My name is Stephen, SteadyMaker clients may recognize me as the guy they talk to when buying one of our stabilizers, but I am also a freelance filmmaker! (You can check out my work at www.in-no-v8.com). I have been lucky enough to use different SteadyMaker stabilizers over the years in many different filmmaking environments, and I wanted to share some of my experiences. I love seeing clients use their stabilizers in all kinds of interesting projects, and I believe we all have unique perspectives to share to the filmmaking community.
One of my more interesting gigs was filming a fashion show with a difference....the difference being that nobody was wearing any clothes on the catwalk!
Let me explain....
The show was a fundraiser for a local charity, funding sex education in schools throughout the local area. In the last few years, the local government had stopped funding for sex education, and this left a problem, that a whole generation of student were receiving no teaching in this area, and with the issues of teenage pregnancies, and the overuse of social media for younger people, it was an issue.
The charity decided to put on a fashion show, with a big twist....to allow brave people of all shapes and sizes to walk the catwalk for a charity event for a good cause...but without clothes. The idea was to stop shaming body types, to show the 'true' face of people....no make-up, no accessories, no expensive outfits, just the human body.
Surprisingly, they had many volunteers, about 50 people signed up to walk the catwalk. I was hired to film the event!
This was a unique challenge for me in multiple ways.... I had worked previously with the same client to film another naked fashion show the year before, in 2014...but without a stabilizer, so my shots were generally static shots, filming the models from a tripod, walking up and down the catwalk. The first video was fun, but it didn't reflect the energy and excitement in the venue to my liking.
By the time the second event came, in 2015, I had a SteadyMaker Tank PLUS, at the time, the first 32-bit stabilizer offered by SteadyMaker, and my idea was to follow the models as they walked up and down the catwalk in a dynamic fashion.
The next challenge was how to film the models so I could put the video on social media! With the first video, I filmed the models out of focus, until they were close enough to the camera, then I would focus on parts of their bodies that I could safely film. With this video, as I could follow the models, I had more freedom to choose angles and shots that would keep the video 'safe for viewing'.
Here is the finished video!
What did I learn? Well, it was certainly a challenge in editing....but with a stabilizer I found I had much longer, more dynamic, more usable takes of the models that I could edit, instead of static, blurred shots from a single position.
Having said that...the stabilizer isn't the whole video. I believe you shouldn't rely on a stabilizer too much....the video benefits from an adjustment in tone, and speed, between the interview scenes, filmed with a shoulder mounted rig, for stability, and static shots, and the catwalk scenes, that are dynamic, moving, high energy as a good contrast. If the entire piece was filmed with the stabilizer, it would exhaust the viewer.
A good technique for walking with a stabilizer is really important...remember, your stabilizer doesn't solve all your moving stabilization issues....if you are moving fast, then you still need to compensate for the up and down 'bounce' that quick movement can produce....so, remain flexible in the lower body, walk with soft feet, and bend your knees....this will improve the image and leave less work in post production.
Framing and focus will always be an issue.....if you can film in 4k, do it, as you can crop, and adjust your composition in post production, you will have more screen space to play with. Unless you have a wireless remote for the zoom or focus, then set the zoom and focus near infinity, and then worry about reframing in post production, especially in a live event like this, where you don't have the time and luxury to change lenses, do re-takes, and compose shots too much.
When I look back, I see plenty that can be improved...this is back in 2015, stabilizer technology has improved (we are now selling our SMG Plus, with free shipping in our online store). My camera technique has improved also since then.
Do you have any tips, tricks, and techniques to share? Any advice for me? How would you shoot this type of video? I would love to hear about it. Also, if you have any SteadyMaker videos to share with the world, we would love to see them! We have a playlist on our YouTube channel called The SteadyMakers where we share clients videos to the community. Maybe we can add your video to our list, or feature you in a future vlog? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I would love to see what you make with our products!
Here is an example of previous clients' work.
Look out for exciting SMG Plus news, coming VERY SOON!....