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SteadyMaker - Complete Stabilizer Solutions - Latest News

  • The SteadyMakers Profiles: Histibe

    Histibe is a Ukrainian audio-visual artist, video director and music producer with over 10 years of experience behind a number of various digital art projects. He’s also the owner of Vimeo and Webby-award winning creative label Mask Movement. His projects have been published on a number of popular platforms such as Complex, UKF, Designcollector, JAY Z’s Life+Times and Dezeen. Currently Histibe and his team has a strong list of clients and collaborators both from the video and music world, including Steady Maker, Lensbaby, Glide Gear, M-Audio, Loopmasters, Arturia, Waves Audio and more.

     

    When did you start becoming interested in DSLR/SLR videography?

    Photo_003I’ve always loved movies, but I became interested in video production in 2011, when I needed to shoot music videos for tracks from my album “Take the Form“. At that time I was in the role of Creative Director: I needed to find the right video director and give him some direction and creative freedom but lead him in this direction during the creative process in terms of quality and mood. During this time we made 6 music videos with various video directors from Italy, Germany, Portugal, The Netherlands and The United States. In the latest promo trailer for “Meant to Believe” I also created 50% of the video, including 3D animation. The main idea was to have a wide range of creative minds from different countries and exchange experiences. After years of experience, in 2015, I decided to create my own fully directed videos mixing elements of my camera footage with modern VFX and 3D animation. The result is the music video for “0000”. This is what I call abstract expressionism with elements of cinematography and contemporary computer graphics. In fact, 50% of the video was shot using the SMG 3-axis video stabilizer from Steady Maker.

     

    What is the best/worst aspect of your job?

    I guess the worst is that you have only 24 hours in a day. That’s why you need to plan your time ahead carefully. Keep in mind that I do everything myself, including role of DoP, Cameraman, Colorist, Producer and more these days. But this is why I want to tell people: “This is my video. Here’s my work. Check it!” I have some ideas and I really want to express myself this way. However, sometimes you can find yourself bored with video montages or after extra editing and post-production. But on the other hand it gives you some experience and inspiration for future work. At the end of the day — the best thing is the result; the final product is the main thing! It gives me the happiness of self-expression and the ability to share my vision with the world.

     

    Describe the differences/challenges when working on your type of videography?

    My type of videography is abstract and extraordinary. I guess my style is modern surrealism? Another weirdo? However, I still want to follow some classic video rules. For me, the modern classic types are Luc Besson, Quentin Tarantino and Alejandro González. I guess the main challenge is to create a film on the same level and represent a new generation of young people at the same time.

     

    How do you incorporate the SteadyMaker Stabilizer in to your shoots?

    Photo_002The SteadyMaker SMG stabilizer is a great affordable tool for any dynamic shots where you need compact equipment. You can take it on the trip and use it on location. There’s a few different shooting options on the SMG EXTREME model… with one main handle or two detachable handles for extra stability which is great in case if you need some different options. The best way is to check out my behind the scenes video where you will find some examples of work below…

     

    Any shooting tips or tricks for using the stabilizer?

    I had a chance to make small extra tuning to the stabilizer via Bluetooth and SimpleBGC with help of alocal engineer. But only some small adjustments. The best tip: if you don’t know how to set up your stabilizer on a software level — don’t do this, better to find a local professional who you will help to make it right. When you are running like crazy on the shoot with a stabilizer and camera — some screws may need extra attention and fixing in the end. It’s not only the case of this particular stabilizer. Any equipment needs а proper attitude and extra attention sometimes. Also, I’d recommend to use the carrying case that comes with stabilizer for transportation, it will be much safer for the gear. Everything else is totally up to you in terms of creativity. Watch your favorite film and try to reproduce similar camera movements. Try to start with ‘follow mode’, using a wide-angle lens and keep moving forward with your ideas.

     

    What do you hope to achieve in the future?

    The future is bright and we all hope for the best!  Personally I want to create new videos using SteadyMaker with more crazy shots, but if I tell you all the details now  — I might lose the impact. So let’s just keep working. There are a lot of projects and ideas behind Mask Movement nowadays, including video, art and music. I’d recommend to follow us on your social media. There you will find all our exclusive news first. Once again, I’d like to say thanks to SteadyMaker for providing their gear. This cooperation is a good example of a positive creative exchange. So let’s think more about how to help each other. Let’s inspire each other and let’s make our future better together.

