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Wedding / Event Videography Techniques
Shooting non-repeatable events: weddings, recitals, plays, performances...


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Old December 17th, 2008, 11:30 PM   #1
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Merlin Steadicam

I just received my Merlin the other day and am thinking about using it for some specific shots at my wedding this weekend. I have noticed in my test footage around the house and neighborhood that while the footage is as smooth as silk there is a slight drift to it in the frame due to inertia, turning, lifting, etc. Most probably wouldn't notice, my wife didn't. Personally, I loved it. The slight movement gives one the sense of floating or flying. Anyone else think that a minute amount of drift is ok?
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Old December 18th, 2008, 01:43 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brett Weathersby View Post
I just received my Merlin the other day and am thinking about using it for some specific shots at my wedding this weekend. I have noticed in my test footage around the house and neighborhood that while the footage is as smooth as silk there is a slight drift to it in the frame due to inertia, turning, lifting, etc. Most probably wouldn't notice, my wife didn't. Personally, I loved it. The slight movement gives one the sense of floating or flying. Anyone else think that a minute amount of drift is ok?
It's a mater of physics, so just practicing enough to know how to handle the merlin, I use to to do tilting shots from say the sky to the couple and just have to dance with it to make sure it doesn't sway,drift etc..just keep practicing, plan each move so you know how to handle the rig and from experience know how its going to behave.
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Old December 18th, 2008, 07:59 AM   #3
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Brett - mastering one of these devices takes a lot of practice. I too was impressed with my merlin footage when I first took it out of the box. After a while though you develop a more critical eye and notice all the little wobble's and drifts. Watch some of the better work on this site and you'll see a good example of what it should look like. I had a bridal photo shoot on a windy beach recently and tried to use the Merlin. That was an experience!

Art
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Old December 18th, 2008, 08:05 AM   #4
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Sorry to hijack the thread but just a very quick inquiry. I have a Glidecam 200pro and am thinking about investing in a Merlin and am a little unclear on that. I will be using it with A1 and am wondering if its worth it. I am in no means a professional videographer and am currently doing this to learn the style of shooting and taking creative shots so for now its mainly a hobby.

Thank you.
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Old December 18th, 2008, 11:12 AM   #5
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Don't know quite what to say. It works well with the A1. Probably the best way to get a steadicam look with the camera if that's what you want. I use mine every now and then and am glad I bought it. Is that what you want to know?
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Old December 22nd, 2008, 01:51 PM   #6
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love my Merlin

Karim,

I'm a Merlin evangelist. While my old Glidecam v-8 with vest gave me more variety and ease with my smooth shots, the Merlin is soooooo much smaller, lighter, and compact, and that's my priority - travel light!

I use the DVX100b, and I'm sure it would be great with a camera the size of the A1.

jones
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Old December 22nd, 2008, 03:51 PM   #7
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I'm not able to answer any questions, but I finally took the plunge (in my wallet) and won an eBay auction for the Merlin and I couldn't be more excited to use it!!!

I'm a bit intimidated by how many people say how much practice is needed to produce excellent footage with it. Can anyone recommend any links or tutorials on how to use it? I will be using a Canon XHA1 on it.
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Old December 22nd, 2008, 04:50 PM   #8
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Chris
I found that all the tutorials were a waste of time. The best way to learn is to get out and use it.
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Old December 22nd, 2008, 04:57 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Chris Estrella View Post
I'm not able to answer any questions, but I finally took the plunge (in my wallet) and won an eBay auction for the Merlin and I couldn't be more excited to use it!!!

I'm a bit intimidated by how many people say how much practice is needed to produce excellent footage with it. Can anyone recommend any links or tutorials on how to use it? I will be using a Canon XHA1 on it.
Did you get the DVD with it? that should be more then sufficient. To make you feel better here is my 2nd day test 2 days with the Steadicam Merlin on Vimeo this is straight out of box using it, no practising in between.

So another words you can get alright results but what everyone means about practising is to be able to do very smooth moves and also different type of moves like spinning around, crane down with a pan..etc.. once you get a good feel of how it works then you can start experimenting but that all comes from practice.

Tips:

get a glass of water and run around with it and make sure nothing splashes out to help you take some softer steps so no harsh jitter comes through. I am fairly flat footed so I still get a bit of occasional jitter when I am not concentrating enough to make sure I am gliding. So I need to do this often.

Make sure you use the G-Platz screw for the A1.
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Old December 22nd, 2008, 05:38 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Szilveszter View Post
Did you get the DVD with it? that should be more then sufficient. To make you feel better here is my 2nd day test 2 days with the Steadicam Merlin on Vimeo this is straight out of box using it, no practising in between.

