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View Full Version : Poor-Mans Steady Cam: Only $14 but is it Worth Building?



tonydvcoste
09-23-2006, 11:39 AM
Has anybody built and tried one of these out for themselves?

http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~johnny/steadycam/

There's test footage on the site and it looks all right, and for 14 dollars, how can you go wrong? But is it worth even the time and effort? Two cents please...

NO CA$H
09-23-2006, 02:26 PM
I dont need to see this right now... I just spent $200 on one. LOL They do work pretty good once you get the hang of it.

tonydvcoste
09-23-2006, 04:42 PM
Well $200 isn't that bad, they can be a lot more expensive. I'm sure your's works a hell of a lot better than the poormans, but some people can hold a camera more steady handheld then others can with a stabilizer.

varuj
09-23-2006, 04:48 PM
i made one,it wasnt very good,just use a tripod.it makes a good steady shot.

Neil Rowe
09-23-2006, 05:25 PM
in my honest opinion, a glidecam would be a much better purchase than one of these. a balanced gimbal stabilizer offers a much more versitile and stabile shooting arena to operate within, and doesnt make you look like a little sick smurf on a budgeted set. while i do think that experimenting with the idea of a stabilizer is great for learning the cinematic possibilities created by the type of device, i also know that if you actually want your cam to be rock solidly steady.. youll either want to get your hands on a real stabilizer and learn how to use it properly, or learn to reliably, repeatedly, and amazingly perform your own steadi tai chi fu camera moves without one. ..or possibly just use the ever popular handheld cinema verite angle in a sensable approach, and forget about all that "smooth movement magicmaking vodoo". whatever the case, just use what you have to your advantage, as a film isnt better by you saying what you wished youd've had, but by having worked dilligently with what you did have.

NO CA$H
09-23-2006, 05:59 PM
Well $200 isn't that bad, they can be a lot more expensive. I'm sure your's works a hell of a lot better than the poormans, but some people can hold a camera more steady handheld then others can with a stabilizer. Yeah I got a pretty good deal I just checked on B&H and they have it for $360. Its the Glidecam 4000. I couldn't build one of these things if my life depended on it.

mikkowilson
09-24-2006, 02:07 PM
That $14 thing is a joke. It actually goes AGAINST the basic principles of an inertial stabilier (It's WAY out of balance).
You are in deed better off holding a closed tripod jsut above the balance point.

Though really, for anything that actually resembles a steady shot, you will need something with a gimble to provide the necesarry isolation. Non gimbled systems like this, or for example the "Steady Tracker" are a waste of money as a stabilizer. (some have other funtions too).

- Mikko

tonydvcoste
09-24-2006, 03:24 PM
Nice, I'm definatly going to save up for a real stabilizer now and not waste my time. Thanks guys! Can anybody suggest one for around 500-800 bucks? Do you have any footage of the Glidecam 4000 at work, NO CA$H?

NO CA$H
09-24-2006, 04:03 PM
In 2 days I'll post a clip up but I'm not very good with it yet. Somebody has some footage of the Glidecam 2000 in action in the Clips section.

greeches
09-24-2006, 09:38 PM
I use mine all the time. Great for running.

Logan LeBlanc
09-24-2006, 10:58 PM
I made one too and, if used correctly, you can get some great shots with one.

mikkowilson
09-25-2006, 02:31 AM
Nice, I'm definatly going to save up for a real stabilizer now and not waste my time. Thanks guys! Can anybody suggest one for around 500-800 bucks? Do you have any footage of the Glidecam 4000 at work, NO CA$H?

Not allready mentioned in this thread, but discussed in many others is the Steadicam Merlin. I presume you are working with the DVX or HVX?

Run a search for "Steadicam" and you will find lots of good info to help you with your descision.

- Mikko

PaPa
09-25-2006, 09:21 AM
wow, i seem to be copying and pasting this link everywhere now...

here, watch and tell for yourself.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Owlx13xCjCg

kyle.presley
09-25-2006, 09:24 AM
I built one a couple of years ago and it works fantastically. I've used it ever since. Due to inflation, though, you'll probably spend about $20, lol.

