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This weekly course covers the most common questions videographers encounter when shooting and editing with DSLR cameras, from choosing a frame size and frame rate to understanding moiré. Authors Rich Harrington and Robbie Carman will also help you understand the impacts of compression and the difference between cropped (or micro 4/3rds) and full-sized sensors in cameras, and much more. This continual FAQ guide is a handy way to find the answers to the questions that plague you the most.
Robert Carman: So Rich, we've already established that moving the camera in a scene, or around the scene, is something difficult to do. Rich Harrington: Yeah. Robert Carman: And, let's just start off with the absolute baseline. No additional equipment, just my hands, my two legs, I'm moving around in the scene. Rich Harrington: If I hold that out there, it's, it's shaky. Robert Carman: Yeah, and we talked about this in various shapes and forms in past episodes. But I think we can all just agree that holding the camera like this, or even cradling the camera. Or, you know, if you have a loop, putting another piece of, you know, contact your eye.
Very good stuff, but it's still not perfect. And unless you're very stable, you're probably going to still introduce some shake into the shot, and it's going to distract your viewer from the motivated movement that you're trying to make, to actually just viewing your bad camera work. Rich Harrington: So Rob, you're right, you know. If you're going to hold the camera absolutely, a loop making a third-party contact is going to help. I sometimes will cradle it in, you know, to my body here. Frame it up. Really useful if you've got an external electronic viewfinder you can look down.
Robert Carman: Or an articulating viewfinder right? Rich Harrington: Yeah, and you've got that there, and you really keep it close to your body. Robert Carman: Yep Rich Harrington: But, as you walk, and I'm going forward and backwards. You know, I'm emphasizing it here, but you're essentially going to have a bob. And that bob as you go and step, unless you do a, sort of a heel toe step. It's going to be very difficult to get smooth motion. Now a heel toe is a very gentle lifting of one foot and putting it down and sort of creeping along. Robert Carman: Yeah. Rich Harrington: But you're not going to be running, you're not going to pull that off. Otherwise you're going to get that bouncing camera. Robert Carman: Absolutely. Rich Harrington: Now, I'll sometimes go a step further.
Notice I've got a grip here that helps. I'll take a strap like an R-strap here. Robert Carman: Yep. Rich Harrington: This is just a brand name. Attach that to the bottom so I've got another point of contact, and then take that strap over my shoulder. So, sometimes, by getting that on there and then taking the strap across my body and putting that across the back there, now I've got a little bit of extra stability and I'm stabilizing the camera across it. So, as I'm moving. Robert Carman: Mm-hm. Rich Harrington: And I'm using my body to swing. I can get smoother movement, and I've got a lot of that shake being transferred over the whole body so instead of my arms supporting the weight of the camera, they're just keeping the tension.
And now as I move and I rock in and out, it's much more stable. And, of course, cheap solution, but people love gear. Robert Carman: No yeah, totally. You know, I think that works sometimes I think, you know, as we've talked about, the additional points of contact and stuff help as well. When I start thinking about truly helping me get nice movement on shots, and walking shots in particular, I start thinking about rigs, right. And things rigs that allow different points of contact, different ways of holding the camera. And you have one here that is, I would say, sort of an entry level one.
Rich Harrington: Yeah. Robert Carman: Kind of baseline level. It just looks like somebody took like a a handle and just bent it upwards. Rich Harrington: Yeah. It's real simple. You know this is a mostly plastic but it's got a nice good grip here. What's nice there, is that I can extend that out. And I can use my body here for rotation. I can attach this to things. It's got a simple, sled bottom there if I need to set this on a moving surface. Robert Carman: Mm-hm. Rich Harrington: So, sometimes I can put this on a rolling cart. Robert Carman: Yep. Rich Harrington: It is nice that you can really hold that there. And I find, with the two points of contact, sometimes that again, will transfer to a smoother shot.
