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Replicating 'big camera' feel with small camera

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I find that one of the main differentiators in feel between small mirrorless or DSLRs and larger cameras like the Alexa is the movement of the camera itself when it's handheld.

Small cameras have that horrible jittery shaky distracting motion while larger cameras can feel 'cinematic' even while they're being carried while running for example, and using unstabilised lenses. Like in this clip at 1'35.

The obvious factor is rolling shutter, but assuming that my camera has low rolling shutter, how best to replicate this look and feel with - say - a X-T3?

Two things I want to avoid are shoulder mounting, and making a big rig. I've thought about actually weighing the camera down somehow, or perhaps using a handle mounted on the top to avoid the usual mirrorless shooting position of holding it out in front of you.

Any ideas??

 

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30 minutes ago, seanzzxx said:

Using steadicams/glidecams as opposed to gimbals really does the trick I think, it adds a certain flow to the movement that is very filmlike in my opinion.

 

Here's one example, all shot on a glidecam:

 

Yeah that looks great. Ideally I don't want to use anything large though. I'm not asking for any particular job. Obviously if a project requires stabilisation I use it. I'm only asking because it's something that's been on my mind for a while.

I do find that most electronic gimbals look very in-organic and steadicams do look more cinematic to me, like in your example. I really like a little organic wobble in the movement, like a cinema verite thing. That's what I'm trying to recreate with a small camera.

I just hate micro-jitter and shake that reminds me of 5dmkii videos from 2009.

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Weight is part of it, an Alexa weight a ton as do the lenses usually, most often it'll be on easy rig or steadicam vest or both. If not it's on a big tripod.

The example looks great, but it does look like a small camera still, it's the quick jitter at the start

I've tried using GH5 with Dual-IS2 and a Ronin S recently and it gets closer but it doesn't look like a heavy camera.

So perhaps just add a load of lead 😂

Maybe a Ronin S in briefcase mode?

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well what you get with a light camera and a steady cam in not what you get with a heavy cam handheld...lets clear first of all what do you want a steady cam  of a heavy handheld camera. If you want to have a look of an alexa on a steady cam you get a steady cam and a great colorist :)

If you want the look of a heavy camera being handheld you need a heavy camera and operate it handheld :) but really as Inazuma said, multiple points of contact with the operater and simply add weight, v-lock batteries help a bunch :) and yes a top handle for low slung shots, it`s a must. I don`t really like gimbals that much, don`t get me wrong they are superb tools that have opened so many doors to so many filmmakers, but they have their own feel and look. 

What I have used many many times with all kinds of cameras for follow along shots was a wheelchair with two apple boxes to sit on or simply standing on a skateboard going backwards, on smooth surfaces that is.

 

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You want the look of a heavier camera, you need to make the camera heavier. Period. The extra weight/mass is what makes bigger cameras look better handheld. Either you're willing to do it for the look or you're not. There's no way to "fake" inertia.

Gimbals and steadicams will give you steadier footage with a light camera and eliminate micro-jitter, but it's not the same aesthetic at all.

On a recent short, all it took was popping the F3 on a simple shoulder pad, and suddenly beautiful handheld was effortless. I can PM you a link if you're interested.

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12 minutes ago, TheRenaissanceMan said:

You want the look of a heavier camera, you need to make the camera heavier. Period. The extra weight/mass is what makes bigger cameras look better handheld. Either you're willing to do it for the look or you're not. There's no way to "fake" inertia.

Gimbals and steadicams will give you steadier footage with a light camera and eliminate micro-jitter, but it's not the same aesthetic at all.

On a recent short, all it took was popping the F3 on a simple shoulder pad, and suddenly beautiful handheld was effortless. I can PM you a link if you're interested.

Agreed. I was using the F3 with the 7Q for a while. You get really nice heavy and smooth movements with that setup. The way the camera settles is different than a camera with no weight. 

Surprised so many people would recommend steady cams and Ronins? There’s no need to complicate things. You need a well balanced rig that weights 7/8 pounds. 

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Adding weight is one thing (that people already mentioned) but what they didn't mention is adding weight at a distance.

