Movies always have been the perfect medium for capturing the sheer kinetic energy of motion, and thanks to the many advances in technology in the past decade or so, the new generation of stabilizers, jibs and sliders have helped filmmakers push the limits even further in their quest for never-before-seen shots. Of course, many indie productions, as well as music videos, often don’t have the budgets for the most sophisticated and expensive rigs, even though they’re often the ones most likely to experiment with moving the camera to get that highly unusual angle or shot.
Here, HDVideoPro looks at some of the key players in camera support gear for the indie market, as well as the way filmmakers used Doggicam Sparrow Heads on a particularly inventive action sequence in last year’s sci-fi thriller, Total Recall.
Tiffen Steadicam Pilot HD. The new Steadicam Pilot HD Series stabilizer systems (www.tiffen.com) are state of the art, lightweight and affordable, designed especially for the modern breed of lightweight cameras from two to nine pounds (0.9 to 4.1kg). Video professionals need add only a battery and a camera of choice, as all other required system components are provided for normal operation.
The systems are designed with a lightweight Iso-Elastic arm and ultra-low profile vest, lightweight sled with CarbonLite expandable or aluminum fixed post and low-mass gimbal, and they offer advanced features/benefits with low cost for the video professional.
The Pilot HD/SDI system comes standard with an expandable carbon-fiber post, and the Pilot HDMI systems come standard with a fixed aluminum post and pass-through HDMI cable. Utilizing a proven low-mass gimbal, the operator has the ability to capture the fluid movement that Steadicam stabilizers can provide. A no-tools precision camera stage establishes a solid base for the camera and facilitates smooth adjustment ease from side to side plus fore and aft. The HD-SDI stabilizer systems are available with 12V, IDX V-mount or standard Anton Bauer. The HDMI systems come standard with Anton Bauer 7.2V ElipZ battery systems. The optional SteadiStand is required for Steadicam stabilizer balance and operation.
The Iso-Elastic arm is a two-section articulated no-tools design that can be adjusted while supporting the camera. With this patented, unique design, the Steadicam operator can smoothly and effortlessly raise or lower the arm throughout its 28-inch (71cm) boom range. The Iso-Elastic arm also is non-reactive—improving vertical stability and control in all operating conditions, from lock-offs to fast-running shots over rough terrain.
Glidecam XR-Series—XR-1000, XR-2000 and XR-4000. The redesigned Glidecam XR-Series from Glidecam Industries (www.glidecam.com) brings versatility and affordability to the world of handheld camera stabilization. Lightweight and state of the art, the Glidecam XR-1000, XR-2000 and XR-4000 handheld stabilizers transform shaky camera footage into smooth, professional footage, freeing DPs to move with the camera panning, tilting, booming or running without any instability or shake—even when running up and down stairs or traveling over rugged terrain.
Each XR-Series stabilizer’s offset foam-cushioned handle grip is attached to a free-floating three-axis gimbal, allowing the hand to move up and down and side to side, thereby isolating its unwanted motions from the camera. This design feature, coupled with the overall higher inertia of the XR-Series systems, produces superior stabilization.
The proprietary precision gimbal incorporates several adjustable axis-convergence controls, which allows all three axes to intersect for proper operational alignment. The camera-mounting platform can be adjusted to move back and forth and side to side, so the user quickly can adjust the camera’s horizontal balance. And by varying the amount of counterweight disks on the base platform, or by changing the length of the no-tools telescoping central post, the user can adjust the camera’s vertical balance. When balanced properly, the camera floats, ready to move into action, and making a tripod or a dolly redundant.