     

    This has been the second in a series of articles about ‘The SteadyMakers’ – The people who use our stabilizers, and give them a platform to talk about their work. If you want to be considered for a future feature about how you use your stabilizer in your work, and to showcase your talents, drop me a line at steadymakerhelp@gmail.com. I would love to feature your work!

     

  • Latest Upgrades…..and a Word of Warning

    Tweaks and upgrades to our stabilizer line-up to report!

    20160408_103322A minor upgrade to our Tank PLUS wired and wireless remote versions now adds a removable top handle and handlebar with our easy attachment screws. This means the entire top section can be removed leading to more mounting options for your stabilizer while retaining the yaw gimbal motor. What does this mean? Well, easier balance in the yaw axis,because the top section can be moved around, for a start. Also brings up potential for remounting on to other top mounts….hmmmm….I would be interested to see what the community comes up with, after utilizing the potential of this upgrade:)

     

    Secondly, a community warning. In case anyone is wondering, SteadyMaker.net is the only official authorized SteadyMaker store outside of China. This does not nessecarily mean that you cannot buy your SteadyMaker products elsewhere, they are also available in Chinese territory online stores such as AliExpress…HOWEVER….steadymaker.net is the ONLY place you will find free shipping to most of the world, plus our premium product customer support is included in your purchase. Therefore, I STRONGLY ADVISE our potential customers to shop through our official online store.

    Recently, I was made aware, through Facebook, via a potential client, about a purchase through an Italian Online store. I will not link to the store in this post, as I do not want to draw unnessecary attention to it, but from our perspective, it looks like a fake store. That is to say, they do not actually carry any of our items, despite advertising them for sale. This is likely a rip-off. Again, unless you are based in Asia, I advise only buying our products through steadymaker.net.

    If you have any questions, please contact us at steadymakerhelp@gmail.com.

    Look out in the near future for more exciting videos and SteadyMaker creator profiles!

  • The SteadyMakers Profiles: Kye Rowley

    A large part of the reason I decided to get involved with SteadyMaker was to develop an ongoing relationship with the customers; to see them utilize our products in multiple different ways and find out how they incorporate our technology into their everyday filming experiences.

    In the spirit of showcasing our customers’ work, I am proud to introduce the first in a series of articles about ‘The SteadyMakers’ – The people who use our stabilizers, and give them a platform to talk about their work. First up, Kye Rowley, a filmmaker and Parkour enthusiast from Australia.

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    Hi, I’m Kye Rowley, co founder of the Parkour group BNE based in Brisbane, Australia.

    I’ve been training Parkour & Freerunning for over 7 years. Brisbane has always been strong a strong community, with regular 10 hour training days every weekend. A lot of us would film ourselves to show to the rest of Australia and the world but these videos would be split up between multiple youtube channels.

    So eventually we felt the need to create a team so it was easy for people to see the latest videos coming out of Brisbane. Since then we’ve recently traveled to 11 different countries around Europe and met up with all the biggest communities.

    When did you start becoming interested in DSLR videography?

    kye_derbySharing each others videos is pretty big in parkour, and its a great way to watch each other progress and get inspiration for others. I originally started with my friends MiniDV camera with a fisheye adapter for the first few years but then saw many practitioners had started using these new Canon DSLRs that shoot 1080p video, so I eventually saved for a Canon 600d and kit lens and started making regular videos. After many years shooting Parkour videos I got my first film gig on the set of ‘Suicide Squad’ pre production. This gave me inspiration to make Videography my career and since then have started my own production company.

    Describe the differences and challenges when shooting a parkour film?

    When I film Parkour I focus on making sure the jumps look impressive, so I tend to use wide angle lenses a lot of the time. I feel like longer lenses dont do the jumps justice when in fact if you see them in person they are insane. I like the person watching my videos to feel like they are right there with the athlete, so I like to always have the camera moving.

    How did you incorporate the SMG Handheld Stabilizer into the recent shoot?