So another words you can get alright results but what everyone means about practising is to be able to do very smooth moves and also different type of moves like spinning around, crane down with a pan..etc.. once you get a good feel of how it works then you can start experimenting but that all comes from practice.

Tips:

get a glass of water and run around with it and make sure nothing splashes out to help you take some softer steps so no harsh jitter comes through. I am fairly flat footed so I still get a bit of occasional jitter when I am not concentrating enough to make sure I am gliding. So I need to do this often.

Make sure you use the G-Platz screw for the A1.
Nice work. Also, can you share the name of the song...it was really nice and set a nice mood even though this was merely a test shot.
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Old December 23rd, 2008, 02:39 PM   #11
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Thank you for your responses guys, I have decided to buy the Merlin as well and am fishing for a deal at the moment.
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Old December 26th, 2008, 01:28 PM   #12
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re

i just got a merlin form santa
played with it for about 5 hours now it feels like my arm is going to drop off
totally worth the pain though
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Old December 26th, 2008, 02:01 PM   #13
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Glad to see you guys are moving into the Merlin.

Don't be too intimidated by the learning curve--it's definitely there but a lot depends on your expectations and how critical you are about the results. If you are expecting to duplicate a dolly on track, plan on spending a lot of time practicing and watching the results. If you just want to take out the footsteps and don't mind a bit of horizon roll, you may be delighted right out of the box.

For many people, getting the hang of balancing the rig (and keeping it in trim) is formidable. While the "cookbook" concept is fine to get you started, I highly recommend not relying on someone else's settings each time you need to rebalance your camera if you add accessories or switch cameras. Learning to balance from scratch is an important skill that will ultimately make you a better operator, as you will come to understand the effects that redistributing masses has on the feel of the rig.

There are a lot of good tips on the training DVD; I do not recommend taking the "guy's approach" and ignoring the directions with this piece of gear. Starting with bad habits will inhibit your ability to get great shots. The simplest thing to know about the Merlin (and all Steadicams) is that the least amount of influence on the gimbal is key; keep your touch light as possible. An often neglected tip is to preset the balance for a given shot. If you will be pointing down from a balcony, adjust the fore-aft so that the rig hangs with the proper attitude for the shot rather than having to hold it there. Many of us who do Steadicam for a living tend to tweak the rig all day long, not only for a given shot but even between takes to place it in the exact sweet spot.

When practicing, don't just zip around like a maniac, try to pick a specific target or goal and focus on getting there as beautifully as possible. Running with the rig is fun but actually quite easy compared to walking very slowly, so do more of the latter to learn the subtleties required to pull off a truly steady shot. Play around with using your boom hand to land the lens at the ideal height for a given shot; you have more vertical range available to you with the handheld Merlin than any $100K+ full-size rig, so why not use it?

It's even a good idea to simply stand in place and practice panning and tilting (you can do this off the stand)! Get the feel of starting and stopping a move without kickback or affecting the other axes. Diagonal moves that combine pan and tilt are the hardest. Fast tilts are tough too (stopping on a dime).

Design actual shots for yourself, again, not just walking around the house pointing at things. Even without a subject to follow, you can create a point-of-view shot where you need to hit specific frames. Record your takes and track your progress. Be your own worst critic! The Merlin is capable of shots that can rival those we make with the big rigs, and with today's little cameras having such great image quality, it's a formidable package.

Above all, have fun!
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Old December 26th, 2008, 04:49 PM   #14
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Thanks Charles for all the reminders/tips. It's so true about learning to balance from scratch, when I first started I used cookbook settings but then when things went bad I didn't know how to balance the thing and just got frustrated, so its worth the pain to go through learning how to actually do it all and give you a better understanding and makes shooting so much easier to know what to do for specific shots.
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Old December 27th, 2008, 06:45 AM   #15
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I am excited about this product and really am glad this thread was here!

I'm amazed at how great it can be out of the box, and that is what I need.

What a lifesaver it will be. I'm so tired of running around with tripods, monopods. Those have their place, but the Merlin will be perfect for so much:

the cake cutting, following the bride and groom, even getting the shot of the bride coming down the aisle. THE GETTING READY STUFF! Outdoor photo shoots! Introductions! Creative first dance shots...

Only concern I have is the camera I have (FX1000) is almost 5lbs, and with a light and battery it will be very close. It might not work well in this case.

I can't afford it currently, as I just ordered my second new cam, but as soon as I can I am ordering!
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