How To Shoot Video with DIY Glidecam

Test Video - Shot with My DIY Steadicam


Everything I know about building a DIY steadicam is now is in this new guide. Learn how to get amazing cinematic video with this cool gadget that you can build using parts from your local hardware store.

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Since I'm no longer selling the DIY Highball steadicam, you may wanna check out these other camera stabilizers. Click on any picture.
GoPro Smoothee Stabilizer by Steadicam
Glidecam HD 2000
Flycam Stabilizer
Check out the stabilizers on Amazon CanadaAmazon.UK and Amazon.DE.
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I was supposed to take photos at my cousin's 4th grade graduation but instead I shot a video. It was another occasion to test my DIY glidecam and plus - I made her a star. :-)

Shooting video with a glidecam it's not only fun but it let's your creativity explode. You become more or less a bit of everyone on a movie set: you're the director, the cameraman, the technician, the guy with the lights, the screenwriter, etc. Just playing with the camera mounted on a steadicam makes you wanna experiment more that you would normally do with a hand held camera. I've seen both from the comments on YouTube as well on this blog that some of you have problems balancing your glidecam. There are a few simple steps for getting it right but the key is to have your glidecam built in a smart design that allows fast adjustments without too much hassle. Some key features of such a design include:
  • A telescopic tube for the shaft. If you can add the gimbal to a telescopic tube then you're one step closer to a professional glidecam. This will help you raise or lower the center of gravity in a snap!
  • If you can't integrate a telescopic tube then use a threaded bar. In this case you can make your adjustments either by moving the gimbal on the bar or by moving the upper and lower plates. Please note that the bearing is slid onto the bar and hold in place with two nuts tightened against each other ( the bearing being fixed between them).
  • Plates with channels for sliding the weights.
  • A smart plate for the camera. I couldn't find a self sliding plate but I drilled many holes in the laminate flooring (of which my plate is made) as to accommodate different types of cameras.
  • Wing nuts instead of regular nuts. Faster to operate and of course you won't need to carry any wrench with you. :-)
DIY Glidecam How To Balance Your Glidecam You should know that I only refer to the classic glidecam, not the Merlin design. Unlike the Merlin, the normal camera stabilizer has some advantages:
  1. You can do 360° turns without having to move. Just stand still, raise the gimbal handle slightly above your head (it depends on how long the shaft is) and start rotating the camera around it's own axis by spinning the shaft.
  2. You can make the glidecam top heavy and have the camera down and the weights up. This allows you to shoot at ground level - which is great when following a walking person (or a dog or even with no subject - sliding 5 centimeters above the ground creates an amazing effect).
  3. You can shoot in all directions: forward, downward and upward. You can easily tilt the shaft with the left hand and thus point the camera wherever your subject is. The beauty of it is you can raise it above your subject and have a bird eye's view along with the gliding effect. That's pretty neat!
When balancing the glidecam you must have in mind that the center of gravity must be just below the gimbal as for the system to reach a state between a stable equilibrium and a neutral equilibrium. The videos below explain how to accomplish that. Even though they are using professional camera stabilizers all the principles apply to your own DIY steadicam as well. You can measure the balance of your rig by checking the drop time (1.5 to 3 seconds) and by spinning the glidecam to check for dynamic balance (watch first video - minute 6.50). Please note that while your home made glidecam may not have a sled (with a battery and remote monitor), it has the bottom weights plate instead (just like the glidecam in second video). Use the weights on the plate for fine tune balancing. How To Shoot Video with a Glidecam What you wanna shoot with a glidecam is a moving subject. That's the main purpose of any camera stabilizer - to help you capture a steady footage while following your subject (even on uneven terrain - no pun intended). You must know that the only thing a home made glidecam does is to keep your camera horizontal. That's it! The gimbal separates the movement of your hand, absorbing the jolts with it's three axis of rotation. The gliding effect is produced by our arm and by our walking with the subject. A professional steadicam comes with a mechanical articulated arm and a body vest that helps the operator to shoot without holding the weight of the entire system. Professional camera gear is both bulky and heavy and this comes in handy for the cameraman. In our case the articulated arm is no other than our own arm. Yes. We have three joints that absorb the shocks of our walking: the shoulder joint, the elbow joint and the wrist joint. All these together along with our knees and ankles provide the flying sensation (in the video) as we move our glidecam and camera through space. This gliding effect is also caused by the weight of the whole system. In other words - the heavier the system the more stable it will be when running after your moving subject. As you run, passing over obstacles (small rocks, etc), the camera tends to follow a straight line due to the inertia of the whole rig (camera and steadicam) - that's the gliding outcome. In order to get really smooth video you must practice holding the glidecam, tilting it, running with it, rotating it, etc. You'll get accustomed to it's sensibility and you'll become better with each small victory. GoPro on DIY Camera Stabilizer Tips for glidecam video shooting
  • Shoot your moving subject from all directions. Walk before it, behind it, in lateral - and of course you can combine any of these methods with shooting from above (hold the glidecam up) or from below (make the glidecam top heavy as to have the camera down). Example: shoot from lateral and above or from behind and low. Mix all these techniques together wen editing the footage. If you shot with your camera upside down, rotate the footage within the video editor.
  • Give 180° capturing your passing subject. You can do this in two ways:
  1. Stand still and spin the camera on the shaft as to follow the subject (the camera rotates on it's axis)
  2. Move your arm describing half a circle, keeping your camera pointed at the subject. You will get an awesome movie like effect as the camera sweeps the landscape in an interesting way.
  • Rotate around your subject. Go round the subject and keep the camera pointed at all times towards the center of the imaginary circle.
  • Run after your subject. This will make your friends ask "How did you shoot that?!". The glidecam proves it's value when you get the steady footage while running with your subject. I was pretty blown away by that. :-) You can also run in front of your fast moving subject, just be careful not to trip as you're stepping backwards.
  • Move the camera against the subject (which is coming towards you) and pass it laterally. I stole this technique from a friend of mine - Brant Dempster. I'm sure I've seen this in movies as well but I just wasn't aware of it as I am now.
  • Follow the subject from behind, laterally and eventually end front shooting. Again this is a movie like technique that empowers the viewer. It makes the people watching the video feel they were there and thus they got the full picture (subject plus the landscape).
This list is by no means exhaustive and it's based solely on my observations of other's work. Feel free to correct me or add your experience in the comments. I'd love to hear from you. DIY Steadicam for GoPro Shot videos using your DIY Glidecam! Cheers!


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2 comments :

  1. foarte tare domne, brasovean ca tine, si eu lucrez acuma la unu, sa vedem ce porcarie fac:))

    ReplyDelete
  2. :-) Send me an email when it's done.

    ReplyDelete

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