    12825885_1743437669210969_199888414_nI really like how light the SMG is, after using gimbals like the DJI Ronin-m it becomes a real pain carrying it around from spot to spot and requires a stand to balance. Being able to pull the SMG out on the fly is invaluable for Parkour shoots as unexpected things can happen you dont want to miss.

    A cool trick I found using the SMG: If you have a lens with a smooth focus wheel you can actually pull focus with the SMG. As long as you are lightly pulling focus the SMG’s motors can handle the force and you can get some amazing shots where you would otherwise need auto focus lenses or a wireless follow focus system.

    What are your future plans?

    My main goals are to grow my production company and BNE. We are always trying to think outside the box with our projects and come up with new and interesting ideas. Hopefully this mindset gives us more opportunities to travel and film interesting things.

  • The EVO Evolves….Now it is EXTREME.

    Our lineup expands!

    smg+20160323_102947More improvements to our handheld stabilizer dictated a name change, but the base of the SMG EVO remains the same. A handheld, 32-bit stabilizer, that’s ready-to-run. So, what has improved since the SMG EVO?

    The battery pack is now comprised of 3×1865 rechargable batteries (the same kind found in some flashlights and similar gadgets) enclosed in an easy-to-remove pack in the handle. These batteries are easy to find, so if you want additional batteries for longer operational time, it’s not a problem. We ship it with a charger, so now they can be swapped out and charged while you are shooting for extended use.

    The gimbal motors are now updated and improved for more accurate steady operation.

    The pre-balance and adjustment is now easier and tool-free with easy-to-adjust screws on all gimbal supports.

    All the benefits have been retained from the SMG EVO, like our removable handlebar attachment, so you can make your stabilizer even more steady!

    Check out the SMG EXTREME and more in our shop HERE.

     

    194In addition to our new improved stabilizer, we are now releasing the handlebar attachment as an exclusive accessory. This is a super-cheap introduction to the world of stabilization, or an attachment that can be combined with multiple rig setups for additional flexibility. Most importantly, worldwide shipping is FREE.

    Don’t forget, we are offering a 60USD rebate for our stabilizers if you make a youtube video review of them!
    The terms and conditions are as follows:
    If you have a youtube channel, we want to see a Steadymaker review…show us your stabilizer in action, share some tips and tricks, give us an honest review and assessment of our product line. If you create a video and send us the youtube link we will offer you a $60USD rebate via Paypal once we recieve your review.

    Not only that, but we will feature your video on our social media network and increase your video exposure and reach!

    In order to qualify, your video must include footage of the stabilizer in action, both shots of it in use, and shots from the camera in the stabilizer. It must feature a review of the stabilizer, including feedback. If your review is negative, that’s ok with us, as long as the critique is constructive and you offer some feedback and ways to improve it, for future versions. Please make it at least 5 minutes in length, and allow us to be able to use your footage and share it on our website and social media. (Review must be in English, please)

    We welcome creativity, and encourage utilizing your stabilizer in interesting, unique, and exciting ways…it doesn’t have to be a standard review…perhaps as a part of a narrative short film, perhaps something from a live event…the possibilities are endless…

     

    Speaking of videos, we are always looking for footage of our stabilizer family in action. There is nothing better than seeing what creative work you guys come up with. If you purchase a stabilizer and use it in one of your videos, why not drop us a line? We will feature your video on our social media network, and add it to ‘The SteadyMakers’ playlist on our youtube channel. For example, here is a fantastic TV ad about to be shown on Australian TV showing our handheld SMG in use. Imagine what you could do with a stabilizer!

     

  • The state of the union…

    Lots of news and exciting developments to report about SteadyMaker in early 2016, so let’s get right to it!

    103Firstly, we are expanding our product range! Now we offer a cellphone stabilizer, to complete our steady lineup, offering stabilization options right from your pocket smartphone, all the way up to heavier cameras such as The BlackMagic 2.5k Cinema Camera. That covers a huge range of stabilizer options. Our cellphone stabilizer is very easy to setup and use and offer the same great stabilization for mobile coverage. If your priority is stabilization anywhere, anytime, this is for you, and it’s a fantastically affordable option for vloggers.

