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Steadicam balance vs weighing down


Paul Brenno
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I got my first steadicam (FlyCam 3000), I shoot mostly low budget commercials to recently other work coming in, but have never taken a steadicam class/workshop.....I was wondering, I have it balance just right (top to bottom for the 2 sec drop), but when putting my vest on, I was wondering if more bottom weight would be good or better to give me more smooth shots????

 

thanks for any input

 

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I personally use 3-sec drop as a base. but the balance depends on the moves you are going to make with it. bottom heavy may be ok for straight moves but for fast turns/arcs longer drop (more balanced) is better. you just have to test it out with your current camera setup and adjust based on the shot if needed

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One of the fundamental compromises of passive camera stabilisation devices of that general type is the tradeoff between self-levelling capability and tendency to pendulum under lateral acceleration. There is no ideal answer.

 

Gimbals don't have that problem; it's one reason that automatic roll axis stabilisation has been pursued for steadicam.

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I think more bottom weight will make things more difficult. What you need is more skill :)

 

So, practice. And keep remembering to have the lightest possible touch with your hand that is on the sled post, and use your 2nd hand on the gimbal to really push the contraption around in space.

 

After a few months you'll be ok. And pretty good after a few years! Enjoy!!!!

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Steadicam and similar systems are called "inertial stabilization" - inertia is the tendency for an object in motion to stay in motion. Inertia is directional - meaning that if you're moving the camera quickly straight down a hallway, it'll keep wanting to go that same direction and it will resist going in other directions. That "resistance" is what you're calling smoothness because it's resisting extraneous pans/tilts/rolls and translations in space. Now the amount of resistance to extraneous motion you get, the amount of "smoothing" you get is proportional to both the weight and speed of the rig. Some super basic physics -

 

P=M*V

 

P= intertia

M= mass (weight in this case)

V= Velocity (speed)

 

The reason it's important to understand that simple equation is because you know what you're up against in simple physical terms. Inertia = Weight multiplied by Speed. Which means that more weight = more inertia. Just as more speed = more inertia. More weight AND more speed = even more inertia. And with a steadicam or any other stabilizer that relies on inertial stabilization, more inertia = more "smoothness."

 

A very heavy rig moving quickly will be pretty easy to make smooth shots whereas a super light rig moving very slowly will be very difficult. If you want to get more into steadicam, light rigs are excellent practice because they teach you to use as little input as possible to control the rig. The whole purpose of a steadicam is to isolate all your "bad" movements as much as possible from the camera while allowing fine control of it still. The reason some brands (tiffin, pro, mkv, etc) are so expensive is because while the physics are simple, machining parts to tolerances tight enough to truly isolate movement without friction/stiction is difficult and time consuming = expensive.

 

Long-winded response but back to the OP question - more inertia or less over-control from your inputs. Inertia makes the rig want to behave so your own inputs need to be tamed (practice).

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