What separates your film aside from everyone else’s? I used to think it was my camera (which it still kinda is), or lights (which it still very much is). Never mind, what I mean is what is ONE of the things that separates your films from everyone else’s?
Camera movement is so important and I haven’t been taking full advantage of it. I think that is why things like the DJI Ronin and Drones are trending. It makes it super easy to get smooth shots and so now it is a must. Gone are the days where you use your hands to do a tracking shot then “Warp Stabilizer” it in post.
When it comes to making short films, especially when it’s action; I like for shots to be handheld. It has a nice look to it, it looks as though it’s supposed to be that way. But as I started directing more music videos I started to notice that the shots were making me upset. Of course, the first thing I blamed it on was my camera (part of the issue more on that later). It wasn’t only that though, it was also the way I was using it. The movement was shaky often times it made me dizzy. What I failed to realize was that by having steady buttery smooth footage it automatically upped the production value.
With my next check, I went out and bought a GlideCam HD 2000. I struggled with getting this thing set up! In this post, I’m going to show you HOW TO SET UP A GLIDECAM! THE EASY WAY!
Why did I choose a GlideCam out of all of the different forms of stabilization?
I don’t like the idea of a machine doing all of the work for me (hear me out). I wanted to be able to “feel” the camera as I moved around. I wanted to be able to work for my shot then look at it and know that my muscles almost gave out on me when I got the shot. But I later learned that nobody cares about how hard you worked for a shot, what matters is did you get the shot at all. Watching videos of Deven Ghram and Chris Wallbeck inspired me too.
I also just didn’t have $1,000 hanging around for a DJI Ronin (They look cooler and I heard clients dig it).
I got the Glidecam because I knew it would discipline me to learn how to walk with a camera and organically move my camera around. When I looked at Ronin videos I didn’t like how when the camera moved you could feel the motorized computer move the gimble back into place.
Things no one tells you about when you get a GlideCam… THE SET UP IS DIFFICULT!
When you first get a GlideCam nobody talks about how hard it actually is to set up. You’ll find a couple of YouTube videos but then all you’ll hear is them talking about is finding some “center balance” and trying to bring out “wings to make weights”. The general assembly is straightforward. But what about when you want to fly it and actually have it look good?
The first night I tried putting together my GlideCam I started to freak out. It was so cool to have but what was it good for if I wasn’t going to be able to use it? I got help from my mentor and basically, he helped me figure it all out. He expressed to me his frustrations with the GlideCam the first time he got it too. He told me about every single problem that he was having and how it took him about two days to finally get it right.
What is center balance?
From my understanding your camera has a center point where it’s weight is distributed and it’s somewhere between the lens and wherever the battery on your camera is stored. We used our hand to find out where the camera kind of stood up straight on its own. We had our palms facing up and placed out hand under various parts of the camera to see if it would tilt or stand up straight. So I guess that’s the key. Try to find out where you can place the camera until it stops tilting. I’ve seen people do this with double A batteries but honestly, that was way too confusing for me to understand.
A quick cheat sheet if you have a Canon Rebel series camera like me. The center balance of your camera is right where your lens meets your mount. So basically right at the lens mount.
What to do after you found the center balance?
Grab your cheese plate and line it up with the shaft of the GlideCam. That’s it!
After that, you’ll see people put their GlideCam on some fancy C stands. What they’re now trying to do is balance out the camera even more by playing with the two knobs on the GlideCam. YOU DON’T NEED C STAND! You can set your Glidecam down on the floor or any flat surface and all you have to do is keep picking up the GlideCam and setting it back down until the whole rig stops tilting forward, back, and sideways.
I’m thankful that I had someone nearby able to help me out. After the GlideCam was set up I went around and practiced. I was told that it is a good idea to practice with small movements before I start running around like Deven Ghram shooting a parkour video or something.