Dennis Wood
09-25-2006, 10:41 AM
Here's my 2c. I've built a variation of the $14 unit, and I've also used a glidecam type stabilizer. There is a definite difference which can be explained pretty simply.

Anytime you add mass to something, good old F=ma comes into play. Increase the mass of something, and the force required to move it goes up. Add torque moments etc and the force required goes up again. For the sake of argument, a perfect stabilizer might have a 100kg 20 foot horizontal X (you'd stand in the middle with the cam mounted in the middle), a 100 kg weight hanging underneath, and a helium balloon with 200kg force lifting it (a little extra for the cam would be nice). Wind resistance on the ballon ignored, this device would float in front of you and require a lot of energy to disturb. Getting it moving forward, it would stay very, very stable and not yaw pitch or roll unless you wanted it to. Of course it would be unusable just about everywhere :-) The $14 stablizer is an unbalanced attempt to replicate this. It does little to help dampen rotation. Personally, I found the "low shooter" I made out of this more useful than using it as a stabilizer. I suspect that if you mount your cam on a cement block and run with it, the extra mass will give you a pretty stable shot. You'll get huge arms and impress the girls too :-)


A mechanically isolated, balanced stabilizer uses the same overall principle, however you can remove a lot of mass and still get great results. The gimbals used in most designs effectively dampen yaw, pitch and roll when the unit is properly balanced.

BrianMurphy
09-25-2006, 11:23 AM
Is there a big dirrerence in the FLyCam and the GldieCam ?I know there are essentially 2 basic models of the Glidecam the 2000 and the 4000 before you move up in features. But when I look at the FLyCam it seemsidentical to the GlideCam in the pics yet it costs less. ANyone have a FlyCam?

kyle.presley
09-25-2006, 01:20 PM
A lot depends on your technique, really. If you can't hold your camcorder steady hand-held, you won't do as well trying to hold the DIY stabilizer. All the DIY config does is HELP YOU stabilize it, but it doesn't necessarily do it for you, as the more expensive ones more or less do.

novelt
09-25-2006, 05:40 PM
kyle summed that up nicely...

i built one, but i made changes like the platform. i attached a tripod head to the platform and instead of the arm sticking out to the side i used a 45 angle and have a shorter arm inwards. there's a reason why it's called the poorman's steadicam. however it's not just about being cheap or cutting corners, because i saw someone do a DIY stabilizer, but used PVC...without question i'd use the poorman's over the PVC contraption.

Park Edwards
09-27-2006, 03:04 AM
What are the weights on the glidecam exactly? Are they just metal washers? How much do they weigh?

Drew Ott
09-28-2006, 07:52 PM
I would think a glidecam would be easier to make yourself. It doesn't seem to have a very different design from the $14 steadicam.

mikkowilson
09-29-2006, 02:06 AM
... except that a glidecam has a gimble .. and it's hard to build a gimble, let alone a good one.

- Mikko ... won't comment on the quality of Glidecam's gimble.

Dennis Wood
09-29-2006, 11:59 AM
Mikko makes a good point. There are bearings..and there are bearings. I can see that even a tiny,tiny bit of static friction (stiction if you like) can compromise the setup. These are things that are invisible to 99.9% of users..but likely have a pretty large impact on the effectiveness of the unit. It's also why a lot of people may find the Merlin's price tag surprising. It doesn't look like much, but source up some high-spec bearings, and it makes more sense.

PaPa
09-29-2006, 05:58 PM
... except that a glidecam has a gimble .. and it's hard to build a gimble, let alone a good one.

- Mikko ... won't comment on the quality of Glidecam's gimble.


you implying that there are problems with the glidecams gimbles?

I've been using the glidecam2000 pro for months now, and have gotten to the point where i can almost replicate a dolly shot.