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Shooting on boats - stabilization


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#1 Stephan Schuh

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Posted 08 August 2007 - 10:31 AM

Hi!

Next month I am going to shoot a lot of boat stuff around Malta for a german comedy movie. I´ve been on water before, but we would like to get really stable shots this time, because it´s 1:2,35 and for the big screen.

So far I have found two options for stabilizing the camera on boats:

- Libra- or Scorpio-Remoteheads with electronic gyro stabilization
- a gyro mount called Gyro-Pro by Peace River Productions (or the gyro mount mako-head)

A remote is pretty expensive because it comes with at least one operator and I like to avoid cables and electronics if not neccesary (especially on water).

The Gyro-Pro seems fine for me, but it´s not so easy to get to Europe and I guess there are not many units available anyway. (The rental is working on it.)

So does anybody know other ways of shooting boat to boat stuff?

Thanks for your replies!

schuh

Germany

Edited by Stephan Schuh, 08 August 2007 - 10:32 AM.

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#2 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 08 August 2007 - 11:50 AM

Hi,

I suspect steadicam might work, but there's strict limits on the maximum abrupt vertical move it'll damp down, especially if you hard mount it to the boat. And you don't want it mounted to the operator in case he falls overboard...

Phil
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#3 Douglas Sunlin

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Posted 08 August 2007 - 12:40 PM

When I was in the Navy, I was tasked with shooting video on board. It's not only a very corrosive environment, but very humid. By beta recorder kept popping open with a humidity warning. If you are shooting video and they're running radar on board, then you will need to shield your recorder.

Anyway, a cameraman will have his own stabilization system built in. The movement of a ship is not nearly as abrupt as the movements that a steadicam is made to compensate for, IMHO. Also, if a little bit of sea motion remains in the final product, I don't see how it could be a bad thing.
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#4 Kieran Scannell

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Posted 08 August 2007 - 01:15 PM

Stephan,

If you've got a month you might do some tests before going for the expensive stabilizers
Michael Chapman famously operated for Bill Butler on Jaws and hand held almost all the boat shots!
Looked pretty good to me!

Just a thought.

Good Luck!

Kieran.
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#5 e gustavo petersen

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Posted 08 August 2007 - 03:16 PM

What about a Hydro-Gyro camera stabilization from Cinema Rentals. They can handle most of your water shot needs.

http://www.cinemaren...om/marineac.htm
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#6 robert duke

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Posted 09 August 2007 - 12:29 AM

What about a Hydro-Gyro camera stabilization from Cinema Rentals. They can handle most of your water shot needs.

http://www.cinemaren...om/marineac.htm

I am on the last week of a miniseries where we spent a month in north CAlifornia on fishing trollers shooting boat to boat and on the same boat for a shark movie. We experienced seas with 8-10ft swells frequently. mostly we went hand held but occasionally I rigged something for the camera. The mini series is directed by Jim Contner the 1st ac from jaws and the DP from jaws 3.
In doing my research for the film in Pre production I found the MAKO head to be a very attractive offering for a leveling head. It has a really cool website with video of it mounted on a sea doo and speed boat. check it out http://www.makohead.com/

Having just done this movie I have to recommend that you find a u shaped dock in a well protected cove and shoot off the dock rather than shoot boat to boat. take the pre production time to rig mooring points that are four times as big as you think you need. shooting boat to boat will take too much time of your day dealing with currents, sun angle,lining up the shot,communicating between boats, swells, all that makes the ocean and sea unpredictable. Spend the money on the front end and find a cove to cheat all your out to sea shots. I cannot stress the importance of this. Dont forget about bathrooms, access to a dock, loading and unloading the boat. It makes for a nightmare. Make a miniature of the boats and do a mock up for each scene before you go and shoot it so everyone has a crystal clear idea of what it takes.

Sometimes a green screen is a needed evil.
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#7 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 09 August 2007 - 04:04 PM

The movement of a ship is not nearly as abrupt as the movements that a steadicam is made to compensate for, IMHO. Also, if a little bit of sea motion remains in the final product, I don't see how it could be a bad thing.

Steadicam would probably be fine on a ship, but in many cases it would be useless on a boat, and possibly dangerous. Swells of just a few feet will make operating a steadicam very tough.
I've heard good things about the mako head, but have never used one.
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#8 e gustavo petersen

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Posted 09 August 2007 - 04:15 PM

The other company I was thinking you could call is Motion Picture Marine - www.motionpicturemarine.com

If found their CD-ROM today and it reminded me.
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#9 Hal Smith

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Posted 10 August 2007 - 12:40 AM

I've read posts on cml by Laurie K. Gilbert s.o.c. where he talks about some his best offshore work on sailboats has been to wear a full body harness and lanyard himself into the boat with lanyards attached to D rings at his waist and tied securely to the boat. He tries to have four lanyards at 90 degrees. Laurie's certified for underwater helicopter crash escape and I suspect he's worked out how he would escape from the harness if the boat capsized.

Have a look at Laurie's webpage: http://www.limage.tv/ ,follow the "offshore" link. There's some real pretty pictures there.

I tried a variation of his method shooting some parade video. I was standing on my 10' four wheel open cargo trailer, wearing an OSHA approved tower climbing harness, and with lanyards from my waist to the trailer's railings. I shot both hand-held and with a tripod bolted down to the trailer deck. I got pictures that looked like I had been using some high dollar Hollywood insert car. Being nailed in one place but still free to move somewhat really helps, if only in not having to spend any effort or thought keeping yourself standing up.
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#10 robert duke

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Posted 10 August 2007 - 01:41 AM

we used the harness technique some on this film. It worked well. we also wratchet strapped the tripod down as well as an 8 step on the bow of the boat in 8ft swells. I safetied the Dp who refused to wear a harness while operating a 2x2 bead board. We would drop almost 20ft then rise up 20ft as the boat took the waves. It was amazing.
The harness is a good idea if you want handheld stuff. It is limiting by your movements and how wide you can go B/c of lanyards in your shot. It is funny how small the deck on boats are even big ones.

have a good plan in place and a strong AD. Take ginger it is the best motion sickness prevention we found.

Duke
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#11 Adamo P Cultraro

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Posted 27 August 2007 - 02:28 PM

We did steadicam on a 60' trawler yacht in relatively flat (4') seas. And this was up on the boat deck behind the wheelhouse. It was fine, but the boat itself was hydraulically stabilized.
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#12 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 27 August 2007 - 04:50 PM

I shot on a boat a couple of weeks ago. (afternoon shoots on 2 occasions).

Do not wear your favorite hat.

The Jaws example is a good one, however, that was more of an action based movie than dialogue based so the handheld probably worked perfectly.

I think your instincts are correct for wanting the option of a stable a picture as possible.
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#13 oscar jimenez

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Posted 28 August 2007 - 01:25 PM

WHat about Pictorvision Systems ( wescam ) They should have stuff.
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#14 David Hughes

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Posted 19 October 2007 - 04:30 PM

You could always give Dale a call.
www.fluidmotionfilm.com
more about this on the steadicam forum.
http://www.steadicamforum.com/forums/index...c=1549&st=0

Edited by David Hughes, 19 October 2007 - 04:31 PM.

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#15 RANDY RADZAVICH

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Posted 22 April 2008 - 01:50 PM

You should give the Kenyon Labratories gyro stabilizersa go for this. They made gyros for the navy to spot bouey markers as far back as the 50's. They also rent them.....check them out on the web ....http://www.ken-lab.com/.

Edited by RANDY RADZAVICH, 22 April 2008 - 01:51 PM.

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