Recently, I talked about a bit about using a smartphone camera to shoot quality video. If you missed it, you can read it HERE. It can certainly be beneficial to those looking to shoot something on the fly without the need for a lot of expensive equipment. In this month’s newsletter, I would like to add to that and share a few options for stabilizing your camera and preventing your footage from appearing too “handheld”.
With your smartphone, Flip camera, or Vado camera it’s so convenient to carry it in your pocket and hold it in your hand once you are ready to shoot. However, shooting video completely handheld will cause it to lack that professional look, not to mention make the video difficult to watch. With that said, for around $20 you can get a tripod adapter case that will hold your iPhone and allow it to be mounted on a 1/4″ screw base. Once you have this there are many lightweight stabilizers that the phone can be mounted to. For travel, I always carry a Joby GorillaPod in my bag. It is small, lightweight, and its legs can either be stood up like a normal tripod or wrapped around a pole which make it very versatile – especially if you want to film yourself talking.
If I am going to be filming someone or something I prefer to have more control with being able to give a little movement to the shot. For this I use a Fig Rig. This device, which resembles a steering wheel, really helps stabilize the shot when standing still (preventing the shakiness of my hands from shaking the camera). By turning it like a wheel you can also get angles, giving the video a more dynamic look. The Fig Rig also allows for some movement – mostly panning and tilting the camera (side to side and up and down). It is not as desirable if you are going to be moving the camera around a lot as it will not absorb any bounce when walking.
To get a stabile and steady shot while walking with the camera, it is best to use the Steadicam Smoothee. This device works exactly like a Steadicam (used in many movies) to achieve a fluid, floating look to the shot – smoothing out any bounce or shake when you walk. This device is perfect if you are wanting to create a very cinematic look with your video. However, due to the mechanics of this device there is not much control when you are standing still with the shot (the camera continues to move around if you don’t hold it still with your other hand). With that said when thinking about which type of stabilizer to get, consider where and what you are going to be filming the majority of the time.
Regardless of what you are shooting and the device you are shooting on, it is helpful to understand the importance of stabilizing your camera to give your footage a clear and steady look of quality.
Republished with permission from Red Spade Productions.
Posted in Technical Advice