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-   -   Talk to me about Steadicams. (https://www.dvinfo.net/forum/wedding-event-videography-techniques/531253-talk-me-about-steadicams.html)

Rebecca Curtis February 25th, 2016 08:39 PM

Talk to me about Steadicams.
I recently bought a Glidecam HD 4000...and I absolutely give up dealing with trying to balance it. I am ready to throw it out the window. Also, it's for sale...ha.

So...talk to me about other options. I need to stay at $1200 or less. Anything out there that isn't going to drive me to the brink of insanity to balance? Thinking a DJI Ronin-M? I feel absolutely clueless as to where to begin with buying a steadicam. But I know I am ready for the upgrade to better my videos.

Mike Watson February 25th, 2016 08:47 PM

Re: Talk to me about Steadicams.
$1200 is right on the brink of crap and usable. Balancing is always an issue. Would you consider one of those handheld GoPro stabilizers?

Kyle Root February 25th, 2016 09:25 PM

Re: Talk to me about Steadicams.
Glidecams are definitely a challenge to balance. What kind of camera and rig are you working with?

I have an HD2000 and D7200 with 17-55F2.8 I use on mine. I set it up at home the day before and then on-site. Once you get the system balanced initially, if you keep your camera rig the same, field balance takes a minute or two.

Also, I leave the whole Glidecam assembled and don't take it apart when transporting it.

I know many use brushless gimbal systems, but for me I like not having to deal with batteries and all that.

Even if I had a brushless gimbal, I'd still bring my glidecam as a backup.

Nigel Barker February 26th, 2016 01:21 AM

Re: Talk to me about Steadicams.
Are you doing this on our own? Have you had any training? Do you have someone who can show you how to set up the Glidecam?

When I started out I bought a Steadicam Merlin & tried to set it up I was almost reduced to tears with the frustration of balancing & operating. It wasn't until someone who had a Glidecam showed me how to balance & operate it that I got anywhere at all. I also attended a Bronze Steadicam workshop run by Tiffen that was great value at about 300 for a two day course & incredibly good fun. It taught me so much about how to walk, anticipate & actually use a Steadicam. Balancing is the easy bit. It's operating the Steadicam that requires the skill & practice, practice, practice.

Noa Put February 26th, 2016 01:23 AM

Re: Talk to me about Steadicams.

Originally Posted by Rebecca Curtis (Post 1909783)
I recently bought a Glidecam HD 4000...and I absolutely give up dealing with trying to balance it.

That's only the balancing part, wait until you start using it. :) What camera are you planning to use on a steadicam?

Peter Rush February 26th, 2016 03:39 AM

Re: Talk to me about Steadicams.
TBH honest I was about to throw in the towel with my Steadicam Merlin and i suddenly found myself getting better at it - now I've got it balanced it rarely drifts, even when I put it down. Now I just need to force myself to get it out at every wedding to improve my skills - I have a library of shots I've seen in other people's work and try and emulate them at every opportunity.

Rebecca Curtis February 26th, 2016 10:38 AM

Re: Talk to me about Steadicams.
Thanks everyone!

"That's only the balancing part, wait until you start using it. :) What camera are you planning to use on a steadicam?"

I use Canon 6D's, and was going to put a 14mm lens on it.

"Are you doing this on our own? Have you had any training? Do you have someone who can show you how to set up the Glidecam?"

I am on my own, I have been a videographer for 9 years now, but have completely given up on finding a useful assistant, have had MANY bad ones. So I shoot solo. Self-trained I guess...no schooling if that is what you mean. I have not found any video colleagues in my area who have been able to balance one themselves.

I'm really not looking to overuse a steadicam...just wanted it to add a few nice, different shots for the highlight reels. But this is making me question if it is worth it to me...I suck at balancing!

Noa Put February 26th, 2016 10:42 AM

Re: Talk to me about Steadicams.
If you are not wiling to put the time into learning how to balance and use a steadicam what you can do is get a 3 axis gimbal like a nebula 4000, beholder ds1 etc. There are several models available now that can carry your 6d. Most would require some adjusting of parameters in the software to get small jitters out of the image and they all require a initial balancing but that is quite easy to do. Once they are set up it doesn't require much experience to use.

Chris Harding February 27th, 2016 03:00 AM

Re: Talk to me about Steadicams.
You Tube has tons of videos about balancing .. I now have a Weildy unit with my bridge cameras and can pick it up out of the car and use it ...it's all in the setup so spend some time with the glidecam and it WILL work. You absolutely MUST have a balance stand or sorts ...I just modified an old halogen light stand but you must be able to pop the handle into a sleeve on the stand so it hangs clear so it can rotate without hitting anything and also swing 180 degrees from horizontal down to it's lowest point.

