Brian Davey asked,
Hi Stephen,Was just taking a look at your site and wanted to know I’m a big fan of your work. I was curious how you got this footage:Would you mind letting me know what you are using? I have a 7D and a flycam nano and definitely don’t have the type of smooth movements you have here. Makes me even wonder if it’s me or the nano. :)Hope all is well.My answer,Hey thanks Brian! Here’s 7 tips to get that super smooth gliding look…1. Make sure your flycam/glidecam/steadicam is as balanced as possible. I used a glidecam hd4000 for the brookside gardens video, but I have used the flycam nano in the past as well. It’s a little harder to fine-tune the balance, but take your time and make sure it’s spot on. Usual online tutorials recommend a 2-3 second “drop time” when balancing the rig, I shoot for a 3-4 second drop time though… This means if there is any sway, it will be veryyyy slow and not as noticeable, and also easier to correct with your off hand. Also, if you have the option, do less weights with a longer overall length rather than more weights with a shorter overall length. With the Glidecam I use the least amount of weights, but have the sled down as far as it goes, and spread out as wide as it goes. The nano is hard to balance because it has no fine-tuning knobs, I remember! Keep at it even when it’s frustrating, you’ll get way faster at doing it over time.
2. Shoot on 60fps. Shooting in a higher frame rate allows you to conform to 23.98 and get a really smooth slow-motion shot. I use 60fps for most of my Glidecam and slider shots. It makes things smoother if you bump something, if you’re walking heavily, or if there is a little bit of sway or balance issues.3. Use a wide lens, the wider the better. I use the Tokina 11-16 usually on 11mm (which is basically as wide as you can go before going fisheye). The wider your lens, the smoother things are going to look! Also the faster your movement will look. If you check out devin graham's videos, he uses a full frame camera (the 5D) with a 16-35mm lens. This makes the gliding movement look super awesome, super smooth, and fast (looks like he's running).4. Walk differently. Get a glass of water and fill it to the brim, now walk around your house with out spilling it. Walk up stairs and down stairs, notice how you are walking. Walk like this with the steadicam, you can even try running :D5. Off hand. Your off hand is for framing, lightly feather it to adjust and correct the framing, not to hold the sled from swaying. Feather it just below the gimble, NOT at the bottom of the swinging arm. Just below the gimble is where you can guide without making the rig sway too much. It should not sway if it’s correctly balanced, if you are walking and stop and the sled sways, it’s too bottom heavy, slide it up a tiny bit at a time till it’s right on. The off hand is used to start panning motions then let go (not control it the whole time), lightly correcting it along the way if it gets off.6. Practice! Number one key is practice, I used my Glidecam everyday for an entire summer before I considered myself “ok” at using it. Here are some sweet little drills you can do to practice, read the description and watch the video. (you don’t need a vest for a lighter camera, don’t worry)
7. If all else fails, throw a stabilization filter on the footage, usually this is unnecessary, but if you bump the sled while filming or are running super fast it can definitely help smooth some things out. In FCP I’ve used “smoothcam” and it works great. I’m not too familiar with any other program’s stabilization features, but I know Adobe has some great options as well.