     

    TB2QqE_gXXXXXbYXXXXXXXXXXXX_!!752673632We are launching accessories for our stabilizers, beginning with a vest/backpack support system for our premium stabilizer, the Tank PLUS. The benefits are that the gear takes the weight from long shoots, enabling more accuracy over a longer period of time, taking the stress from the camera operator. Also, the biggest issue with 3-axis stabilizers is how to minimize the up and down ‘bounce’ that you sometimes see when walking/running with one. If you check our video tutorials, we discuss techniques to minimize this, but with the addition of this vest support system, operation becomes even smoother! For all the details, check out both items in our online store.

    Price Changes

    To celebrate the launch of these items, we are slashing shipping charges to most of the world! Same fast shipping, trackable, via DHL, but now FREE to North America, Europe, Australia and Asia! There is no better time to order a stabilizer.

    The Future

    More exciting things on the horizon….we can’t reveal too much, but there are a few special creative collaborations coming up. Our goal has always been to establish a community of talented people who can really put our products through their paces, and use them in unique, innovative ways, to showcase the world of stabilization and inspire others. Our more attentive audience might have already noticed a couple of videos by a fantastic Parkour team from Australia, BNE Parkour. This is the first in a series of videos from them using our SMG line of stabilizers, showing what can be done with it.

    Look out for a more in-depth interview in an up-coming blog, about how they utilized the stabilizer and incorporated it into their dynamic routines.

    We are adding videos to our youtube playlist ‘The SteadyMakers‘ showcasing our clients worldwide and how they use their stabilizers in their projects. For example, check out this powerful piece on bullying, and the effect it has on people.

    If you own one of our products, email or message us with your work, we would love to feature it on our channel and social media! Also, don’t forget, if you review our product, you will be entitled to a 60USD rebate! For more, check out our post HERE.

    Look for more collaborations in the not-too-distant future.

    Also, coming up, more upgrades and improvements to our stabilizer lineup….things are just getting started in the world of SteadyMaker…

     

  • An early Xmas present…The SMG EVO

    The seasons holidays are in full effect, but that doesn’t mean we are taking it easy…in fact, we are adding to our lineup by bringing back our portable stabilizer, with some new improvements.

    The SMG EVO (Formerly the SMG 3000)…so, what has changed?

    The battery pack is now a part of the stabilizer system, so it is one less external component to worry about in the setup and operation.

    We have included at no extra charge, a handlebar and handles setup, so you can attach to the stabilizer and operate in inverted mode for additional stability when needed.

    Cables are now better protected and resessed into the stabilizer design for better protection and flexibility.

    There is a spirit level in the base for better balancing of your setup.

    The gimbal motors have been upgraded for better stability.

    The overall design is more streamlined, with a better handle and support structure.

    Best of all, the price is UNCHANGED. Upgrades and improvements with no increase in costs!

     

    Seasonal deals are still ON

    Don’t forget about our price discounts during the month of december, and check out our fanastic bundles….there is limited supplies, and only a few weeks left to snap up these great offers before 2016! Check out our shop for more information…

  • December Deals, Monitor Bundles, and MORE…

    Cyber Monday is here…but why stop there?

    We are making the world’s most affordable stabilizer packages even MORE affordable this month. For the month of December (while stocks last) until the 31st, we are offering great discounts on our 32-bit Tank PLUS, with discounts on both the joystick controller, and wireless remote editions.

    savings

    If you were on the fence about purchasing a stabilizer, there is no better time than this to snap up our best ever price!

    Stabilizer and HDMI Monitor – The perfect match.

    The December deals don’t just stop with discounts….we are now offering a unique bundle package…our Tank PLUS options now come complete with a 7-inch widescreen HDMI monitor, the Aputure VS-1 V-Screen 7″ IPS Field Monitor. It is the perfect entry-level monitor to pair up with your stabilizer and camera setup, to maximize your shot viewing potential from any angle. With our top-handlebar attachment, it is easy to fix on to the stabilizer, and can be used directly on your DSLR setup for any shooting situation!

    You won’t find a cheaper package deal anywhere else.

    Steadymaker Tank PLUS with Wireless Remote + HDMI Monitor – $760

    Steadymaker Tank PLUS with Joystick Control + HDMI Monitor – $700

    Better still, the shipping price is UNCHANGED from our other packages. This pricing means that for only $20 more than our previous Tank PLUS w. Joystick control, you get a 7″ field monitor in the package!