Try this briefly :
(1) Put the camera on the top sled and load the bottom sled with all your spare weights so it's bottom heavy.
(2) Adjust the fore and aft position so the camera doesn't fall forward or backward (don't worry if it tries to fall sideways ..just support it)
(3) Adjust the stage for side to side balance the same way so if you let it go it will hang vertically. You might need to re-adjust step 2 again so be patient! It WILL balance eventually ... it's simple physics ...the Centre of Balance of the camera needs to be directly under the post.

(4) Now lift the bottom stage up to horizontal and let go ...it will act like a pendulum and swing very fast in an arc .... you then remove weights one by one from the bottom stage until it starts swinging slower ..you need to aim for around 3 second form horizontal to vertical ...

That's basically it ... to achieve balance as above just remember the gimbal (if it's adjustable) needs to be around 1/3rd down the post so you have a fulcrum ratio of 2:1 minimum ...it's just like balancing a ruler on a pivot by weighing each end but you are doing it vertically

It does work!!!

Rebecca Curtis February 27th, 2016 07:38 AM

Re: Talk to me about Steadicams.
Thanks, I have been trying for days and watched many youtube videos, I haven't had a stand so thanks for the advice, I will give your steps a shot! The only class I ever failed was Physics, so it's not surprising to me that this is giving me trouble, ha!

Charles Papert February 27th, 2016 09:12 AM

Re: Talk to me about Steadicams.

If you are still having trouble, perhaps the solution may be to post a video showing your steps and what isn't working, and presumably someone may be able to suss out where you are going wrong.

That said: as Noa and others mentioned, the balancing is nothing compared to learning to operate it, depending on what level of expectation you have for the results. Everyone varies but excellence with a Steadicam is a function of not just hours or even days of practice, but more like weeks and months! As a point of reference, most top Steadicam operators working in the industry will generally agree that it takes at least 5 years to be truly hirable (i.e. "Hollywood" standards).

The payoff is (or should be) that it is about as much fun as you can have with a camera.

Steven Davis February 27th, 2016 11:26 AM

Re: Talk to me about Steadicams.
I agree, post a video your rig and your attempts to balance it. We'll help. (or atleast I'll sub contract to Noa) :} When I first started with my steadicam 7 years ago, it would fly all over the place. Balancing is really a matter of finding that sweet spot between the two points. So balance, counter balance etc. Self help can be a challenge. Best to take a day or so away from it and try again.

The videos on line are help full for the basics. I fly a Canon xf300, longer than your 6D, so just find the center point of your 6D, start there at the mount. You can sit the 6d on a pencil to find the center point for the plate mount.

Peter Parker February 27th, 2016 02:32 PM

Re: Talk to me about Steadicams.
The HD 4000 is the longer (heaviest) of the Glidecams. A dslr might be ok on a HD2000 but I've found that putting my 550d on to HD4000, I couldn't get the drop time right. With no weights on the bottom, the drop time was about 1 sec, which unbalanced it when walking. I used mine with a Sony Z5 and it was brilliant. I think if you put some weight on the top as well as the bottom to get the drop time increased might help.
Follow Chris's advice but I think your problem will be the drop time not being enough and the way round that is weight on the top plate. If your drop time is too quick, you will get the pendulem effect when you try to move with it.
Should have asked this first but what exactly is it that's causing you grieve. Is it the vertical balancing or problems when using it.
You will find it a lot easier to balance when using the docking plate.

If you are having real problems, have a look at the Came-tv mini2 or Came-tv 7800.

Rob Cantwell February 27th, 2016 05:41 PM

Re: Talk to me about Steadicams.
I had one of those HD 4000 i spent hours and hours on it, never got the hang of it, I obviously couldn't use it on actual events so was confined to practicing with it during my spare time. It just twirled round and round incessantly, so my solution was - I sold it!

I've learned to walk with cameras so that i don't need much stabilisation and also use cams that have a built in balanced optical system.

still looking at the three axis gimbal systems out there.


Chris Harding February 27th, 2016 10:18 PM

Re: Talk to me about Steadicams.
Hi Rebecca

Without a static stand you will ever be able to balance the sled initially with any success ...get hubby/boyfriend/mate to rig up something for you. It can even be a metal plate clamped to a bench with a spindle on the end that the handle can drop into. The stand needs to be totally static so the sled sits on it's own. There is no way in 100years you can balance a sled correctly but trying to hold it in your hand!!

Once it's balanced for your camera, as Charles says, they are so much fun to use!! Also a talking point from the bridal party!! You will love it once it's running well!!

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