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Shooting non-repeatable events: weddings, recitals, plays, performances...

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Old September 19th, 2017, 12:58 PM   #1
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Steadycam

I'm finishing up a recent wedding in which I tried using a Steadycam. I'm a bit disappointed much of the footage has a swaying feeling like you're on a boat. Under control conditions at home it worked well doing simple maneuvers. At a live event : wind, un level ground, varying the tilt to properly frame the subject, reacting to live action, difficulty of monitoring due to sun glare, etc. While I was shooting it felt stable until I reviewed it on the computer. In comparison my second shooter used an electronic gimbal and it was rock solid.

Btw I practiced a fair amount and properly balanced it.

Thoughts? Experiences?
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Old September 19th, 2017, 01:41 PM   #2
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Re: Steadycam

If it's swaying it's not balanced correctly, there are plenty of youtube video's to be found how to balance your steadicam but even if you get it balanced right it takes a lot of time and practice before you are able to pull of some decent moves. Gimbals, while less trustworthy as the electronics can fail, are a much better tool if you are an unexperienced user.

Here is a move I did with my gimbal at the last wedding I shot which would have been more difficult to execute with the blackbird I still have but perfectly possible to achieve with a bigger steadicam and vest, only this gimbal ( a zhiyun v1 crane)is superlight with my gh4 and a olympus 12mm lens: password is "dans"
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Old September 19th, 2017, 02:10 PM   #3
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Re: Steadycam

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Originally Posted by Pete Cofrancesco View Post
While I was shooting it felt stable until I reviewed it on the computer. In comparison my second shooter used an electronic gimbal and it was rock solid.
And there's your solution; get a electronic gimbal. I owned and tried a manual one and hated it. Yes, electronics can fail, but I've never had one yet (owning 2) that has let me me down. Instead, faced with harsh winds and my poor clumsy hands, it has worked tirelessly delivering smooth handheld shots.

That said, using a wide angle lens and I do mean really wide angle can help limit the swaying, a little. Practising also helps. Even my early work with the electronic gimbal betrayed my lack of proper movement to help the gimbal do its best. I do find that slightly bent knees when walking, acting as a cushion on my movement often helps.
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Old September 19th, 2017, 03:19 PM   #4
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Re: Steadycam

One of the issues I had difficulty was dealing with tilt. When the subject is taller or shorter, sitting or standing, head n shoulder vs full body shot requires a different tilt. But pulling/pushing the steadycam it introduces movement. You can raise and lower the steadycam but in practice it's difficult to hold or control above or below a natural position.

I realize it comes down to either practice or getting an electronic gimbal.
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Old September 19th, 2017, 03:53 PM   #5
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Re: Steadycam

Mine will sway a bit, although I've been criticized thoroughly for my hand technique, so it's probably my fault. I fly a Steadicam scout with a Canon XF 300 on top of it. I also have a Frezzi light and an extra mic clipped on it. I did find moving the neck up/or down helped. Mine will still float a bit, that's mainly because I took more weight off the bottom since my back takes a beating over 4 hours of flying. I'm pretty active at weddings, and even dance sometimes when I shoot. This is my second rig, I had a pilot before.

I agree that in a controlled environment, you might be more steady because at a live event, we are having to move around in unpredictable spots, varying speeds etc. I dunno, probably over analyzing things.

I say all that to say this, some of the issue is balance for sure. Check your weights etc. Move your neck up and down. Move your camera back and foward.

For what it's worth, my opinion about video help is a little crass, with my rig I got a video from the 90s that helped none. SMH

I think it would be a great help if this forum put out a course/video on flying, and flying with different types of rigs. We could all benefit from it.
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Old September 21st, 2017, 06:27 PM   #6
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Re: Steadycam

Do you use a support system or do you take all that weight? I have the XF300 and a Glidecam 2000 but I just cannot keep it from swaying and it is so heavy I can't use it for more than seconds at a time.

I'm not sure if I just need to add more weights at the bottom to counter the XF300's weight, but it's difficult to find the sweet spot.

I do think that the Glidecam smooth shooter support will help, but haven't took the plunge yet as it's 1500. If anyone has experience on a support system like that then I'd love to hear what difference it makes, especially if you operate a big camera like the XF300.
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Old September 21st, 2017, 08:00 PM   #7
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Re: Steadycam

Heavier setups while harder to hold maybe more stable.
I'm flying an ultra light setup of a dslr with pancake lens weighing 2lbs + 4lbs steadycam. The wind or heavy touch will cause swaying. Slow simple linear movements are easier. When you move quicker, change direction, tilt or steer the camera develops inertia and swaying. When you think of how slight a change of position while balancing the rig can cause it to tip gives you an idea how little of a force it takes with your steering hand to alter the balance.

