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Using a Steadicam with the Flip camcorder - help please


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#1 Shawn Pringle

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Posted 13 August 2008 - 01:16 PM

First of all, I'm new to all of this. I am trying to setup a system to film real estate properties smoothly and easily. After much camcorder research we've decided to keep it dead-simple with the Flip camcorder (quality is not that big of an issue...but steadiness is). I was wondering if someone could advise me on how I would use a steadicam with the Flip camcorder (http://theflip.com/p...flip_mino.shtml) .

I recently bought this steadicam http://cgi.ebay.ca/C...1QQcmdZViewItem

...but the problem is that the Flip only weighs 3.3 ounces, and I cannot for the life of me get the thing to balance. It either it too top heavy or too bottom heavy, and I don't know what to do.

Might you have any suggestions? Do you know of anyone that has used the Flip and a stabilizer successfully?

Thanks so much for any advise!

Shawn
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#2 Steve McBride

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Posted 13 August 2008 - 01:36 PM

I highly doubt you'll get any advice about a camera and steadicam rig like that from this forum. Most people here are used to using much larger cameras and stabilizer rigs.

Your best bet would be to ditch the steadicam and just use filters in whatever editing program your using to smooth out the video. I know there are some good third party applications and filters that do a good job at making video smoother, I'll try to find some links for you and post them up.

The problem you're having is that the camera is just so damn small and light. It is a lot harder to balance something that is extremely light versus something that is heavier. If you want to keep that rig, try getting a cheap Canon Elura, a DVD camcorder, or even a harddrive camcorder and mounting it to the rig, the video will look a lot better. I know you don't care for quality, but you really should, you can compress good quality videos to make it a smaller file while keeping most of the quality but you cannot increase quality if the original video is bad.

Just a few words of advice, good luck.
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#3 Shawn Pringle

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Posted 13 August 2008 - 01:52 PM

Thanks for the quick reply Steve.

The reason we have to use this camcorder is because it is simple to use, and we will be training real estate agents, who are notoriously technophobes. We've been working hard to try to make it as easy as possible and when you introduce any other type of camera, like we tried initially, we lose them.

Deer in the headlights syndrome.

They get scared when you start saying things like "firewire" and "editing software".

So we have to keep it simple, and this little camcorder is the key. However, shots are shaky so we need some easy way to smooth them out. Again, they are technophobes so editing software won't really cut it, unless it can automatically smooth the footage out. Is that possible?

There has to be a way to make the footage steadier. I also looked at http://www.spiderbrace.com ...think this will help?

Thanks again :-)
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#4 Robert Tagliaferri

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Posted 13 August 2008 - 07:20 PM

I'm not a steadicam op but I've seen steadicam guys use weighted baseplates to increase the weight of the camera... I've also seen people pull out those velcro wristband weights that people use to workout and wrap them around the camera. That may help.

The other option would be to hire a video crew to come in and shoot it properly.
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#5 Nathan Martin

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Posted 13 August 2008 - 08:20 PM

I would say the spiderbrace would be a better option for the camera and for the real estate agents who may not understand a stabilizer like the one you have bought.

To make the camera run smoothly on your stabilizer you can buy a small dunbell weight, like 500grams or so, and get a longer mounting bolt from a hardware store. Then just send the bolt through the hole in the weight and into the base of the camera.

One of the keys to smooth movement is resistance, which in most cases will come from weight, however to make it as smooth as possible, the rig will end up being too heavy for someone to hold onto for too long.

Also, i would concider adding weight even if the spider brace was used. The stabilizer you have bought wont necesarily make the shots too much smoother, it would mainly let the camera find its horizon, or level on its own.
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#6 Bob Woodhead

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Posted 14 August 2008 - 08:12 AM

First off, that "thing" is NOT A STEADICAM! My god, it's not even a poor imitation of the real thing. I paid $8,000 for mine, and it's one of the CHEAPEST professional models! Call it, at best, a camera stabilizer.

OK, that vent off my chest (it's the "kleenex" problem, sorry)... even the low-end real Steadicam models (JR & Merlin) require PRACTICE. And these are well-designed units, with quality gimbals, moving stages, etc (look that stuff up on Steadicam's website). Practice, practice, and a desire to "get it right". Not what you're going to get from agents, I'd guess.

That said, to get your unit to work, it's not friction (exactly the opposite, really) , but Center of Gravity positioning, coupled with the gimbal quality. You want the CG of the entire unit to be just above the gimbal. Overall, maybe 40/60 , top/bottom, weight distribution. Mass **is** required to create inertia, which, coupled with a really good gimbal, and correct weight distro + CG positioning, allows stabilizers to work. So even if you're balanced correctly, if there;s no mass, you won't get much stabilizing effect. Add weights top & bottom. Of course, this makes it harder to hand hold for extended periods of time.

I'd suggest looking at shoulder brace supports. No training, and will smooth out a fair bit vs handheld cam.

http://www.varizoom....vz1shooter.html as an example.

Please, please, don't call it a Steadicam, thanks.
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#7 Shawn Pringle

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Posted 14 August 2008 - 04:20 PM

Thanks everyone, I'm going to give a shoulder brace a try with this camera.

Much appreciated :-)
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