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Can this type of shot be pulled off with a gimbal?

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ryan elder
Can this type of shot be pulled off with a gimbal?
on Aug 8, 2018 at 1:56:16 am

I was going to shoot a short film but the steadicam operator became unavailable, and I am wondering how to pull off the camera movement only two weeks before the shoot.

My DP suggested that we order a gimbal, but if it doesn't get here in time, just make a DIY steadicam for the shots, where I want to move the camera, which are most of them for this particular short film actually.

He says that in order to save money and time on equipment arriving or having to be built, I should just use the gimbal or DIY steadicam for all the movement.

However, when it comes to shots like this, can a DIY steadicam or gimbal pull off this kind of movement:







Or will it not be steady enough for this type of shot? He says I should use the the DIY steadicam and gimbal for all the shots that require horizontal movement, but what do you think?


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Todd Terry
Re: Can this type of shot be pulled off with a gimbal?
on Aug 8, 2018 at 2:22:41 am

That's a classic arcing dolly shot. I don't know any camera operator alive who could pull that off handheld, with or without a stabilizer.

Also of note, that shot uses a much longer lens than you'd ever want to attempt handheld... stabilized or not. It's hard to tell, it could be anywhere from 50 to 80mm... but it's definitely a lot longer than the 18-35mm range you'd want to stick with for handheld.

Also also... while that shot is a classic dolly arc, the camera also pulls away from Hanks after the shot begins, and pushes back in to him as the dolly move resolves (and it is not a zoom in... it's an actual push in). That could be done in a number of ways... there could be a slider on top of the dolly arm for the push in, or a scissor-jib on the dolly to allow the straight push in. Or it simply could be that Hanks was not sitting dead-center in the circular track... if he was a bit to one side that would create the apparent elliptical camera path. It stayed sharp with a shallow DoF so Don Burgess definitely had a good focus-puller on the shot.

Knowing how Zemeckis works, there's also the possibility that there is a motion-control rig of some kind creating the camera move. There are a few jitters in there that make it look like a live human operator, so that might nix the motion control idea... then again it is not unlike Zemeckis to introduce such little effects to make it look more organic.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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ryan elder
Re: Can this type of shot be pulled off with a gimbal?
on Aug 8, 2018 at 2:49:36 am

Okay thanks. Well a lot of the shots I want will be on an actor's face who's face looks best on an 85mm in my opinion. So even for other shots such as following him while he is walking on the streets, will an 85 mm still look bad on a gimbal or stabilizer?


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ryan elder
Re: Can this type of shot be pulled off with a gimbal?
on Aug 8, 2018 at 2:51:33 am

I also wanted to do some running shots as well, but I was told before that I shouldn't run on a dolly and I should use a steadicam for running. But if I want to run with an actor while doing a face close up on an 85 mm, what should I do then, if the steadicam is not the best for 85 mm?


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Todd Terry
Re: Can this type of shot be pulled off with a gimbal?
on Aug 8, 2018 at 3:04:34 am

There's nothing to say you can try it... but Steadicams and other stabilizers are best with wider lenses. You can certainly shoot with an 85mm but don't expect the frame to stay really locked on to a running actor's face in a tight shot... it just won't happen, not with the best and most experienced Steadicam operator in the world.

I understand what you are wanting, but just trying to be realistic.

Whenever I give directorial classes or talks I point out to one great thing Robert Rodriguez said in his book "Rebel with a Crew"... I'm not a huge RR fan, but I think this is very smart... he says "Make the movie you can make, not the movie you want to make." I think that can apply to a particular camera or shot setup as well. Know the limitations of your gear, your actors, crew, time, energy, even physics... and weigh the need for exactly what you want versus its real value in telling the story. Often there are alternate ways of doing something that's not exactly what you originally saw in your head, but is infinitely more "doable" and accomplishes the same thing in the end. I'm all for art, but there's no need to kill yourself and spend huge amounts of time, energy, manpower and brainpower on trying to figure out how to do something that really only has a special meaning for you, and would probably be meaningless or even unnoticed by the audience. Tell the story and don't get bogged down in mechanics.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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ryan elder
Re: Can this type of shot be pulled off with a gimbal?
on Aug 8, 2018 at 3:08:13 am

Okay thanks for sure. Since the steadicam operator is not available now, I just want to buy the least amount of gear that I can but still get some good movement if possible. I've already decided no on things like jibs and drones ☺

But as for the slow moving Tom Hanks shot, is there any kind of stabilizer that can specifically handle an 85 mm better, so I won't have to buy a dolly for the Tom Hanks shot, and can use just one stabilizer for both the Tom Hanks type shot, as well as the walking and running shots, with an 85 mm?


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Todd Terry
Re: Can this type of shot be pulled off with a gimbal?
on Aug 8, 2018 at 3:24:15 am

I know of no stabilizers that operators regularly use with long lenses. That's just not what they are made for.

And you are never going to get the look of that Hanks shot handheld, no matter what kind of stabilizer.

The Hanks scene is a dolly shot, not a stabilizer shot. They are completely different tools.

What you are saying is "I need to screw these screws in, and I need to cut tin. Why kind of screwdriver do I need to buy." That screwdriver doesn't exist... you need a screwdriver for one and tin snips for the other, they are two different jobs for two different tools, and you simply can't make one tool do the other job, or at least not do it well or the same as if you were using the appropriate tool.

And why are you buying all this gear for a short? Rent it.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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ryan elder
Re: Can this type of shot be pulled off with a gimbal?
on Aug 8, 2018 at 3:28:36 am

Okay thanks, but rent if from where though? All the rental store in my city, has is tripods.


