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Old January 31st, 2015, 05:44 PM   #1
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Steadicam use at weddings

Curious about how other people use steadicams, though I know this has been discussed in various ways before.

In my own case... Well, I make style rules for myself. For instance, I never shoot handheld or with any sort of shoulder mount (used to, but find it too shaky now). And I'll incorporate movement when possible when I'm taking shots of inanimate objects (just feels like, "You might as well have taken a photo" otherwise).

But this ends up kind of boxing me into relying on steadicams. Why? Because sliders are so fiddly, pans/tilts get boring, and there's so many times when you need or want the camera to move freely.

So I do end up relying on steadicams a fair bit. It's never "to get an impressive shot", and I don't think I like shots that are simply big, sweeping moves for the hell of it. It's more to get a shot at all, given the limitations I've put on my style.

For instance:

-- When trying to get shots of inanimate objects under heavy time constraints (dresses, accessories, details at reception, or simply establishing shots of a location), there's no quicker tool than a steadicam.
-- Movement. For people walking from A to B (eg groom walks from kettubah to bedekin at Jewish wedding; groom rides on horse to ceremony at Indian wedding; couple walks from one photoshoot location to another). How else do you cover movement? Do you keep running from one position to another?
-- When trying to follow one events at a chaotic wedding, I think you really should have a camera that can move freely, amongst and above crowds.
-- Even recessionals. If the photographer is going to keep backing away in front of bride and groom as they walk out, snapping away, how are you going to keep them out of frame? I think the natural way to cover this part of the ceremony is walking backwards with a steadicam beside the photographer.
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Old January 31st, 2015, 08:19 PM   #2
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Re: Steadicam use at weddings

I pretty much use a Steadicam exclusively for first looks. I love my slider and use it all the time. But Steadicam work is not easy! Wedding videography is really flying by the seat of your pants and so I like to use gear and techniques that don't require a lot of setup and multiple takes to nail a perfect shot. I also have a very minimalist style and I feel the Steadicam calls too much attention to myself and my craft.
That being said, I do like the look. Here is an example where I use mine for First Look footage:
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Old January 31st, 2015, 09:37 PM   #3
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Re: Steadicam use at weddings

I really and truly love using my stedicam for shots but it was so hard to lug around and get in and out of (I'm a vest and dual arm shooter) I simply got lazy and stopped using the heavy rig mainly because it was a pain to use. I'm sorry I got into this habit and started using the stedicam just for a video shoot during the photo session and that was it. Over Christmas I found a Chinese company that made a remarkable unit (a direct crib off the Pilot) that all up is under 10kg ...lots of carbon fibre and aluminium and very nice machining on the components and a vest I can get in and out of in seconds SO I have no excuse now!!

Would I use it on the B-Cam all the time? If I had the space, absolutely yes ..I have flown for close on 10 years so I get shots that are way better than handheld.

My take on useability at a wedding is as follows : (Bear in mind I need more space than some of you guys that have a little blackbird and DSLR)

Bridal Prep : Stick to handheld shots here as bedrooms are really cluttered and operating space is pretty limited indoors. If I had time to get the girls coming out the house and getting into the limo ..definitely a stedicam shoot! (I seldom have time as they are still indoors when I leave)

Arrivals : Most definitely stedicam here ..follow the limo and then do a really cool shot around the limo as the driver gets out to open doors.

Bridal Entry : If outdoors the bride coming down the aisle is awesome on stedicam ..mostly depends on space in the aisle I've done it in Churches too and it looks great!! With manual lenses it also solves the issue with a long aisle as you can more easily maintain a constant distance as you can move with the subjects.

Ceremony : I find Churches tricky unless you are allowed behind the couple and do a reverse angle circle around the ceremony group. Outdoors you can get some magic shots and as Adrian says if you do static shots you might as well take stills!

Reception : Unlimited here but if it's a really dark venue especially during the first dance the sled needs rebalancing if you are going to put a light on the camera

Generally they are awesome machines for any establishing shots and my NewYear's resolution is to use it a LOT more ...it certainly sets you apart from the weekend warrior with his monopod and Canon 550D

A word from the great Charles Papert who is a master on stedicam is practice which means use it a lot. I love his quote "Every time I fly, I suck a little less"

Chris
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Old February 1st, 2015, 05:04 AM   #4
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Re: Steadicam use at weddings

While they are pretty expensive compared to the cheap mechanical units out there, having played briefly with a DJI Ronin that would absolutely be the next piece of gear on my wish list if I were still doing weddings.

They cost less than (say) a 5D3 but can give you truly amazing footage. They are also relatively easy to setup and balance quickly so al you need is relatively strong arms and back (sorry Noa!) and you're good to go!
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Old February 1st, 2015, 06:25 AM   #5
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Re: Steadicam use at weddings

Hey Dave

Us old guys I think would have an issue with any decent 3 axis gimbal simply because of the combined gimbal/camera weight is equivalent to running around with a house brick in each hand, arms outstretched..your arms soon turn to jelly and from my experience the little handheld ones are simply not good enough to use with a Gopro! This is going all the back to the guys that used to have a glidecam 4000 with their cam on top and then nearly died after 5 minutes of holding the darn thing up! I'll stick to my CF stedicam rig thank you with vest a dual arm ...it's compact and easy to get on and off and I don't feel like I have just run a marathon!! I note that the sensible guys that have big pro 3 axis gimbals are now donning their stedicam vest and arm and replacing the sled with the electronic unit.

