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Question; Stablizing Dynamic Steadycam Footage? Possible?


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#1 Davis Appels

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Posted 29 May 2008 - 11:53 AM

Hey All!

Brand new to the site; and pretty excited to be part of fourm that obviously includes some really talented and sucessfull cinematographers; directors; camerapeople, etc.

I am Directing/DP'ing/Editing/Compositing a low/no budget short on mini-dv (hdv) and I really want to have some steady cam work in the short.

However; I lack the money; and the carprentry skills required to buy/or manufacture a steadycam rig. And anything I could build/buy would probably still have some noticible shake given the movement I am looking for.

So my question is; is it at all possible to stabalize footage (filmed on a moving tripod) in post; to give the illusion of a steadycam. I have seen some tutorials on how to stablize "shaky" static footage; but never moving/dynamic footage.

The shot I am trying to accomplish takes place in a dinner; at the begining of the short I will have the camera start on a pile of menus; the waitress then grabs them (we follow; the menu's at her side) as she walks up to the table were the main actors will be sitting (weaving through tables and chairs; as patrons call for the bill; or a top up of there coffe); allowing us to transition seemlessly into the action/dialog.

Now, I am fairly new to all this, (I am an actor by trade), but as I understand it; to motion track/stabalize you require a point (normally of high contrast) that is visible within the shot at all times. So; the menu; could I track a spot on this? And still get the desired effect; or would the program become confused if this happens. I am going to experiment anyway; but I am just wondering as to your opinions?

NOTE: I am using a canon hv20 (which creates great images for its price); but as you all might know has a rolling shutter...UGGGGHHHH!!!! So I have heavy artifacting when moving sideways; I am assuming that this will cause difficulties for tracking software.

Or is it virtually impossible! (Although I am a firm beliver that nothing is impossible...except maybe the impossibe..lol :lol: ) Hopefully this is the right spot.

Look forward to your responses.

P.S I am new to this forum, and behind the camera work; so please feel free to correct me on my posting techniques, or my misunderstandings; becuase its the only way that i'll learn!

P.P.S Please pardon my awfull speeeeling.... :unsure:

ALSO as an added question (and to make this post even longer) is there a way to color correct .m2t files without degragation; I feel like whenever I edit in vegas I'm getting a final render that looks a bizzilion times worse than the raw .m2t file?

Thanks Again,

Davis Appels
"Jack of All Trades"
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#2 Davis Appels

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Posted 29 May 2008 - 11:56 AM

P.S My applogies for the duplicate topics; just goes to show my neewbieness. :unsure:
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#3 Steve McBride

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Posted 01 June 2008 - 07:05 PM

Instead of holding the camera by the usual grip with your thumb on the back of the camera and your other fingers though the grip and laying on top of the camera, try putting your thumb on the top of the camera and the rest of your fingers around to the bottom of the camera. The difference in grip will get you a bit smoother image and such.

If there isn't a lot of movement then you don't need to move! Try to move your legs as little as possible especially while walking, this is what creates the most camera movement. Rotate your hips, arms, extend your arms, etc. and it will keep the image steady.

I had to shoot in a diner for a short not to long ago and what I did was take my tripod and actually pull out the pedestal piece that is connected to the head and just had the camera connected to the head and gripped the top of the pedestal piece just below where it attaches to the head for a bit of a smoother shot. If you use this technique you can also place your open hand on the bottom of the bedestal piece and use that to tilt up and down a bit smoother, that is something that I just thought of and with the added stability of your second hand the image will be a lot smoother.

If you're editing with FCP, there is a Video Filter called "Smooth Cam" and if you just apply that to the shot when your editing and let it render you will be able to get a VERY steady/ smooth shot (I used this in the same short that I stated above and it worked amazing! the shot had a LOT of movement, but when I applied the filter it was perfectly smooth).
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#4 Davis Appels

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Posted 03 June 2008 - 10:44 AM

Thanks!
I tried some of the things you suggested as tests and it created some much more desirable footage! I owe you one!
As for the smooth cam filter in FCP, I have yet to switch over to the wonderful world of apple, so do you know of a similar filter for after effects? I searched quickly last night and couldn't find anything.
I think I can create some fairly smooth footage given your advice but it still does not resemble steady cam as much as I would luck!
Am I out of luck as user of the dreaded windows?
I'm mostly looking at post production as a means to create this effect.