    What about the SMG3000?

    Don’t worry, our handheld stabilizer has not been discontinued! We have completely SOLD OUT of our first run of this item, but we are in the middle of extensive tweaking and upgrading of components, and we will soon have news of the SMG3000, V.2. We are planning some improvements to the form and functionality for the next generation of handheld stabilization. Stay tuned for updates!

    Become a Steady-Maker

    Our philosophy from the beginning has been that we want to encourage a community of filmmakers, to share tips, tricks, and stabilizer information. We are always listening to our customers, and a request we often recieve is to review our product on social media, so we have decided to offer the following incentive.

    If you have a youtube channel, we want to see a Steadymaker review….show us your stabilizer in action, share some tips and tricks, give us an honest review and assessment of our product line. If you create a video and send us the youtube link we will offer you a $60USD rebate via Paypal once we recieve your review. Imagine the extra savings you can make in combination with our December discounts, you could save BIG.

    Not only that, but we will feature your video on our social media network and increase your video exposure and reach!

    In order to qualify, your video must include footage of the stabilizer in action, both shots of it in use, and shots from the camera in the stabilizer. It must feature a review of the stabilizer, including feedback. If your review is negative, that’s ok with us, as long as the critique is constructive and you offer some feedback and ways to improve it, for future versions. Please make it at least 5 minutes in length, and allow us to be able to use your footage and share it on our website and social media.

    We welcome creativity, and encourage utilizing your stabilizer in interesting, unique, and exciting ways…it doesn’t have to be a standard review…perhaps as a part of a narrative short film, perhaps something from a live event….the possibilities are endless…

    Coming SOON…

    Speaking of collaborations…stay tuned this month for something special…taking our stabilizer to NEW HEIGHTS…

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    Watch this space….

  • Our premier stabilizer, the Steadymaker Tank PLUS 32-bit edition (with wireless or joystick remote control) has recently been upgraded.

    Our goal has always been to provide the worlds’ most affordable, ready to run, complete stabilizer solution, and we are always trying to improve our line of products in order to make them more user-friendly. We regularly listen to customer feedback and whenever we can, attempt to improve and build upon our technology to meet consumer demand.

    Here is a short guide to our latest upgrades to the Tank PLUS. Firstly, we have kept the price the same, so these upgrades won’t cost you any extra.

    stand aThe stand is a central component to the stabilizer, and a unique addition. It makes the day-to-day balance and operation much more simple than a separate attachment that you have to carry along with the other components. Our stand enables both easy ongoing adjustment, and a stable base to set the stabilizer down between takes. Now we have improved the stand further by making it detachable, and giving it more points of adjustment. You now have the option to shoot with, or without it, as desired, and to tweak it until you get a stable base of operation. Removing the stand doesn’t affect your pre-balanced setup so you can shoot with or without it and retain the same level of control.

     

    We have added a battery meter to the top handle so it is easy to see how much of a charge your stabilizer has remaining, to plan your downtime more effectively.

    remote oneThe wireless remote has gone through a significant upgrade now, enabling easier and more accurate control. Instead of separate dials for Pan and Tilt control, we have upgraded the remote to match our joystick-controlled Tank PLUS with a single thumb-mounted controller to enable full control from one place. Not only that, but we have now enabled a reverse switch on the side of the remote, to reverse the up-down-left-right controls, depending on the users’ preference. The aerial is smaller, and to complete the setup, we now have a charging and power LED, the on-off power switch, and top attachment to allow the controller to be fixed to the top handlebar for easy usage as a part of the stabilizer.

     

    handles and remoteThe part that arguably gets the most use out of the Tank PLUS are the handle attachments. We have now made them detachable, and standardized the screw attachments. They are more durable, and easier to grip, with extra adjustment points for your comfort. If you don’t like them, you can always replace them with other handles now, for your ongoing comfort.

    In other upgrades, our carry case has been upgraded to a harder enclosure and a combination lock, for extra durability, protection and security.

    We have enabled a visual measurement system on the points of balance around the cradle. Manual adjustment is now possible with easy adjustment screws, and it is easier than ever to pre-balance the stabilizer using our printed scales. You can also write down balance points for future reference, making the process quick and easy.

