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Camera Stabilization

  • February 22, 2010
  • Shane Hurlbut, ASC
Camera Stabilization

I walked into Samy’s Camera last week and a camera assistant was mounting gyros on the 5D to stabilize the camera.  She was getting beaten up by the mount and said, “I cannot get this clamped on here.”  I said “ Hi, I would love to help you with this rig.”  She said she would love any advice I could give her. I grabbed the gyro, removed it, placed it on the counter and said, “There you go, now you’re all set.”  She looked at me for a second.  I told her she just needed a good hand held set-up. The HV Moviemaker Pro was booked immediately on the spot.  It flew to Texas in the overhead bins to shoot a music video directed by Mark Pellington and lensed by my good friend Eric Schmidt for Crossroads Films.  They used 2- 7D’s , 1-1D Mark IV, a set of Zeiss ZE primes, the new custom HV base plate along with the new View Factor black Exoskeleton, HV lighting monitor and all the other goodies to bring the video to life.  Eric came by Bandito Brothers Production Company to check out the Moviemaker, loved it and mentioned the gyro incident at Samy’s.  Once he put the HV hand held rig on his shoulder, he felt at ease and realized that it did not need gyro stabilization.

Studio hand held rig
Studio Hand Held Rig

The secret is weight and where it is placed.  This camera can be anything you want it to be.  It can be stripped down to a still camera or dressed up on a tripod with matte boxes and all the other bells and whistles.  But the fact remains that it is a 2.5 lb still camera, which just needs a little love in the right place for hand held work to shine.

Dressed Up To The Nines For Intense Long Lens Work
Dressed Up To The Nines For Intense Long Lens Work
Dressed Up On A Head That Quickly Turns Into A Man Cam
Dressed Up On A Head That Quickly Turns Into A Man Cam

A Gyro is one of the most unnatural pieces of movie-making gear you can put on this camera.  I made the mistake trying to use this device for the intense hand held action work on the Navy SEAL Project. I would back pedal down a hallway and try to pan slightly to frame a SEAL coming down an adjoining hallway.  The camera spun out of control, ruined the shot and it just felt wrong.  It added: more cables, more batteries, more weight (in all the wrong places), and the noise for sound was deafening so we scrapped it.  Chalk that up to having your hat handed to you. Now, for helicopter and ocean work, I think I would entertain the use of one of these beasts, but other than that I am not sold on this technology.

The 5D, 7D, and 1D can be steady with good operating or they can be shaky and intense if that is what is needed to help tell the story. They can glide on a steadicam, fly on a technocrane, soar in aerial photography and land precise choreographed smooth moves on the dolly.  You choose!

  • Canon
  • Configuration
  • HDSLR Cameras
  • Zeiss

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  • Early Sign-Up & 15% discount on Live (in person) Workshops
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