Edited by Davis Appels, 03 June 2008 - 10:46 AM.

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#5 Allen Achterberg

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Posted 19 June 2008 - 03:46 AM

After Effects has a stabilizer, it's in the motion tracking. You can use that to stabilize footage in after effects. However, you can get better results using the ProDAD Mercalli plug-in. Google it and you'll find what you are looking for. Just remember, there will be quality loss, and if the camera is too shaky you will get blur or soft frames which look funny, so try to get the smoothest shot in production as if you never had the post option, and shoot at the highest resolution possible. because there will be quality loss.

good luck
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#6 Bob Hayes

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Posted 19 June 2008 - 09:53 AM

I recommend trying a small lightweight monopod with a tripod head on it. You can find them for under $40. I rest it in my left hand but do not grip it and then I operate with my right hand. You can get pretty smooth with a little practice.

monopodsmall.jpg
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#7 Davis Appels

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Posted 19 June 2008 - 10:08 AM

After Effects has a stabilizer, it's in the motion tracking. You can use that to stabilize footage in after effects. However, you can get better results using the ProDAD Mercalli plug-in. Google it and you'll find what you are looking for. Just remember, there will be quality loss, and if the camera is too shaky you will get blur or soft frames which look funny, so try to get the smoothest shot in production as if you never had the post option, and shoot at the highest resolution possible. because there will be quality loss.

good luck


THANKS ALLEN!

That's good advice for sure; I think that I am going to use some of the techniques described earilier with the use of a camera tripod to get as stabiziled as possible then use one of the motion trackers you quoted. I have used the adobe tracking software before but I'm going to get some footage tonight and test the ProDAD plug in.
I'm shooting HD 1080i, so its probably safe to assume a quality loss to 720p or lower?
My concern with that would be matching the footage with the unstabized/already stable footage?
Would I simply just down convert to a 720p for the remaining footage; or is there a way to take that now quality loss stabalized footage and upconvert for better quality? (Probably the first choice)

At any rate, thanks for the help!

Davis
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#8 Davis Appels

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Posted 19 June 2008 - 10:47 AM

I recommend trying a small lightweight monopod with a tripod head on it. You can find them for under $40. I rest it in my left hand but do not grip it and then I operate with my right hand. You can get pretty smooth with a little practice.

monopodsmall.jpg


Thanks Bob!

I'm thinking the local photography shop will carry some of these? If not ebay?

Just a thought do you think that If I attached a weight to the bottom of said monopod that I could get even more stabization; mimicing a steadycam I guess?

Anywho, thanks again; I really appreciate all of the helpful comments made so far; it great to be a part of a community that is so helpful to people in the starting stages.
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#9 Julian Farmer

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Posted 07 July 2008 - 03:54 PM

Hi,

In the past few weeks I have spent many hours researching and experimenting different methods of getting a steady shot.

I'll share what I found with you :D


1) A tripod will work if you have one, or else a monopod. It may be worth investing in a tripod as it'll be useful in the future for other projects.
2) Attach your camera and hold the tripod HORIZONTALLY so it is parallel to the floor. You need to find the centre of balance by just gripping it between your thumb and indexe finger and mobing it along until you get a perfect balance
3) Hold the tripod or monopod at arm's length, and if it is light, grip it between the thumb and index finger on the balance point you found. If it is heavy, you may need a firmer grip to keep it from sliding or even falling.
4) Crouch slightly, and try to avoid moving yoru arm left and right. You may find it useful to use yoru other hand to control turns othehrwise they will come out jerky.


Just experiment different ways - you can get near perfect shots with just a tripod. Sorry if the description on number 2 is a bit strange - you need to find the point of balance.
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