Last edited by Pete Cofrancesco; September 21st, 2017 at 08:35 PM.
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Old September 21st, 2017, 11:39 PM   #8
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Re: Steadycam

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Originally Posted by Lewis Raymond View Post
Do you use a support system or do you take all that weight? I have the XF300 and a Glidecam 2000 but I just cannot keep it from swaying and it is so heavy I can't use it for more than seconds at a time.

I'm not sure if I just need to add more weights at the bottom to counter the XF300's weight, but it's difficult to find the sweet spot.

I do think that the Glidecam smooth shooter support will help, but haven't took the plunge yet as it's 1500. If anyone has experience on a support system like that then I'd love to hear what difference it makes, especially if you operate a big camera like the XF300.
The XF300 is an enormous camera to fly on a Glidecam 2000 which is designed for cameras weighing 2-6lb whereas the camera with battery weighs about 6.5lbs. No wonder it's swaying as it's top heavy & needs more weights but then it's going to be too heavy to use. A vest won't help as the camera is just too big for the stabiliser. You do need a decent amount of weight as heavier systems are more stable due to inertia but if it's a handheld stabiliser you need to be able lift the complete rig.
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Old September 22nd, 2017, 07:12 AM   #9
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Re: Steadycam

are we talking about a steadicam, or glidecam here - If you operate a steadicam like the pilot or scout then get some training!

I flew for a couple of months and my back took the strain till I did a 2 day course with a top aussie operator. It's your legs that should be wearing out not your back and you can't just pick up a steadicam with arm & vest and expect to use it well - it takes a shitload of practice.

buy this book
https://www.amazon.com/Steadicam%C3%..._&dpSrc=detail

I seem to recall the original book was written by Gerry & Garrett Brown but I'm sure this edition is just as good. the man to really ask about Steadicam operation is Charles Papert
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Old September 22nd, 2017, 07:33 AM   #10
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Re: Steadycam

What Nigel said. Xf300 is too heavy for the 2000. The base needs to weigh as much as the camera you're flying. You would need a glidecam 4000 with a vest. Its an impractical setup that's why everyone flys light weight dslr or mirrorless.

But the point of my thread is that even a properly balance rig is difficult to fly.
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Old September 23rd, 2017, 03:27 AM   #11
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Re: Steadycam

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Originally Posted by Pete Cofrancesco View Post
I realize it comes down to either practice or getting an electronic gimbal.
That's pretty much the deal, Pete, you nailed it.

Steadicam has never been a skill that one just picks up in hours or even days--it's more like months and often years, depending on how good you want or need to get. This was just an accepted fact for many years but the introduction of electronic gimbals has really accentuated the difference in learning curves between the two types of systems.

Swaying may indeed have to do with balance issues, but a less experienced operator may still experience this even with a properly balanced rig. The most basic advice is to ensure that you are using as light a grip as possible on the post--barely resting your fingers on it, in most instances. You aren't grabbing and holding, you are just gently influencing. It takes a lot of getting used to. Pete, I'd imagine that in the heat of battle you ended up tightening your grip more than when you are practicing, which is a pretty natural response when your attention is going elsewhere.

There hasn't been a modern instruction video made in years that I can recommend (if you can find the decades old EFP training video, much of the principles still stand) but the Handbook that Paul linked is the best printed resource.
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Old September 24th, 2017, 12:49 PM   #12
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Re: Steadycam

Lewis, I cant find any contact details for you. Can you contact me? Either pm me or email me "venturemedia (at) talktalk.net"
Might be able to help you.
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Old September 25th, 2017, 06:38 AM   #13
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Re: Steadycam

I played around this weekend and noticed a few things. The gimbal has a slight amount of friction. Depending on where its being held will cause it to pitch in that direction when pivoting up/down.

I also noticed when its a little out of level sideways it remains that way. Again I believe its a gimbal friction issue. This is an inexpensive Flycam, I'd imagine the Glidecam wouldn't do this. Most of this can be corrected with light touch of my steering hand now I understand what's happening.

On the technique side. I've noticed that the steady cam is most susceptible to becoming out of level when turning.
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