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please critique video


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#1 Gregory Lee

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Posted 17 April 2011 - 02:27 AM

This video was shot using the Merlin with vest and arm. The camera is HMC-150. Is it possible to get smoother shots with this lightweight camera? I'm not completely satisfied with it, but it might just need practice.



THanks for your input.
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#2 sebastien BARBARA

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Posted 17 April 2011 - 03:14 PM

Sorry, but i don't trust in Merlin, so I can not tell if the shakiness is your fault, surely not. The issue to my humble opinion with the merlin is that if you let it play alone (which is for me the key for smoothness) it's going anywhere; So you'll have to hold it, and it is so light that this will show on the movie. Heavier is Easier:)
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#3 Gregory Lee

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Posted 17 April 2011 - 03:30 PM

But doesn't that mostly have to do with the lightweight camera? Even if I upgraded to a Pilot, the same counterweights are used. Unless you add counterweights to the top, making the entire rig heavier. But how much heavier would the rig need to be in order to get noticeably smoother results? My camera including battery is probably around 4 pounds.
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#4 invalid username

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Posted 17 April 2011 - 04:58 PM

The HMC150 should be heavy enough for the Merlin to work, thought it is on the lighter side of the arm capacity. Try also having a mid and end weight on the upper spar for added inertia, and aim for a 1 second drop time.

The footage is very good, but I feel that the bigest problem it faces is overcontrolledness. Try lightening your grip and let it float on it's own.. Wind may also have been a factor durring shooting.

Sebastien, I've found that the Merlin can perform just as well as any other Steadicam, though we don't often see that since their target market doesn't take the time to learn them (not a comment targeted at you Gregory, you're doing great!)
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#5 Brian Freesh

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Posted 17 April 2011 - 10:47 PM

In my limited use of the merlin, I have found that it stays where it is put, as any other rig. Same goes for other lightweight steadicams. It will be more susceptible to wind of course. I agree with Alexander that this looks overcontrolled, a very common beginner habit. Takes a while to get that light touch. :)
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#6 sebastien BARBARA

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Posted 18 April 2011 - 04:01 AM

I agree, the merlin stays where it is put (especially if you don't move:), and great operators could do very clean job with it I can imagine(see the demo vidéo of Charles Pappert, concerning a pilot however),interior shots mainly. But it is so hard to achieve without any inertia ! And light steadicams (I owned a pilot and now a Flyer LE) are so sensitive to wind ! I was thinking in the past year I could "master" in light steadicams with a lot of patience and work. Now I'm discouraged by how difficult it is to get smooth in very slow moves or with a little wind with light rigs, which is so often asked. I'm only pretty happy now with my LE with three weight plates added on top and two batteries on the bottom, for a total of 25 pounds on the arm. But I recognize a merlin or pilot is great to practice (the last one is nearer of a real steadicam). One more thing: are you able to control a tilt with only room for two fingers on the gimbal ? I didn't understand how to do it when I tried a merlin.
Sebastien.
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#7 Gregory Lee

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Posted 18 April 2011 - 06:06 AM

Does anyone every practice on a treadmill? I tried this to see how much of my walking's up and down motion transfers to the lens. I set the treadmill speed to one mile per hour.
There's definitely more shaking than I'd like. And this does feel different to walking on the ground because of the inertia of stopping and starting. I tried adding more weights to the upper spar and to the rig in general but the arc (post) has to be shorter. And I've tried a longer arc with fewer weights. Should one expect smoother shots with a shorter post and more weights? I haven't noticed a difference. I've also experimented with drop times, but there are pros and cons of faster/slower drop times.

I find slow moves very difficult, which is why I included it on this video. Feel free to give suggestions:


THanks!

Edited by Gregory Lee, 18 April 2011 - 06:13 AM.

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#8 James Davis

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Posted 18 April 2011 - 08:33 AM

Does anyone every practice on a treadmill? I tried this to see how much of my walking's up and down motion transfers to the lens. I set the treadmill speed to one mile per hour.
There's definitely more shaking than I'd like. And this does feel different to walking on the ground because of the inertia of stopping and starting. I tried adding more weights to the upper spar and to the rig in general but the arc (post) has to be shorter. And I've tried a longer arc with fewer weights. Should one expect smoother shots with a shorter post and more weights? I haven't noticed a difference. I've also experimented with drop times, but there are pros and cons of faster/slower drop times.

I find slow moves very difficult, which is why I included it on this video. Feel free to give suggestions:


THanks!



I wouldn't have thought it's a very productive way to train as running on a treadmill is totally different to running on the ground, hence why the two don't correlate very well compared to specifically doing one or the other.
Rather than trying to re-invent the wheel, I think practising lots of slow moves with willing stand in talent (friends/family/colleagues) is definitely the most effective way, i've seen the most improvement personally from doing this, recording it, playing back, and checking for obvious areas, then working on correcting those errors, etc etc.
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#9 Brian Freesh

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Posted 18 April 2011 - 11:07 AM

Greg,

Spreading out the masses helps with inertia, so in general, go with a longer arc. Also, make sure your OIS is turned off. I can't tell for sure, but it kind of looks like it is on, and that will cause unwanted artificial bumps. In your forward motion I can see you accelerate when you take a step, and then decelerate before you take the next one. When moving slowly, try babysteps, and let the rig get ahead of you when you aren't moving forward, then catch up to it when you take a step, etc... It's difficult, takes practice. Super slow moves are IMO the hardest thing to accomplish well in steadicam. Think about how wobbly you are if you try to rid a bicycle super slow. You do not have alot of up and down motion in your shots, which is great.
Sebastien,

I'm confused, you first said the Merlin goes where it wants, then agreed it stays where it is put. I thought your problem was the former, but if you agree it stays where it is put, then I guess your only problem is the little inertia. It is indeed harder, steadicam works by manipulation of inertia. So in general, the more the better. With practice a Merlin can be used very successfully. I used to hate it too, never could get the hang of it. Eventually I did. And it had everything to do with not over controlling it, just as with a big rig.

I too max out my Flyer when I can to operate it, the more inertia helps. i get it up to 25lbs on the arm as well. I used to practice with 15 lbs on the arm to really hone the light touch, and then still build it with 25 on set to give myself an extra edge. When you learn a super light touch on a lighter rig, it turns you into a rockstar on a heavier rig (as far as controlling the gimbal only , there are other factors of course) You're making the equipment work for you rather than against you, that's good.
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#10 Gregory Lee

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Posted 18 April 2011 - 01:44 PM

Thanks for the tips. You're right, my OIS was on. I thought about taking baby steps after I viewed the video. The stopping and starting was so obvious because I felt like I was going to fall over at times. I think I need to relearn how to walk.
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#11 Brian Freesh

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Posted 18 April 2011 - 02:13 PM

You've been walking almost your entire life. You probably do it pretty well, why introduce another factor into your operating? Just take smaller steps when you go slow, you'll be fine. :)
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#12 Eric Fletcher S.O.C.

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Posted 18 April 2011 - 04:08 PM

You've been walking almost your entire life. You probably do it pretty well, why introduce another factor into your operating? Just take smaller steps when you go slow, you'll be fine. :)



LOL. I wonder where you heard that? :)
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#13 Brian Freesh

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Posted 18 April 2011 - 04:47 PM

LOL. I wonder where you heard that? :)


All my advice is plagiarized, and I recommend everyone else do the same ;)
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#14 Mark Schlicher

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Posted 18 April 2011 - 04:49 PM

One trick is to visualize that the rig is floating through space on its own steady track...your job is to follow along its flight, not to push or pull it. A little like when you were a kid playing with a toy airplane.
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