The Steadi-cam is a stabilisation system has been around for years, but it requires an operator and tends to be bulkier. They are more frequently used on feature films. Gimbals condense the Steadi-cam system down for smaller-scale filmmakers, so they are able to achieve similar types of shots on a lower budget. They also come in a variety of sizes to suit filmmakers’ need such as the larger Movi m5 and some smaller models that are good for travelling.
Why Use A Gimbal?
If you desired to shoot and follow someone walking along the street using your hands or a handheld rig, you risk seeing the steps of the cameraman in the footage. A Gimbal would stabilise the shot and smooth out all of the camera operator’s movements. The Gimbal allows you to capture steady, floating shots when the camera is recording in motion. This ability also give you more creative options because you have choice to keep the long takes or use cuts during the editing process.
When To Use a Gimbal
While Gimbals are very useful, they are not suited for every type of shot and project style. Make sure you do not rely too heavily on the Gimbal and try to vary the types of shots and camera set-ups you use.
Typically, if you are doing an interview or something similar in style, you would not use a Gimbal, given that the shots are static. However, with cutaways for an interview video, you would want to use a Gimbal in order to get moving shots that would contrast those of the interview. Gimbals are also well suited for filming events because they allow you to travel and shoot within the event space in addition to shooting from a stationary set-up. A Gimbal makes it possible for you to, for instance, start filming outside the building, show the location, then enter, and weave through the guests all in one long and polished take.
A Gimbal is best used for shots where you want to travel within a location or from one to another without a hard cut. If you wish shoot a sign above a door, walk backwards and tilt down to see the main entrance in one take, a Gimbal will allow for you to make those transitions in one smooth motion.
Tips For Operating a Gimbal
Using any Gimbal or stabilisation system, you want to make sure that it is balanced. While a lot of Gimbals will still work even though they are unbalanced, it will negatively affect the quality of the stabilisation and sometimes even the battery life because the motor is having to work harder. You should make sure that you know how to balance your particular Gimbal properly as well. Youtube is often a great resource for learning how and certain companies will have training videos on their sites. And of course, just practising will help you figure out what works and what does not.
You will also want to make sure that your camera is compatible with the Gimbal. This means that the camera should the right size and weight as to not affect the Gimbal’s functioning. You want to be especially careful with some of the smaller, one-handed models because certain lenses are too front-heavy and make the Gimbal nearly impossible to balance. Make sure to learn which lens, camera, and Gimbal combinations work best by practising and trying them out.
Lastly, when first figuring out how to shoot using a Gimbal, you will want to try out different ways of moving and walking with it to find what works best. Although the Gimbal does help smooth out the movements of the cameraman, they will still be noticeable if your movements are jarring and heavy.
Examples of Gimbal Stabilisation Systems being used:
Below is an example of the type of stabilised shots which are achievable even while running over uneven ground: