Join Eduardo Angel for an in-depth discussion in this video Handheld vs. stabilized, part of Camera Movement for Video Productions.
When using a high end stabilization system, like a Steadicam, we are able to eliminate any trace of camera shake and replace it with a floating sensation. This has a distinct look, almost as if the viewer is flying through the scene. When would I use a Steadicam or stabilizer as opposed to a hand held rig? Let's take a look at a scene filmed handheld. And here's the same scene filmed with a Steadicam. An easy way to explain the difference between the motion of the Steadicam and a handheld is like the difference between flying and walking.
Regardless of the terrain below, the motion of the Steadicam is always consistent. Because of this consistency, a Steadicam works well for smooth, elegant motion. Think about a frenetic action movie chase scene. A perfectly stable, smooth floating camera motion wouldn't fit with the mood of the scene. Here's a handheld scene of a man in a rush. When shooting handheld, the weight of the camera can make a big difference. But the best way to reduce shake is by using a stabilizer.
The stabilizer has a less kinetic feel, but it's smoother with less distortions. Look at the difference. Sometimes, a high degree of stabilization can actually reduce the dramatic impact of a scene. Here's another example of the same handheld versus stabilizer, but for another scene. Here, she's very upset and we are following her hand-holding the camera. That is how shaky it is. And now, she's still upset but we are following her with a stabilizer.
But now, you can compare the two, side by side. As always, which approach to use depends specifically on the story and what kind of reaction would you like to get from the viewer and how much drama do you want to add or remove from the scene. If properly integrated, a bit of coordinated camera shake as opposed to digital warping and distortion, caused by unwanted shake can enhance the tension and suspense of a cinematic moment.
- Exploring the different types of camera motion
- Panning and tilting
- Tracking on sliders vs. dollies
- Stabilizing camera movement
- Working with cranes, jibs, and mounts
- Choosing the right camera for motion