the Merlin attached and then fold it up so I can get a static shot from a floor perspective, or something like that. That seems more difficult with an arm/vest. What did you think?
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Old December 29th, 2008, 08:13 PM   #26
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It makes operating easier because the Merlin becomes weightless. I often did static shots from a floor perspective (lower spar just above the ground) with the arm/vest, easy to do, then boom up and start walking around and boom up more to shoot over peoples heads - awesome footage! Thats one shot I really miss doing now with the Pilot -( One of the coolest shots I did with the Merlin/arm was on stage with a band playing then I stepped off the stage and walked into the dance crowd-the step-off was invisible thanks to the arm. Looked magic! The arm helped me take my shots to a new level.
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Old December 29th, 2008, 09:04 PM   #27
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Cool. What made you decide to upgrade to the Pilot? Also, anything you didn't like about using the Merlin arm/vest?
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Old December 29th, 2008, 09:44 PM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick Tsamandanis View Post
It makes operating easier because the Merlin becomes weightless. I often did static shots from a floor perspective (lower spar just above the ground) with the arm/vest, easy to do, then boom up and start walking around and boom up more to shoot over peoples heads - awesome footage! Thats one shot I really miss doing now with the Pilot -( One of the coolest shots I did with the Merlin/arm was on stage with a band playing then I stepped off the stage and walked into the dance crowd-the step-off was invisible thanks to the arm. Looked magic! The arm helped me take my shots to a new level.
Nick is it even worth getting the Arm/Vest when the Pilot you can now pick up for not a huge price difference, the Merlin vest is around AU$4k + $1K Merlin? The Merlin is designed for Hand-held so I would say if going to Arm and Vest Steadicam then the Pilot is a better option since that's what its designed for? I know it makes things easier with the vest but I wonder if its a Smart investment when the Pilot is so much better and purpose built for the vest.
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Old December 29th, 2008, 10:17 PM   #29
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Travis, the reasons I upgraded to the Pilot are that I realised the skills that I had developed with the Merlin were not quite transferable to a "normal" rig. Since I am planning on aquiring one of these: Steadicam Clipper 312 and 324 - Tiffen in 09 I figured I was wasting my "practice" time at weddings with the Merlin. Had I no plan to work in the Steadicam industry I would have kept the Merlin rig for sure. The other reason was that the clients that I sometimes work with require a video transmitter so they can watch as I'm shooting and log time code - can't power the transmitter from a Merlin.
Peter I suppose it depends on the individual's needs and budget, having said that, comparing my footage between the Merlin and Pilot I can't tell the difference.
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Old December 29th, 2008, 10:55 PM   #30
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Originally Posted by Nick Tsamandanis View Post
having said that, comparing my footage between the Merlin and Pilot I can't tell the difference.
But you are super skilled with the Merlin :P Hand held I can no way get stuff you've gotten atm. I would say there is certain moves you can't do with the Merlin that you can with Pilot. ie shot of top tree circling around then panning/craning down to a person standing underneath and then following them around. So I have no doubt in stability it matches but as far as variety of moves the Merlin is limited compared to the Pilot.
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