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Robert Olding
Re: Can this type of shot be pulled off with a gimbal?
on Aug 9, 2018 at 3:34:06 pm

Online Rental Houses:

https://www.lensprotogo.com

https://www.lensrentals.com

https://www.sharegrid.com

https://kitsplit.com

https://www.borrowlenses.com

The shot from Cast Away with Tom Hanks is defiantly an arch dolly shot. You could perhaps DIY it with some fat rubber tubing or curved PVC pipe from a local hardware store. Then put the camera on a tripod and the tripod on a low platform (dolly) with wheels to fit the diameter of the tubing/pipe. Make sure you weight the tripod/dolly down with to help keep it stable and smooth.

Using a steadycam or a gimbal with a long lens such as an 85mm is very difficult. Just holding focus is a nightmare for those with lots of experience. I’m not sure what type of framing your planning for the running shots but if you need to capture closeups of the face, perhaps you can have the actor jog in place while the camera is on a monopod. You can then wiggle the camera around a bit to give the illusion of movement.

Robert Olding

Studio Eight | Director of Photography
http://www.studioeightmn.com
Minneapolis, MN


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Todd Terry
Re: Can this type of shot be pulled off with a gimbal?
on Aug 9, 2018 at 3:43:24 pm

[Robert Olding] " if you need to capture closeups of the face, perhaps you can have the actor jog in place while the camera is on a monopod. "

Good suggestion... or do the same thing but put the actor on a treadmill for more realistic-looking running.

If the shots were long enough that it gave away that the background was static, you could even put the treadmill on a low-boy process trailer and pull it... that way you'd have the equivalent of actual running, but able to mount a camera on the trailer so that the actor could stay perfectly framed and the same distance from the camera at all times (which personally I think is one of the hardest parts of dollying with talent... a focus-pulling nightmare). But that's all getting pretty complicated (and maybe a little dangerous) with some darn expensive big-Hollywood-grade gear.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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ryan elder
Re: Can this type of shot be pulled off with a gimbal?
on Aug 9, 2018 at 9:43:51 pm

Okay thanks, not sure if the treadmill thing will work or match up in the shots but I could run some tests and see. Thanks!

I took a look at the rental stores and I even found one close to where I live. But I what understand is, is why do people rent in fact it costs more to do that, then it does to actually purchase the gear? For example, where I live it costs $180 to rent a gimbal. But at that price, if you rent a gimble for more than 3-4 days, it adds up to the price of a zhiyun crane.

Or in one of the links, it costs $120 to rent a slider. But many sliders can be purchased for around $400. So how are you really saving by renting when if you rent for a few days, it adds up to the price of buying it?


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Mike Cohen
Re: Can this type of shot be pulled off with a gimbal?
on Aug 13, 2018 at 7:46:46 pm

As other have said, re-creating what you see in a Hollywood movie can be a challenge. There is a reason blockbuster movies cost a lot of money - they don't try to do a $50,000 dolly shot for $120.

Try to do what you can do for what you can do it for. In other words, if you have $120 to work with, make the best $120 shot you can, but don't expect $50,000 of results.

A gimbal might work on a wide lens, but as other have said a longer prime lens is going to be near impossible to keep steady without proper support.

Good luck and let us know what you were able to achieve.

Mike Cohen


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ryan elder
Re: Can this type of shot be pulled off with a gimbal?
on Aug 13, 2018 at 10:31:44 pm

Okay thanks. I met someone who operates the Moza Air gimbal and he said that any lens under 100mm looks pretty smooth on a gymbal. But is he exaggerating then, if that's not true?


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Robert Olding
Re: Can this type of shot be pulled off with a gimbal?
on Aug 13, 2018 at 11:04:01 pm

Any lens can look really smooth but it's holding focus on the subject as they and the camera move that really difficult with longer lenses.

Robert Olding

Studio Eight | Director of Photography
http://www.studioeightmn.com
Minneapolis, MN


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ryan elder
Re: Can this type of shot be pulled off with a gimbal?
on Aug 14, 2018 at 1:00:17 am

Okay thanks, but what if I shot at a deep enough DOF to hold focus like F11 or something like that?


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Robert Olding
Re: Can this type of shot be pulled off with a gimbal?
on Aug 17, 2018 at 3:48:57 pm

More depth of field will help.

Robert Olding

Studio Eight | Director of Photography
http://www.studioeightmn.com
Minneapolis, MN


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ryan elder
Re: Can this type of shot be pulled off with a gimbal?
on Aug 17, 2018 at 10:43:14 pm

Oh okay, but are you saying that depth of field will help reduce shaking on a long lens with a gimbal, or what are you saying?


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Robert Olding
Re: Can this type of shot be pulled off with a gimbal?
on Aug 20, 2018 at 3:17:56 pm

More depth of field won't help keep the shot stable but will help hold focus if the camera, the focus puller, or the talent miss their marks.

With a smaller aperture, such as f11, you'll need one of, or a combination of; more light, slower shutter, higher ISO.

Robert Olding

Studio Eight | Director of Photography
http://www.studioeightmn.com
Minneapolis, MN


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ryan elder
Re: Can this type of shot be pulled off with a gimbal?
on Aug 20, 2018 at 10:59:41 pm

Okay thanks. It's just very difficult for a DP to light a scene for f11 in my experience, and they hate having to light that bright. They also do not like the look as they feel it looks too 'homevideo-ish', but a lot of older movies before the 60s were shot with a deep DOF, so how does one talk a DP into thinking that it can be cinematic like that?


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