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Good & cheap "steadicam"

Rep: 444
Eric Seals Sept. 27, 2010, 2:34 p.m. permalink

I've been looking for ways to smooth out my video when shooting (not going the smoothcam filter in FCP) and wanted to do it as cheap as possible.

Found a great system called the
Fig Rig
Halo Rig

Both will fit HDSLR or traditional video cameras under 11 pounds just fine.  It does look like you're walking around with a steering wheel with a camera in the middle but the results great when used in certain situations. Perhaps not something to use on an everyday basis but still a cool and cheap way to get a nice look They are very similar but the Halo Rig costs less at $170 compared to $230 for the Manfrotto Fig Rig.

Just thought I'd share in case anyone was looking for something like this


Rep: 6
David Berman Oct. 4, 2010, 1:46 p.m. permalink

before i bought my merlin stedicam (needs LOTS of practice) I tried to add a body builders weight to the bottom of my monopod and got some pretty reasonable results with that setup.

Rep: 444
Eric Seals Oct. 4, 2010, 4:05 p.m. permalink

just checked out the merlin stedicam online David.  Looks interesting, this guy in the youtube video makes it look simple but like you said LOTS of practice huh?

Do you have any before and after video of something shot with it? 

Rep: 6
David Berman Oct. 5, 2010, 1:13 p.m. permalink

That guy is using it pretty well. Better than I have managed. It took me ages to get it even close to balanced and it still tends to want to swing about like a ballroom dancer on speed. 

I've used it in a few situations and really just need to mount up the camera and walk, run, live with it I'd say for a month or so. 

I now know why spedicam operators go out at such high rates!

I'll get it out over the next week and shoot just some tests with it.

Just for you. :-)

Rep: 444
Eric Seals Oct. 5, 2010, 1:58 p.m. permalink

Cool, you are the man!!

I've seen some steadicam guys with plastic looking vests, monitors near by etc at some NFL football games and on some movie sets.  Way more than what we'd need

Rep: 6
David Berman Oct. 25, 2010, 12:31 p.m. permalink

Hi Eric. I posted this link in the newspaper video group by mistake! doh.

I made this piece for you as promised. 
After I got frustrated I looked again at the You Tube videos and remembered that I should have been using my left hand to steady the Stedicam. So, if you discount the fact that I should have been holding it with 2 hands the results would have been better. 
I am doing a shoot this Sunday where Its not practical to carry my crane to the venue so I will use the merlin to achieve those shots.

Rep: 444
Eric Seals Oct. 25, 2010, 1:25 p.m. permalink

David, just watching your YouTube video, thanks for making and posting it!

Love the video from inside the office as you walked, turned corners etc.  Smooth indeed.  Usually I rely on the Smoothcam filter in Final Cut Pro for some things.

I was shocked at the price $700 but then again it seems every accessory for video is always expensive.

I doubt my newspaper would let me expense this but maybe it would be a good Christmas gift?  

Is the Merlin made out of good quality material? Is it heavy?

Seems like it would fit a Canon 5D Mark II great but wonder if my 10 pound Panasonic hvx200 would fit

Thanks again


Rep: 6
David Berman Oct. 26, 2010, 12:02 a.m. permalink

Thanks, you are welcome. I once had a chief photographer who gave me good advice. It is always better to get it right in camera than afterwards. Mind you, that was using a wet darkroom.
The Merlin is expensive but is superbly made of Aluminum? feels like it will last forever. I really like the construction.
I think the Pana may be a little heavy and it would make a fantastic Christmas present. Its the kind of gift that keeps on giving as you learn to  use it. Not like a pair of socks. Once they are on they are on!

Rep: 444
Eric Seals Oct. 26, 2010, 4:11 a.m. permalink

David, if you feel the need to buy one for me I'll send you my address :-)

Rep: 87
Michael Fagans Nov. 1, 2010, 4:17 p.m. permalink

How about an inexpensive dolly shot:

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