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    Back to the basics... Glidecam over Gimbal?
    #1
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    Enjoy the Zhiyun Crane and will definitely be hanging onto, but watching a handful of different videos I am reminded of how much more natural a steadicam look can be. Less mechanical, more controlled, etc.

    A few misc thoughts:

    1. Glidecam/Steadicam VS Gimbal - your thoughts?

    2. Blackbird Stabilizer VS new Glidecam HD-Pro for $500 launching soon? (I have the blackbird from years back and never fully got into it, due to snagging the easier to use gimbal shortly after). That said, I know Blackbird wasn't a big name but many people preferred it. It supports up to 8lbs, Glidecam HD-Pro up to 10lbs, and the new Glidecam seems pretty refined. Thoughts on Blackbird VS Glidecam in terms of final shot quality + ease of use?

    3. Weight - one draw for the Zhiyun Crane supporting up to 3.9lbs is that a GHx kitted out is maybe 2.0-3.0lbs max depending on the lens and cage. Right in the sweet spot. Overall pretty lightweight package. However if memory serves correct, that would be right at the bottom of these steadicams, and don't they tend to work better with more weight? (Yet I do see a number of people getting good results with just a DSLR on a glidecam). Further, weight control... with the added weight, the glidecam seems that it could sure get heavier quicker VS the gimbal (I know they have the arms, but now it gets complicated again). I don't suppose good results could be achieved with a glidecam + easyrig, either?

    4. Finally, the Blackbird goes up to 8lbs and the glidecam up to 10lbs. So could support an EVA1 with lens (around 7-8lbs total). The extra headroom on the glidecam might be nice for this. However, with counterweight, that tends to get back to being pretty heavy again!

    Having not thought much on these for a while, I was struck again how much more natural the steadicam footage can look. Less rigid and robotic.


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    I think ultimately gravity and mass does a better job. But this requires practice and training.


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    #3
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    FYI 8lbs on a glidecam with no support isn't the easiest thing in the world for an average person. If you're an athlete or generally strong individual you may find it fine, but most people are going to want an arm/vest.


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    Quote Originally Posted by filmguy123 View Post

    Having not thought much on these for a while, I was struck again how much more natural the steadicam footage can look. Less rigid and robotic.

    Agree 1000%


    I've gone away from gimbals entirely. They feel much less personal and intuitive to storytelling. I'm also seeing a lot of bad gimbal operating going to air. They're so overused now too.

    JB
    Cinematographer
    Sydney Australia
    www.johnbrawley.com
    I also have a blog


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    Senior Member Grug's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Brawley View Post
    Agree 1000%


    I've gone away from gimbals entirely. They feel much less personal and intuitive to storytelling. I'm also seeing a lot of bad gimbal operating going to air. They're so overused now too.

    JB
    I think gimbals are great... right up until that moment you get a fraction of robotic panning action, and then the entire take is ruined. :/


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    I do not shoot much narrative or use a glidecam/steadycam. I do have a Crane v2 and like the perspective it gives but have to agree, gimbals in general are for awesome B-roll. Roving around a live event can work well if you do not need specific interaction but the approach of filming set shots and set moves just does not fit for these things. I see the gimbal as a more versatile slider.


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    #7
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    I'm glad to see that the gimbal craze is settling down and people are starting to take a critical look at what tool is the right one for a given situation. I have seen some fine gimbal work but I believe that if it is used for subtle narrative work, you really need two skilled operators (one to carry, the other to pan and tilt) who are in tune with each other. I feel that gimbals are great for architectural shots, running shots and handoffs, while Steadicam is still the right instrument for reacting to humans and dialogue.

    As noted above, the learning curve is far steeper for Steadicam type devices. And I think the handheld systems are too much of a physical strain over a 5 lb camera. If you can find a used Steadicam Pilot (or can afford the newer Aero for higher capacity), you'll get much better performance out of those arms than the other brands.
    Charles Papert
    charlespapert.com


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    I personally would only ever use a steady cam operator for a feature or any narrative that I do, but then I go way back into the world of film. I think with younger generations (just an observation) there is an expectation of instant gratification. Good film work takes time to learn (there really are no short cuts) as with everything else of course, but the excellence in camera image, for so little money these days, in some ways do a great disservice to the Wannabe filmmaker, to wit (here goes controversy!) the lack of good AF in some cameras, and the argument that for some single operators/small shops, AF is good enough...having said that, for Doc work I fully understand, but pulling good focus is an irreplaceable art form or a good Script Supervisor and the list goes on and on, and at an even higher plane good steady cam work is at the top of the pyramid IMO...so, if you put the time in, to learn to operate a steady cam, the result is simply unequaled...the biggest problem in a way is getting something right, except one can't repeat it, and the nature of the movement aside, that's the problem with gimbals...even if you could live with the look...so here my advice would be, get a steady cam and a vest with arm (4 to 8 lbs) quickly gets tired, and in the mean time you have your gimbal...in the long term, as you hone your skill with the steady cam, you will probably never look back, and you will develop that unique skill that so few have, yet is still so prized today.


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    I think at the high end corporate/small commercial level, where standards are lower and subtle moves aren't appreciated, the gimbal is dominating.

    It's "cooler" for millennial to get strapped into an exoskeleton then attach their freefly product. Nevermind the fact that the system can be very temperamental and balance adjustments severely cut into production time, the ginormous footprint of an easyrig/arm/gimbal, the inability to even frame up before rolling because the operator's arms are so tired because they don't have an easyrig, or even the results.

    The gimbal easily wins for its ability to be mounted to many differente places - moving cars, boats, jibs etc. - which is an entirely different use than your traditional steadicam following actors.


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    I think gimbals have a place - interesting oners with hand offs, etc. but on feature films and bigger shows they use a stedicam. I think there’s a reason for that other than weight. Lots of REDs and minis out there. There is an elegance to a great stedicam shot. It can move, and land, then move and pan so beautifully. I have made a bit of a study of American Hustle as a really great modern use of it in a pretty great movie. I got a used flyer LE and rewired it for SDI and I love it. I’m getting better. I still want a great operator for critical work, but I’m getting better!


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