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Old March 9th, 2014, 10:40 AM   #1
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Steadycam setup driving me mad

I have been a Flycam user for two years or more and had the process nailed. I now upgraded to a Laing P-04 - twice the price with the inclusion of fine adjustment knobs. Easy peasy i thought!

I wanted to up mky game with my steady shots all round so instead of flying my 550D which had been married to my Flycam, I am putting my 6D and 17-40mm f4 lens on the Laing.

I've been at it for two hours!

And before people start giving me basic advice - I know what I'm doing!

Drop time correct, Top sled is balanced left/right/forward/back.

No matter what combo I try though I get sway when i use it.

The Laing not only has weight and vertical height adjustment, but has a moveable gimbal to further confuse the possibilities.

I'm at the end of my tether - the 6D plus lens is 4KG and the Laing is advertised as capable up to 10kg, so thats not the issue.

Is there any general rough formula out there such as how much the counterweight should be and distance of gimbal from either end??

Surely these companies could hire a physicists to come up with a formula.

I'm fairly fussy - I've seen far to many poor steadycam shots that have infuriated me - I'm simply not settling for ANY sway. No way.

Anyway, break time over - back to trying yet more variables.
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Old March 9th, 2014, 11:58 AM   #2
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Re: Steadycam setup driving me mad

When you say "sway," do you mean you're having trouble maintaining your horizon line as you move around? This can be solved by either increasing or decreasing your drop time, depending on how you operate. Slower drop means less problematic inertia on start/stop and corners, and faster means better stationary balance, less susceptible to operator error (in general).

Or do you mean that there is unwanted vertical movement? This is a problem with the spring arm, and could actually be because your setup is TOO lightweight. Try adding some small sandbags to your rig. I had to do this in order to run a DSLR on my Steadicam Flyer.

Or do you mean that the gimbal is sticking when you pivot, causing the shot to "pan" back and forth? That would be because the Laing is a budget (some would even say "knockoff") rig and the bearings aren't necessarily up to snuff.
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Old March 9th, 2014, 01:14 PM   #3
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Re: Steadycam setup driving me mad

Hi Finn, thanks for commenting.

The bottom sled is drifting forward/backward/left/right - no particular direction, and almost takes too long to want to come back to vertical.

On my Flycam, with the drop test, it took only a few swings for it to settle back to vertical.

The Laing is doesn't seem drawn to vertical so easily even though the drop time is 2/3 seconds and it is perfectly balanced when on a lightstand.

I know it will require a few hours of solid concentration - but I have other priorities! Very frustrating.

The gimbal seems perfectly free as far as I can tell.
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Old March 9th, 2014, 01:31 PM   #4
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Re: Steadycam setup driving me mad

OK, that doesn't sound like it has much to do with the construction, just the balance.

Start by extending the post all the way.

My Flyer has a moveable gimbal as well, and when the inertia of my bottom sled throws my shots out of alignment when changing direction or start/stop, I slide the gimbal a little farther down the post, towards the bottom sled. This will increase your drop-time, but that's what you want to keep your bottom sled from gathering too much inertia.

Good luck!
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Old March 10th, 2014, 07:08 AM   #5
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Re: Steadycam setup driving me mad

Try a shorter drop time, aim for closer to 1.5 - 2 seconds.

Make sure the gimble is quote close to the top deck. Having it half way down the post will cause sway. Move the gimble up and then you either shorten the post or add weight to the top to compensate..

Here is the primer video for the Steadicam pilot. Not the same rig but the physics are the same.


Make sure that the centre of gravity for the camera is just behind the centre post. You then use the adjustment knobs to make things balance. Find the CoG by placing the camera, fully loaded with cards, batteries and whatever else you will use on it and place it on a pencil. Roll it until you find the CoG and mark it. Do the same for the side to side CoG.

Dont forget you have 2 types of balance.
Static - Where your drop time is to your liking and when you let it go it sits upright and level

Dynamic - Where it maintains balance even when you rotate it. My Steadicam pilot couldnt achieve dynamic balance when we bought it and it turns out the gimble needed centreing. So took it to Tiffen and they balanced it up nicely. This is often a major problem with cheaper rigs. They cant adjust the gimble centreing so you have it balanced, turn it 90 degrees and its off balance again.
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Old March 10th, 2014, 07:20 AM   #6
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Re: Steadycam setup driving me mad

Hi Danny, thanks for that.

I'll have another go later.

My flycam had that dynamic balance.

When I move around a subject the camera stayed point exact same direction. It meant having to force it to come with you round corners, but that how I think it should be.

I'm baffled that my 120 Flycam seems to be better at this stage than my 230 new product that has fine adjustment knobs and better build quality!
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Old March 10th, 2014, 09:13 PM   #7
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Re: Steadycam setup driving me mad

Hi Clive

Try initially overloading the bottom sled with more weight than is required and give the sled an initial balance ..Sure your drop time will be fast but don't worry about that for now. That will enable you to make sure that the sled is actually working correctly and that dynamic balance is correct. Load the bottom sled with maybe at least 4 extra weights and THEN balance fore/aft and back/front .... Assuming the rig is on a balance stand give it a good spin and make sure it doesn't wobble and starts going out of balance at different points. Keep your gimbal position about 1/4 of the post length from the top sled so 2/3rd of the post is below the gimbal ...it will be easily to balance with the bottom sled overloaded. Then if the balance both statically and dynamically is correct ..take it for a trial and make sure it handles OK without any issues.

That test will make sure the there is no mechanical issues. Once you are happy with that, then carefully reduce your bottom sled until you have your drop time correct. I have had weird and wonderful issues with my sled simply because my bottom sled was way too light and balance drove me crazy. If you try to achieve the required drop time first rather than last the mechanics can cause all sorts of issues!!

Chris
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