Smooth Pan, Steadycam, etc

18 replies [Last post]
andy_winton
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Joined: Jul 6 1999

Hi all,

I've come to the conclusion that two
main things make a video look
'professional' -

1) good lighting
2) smooth pans, tracking shots

For the second, a steady cam would be
ideal. But for those of us with no
budget, this is just not practial.

My question is, what have people used
as steady-cam subsitutes?

Has anyone made a 'home-made' steady-cam
with any success?

cheers,

andy

------------------
--
Andy Winton
(see my Video at idlechild.net)

Ollie
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Joined: May 8 1999

I dunno if this will be much use to you, but I shot some stuff recently with some friends using a car to track along. Obviously this will only be useful for outdoor work!

Make sure you use a wide-angle shot, anything zoomed looks too shaky. But apart from that it looked great!

Nothing special about the set-up. Find a quiet road(!), wind a window down, try to hold the camera steady and shoot!

Some other set-ups I've heard about, but haven't been able to try out, are a wheel-chair and shopping trolley. I think Rodriquez used a wheel-chair for El Mariachi, which looked pretty damn good to me. Hope that helps!

[This message has been edited by Ollie (edited 25 July 1999).]

Unicorn
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Joined: Apr 12 1999

The simplest homemade solutions are:

1. get a long bar with a screwthread, and screw it into the tripod attachment on the camera. Put a weight on the bottom of the bar, and hold the bar just below the camera as you move around. Works pretty well, and may even be able to get away with a folded tripod if the head is locked securely enough.

2. the 'shakycam' as used in 'The Evil Dead'; get a plank about three feet long, strap the camera to the center of the plank and hold one end of the plank in each hand. Again, works pretty well for unwanted roll and yaw.

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andy_winton
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Joined: Jul 6 1999

Groovey!

Shaun Tregear
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Joined: Apr 17 1999

I use wheel chairs all the time when shooting in tight situations. ie> tracking and dolly shots around dinner tables etc.

It requires a steady hand but can result in excellent shots with a bit of practice.

Christian Lett
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Joined: Apr 26 1999

I actually made my own prototype steadycam, including the gimbal (phew!) using copper pipe and other things I found in the garage! Although not perfect, it's sooo effective compared to just holding the camera. I'm planning on building another soon with a better engineered gimbal. The only thing I haven't eliminated is movement through the vertical axis.

------------------
Christian J. Lett
[email=clett@nationalexpress.co.uk]clett@nationalexpress.co.uk[/email]

Christian Lett After Effects and Maya Artist www.quarterlightpictures.com

Roger Maytum
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Joined: Apr 7 1999

I take on board the original point about budget, but you don't have to pay Staedycan prices to get a reasoble product. I bought the Glidecam 1000 Pro for around £230 and it works fine. The freedom for creative shooting is well worth the price. I've made my own tracking dollies (wheel and track versions) but the mechanics of a stabiliser were a little beyond my capabilities. The Wheelchair sounds a great idea. I must look out for a second-hand one. Pictures are so much more interesting when the camera moves!

Roger Maytum

SteveBagley
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Joined: Apr 7 1999

I've always wondered whether I could use my old model train set as tracks for my camera.

I was thinking mount the tripod into three trucks and fix them in with plastacine or similar and then place onto the track which would probably need fixing to some sort of board for rough terrain

I must try it some time - trouble is the train is buried at the bottom of the cupboard under the stairs.

ijmac
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Joined: May 27 1999

Try the following sites for step by step instructions on how to build your own Steadycam http://www.geocities.com/Hollywood/Mansion/8370/steadicam.html and http://www.wedlake.freeserve.co.uk/steadycam/thumbs/
I've not made one but would be interested to hear if anyone attempts either of these.

Good Luck

Iain

Alan Roberts at work
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Joined: May 6 1999

Funnily enough, I did exactly what Christian did, about 4 weeks ago, using 15mm copper water pipe and bits in that garage. The prototype works well enough for me to be planning a "production" model. The biggest problem is in working out the dynamics of it, in order to calculate where the pivot goes. But it's only O level maths

tom hardwick
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Joined: Apr 8 1999

You're still reading way down here? Golly. Anyway the cheapest way of getting steady tracking shots is to fit the widest angle lens you can find, switch on "Steadyshot" and perfect the tom hardwick funny walk. Takes practice, but then video's such a good teacher.