Chris
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Old February 1st, 2015, 10:17 AM   #6
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Re: Steadicam use at weddings

Absolutely, combine the vest and electronic gear and you have the best of both. It's only money ;)
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Old February 1st, 2015, 03:02 PM   #7
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Re: Steadicam use at weddings

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Originally Posted by Chris Harding View Post
This is going all the back to the guys that used to have a glidecam 4000 with their cam on top and then nearly died after 5 minutes of holding the darn thing up!
Those glidecams are indeed heavy, especially if you use canon dslr's like the 5D on it, my blackbird including gh3 and a 12mm lens weighs exactly 2,15 kg which is about as light you can get. That's why I like m4/3 camera's so much, they are as light as a feather.

Quote:
from my experience the little handheld ones are simply not good enough to use with a Gopro
Not if you buy a 2 axis one like you did, the 3 axis ministabiliser however I used was able to produce some decent results when combined with a gopro4 in 4K and after it was extra stabilized in after effects, here 2 short shots done at the last wedding I shot last year


I use my blackbird at weddings when the couple enters the venue, when they do their first dance, when the cake is being cut and during the dancingpart and to get some random shots from the venue. Best investment ever made to get some increased production value, very valuable for short trailers like this one I did for a wedding planner, the steadicam shots are only up to halfway the trailer but they give it a much more professional look.

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Old February 1st, 2015, 03:13 PM   #8
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Re: Steadicam use at weddings

I use the DJI Ronin at weddings. It has been fantastic! It is heavy, but I'm not holding it constantly through the entire day. The longest I use it continuously is during the first dance. The rest of the time I will use it for the shot I want and put it back on the stand to grab again later.
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Old February 1st, 2015, 08:10 PM   #9
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Re: Steadicam use at weddings

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Originally Posted by Noa Put View Post
\my blackbird including gh3 and a 12mm lens weighs exactly 2,15 kg which is about as light you can get. That's why I like m4/3 camera's so much, they are as light as a feather

https://vimeo.com/98879958


You and I both have the exact same setup! I use the GH3 and Blackbird. The only difference is that I use the 7-14 lens. What 12mm do you use? The 12-35? The only issue I have with the 7-14 is that it is too dark for reception work. But I don't know of a fast 12mm prime that also has autofocus, unless it is the Olympus 2.0?
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Old February 2nd, 2015, 03:12 AM   #10
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Re: Steadicam use at weddings

Yes, it's a Olympus 12mm f2.0, anything slower then that is useless during receptions for me, I have been very satisfied with this Olympus lens, I always use the autofocus to quickly lock focus before I start shooting and this lens is very fast and reliable in doing this, it focuses nearly instant and it can lock focus quickly even when there is only candle light. This lens has also allowed me to shoot in very dark venues, that's why I would not consider shooting with a slower lens, there is a rumor Olympus would be coming out this year with a 8mm f1.8 and if that happens I would like to get that one too, I have found 12mm sometimes too limiting during first dance.

With this 12mm lens and my gh3 I need to use one of the smallest weights on each side which doesn't make it much easier to fly the steadicam as it becomes very sensitive to the touch because it's so light.
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Old February 2nd, 2015, 05:54 AM   #11
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Re: Steadicam use at weddings

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Originally Posted by Noa Put View Post


Not if you buy a 2 axis one like you did, the 3 axis ministabiliser however I used was able to produce some decent results when combined with a gopro4 in 4K and after it was extra stabilized in after effects, here 2 short shots done at the last wedding I shot last year
Noa which stabilizer did you use for the GoPro - can you post a link? The GoPro is too light for my Merlin, I supposed I could add weights but it would be a faff. Also how did you monitor - does yours have the LCD packpak?
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Old February 2nd, 2015, 06:31 AM   #12
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Re: Steadicam use at weddings

I had a Feiyu G3 but had to return it because it did twist during a tilt movement and the start up button broke after a week, I managed to persuade the supplier to send me the newer version, the Feiyu G4, instead but it did cost me extra. The G4 doesn't have any loose cables and is a improved version. I could have gotten a replacement g3 back for free but decided it was worth just paying them extra for the newer version. I only hope it doesn't have the same bug as my previous model.

I have a gopro 4 black and just hold the handle of the gimbal in one hand and my smartphone in the other and then I use the gopro app on my phone to get a visual of what the gopro is seeing, I also start and stop recording from my phone then, the Feiyu G4 does have the possibility to use the backscreen from the gopro silver version but it is not equipped I believe to work with the optional monitor that clicks onto the back.

I"m receiving my replacement Feiyu G4 this Wednesday and plan to go out and shoot some stuff with it this week.

Last edited by Noa Put; February 2nd, 2015 at 07:50 AM.
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Old February 2nd, 2015, 07:01 AM   #13
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Re: Steadicam use at weddings

Ooh nice - I am sorely tempted :)
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Old February 2nd, 2015, 07:45 AM   #14
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Re: Steadicam use at weddings

Don't expect high reliability from these thing, I had my eye on the Nebula lite so I could use it with a better camera but have been reading about problems as well in functionality so decided to wait a bit longer and read up on user experiences, this might be some isolated cases but since we are dealing with sophisticated electronicall devices I rather stick with my mechanical blackbird for once in a lifetime shots.

There are other brands which look almost exactly like the Feiyu so I think it would be good to look at those as well, they are all around the same price, the major benefit they have is that they come prebalanced to be used for the gopro so they are very fast to use as you don't need to balance it yourself. I was hoping to use it during a photoshoot and maybe during the ceremony in a church, just to get some quick shots, since they don't react to wind you can always get stable shots outside, even with strong winds.
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Old February 4th, 2015, 05:19 PM   #15
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Re: Steadicam use at weddings

I pretty much use my glidecam manually for the entire wedding. Its just too good to not use. During the ceremony I have two standing cams of course but I use the glidecam for just about everything else!
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