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Cannoot balance Merlin with light camera+mic, swing like pendulum (video)


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#1 Yuri Michurin

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Posted 10 October 2012 - 11:22 PM

I have pretty light Samsung TM900. I've managed to set it up with Merlin alone, without microphone. However once I mounted mic (which weights almost half of what camera weights) I could not make it stable anymore. I run The Magic Formula excel and calculated best parameters with dynamic balance = Yes, than I played a lot with parameters changing lower weights, Gimbal position, Z, arc size, but nothing works: all this leads to similar effect: no bottom or top overweight, static balance is Ok, but a slightest impact like wind or occasional touch make the camera swing back and forth many minutes like a pendulum. 'Drop test' works fine in terms of time, but it always make camera swing in different directions, not in one as it supposed to be, you can see it here: .

2 questions actually:
- Is it possible at all make this configuration (camera + mic) stable with Merlin?
- If you think it is, any idea on what might be wrong, or any tricks to overcome the problem?

Thank you for any recommendations!

Edited by YMC, 10 October 2012 - 11:26 PM.

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#2 Brian Freesh

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Posted 10 October 2012 - 11:34 PM

but a slightest impact like wind or occasional touch make the camera swing back and forth many minutes like a pendulum.


That's what a steadicam is, a pendulum. That's how it works. The lighter the rig, the less mass, so the less it wants to stay in one place. It just takes practice. Heavier rigs hold vertical on their own much better.

I notice in your video you do not have any fingers above the gimbal. You need to resist the unwanted forces, and that's where you do it. It's doable with the thumb and index finger of the hand you hold it with, but I find it much easier to do with the thumb and forefinger of my other hand.

Like a finely tuned guitar, you only get good quality shots/music after a lot of practice. Great quality takes even longer.

ETA: Oh, just noticed your user name. Full first and last name is required. Best change it. If the mods haven't messaged you about this they will soon.
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#3 Yuri Michurin

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Posted 11 October 2012 - 12:08 AM

That's what a steadicam is, a pendulum. That's how it works. The lighter the rig, the less mass, so the less it wants to stay in one place. It just takes practice. Heavier rigs hold vertical on their own much better.

I notice in your video you do not have any fingers above the gimbal. You need to resist the unwanted forces, and that's where you do it. It's doable with the thumb and index finger of the hand you hold it with, but I find it much easier to do with the thumb and forefinger of my other hand.


I just want to notice that without mic it took me less time to set it up properly and it was a way more stable. On the video I show 'drop test', the strange and probably wrong thing about it is that camera with mic swings in a random way, too chaotic, while without mic it swung significantly less time and all motions were always in one direction, passing same trace.

Edited by Yuri Michurin, 11 October 2012 - 12:12 AM.

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#4 Elliot Gabor

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Posted 12 October 2012 - 03:46 PM

The drop test looked fairly good for your Merlin. It sounds like you were more bottom heavy when you had it configured without the mic. The more bottom heavy you are the faster the camera will drop and the faster it resets to an upright position. The downside to a short droptime/bottom heavy rig is that your rig will have a tendency to pendulum when you are accelerating or decelerating. As you showed in your drop test, you camera has very little pendulum when moving it quickly forward or to the side.

The issue you are experiencing with the wobble is that because of the low drop time, the gimbal and weight distribution is a lot more sensitive so every little touch, bump, even air resistance has a greater effect on the cameras balance so you have to guide the gimbal to compensate for this. The sensativity is actually a good thing but with such a light weight rig as the merlin, every little shift in weight (camera strap, lens hood, even having a CF card in the chamber) will cause you to have at least microadjust the position of the camera on the stage. If you are shooting outdoors with even a slight wind, you will want to add a little weight to make it more bottom heavy so that the wind doesn't keep throwing you rig off balance. As Brain Mentioned, you need to you keep your non flying hand on the gimble, ready to counteract any unwanted wobble that is occurring. The more practice you have making slight adjustments and not overcompensating the better you will become at flying the merlin.

Lastly, camera/stage weight is your friend with the merlin. Weight adds inertia which means the rig will have less of a tendency to wobble from the smallest factors. Even if I'm using a light camera on my merlin, I add additional weight to the stage (and counterbalance weights to keep the drop time short) so that I'm close to the maximum weight recommended. This really helps get a nice stable and controlled shot with a lot less pendulum effect than flying with half the weight. Full size rigs fly even better, partly do to the fact that they have more inertia from weight but also because the sled length adds additional inertia without having to add additional total weight. Hope this helps.
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#5 Elliot Gabor

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Posted 12 October 2012 - 03:55 PM

I reread your post and I think maybe what you are asking is if you can drop the merlin so that you get a perfect tilt motion while maintaining horizontal pitch. Because the gimbal is so sensitive due to the lack of inertia, this is something very challenging to do with the merlin and works much better on full rigs. its very difficult to let go of the rig without slightly pulling or pushing it to one direction or the other.

Edited by Elliot Gabor, 12 October 2012 - 03:55 PM.

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#6 Victor Lazaro

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Posted 12 October 2012 - 04:31 PM

Your test video didn't look as alarming as I expected by reading you.
If you want to go back to the same feeling than without the mic, you will need to ad at least one more weight to the bottom (or extent your pole, but I would add weight)
If you want to try as it is, as said before, you are more stable in quick move and more wobbly on static, you will need to control the balancing with your fingers just like on a large rig. I guess it all comes down to your own preferences/what shot you are attempting.
Cheers.

Edited by Victor Lazaro, 12 October 2012 - 04:32 PM.

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#7 Yuri Michurin

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Posted 12 October 2012 - 04:38 PM

Thank you for your responses, guys. Looks like I just expected more than I had to from Merlin with such a light camera. I thought it would be easy to operate it if you once set it up properly, and when I buying it I did not think about outside conditions like wind. From youtube videos it seemed to me very easy to operate it, but it turns out setting it up is the smallest part of the success, many factors do matter to produce well made movies like I saw. And you are probably right regarding my tests without mic: they were likely seemed much better because of bottom heaviness.

Edited by Yuri Michurin, 12 October 2012 - 04:41 PM.

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