Because I've got both hands on the camera as opposed to one hand inherently vibrating. Robert Carman: Yep. Rich Harrington: Two points of contact and moving with your whole body. That's why you've got that big grip. Now as you're moving and you're swinging around. All of that motion is being absorbed through the two points and it cuts down on shakiness. And this is like a $30 rig, on a site like Amazon. Now that is not a $30 rig. Robert Carman: This is not a $30 rig. And I, we've shown this to previous episodes but I'm a big fan of of rigs like this. You can find them from a lot of different manufacturers like Redrock Micro, and there's at this point there's dozens and dozens of others, Right? Rich Harrington: Yeah.
Robert Carman: But the idea here is that this is giving us a lot of different points of contact. Camera's mounted up here. We could have other rods, we could have a follow focus, we could have all sorts of things. I have a shoulder mount here, I have pistol style grips right here, I can weight the back of these differently. And I can configure these, and what's nice about this is the configurability. Using, these little nuts right here, I can, you know, dial things in, twist it around. The point being that you can get really comfortable, and really, really, really stable with this. Rich Harrington: A rig like this is well designed for a newly style shooter, or an event shooter, somebody doing weddings, someone doing corporate events, where you need to keep the camera on you.
You need the utmost in mobility. And so, this is great for portability, but it's still, if you're walking around, not going to be the smoothest. It's a highly portable solution. You can walk with it. I would say, make sure you pull the zoom out. The more you're zoomed in the more the walking is going to be exaggerated with bumpiness. Robert Carman: Yeah. Rich Harrington: So pull out all the way and get closer to your subject rather than zooming in from a distance. So, we have all these. There is another approach that's sort of a step up, and that is to go with a steadicam-like solution.
Now there's lots of brands. Steadicam is actually a brand. What I have here is a SteadyCam Merlin, which is designed specifically for lighter weight cameras. And as you see here, it's essentially a sled and you've got the ability to adjust with the dials here where the camera falls from left to right, side by side. So, you have to tweak that a bit. And then on the bottom you have some weights to serve as a counter balance. So, this is designed that when you take the time and you really get it balanced out, you can basically suspend the camera in front of you and walk with it.
And it's a Gimbal type system. And it's designed to absorb some of that movement, lets you get in. Now, it's very easy for this to rotate side to side, so you have to practice and you do really have to take the time to balance it. Every time you change a lens it's going to change, but the plate itself here has a lot of marking details so you'll find yourself moving that forward or back into the right position. Really get it so it's properly balanced and then refine it using the thumb screws here. It says tilt up or tilt down. As you move that forward or back on the camera, it's going to find its balance point and this is a step up.
Now a rig like this, a rig like that, similar in price, so make sure you look at some of the options, find what's comfortable for you. Robert Carman: Yeah, and obviously. See we don't have one sitting right here in front of us, because a), they are very big and very expensive, but you mentioned Steadicam is the true Steadicam rig. Now, if you've ever turned on, you know, sort of Monday Night Football and you've watched those guys running down the sidelines. They're all big rigs big vests that go on you. There's a whole mechanical system in front of the Steadicam. Now, for the purposes of this show, we're not really going to explore those because after all they're sometimes 10, 20 times the price of the camera body that you're using itself.
But at the very high-end, the reason that those are so successful and they work so well is that we're totally taking our body out of it. The body is just a support structure and the camera is literally floating out there in space. Now, I got to tell you. Rich Harrington: But do keep in mind, that camera doesn't just float in space on its own. People who buy these rigs tend to go to three day, four day, five day camps. Robert Carman: This is exactly what I was going to say. I've, I've actually put on a steadicam rig myself and tried small cameras, big cameras, that kind of stuff. Rich Harrington: Still not easy. Robert Carman: It's an art form, right.
I mean, the operating a true steady cam rig is an art form. And as you mentioned, people go back, you know, not just one, two, or three day class they'll go back over the course of years to refine that technique. And it's one reason, that true steadicam operators are in very high demand and they're such a small group, the people that do it very well because it is an art form. Rich Harrington: Stepping up to that level is a level of professionalism and cost you might not be ready for. Some of these other solutions of even highly affordable, just transferring it, you're going to see when you combine that with post can often get you the results you want.
But I want to give you a different idea. And when we come back, we're going to talk about both sliders and dollies. And why sometimes not holding the camera is really the solution to getting that shot.
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