    Stay tuned for further upgrades to our shop. We are planning to add accessories so you can purchase the upgrades separately, buy additional batteries and handles as needed, and MORE….

     

     

     

  • Bonzo – Making a short film with just a stabilizer

    Earlier this summer I had some free time and decided to collaborate with a local burlesque performer called BonBon Bombay on a short film. To ensure that the collaboration was as fun, creative, and free as possible, nothing was arrainged in advance, apart from a preliminary meeting, where a character was discussed. She has been working on a new performance piece based around a clown, but hadn’t had the chance to use the costume yet, so we thought it would be an idea opportunity to make something around this new costume.

    IMG_20150625_065133-2On the spot, that afternoon, a short film emerged, based on a day-in-the-life of a dark, moody clown, called Bonzo. For Bonbon, this was the chance to try out the new character, for me, it was a chance to use the Steadymaker Tank PLUS 32-bit stabilizer for an extended period of time, to see how it handled during the shoot. I had used it for shorter periods of time during other corporate gigs, but this was a chance to use it exclusively in this shoot. I decided to shoot only with the stabilizer setup.

    The shoot was not storyboarded, it was to remain organic, utilizing whatever locations and setups we found during our one-day shoot, which was to challenge our sense of story, setup, and composition (not to mention continuity), but as there were to be no script, and the film was to be edited as a music video, certain narrative constrainsts could be relaxed.

    I had recently purchased a Panasonic GH-4, with 4K resolution, and this gave me an opportunity to not only try that out, but also, thanks to the Anamorphic upgrade to the firmware, I could shoot with my anamorphic lens and test the workflow.

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    The picture of the camera setup was taken with a rig ‘cage’ attachment, but for size and weight purposes, I attached it to the stabilizer without this. For the lens-porn-nerds amongst us (which is also kinda me), this is the setup I had:

    At the base is a ZhongYi Lens Turbo adapter. This is basically a poor-mans’ Metabones Speed booster….it is set of glass and lenses that allows 1 extra stop of light, increases the field of view by 0.72 (a great bonus with a cropped sensor such as the Panasonic GH-4) and allows lenses of different companies to be attached to the camera. Win-win, basically.

    On the front of the speedbooster, is a prime lens. (This means a fixed lens that doesn’t zoom). Nikon 35mm f/2. This lens is the widest you can go with an anamorphic setup, as is evident at the widest open settings, you can see some vignetting…but since theres so much frame size to play with in 4k, then its not a problem to zoom or crop out the distorted edges of the frame as needed in certain shots. Without making things too complicated, this lens on this camera, with the lens turbo, works out the same as a 58mm f1.8 lens would on a full frame camera (without the lens turbo).

    Attached to that, is a KOWA Prominar Anamorphic 8-Z lens (this is the big chunky silver and black setup in the center/top of the image lens setup). This is basically a lens which distorts the image, it allows more than twice the width, while keeping the height. (I won’t go into details, as this is not about anamorphic filmmaking).

    It allows for frame sizes of 6656×2496, which  will give you a final resolution/aspect ratio of 2:67, which is wider than Cinemascope, but with some cropping/adjustments ends up being around the standard cinemascope resolution of 2.39. (This means the image is over twice as wide as it is high…or, when you watch on tv, the images that have large black borders at the top and bottom.

    Here is an uncompressed frame of the finished film. (It won’t open to the same size as noted above unless you have a huge screen, so there is an option to download the image from the page it opens to, just right click and download to your computer.)

    ssss

    The final component is a Tokina Achromat +0.4 diopter, which is basically a final piece of glass that goes on the front that enables the anamorphic setup to focus at closer distances to the subject than would normally allow. One of the downsides of anamorphic setups is that they do not have a great depth of field and do no focus well to things closer to the lens….in fact, focussing in general is difficult, as you have two lenses to control, the prime and anamorphic lenses.

    SO, I realize that I have probably lost half my readers in that last paragraph, and the other half wondering when I am going to talk about the stabilizer, but the reason I wanted to detail the setup is so you have an idea about how to get a closer-to-accurate cinematic resolution and feel to your setup. It removes a lot of the ‘digital’ feel, with attractive lens flares, and the way it renders the scene, this will go a long way to making the shot look more ‘filmic’ and less ‘digital’ (if that is a desirable look for you).

