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MERLIN as a USER-FRIENDLY approach- your opinion


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#1 D.S. Ramirez

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Posted 24 February 2010 - 08:45 PM

We are shooting reality documentary footage that will include a wide spectrum of subjects: from Cars in motion to well lit fashion models, staircase runs etc. as well as rudimentary talking heads and general documentation of unspecial action. This question relates to low-budget, garage-band sort of shooting. We have a SONY HDR CX-12 camera. Though it's a consumer camera, we're thinking it's low cost and light weight will help us. Our goal is to put together a rig that can be used without an excess of technical prep and also not require a great deal of training to operate.

All that said, my question is: Is a Merlin going to fill the bill for this usage, enabling us (at low cost) to prevent the tendency of hand-held HD footage to be shaky, while at the same time allowing us to shoot relatively free of complications of set-up and use? Or am I asking too much?

To frame your answer, keep in mind that I have mid-level photography knowledge, but I am a visual artist and writer, not a cameraman. Comments and advice from experienced pros is what I'm looking for here. Thanks.
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#2 Markus Rave

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Posted 25 February 2010 - 03:48 AM

I guess it will do the job but you need to train your cameraman on the rig otherwise you produce more damage than do good. I am not so sure if this item will produce good results on stairs since I see no way to tilt up and down with at least some sort of precision. If you plan on shooting handheld and do interviews think about added weight and operator fatigue. As I can see the camera is far from being the choice for your purpose anyway since it lacks professional audio input as well as other features a professional production would require.
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#3 Mike Germond SOC

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Posted 25 February 2010 - 05:20 PM

Let me use this short story to explain the situation Markus is describing:

I own a Flyer LE, which is a lightweight rig (not nearly as light as the Merlin). I have been operating it for 2yrs with a large variety of cameras. Everybody at the Golf Channel loves my work over what other operaters have done for them. When other operators are in the studio, I tend to let them fly my setup. The usual responses are as follows: OPERATOR) how do you keep this steady, it's so light! DIRECTORS) do it the way Mike does it!

Touch and experience is everything with these light rigs. Just because an operator has experience with the biggest, most inert PRO or Ultra2 rig doesn't necessarliy mean they are going to produce good footage on a Flyer/Pilot/Merlin.

IMO, the Merlin has no place in the professional market, though it doesn't sound like you need a professional product (just something a little better than normal).

Edited by Mike Germond, 25 February 2010 - 05:22 PM.

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#4 D.S. Ramirez

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Posted 26 February 2010 - 01:34 AM

Let me use this short story to explain the situation Markus is describing:

I own a Flyer LE, which is a lightweight rig (not nearly as light as the Merlin). I have been operating it for 2yrs with a large variety of cameras. Everybody at the Golf Channel loves my work over what other operaters have done for them. When other operators are in the studio, I tend to let them fly my setup. The usual responses are as follows: OPERATOR) how do you keep this steady, it's so light! DIRECTORS) do it the way Mike does it!

Touch and experience is everything with these light rigs. Just because an operator has experience with the biggest, most inert PRO or Ultra2 rig doesn't necessarliy mean they are going to produce good footage on a Flyer/Pilot/Merlin.

IMO, the Merlin has no place in the professional market, though it doesn't sound like you need a professional product (just something a little better than normal).

I completely know what you mean. There is no replacement for actual skill and understanding of the principles of good camera handling. Thanks for your help.
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