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Old July 21st, 2014, 10:55 PM   #1
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Glidecam tilt technique

Ive seen a few interesting glidecam shots in my travels, watching wedding highlights videos. These shots start looking up or down and eventually tilt to center on the couple they are following. Does anyone use this technique? It gives the shot a very cool feel but am not sure how they do it. I have no problem getting a nice solid shot with a glidecam but never tilting at the same time? Any advice?
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Old July 22nd, 2014, 01:40 AM   #2
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Re: Glidecam tilt technique

My second shooter does this all the time. I think the main tricks are just:

1. Make sure it's balanced in the first place; then it'll naturally want to tilt down onto the couple.
2. Anticipation, which is the harder thing. For instance, tilting down onto the couple just before they do the recessional out of the church. Tilting down on family outside the church and stepping backwards just as they cheer.
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Old July 22nd, 2014, 01:46 AM   #3
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Re: Glidecam tilt technique

Yep. Like Adrian said it needs to be balanced. Afterwards it just takes practice and letting the post drop steadily while keeping your fingers on it.
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Old July 22nd, 2014, 03:24 AM   #4
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Re: Glidecam tilt technique

I have tried this with my blackbird and gh3 but find it hard to achieve, not the downward tilt motion but to slow down the tilt speed just before the camera is horizontal again without introducing any jerky motion. The reason why it's more difficult is because my setup is very light and because of that there is less inertia in movements and it's very sensitive to the touch.

What I did learn however making these kinds of movements much easier is weight, the heavier your camera and the more counterwheights you need to add at the bottom the easier it will become to control tilt and pan movements, the inertia is much higher resulting in smoother moves.

I had been doing tests when I had my nex-ea50 and while this set up was way to heavy for me to use during longer periods it was much easier to control any movement. For weddings I prefer a superlight setup but if I had to shoot a controlled steadycam shot for a companyvideo I would add as much weight as possible.
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Old July 22nd, 2014, 03:34 AM   #5
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Re: Glidecam tilt technique

Any video examples of what you mean? I assume, that there is secondary hand contact on the glidecam throughout the movement, otherwise the glidecam would continue to swing past vertical once it reached the bottom.
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Old July 22nd, 2014, 04:06 AM   #6
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Re: Glidecam tilt technique

Quote:
Originally Posted by Clive McLaughlin View Post
Any video examples of what you mean? I assume, that there is secondary hand contact on the glidecam throughout the movement, otherwise the glidecam would continue to swing past vertical once it reached the bottom.
You always use two hands on a Glidecam or similar handheld stabiliser. One hand is obviously required to support it but the other hand is used with a light touch to actually control where the camera is actually pointing. Much of the skill in using a Steadicam is down to perfecting the lightest touch that gives full control over the direction & attitude of the camera.
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Old July 22nd, 2014, 05:11 AM   #7
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Re: Glidecam tilt technique

With a vest and twin arm rig it's a really simple matter. I can tilt almost thru 75 degrees if I have to with no issue but I certainly wouldn't like to attempt doing this with a handheld rig!!

With a vest all the weight is taken onto your body and you control booming height with one hand and your second hand controls (very lightly) panning left and right and also up and down tilt. because the sled is totally supported, balanced and effectively floating, tilting is an effortless movement.

Physically using your right hand to hold the rig up in the air which for me anyway, is like holding a common household brick in your outstretched hand for 10 minutes (try it and see!) so the left hand tends to help a bit making tilting smoothly very difficult and also exhausting!!

I admire you guys with handheld stabilizers!! I couldn't do it but then again you work out at the gym 3 times a week so are somewhat fitter!

Chris
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Old July 22nd, 2014, 07:12 AM   #8
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Re: Glidecam tilt technique

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nigel Barker View Post
You always use two hands on a Glidecam or similar handheld stabiliser. One hand is obviously required to support it but the other hand is used with a light touch to actually control where the camera is actually pointing. Much of the skill in using a Steadicam is down to perfecting the lightest touch that gives full control over the direction & attitude of the camera.
what he said.

obviously tilting up requires more than the light touch, you're actually circumventing much the steadicam's control, and getting a tilt right is feathering your touch back into the steadicam's control
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Old July 22nd, 2014, 07:25 AM   #9
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Re: Glidecam tilt technique

I've personally found that tilting the glidecam (I use a laing) normally leads to the vertical post want to twist one way or the other.

I'm fairly disappointed in my Laing P-04 - I found my Flycam Nano DSLR to be better balanced (despite taking longer).

The Laing has a tightening screw on the sled - the idea being once you have the fine adjustments done, you lock it in place - problem is, that tightening the locking screw actually affects the balance! Drives me crazy.

New camera now though, so the whole thing needs rebalanced for my A7S - I'm hoping for better!
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Old July 22nd, 2014, 09:39 AM   #10
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Re: Glidecam tilt technique

I think what your after is in this video at the 0:35 mark

Tilting up should only need a light touch if balanced correctly. If your finding your having to use a lot of force then your drop time is too fast i.e too bottom heavy.

While this makes the rig sit straight nice and easy it does mean it will pendulum and also require too much force to tilt. You should be able to move it with your little finger and with the correct grip that is just what you do.