    On to the filming itself. We filmed, quite literally, from dawn to dusk. I woke at 3.45am to get to the center of Montreal for around 5am, first light, so we could capture shots in and around the usually busy city streets. This allowed for some surreal footage of Bonbon running uninterrupted up and down the city center roads, free of traffic, surreal in the early light.

    I travelled to the shoot with the camera set up in the stabilizer. The idea was to shoot the entire day with the same lens and stabilizer setup, so I travelled there with an already constructed stabilizer and balanced camera. As nothing was to change during the day, it made sense to travel with the completed setup, rather than assemble things there. This way, I could arrive ready-to-shoot, and quickly adapt to a variety of situations. Of course, the downside is the bulk, carrying it between locations was not particularly user-friendly, and the camera would need rebalancing at each new place, as the length of the lens meant that it would either bang against my leg, or the baseplate screws would loosen enough that the camera would come loose enough to lose balance while walking, so I would need to check often and maintain balance between takes.

    Unfortunatly, because of the 4k internal recording, I could not use my external monitor with the stabilizer, which I could have really done with using during the shoot, as framing the subject, especially in more complicated moving sequences was tough, both for composition, and crucially, focus. Thankfully, because of the free-flowing nature of the day, shots could be organized, reviewed, and adjusted on the fly. I could still play back the takes through the built-in screen on the camera after each one, although a monitor would have certainly come in handy.

    I am including an extra video before showing the finished piece, of some extra moments that didn’t make the cut, including my own homage to The Dark Knight, the iconic first reveal of The Joker.

    There is a kind of freedom that comes with making things up on the fly. I would not recommend this for the average shoot, but it is great for thinking on your feet, forcing a different level of creativity from your filmmaking. This kind of creative freedom is great for short creative projects where things like lighting, or preparing for special FX shots is not important, just capturing a series of shots. This kind of creative freedom is magnified with the addition of the stabilizer. It occurs to me that without a pre-planned set of storyboards, I will often attempt to compose my shots depending on what equipment I have with me…if I bring my tripod, I think in a series of fixed, static shots…if I bring my shoulder-mounted rig, I think angles, small movements, controllable shots….however, this isn’t the way to do it. Truly creative types will try to achieve unique, interesting shots, regardless of what equipment they have. They will utilize their equipment to create whatever is the most interesting compositions they can achieve, and sometimes push the boundaries.

    With the stabilizer though, the creative freedom is magnified…I don’t worry so much about needing to control the movement, because the stabilizer does a lot of the hard work…it steadies longer, more complex, hand-held takes….I can go from relatively static shots, to walking…from walking, to running in single takes. I begin to think more creatively and less worried about how to achieve shots, more just trying things out and capturing things. For example, the walk around Bonzo at the intersection….I could not even imagine being able to pull off that kind of shot without some kind of track and tripod, or on a bike, in a car, or some other complex setup…with the stabilizer, I just visualize, set things up, and shoot.

    A stabilizer isn’t the answer to all of your creative filming problems, it isn’t something that should replace all other filmmaking situations, and it isn’t there to be used in place of all other options, and neither should it be. It is a powerful, useful tool to enable new creative visualizations, and to give more power to the filmmaker in more situations than were previously available.

    In short; happy steadymaking!

     

     

     

     

  • Balancing your stabilizer – Advanced techniques

    In a video on our Steadymaker youtube channel, we gave you a brief guide to connecting your stabilizer to your computer via a USB cable.

    This article will help you learn more about the techniques you need to further balance your stabilizer for optimal use.

    Before we get into details, this is not meant to be a comprehensive guide to SimpleBGC, or a step-by-step tutorial; it is just a list of resources in order to help you look into it in more depth. Also, your Steadymaker stabilizers will always come pre-balanced to your most used setup; assuming you have supplied your camera setup details, we will always try and deliver the best pre-balanced settings, so you will not need to further tweak your setup. Because of this, we do not reccommend you manually tweaking your own stabilizer until you feel familiar and comfortable with SimpleBGC, and are confident that you know what you are doing. If in doubt, don’t do it.

