Nothing ruins a video more than shaky or jumpy video. Along with bad audio, a jumpy video will cause your viewer to abandon your video.
Let’s at a quick look at some stabilizer tools you can use to smooth things out.These include Tripods, handles, gimbals, gravity-based handheld stabilizers, and in-camera stabilization. As usual, the video below provides a more in-depth look at this topic.
It goes without saying that if the camera doesn’t move the video can’t be shaky. Whether it’s a little mini tabletop tripod, a travel tripod or a big expensive professional level device, mounting your camera to one of these will help insure steady video. If you don’t have a tripod, that needs to be one of your first investments.
But what about when you need to move around and you’re working pretty much by yourself? The next couple of gadgets can help a bunch.
At the low price end for camera stabilization is the basic handle grip.
If you are using a small mirrorless camera, an action camera like a GoPro or your Smartphone as one of your video cameras, an easy way to increase video stability is to simply attach a handle. Camera handles allow you to get a good grip on you camera which can be difficult when using small devices like action cams and Smartphones.
Powered three-axis gimbal stabilizers are the next step up in the camera stabilization game. These devices use some of the same technology as in your Smartphone to determine orientation.
Gimbals have motors mounted to control rotation in the up and down, left and right and fore and aft axes. While techniques vary a bit, most gimbals simply require the device to be place on a hard horizontal surface and be turned on or set to an active mode. When the button is pressed the gimbal recognizes level and the motors turn the mounted camera to the straight and level position.
These devices will really smooth out video. A walking, fast walking and even smooth running camera operator can producing some stunning video with these devices.
If you are looking at gimbals, you’ve probably noted that there are a number of specially gimbals, too. You can get small gimbals to mount to your motorcycle helmet, bicycle handlebars and even to a chest harness.
For many of you thinking about the need for video stabilization, a three-axes gimbal will be your best choice.
Gravity based handheld stabilizers.
Mechanical handheld stabilizers have been around for a while and do a good job stabilizing the video from larger cameras such a DSLRs and both professional and pro-sumer video cameras.
This devices use gravity as the primary stabilizing force and so don’t need batteries. There are a number of hobbyist and enthusiast-level stabilizers from a several vendors out there in the sub $100 range.
These devices take a little patience and practice to use effectively. It all starts with the setup.
The camera must be precisely balanced on the gimbal. Adjustments need to be made in all three axes. The camera needs to balanced left and right on the mounting head, fore and aft on the head and up and down using weights on the bottom of the gimbal’s support arm.
Also know that any change to the camera will require rebalancing. Yep, even taking off the lens cap!
These little devices will take some practice to get the hang of. Plan on some walks around the house and through the neighborhood to build your skills.
I’ll close this out with a brief chat about in camera stabilization.
There are two kinds and are sometimes used together.
This first is mechanical stabilization. For example my Sony AX-53 Handicam has electronic gimbals attached to the lens all within the camera’s body. These gimbals don’t move anywhere near the amount of the three axes gimbals we discussed earlier but you can certainly feel them lock in then powering on the camera. This provides nice smoothing especially when the camera’s movements are small as when standing while hand shooting or even walking.
The other kind of stabilization is software stabilization. This is available in even low-cost cameras in many cases. With this method, the image processor is programmed to notice the movements of pixels and to mathematically determine what the picture ‘should be.’
In cameras capable of 4K recording, when used at lower resolutions, the processor uses some of the extra pixels to manipulate the framing of the shot to smooth things out.
In all cases, good shooting technique is the first requisite of smooth video. Good shooting technique is achieved by practice and learning from your mistakes so get out and shoot, even if it’s just in the neighborhood. Take your shots home, view the video, assess your successes and failures, hit delete and go do it again.
With good technique these stabilizing tools can really add value to your video shots.
Here are product links to the items listed in the video.
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