Point it up with your pinkie finger, let the weight cause it to drop and control the descent with the pinkie.

You need a drop time of around 1.5 to 2 seconds. The drop is from horizontal to vertical. If your drop time is faster than 1.5 seconds then you need to shorten the pole or remove weights from the bottom.

With a glidecam your pretty limited in your adjustment but with a Steadicam you can also move the gimbal to get this.

The exact drop time you go for depends on the operator as well as the shooting conditions i.e I like a 1.5 second drop but in windy conditions I need to decrease the time so it isnt easily affected by wind. I know operators who prefer a zero drop.

With all steadicam devices the one thing you dont want is the death grip. This is where you are holding the centre pole with your whole hand. Fingertips only.
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Old July 24th, 2014, 01:29 AM   #11
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Re: Glidecam tilt technique

Danny's points are good. I'll try to add on to those.

It is indeed true that the "death grip" (i.e. grabbing onto the center post like it is a panhandle) is not the way to do it. Panning a stabilizer is always going to require a light touch. If the rig is properly balanced, you barely want to exert any force on it to keep it pointing in the same direction. Starting a pan requires a small amount of force to get it going, then hardly any in the middle of the pan (let the gimbal do it's thing) and then a very specific amount of force to get it to stop where desired. Just at the point where the rig will kick back as it is coming to a stop, you back off on the force (almost removing your fingers completely) and then restore a standard grip. That process is minute and lightning fast. It resembles ABS braking on a car, where instead of locking up on the brakes, a series of diminishing pumps and releases maintain better control.

When it comes to tilts, things get complicated. The greater the tilt from vertical, the more force is required to hold it in place. With a rig that has a center post, you use your pinkie as Danny noted, placed behind the post when tilted up to help stabilize the rig and avoid having to clamp down with the other fingers to maintain the tilt. Sometimes the smoothest tilts can be achieved by virtually letting go with the fingers and allowing the rig to drift down to vertical. The speed is dictated by the drop time. By the way, it is fairly standard for pro Steadicam operators to adjust the speed of the drop time (along with trimming the stage fore and aft to dial in headroom) depending on the requirements of the shot. Back to the tilt: as the rig lands vertically, just like with panning you have to apply force to stop it, then back off the force and finally restore your standard grip. It's tougher than panning because there is more inertia from the rig displacing in the tilt axis than the pan axis, so it takes more effort to stop on a dime, and if no attempt is made to dampen the stop, the inertial forces will result a wobble in the shot.

Super long winded and I apologize, but hopefully that clears things up for somebody. This kind of thing, by the way, is exactly what makes Steadicam challenging and require a ton of practice. Not hours or days, but weeks/months/years to get really solid, day in and out.
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Old July 24th, 2014, 02:46 AM   #12
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Re: Glidecam tilt technique

Anything from Charles is "gold" in my opinion as you are talking to a steadicam master of many many years!

I find however that a drop time of 1.5 is way too fast for me especially on a tilt down and the sled column starts picking up inertia pretty darn fast so it ends up as an uncontrolled tilt back to vertical ... I'm talking here, of course, about a sled with a centre post and gimbal around the post rather than the little gimbals right under the top stage that have a handle direct under the stage and no centre post.

If you drop time is right you should be able to tilt up and back down with two fingers ...if it's fast then the sled is really bottom heavy and you will struggle to tilt up at all without clasping the post with your hand which totally defeats the purpose of the rig completely!!

Definitely worth going out in the back yard before a wedding and making sure you can tilt smoothly with almost no effort before trying it out on a bride.

If it helps I run my drop time at closer to 3 seconds and if I find I need more than a thumb and two fingers on the post then there is an issue! You can tell immediately if the drop time is too fast if the sled doesn't sorta float and is silky smooth.. it really needs to be dampened enough so it doesn't try to accelerate on the downward drop which will spoil the 2nd bit of your shot.

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Old July 24th, 2014, 02:56 AM   #13
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Re: Glidecam tilt technique

Drop time is a highly personal thing. There's no one-size-fits-all. And as I noted, it's something that some operators will change depending on the shot at hand.

Smaller rigs tend to perform a little better with faster drop times, but I agree that 1.5 seconds is probably a little too fast especially if you need to perform tilts of this type. I'd suggest 2 seconds for a light rig and 2.5 for a full-size camera. It may seem like nitpicking but half a second difference in drop will have a significant effect. Also, and this is oft-repeated, make sure it's legitimate seconds when you are counting! The old "one-one-thousand, two-one-thousand" bit always worked for me...back in the days when I was flying the damn thing, anyway!
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Old July 25th, 2014, 04:39 AM   #14
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Re: Glidecam tilt technique

Charles is the man when it comes to Steadicam as in a real operator. I very much admire his work and have learnt a lot from studying it. I really need to get myself onto a proper Steadicam course :)
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Old July 25th, 2014, 11:10 AM   #15
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Re: Glidecam tilt technique

Thanks guys! It's been four years since I donned the vest (now I get to huddle in a tent watching other guys do it) so the nuances are starting to slip my mind but the basics stick with you!
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