A steadicam works because the weights are at a distance from the camera.  Here's the physics of the situation: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moment_of_inertia

Something you can try immediately is to use a tripod.  Mount your camera on a tripod and try the following tests:

  1. Use the tripod with legs compacted and folded together and hold it underneath the camera allowing it to work like a steadicam
  2. Same as above but extend the legs most of the way to the floor
  3. Same as above but fold the legs out

You will find that the first test gives some smoothing in tilt and roll but little stabilisation in pan, the second will be more of the same, and the third will add in some stabilisation to the panning as well because the legs are not all on the same axis.

With physics you need a combination of mass and distance, you can't get around it.  If you don't want either then do what I did and invest in IBIS.

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Like I have stated before most of the footage you see on TV is shot on a full sized ENG, probably a Sony, and they weigh at least 17 pounds or more and you tell me how many times you have ever seen shaky, goofy looking stuff out of them. A lot of the time they are even walking backwards at a pretty good pace! And none of them has any kind of OIS or IBIS even now that I know of. There may be OIS ENG lenses by now? But I don't see one.

Wow look at the price of this ENG lens. Christ.  https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1309404-REG/fujinon_ua80x9besm_e_digi_1_2_ext_ua80x9besm_e_digi_is_4k.html

I know from experience that is it not that hard to do. But yeah granted you spend a Lot of time learning how to use them, it is your full time job, but that weight is what makes it happen. These light camera rigs, IBIS or not are not that conducive to rock solid output. But learning how to walk with them right helps. The heaver they are the less exaggerated you have to do the duck walk thing LoL.

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For small, unobtrusive set up, I’ve been using a long strap, and a Benro monopod, with a Manfrotto tilt head, completely collapsed, with the bottom of the monopod inside the kangaroo pocket of a hooded sweat shirt. Obviously you can’t walk around with it but for quick set ups I am getting some steady shots.

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I have done a combination recently, and had a GH5 with IBIS on top of a heavy tripod with the legs pulled up, and holding it by the “neck” section

or you can build a shoulder rig and hang a weight off the back 

in short nothing replaces weight but you can get some reasonably similar looks by other methods 

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2 hours ago, jgharding said:

I have done a combination recently, and had a GH5 with IBIS on top of a heavy tripod with the legs pulled up, and holding it by the “neck” section

I do the same thing with my Manfrotto video monopod and the a73, or my extendo-pole with the GoPro. There’s enough weight to slow the small movements that make stuff look jittery. 

I have an office video/holiday card shoot coming up and I’m planning on doing multiple takes using my monopod for a more handheld look in addition to a gimbal. 

Chris

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I use a counter-weight by Neewer on the back of my rig. It cost me $30 on Amazon. Here’s a link. Redrock Micro also sells a dual counter weight that fits on rails for around $350, LOL. 

@TheRenaissanceMan said it earlier. Getting your setup heavier is the only way. 

An extreme way of thinking about it is: you’re standing in the middle of a windy field holding a single piece of paper in your hands. You twist and kneel with it like you were operating a camera. You trade the piece of paper for a 15lb boulder, doing the same things. Which one flutters in the wind more?

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Further to the above comments, weight at distance is one part, but the other is how and where you hold it.

I spent ages running around the house with various rigs of PVC piping (modular for travel) and even went so far as to fill it with water (readily available at your destination!) and quickly came to the conclusion that the less firmly I gripped it the less hand-shake it got, and basically replicated a steadicam by making little handles that could swivel and were mounted at the balance point of the whole rig.

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My initial handheld shooting experiences were with film cameras and electronic tube cameras with outboard 3/4" recorders. 

Heavy stuff.

You can't compensate for mass.  As mentioned, that's pretty much the solution. 

You want a certain look with handheld, make your rig balanced yet heavy.

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1 hour ago, kye said:

Further to the above comments, weight at distance is one part, but the other is how and where you hold it.

I spent ages running around the house with various rigs of PVC piping (modular for travel) and even went so far as to fill it with water (readily available at your destination!) and quickly came to the conclusion that the less firmly I gripped it the less hand-shake it got, and basically replicated a steadicam by making little handles that could swivel and were mounted at the balance point of the whole rig.

Yeah a steadicam is probably the better option than taking a 3 pound camera and trying to make it a 15 pound rig! 😛

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