Next tip: keep watching the camera. Be aware obviously of where it's pointed, but keep you eyes locked on the camera, and concentrate.

Next tip: put the scene into slo-mo on the timeline. Dragging out any wobbles into twice their original length gently smooths them, you'll see. I find my TRV900 does a lovely slo-mo direct from camera using the remote, and Premiere can slow it further. Use the trick of one frame displacement and copy the scene onto another track, playing both back together.

tom.

Dave Wilson
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Joined: Jun 9 1999

> Use the trick of one frame displacement and copy
> the scene onto another track, playing both back together.

Tom - Can you explain what this is and how to do it please?


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andy_winton
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Joined: Jul 6 1999

I think this is the technique that I
used for the intro to the Pop Video
I made.

I shot walking down a path. But this
was a bit shakey.

So (in the editor) I put the walk in
timeline 1 then copied it and put it
in timeline 2 (but half a second out,
and with transparency set to 50 % or
so).

Then speeded the whole thing up several
times.

The effect made the shakey camera angle
look as though I meant it. :)

The same idea to 'The Evil Dead' fly by,
but obviously not so 'groovey'.

The video is available by download, see
my .Sig

cheers,

andy

------------------
--
Andy Winton
(see my Video at idlechild.net)

tom hardwick
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Joined: Apr 8 1999

--
Certainly, Dave. (above)

On the timeline, choose and snip out the scene you want to put into
slo-mo. Put it on a superimpose track, slow it (right click, video,
speed - in Premiere 5,1). You'll need to deinterlace or reverse field
dominance to remove the jitter, depending on your editing programme.
Then copy/paste this scene onto another superimpose track, and in one
frame resolution, move this copied scene one frame to the left or right
(it matters not which way).

Then (under each clip) vary the transparency of each such that when
playing the two scenes together both are visible yet the exposure of the
combination equals the scenes before/after.

If you slowly scrub through the clip you'll notice that the scene is now
composed of a combination of both superimposed timelined scenes, and
it's this that adds a certain smoothness to the resulting slow motion,
filling in the jumps from frame to frame.

It's not perfect for sure ~ the only real way is to expose more
frames/sec at the time of the original shoot, but this is not an option
open to us all. Easy in Super8 days, where my Canon ran at 62fps for an
18fps replay speed.

tom.

andy_winton
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Joined: Jul 6 1999

Ah,
Ok, the techniques are similar, but the
values different.

I moved the 2nd timeline several frames,
tom just one.

I speeded to whole thing up several times,
tom slows it down.

Both give interesting results,

cheers,

andy

chris thomas
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Joined: Apr 23 1999

My two pennies:

As Tom Hardwick points out in his first post above, you could try perfecting the funny walk with a large cup of hot coffee. Try running about without spilling anything. A good coffee burn is an effective way of concentrating the mind!

------------------
Chris Thomas.
chris@computer-manuals.co.uk

Chris Thomas. http://cptv.co.uk - over 30 minutes of streaming video to bore yourself with!

Roger Bird
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Joined: Aug 25 1999

Two of us have just returned from Israel, where we have used monopods, and have found them terrific for holding a camera steady whilst walking with the monopod being a counterbalance for the camera. Twist the head sideways and hang your camera out of the side of a boat and follow the action with your side screen as well!!

pegasusvideo
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Joined: Aug 29 1999

I have been studying all the plans for stedicams on the net, and some of them are quite involved. I plan to try and make a version.

From the picture, the steadicam jnr looks no more than a ball and socket joint on a arm with a counterbalance arm to keep cam level. The true steadicam are full of springs, strapped to the body.

From the body, an arm creates a parrallelogram which is sprung to hold the cameras weight in any position. This also pivots left and right. This arm attaches to a pivot in the vertical plain so that the camera can swing left to right in a pendulum. This is weighted such that it remains vertical.

If the cameraman leers to the right, the arm remains upright and so the camera stays level. This is how he can walk; the body sway being "ironed out" by the pendulum type swing. If the cameraman follows anything passing him, the camera pivots from the waist.

This is how I view things from what I`ve read. It would be interesting to see how a pro views these comments

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ti
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Joined: Jun 30 1999

Pegusvideo,

Can you kindly give me the web sites that seems to have lots of detail information about the construction of the steadicam. I'm very interested.

ck