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In desperate need of balancing help..


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#1 Cameron Brown

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Posted 22 June 2012 - 09:27 PM

Hi there,

To any pros or anyone else out there familiar with balancing a Steadicam Merlin 2: I'm in dire need of some help! I've had my Steadicam for two weeks, have spent countless hours (like most of you I'm sure), and I still cannot achieve the 'perfect-balance' where it looks like the camera does not move at all when moving the Merlin around. It seems there are so many variables at play and my camera is not in the Cookbook.

I am using a Canon Vixia HF G10: Camera Page/Specs

and a Canon WD-58 0.7 x 58 Wide-Angled Converter: Lens Specs

Is anyone able to offer Merlin measurements based on these two items? Any help would be greatly appreciated! I need to figure this thing out soon. I'll even Paypal someone some $ if I can get it balanced properly.

Please contact,

Cam
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#2 Stavros Papastavrou

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Posted 24 June 2012 - 11:35 AM

Don't know if I'm qualified to answer this but I'll give it a go...

If you have achieved static balance i.e. the camera stays flat when pointed to all directions (use the bubble levels on the stage to verify), then its probably the lack of practice that seems to trouble you.
I can't advise on an easy way to achieve dynamic balance with the merlin. I only used a gen1 unit a long time ago... If you don't pan really fast it shouldn't matter.

It takes a lot of practice and patience. It won't play nice right out of the box.
Everyone that got their hands on a steadycam type stabilisation device, had to come in terms with this fact sooner or later.

Now if you don't balance it following the manufacturer's instructions, it will not behave correctly and any amount of attempted practice will probably go to waste.

Another thing to consider is the possibility of a misaligned gimbal. Although a rare occurrence, Steadicam costumer support can advise you on that matter. They are very helpful.

Hope this helps

Stavros
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#3 Alan Rencher

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Posted 24 June 2012 - 01:05 PM

Steadicam systems (even consumer variants) aren't magical. They don't just keep the camera perfectly still all by themselves. They take a fair amount of skill to master them. They are just a tool. Practice and you will get better!
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#4 Marcella Krings

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Posted 24 June 2012 - 03:55 PM

Hello everyone,

I'm a Merlin owner myself and I've got a question concerning the "I can't get the Merlin (2) properly balanced"-problem so many people have.
Somehow it seems to me like everyone wants to achieve neutral balance ("where it looks like the camera does not move at all when moving the Merlin around" like Cameron said) with the Merlin. But isn't it supposed to be a little bottom heavy?
The drop time with a Merlin should be around 1 second while the one for a big rig is around 2-3 seconds. A shorter drop time means it's more bottom heavy and that results in a stronger pendulum effect. So when you move the gimbal around in space -- without steadying the sled with the other hand -- of course it would start swinging.
So is it just me getting something wrong or are the discussions really about neutral balancing?
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#5 Alan Rencher

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Posted 24 June 2012 - 08:20 PM

If it was neutrally balanced, then the whole thing would be sideways. It has to be bottom heavy in order for the counterweight to sit below the camera. The more bottom heavy the rig is, the more of a pendulum effect the whole thing has. For larger rigs, we adjust the drop-time based on a veriety of reasons. For example, if it's windy, I'll make the rig more bottom heavy. Basically what I'm saying is that there is no one answer, and you have to make these decisions based on your experience.
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#6 Brian Freesh

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Posted 24 June 2012 - 11:08 PM

If it was neutrally balanced it would be sideways only if you left it sideways. Upside-down if you left it as such, upright if you left it upright. Being bottom heavy means that it seeks an upright balance and will always adjust to that.
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#7 Marcella Krings

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Posted 25 June 2012 - 08:39 AM

I know what 'neutrally balanced' means and I know that choosing the right drop time for your shots is important and individually chosen. But for someone new to Steadicam who doesn't have much experience yet wouldn't it be easier to start with a certain drop time that is said to be working best on most of the shots instead of a neutrally balanced steadicam?
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#8 Brian Freesh

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Posted 25 June 2012 - 11:36 AM

I don't think you'd ever want a neutrally balanced merlin. Sticking to the 1 second drop time is probably all you'll ever need to do. Though I might argue 1.5-2 seconds, especially if you're maxing it out. I've never been under the impression that any of the merlin owners out there are attempting neutral balance. I do often believe they are simply witnessing the natural behavior of the steadicam and not realizing it doesn't give perfect shots out of the box. In the same way that pulling a perfectly tuned guitar (or not for that matter) out of a case will not help you produce a beautiful song if you've never played before.
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#9 Christian Arevalo

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Posted 28 May 2013 - 10:24 PM

Hello Cameron,

 

Did you have any luck with your Merlin 2, Vixia HF G10 and WD-H58W lens? What battery are you using?  I am using BP-819.

 

I can Paypal you if you need an incentive...

 

Cheers.

 

Hi there,

To any pros or anyone else out there familiar with balancing a Steadicam Merlin 2: I'm in dire need of some help! I've had my Steadicam for two weeks, have spent countless hours (like most of you I'm sure), and I still cannot achieve the 'perfect-balance' where it looks like the camera does not move at all when moving the Merlin around. It seems there are so many variables at play and my camera is not in the Cookbook.

I am using a Canon Vixia HF G10: Camera Page/Specs

and a Canon WD-58 0.7 x 58 Wide-Angled Converter: Lens Specs

Is anyone able to offer Merlin measurements based on these two items? Any help would be greatly appreciated! I need to figure this thing out soon. I'll even Paypal someone some $ if I can get it balanced properly.

Please contact,

Cam


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#10 Scott Clarke

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Posted 14 June 2013 - 05:03 AM

Hi guys, I'm in the same boat. Very new to Steadicam via my Merlin. Have all sorts of roll issues, mainly horizontal. Will read advice respectfully and avidly!!


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#11 Alan Rencher

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Posted 14 June 2013 - 12:16 PM

Can you be more specific?


Edited by Alan Rencher, 14 June 2013 - 12:17 PM.

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#12 Chris Van Campen

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Posted 14 June 2013 - 12:27 PM

There's a whole bunch of info for balancing Merlins here:

 

http://www.steadicam...steadiFAQs.html

 

Mr. Brown has already done the heavy lifting as it were... ;-)


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