    Having said that, in order to get the most out of your stabilizer; for example, multiple setups configured for multiple cameras and lenses, or further tweaking your current balance to get even smoother output, then connecting your computer to SimpleBGC is the way to go.

    What Is SimpleBGC?

    SimpleBGC stands for Simple Brushless Gimbal Controller. A few years ago, a man called Aleksey Moskalenko wanted to develop a system to control brushless gimbal motors and coordinate their movement and control in order to counteract and balance handheld camera operation. In other words, when a user operates a camera, they move the camera around. In order to create smoother shots, motors move the camera in the opposite direction in order to keep a straight and level shot. The reason brushless motors became popular is their silent and efficient operation, good for camera use.

    SimpleBGCAleksey developed a centralized electronic component in order to talk to multiple motors and control them in real-time. This comprised of a microchip, and a sensor that could detect the orientation of the board, and communicate that information to the motors in order to stabilize the camera attached to the stabilizer setup.

    Early boards were 8-bit boards, and are still in use today. Also, the system controlled mainly 2-axis stabilizers in the early days. These boards became known as AlexMos boards/controllers, and as the company grew, it became Basecam Electronics. (You can read more about their early days HERE).These days, about 80 percent of stabilizers on the market are controlled by AlexMos controllers, so it is as close to a standardized method of control and communication as the industry has. There are a few other rival systems, but at the current time of writing, Basecam Electronics is the dominant system of operation.

    These days, AlexMos boards are up to 32-bit operations, which allows more flexibility and accuracy in the stabilizer control (including inverted use, for example, when you can achieve the same levels of stabilization with the system flipped upside down) and have bluetooth functionality (where you can control your stabilizer via a tablet or Android phone app). Also, stabilizers are generally 3-axis systems these days, unless the setup is lighter or smaller, when 2-axis systems are still sufficient. The Steadymaker range of stabilizers are running using this system of control boards.

    Alongside the development of the hardware, or control boards, a system of tweaking the setup via a usb/bluetooth interface has been developed. This allows the user to further tweak and control different aspects of their stabilizer setup….for example, how much power is delivered to the brushless gimbal motors from the battery…..how sensitive the motors are to adjustment andhow forcefully they will counteract outside movement to maintain a stable setup, amongst other things.

    The software is known as the SimpleBGC GUI (Graphical User Interface) and can be found HERE.

    How to use SimpleBGC

    All you will need in order to connect your Steadymaker stabilizer to your computer is a simple mini USB to USB cable. You will find a mini USB port on your Steadymaker stabilizer. Just connect it to your laptop or computer via the cable. A more recent upgrade means that you can also communicate wirelessly via your Android phone or tablet and our built in Bluetooth connection, assuming your computer has bluetooth capability. If not, just use the USB option for now.

    Again, this is not meant to be a guide to using SimpleBGC, just an overview.

    SimpleBGC Resources

    In order to help you look into further stabilization control, please take time to go through some of the following links.

    First, try this website, in order to get a good overview of the interface, and stabilization process: http://www.simplebgc.org/.

    It is a very good reference, that details the process in a relatively straightforward way. They also have a youtube channel which goes into more detail about using SimpleBGC. A good example video is below:

     

    This is one of many videos that details the process. I picked this one because it is short and to the point

     

    The best and most up to date resource is the makers’ website. They have an article that talks about the central part of tweaking your stabilizer HERE. In order to effectively use SimpleBGC, make sure you have downloaded the latest software drivers, and manuals HERE. They also have a FORUM where you can ask any additional questions, or read up on the latest advice and suggestions.

     

    Additionally, THIS resource is useful, but it is more often geared towards the DIY stabilizer community; however, there are some good tips and tricks for everyday stabilizer useage.

     

    Conclusion

    My main advice is, only use SimpleBCG when you have taken the time to research in greater depth, and feel comfortable and confident with your ability to further customize your stabilizer. If you act too hastily, or without the right information, you can actually make your stabilizer operate less effectivaly and ruin the pre-balancing done before your item arrives. On the other hand, expert tweaking via SimpleBGC can improve your stabilizer performance even more, and optimize it effectively for multiple camera weights and setups at the push of a button at the shoot location, so it can be a very powerful tool….just make sure you can use that power effectively.

     

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