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class="style1">16mm Handheld

class="Paragraph">Published : 3rd June 2007

class="Paragraph">I've a shoot coming up and I'm wanting a number of the shots handheld, longer takes, walking through a sort of decaying urban area. It's going to be half POV/half following the subject.

class="Paragraph">Are there any devices out there that can give me a steadier hold? I remember seeing Chris Doyle on set with a sort of backwards backpack. It had straps that went over his shoulders and the front had a large pillow like object that he could brace his elbows on and create a good base to hold with and keep steady while doing his crazy handhelds.

class="Paragraph">Was this something he just had made for himself or are there similar products out there?

class="Paragraph">Eoin McGuigan
AC
Minneapolis/St. Paul


class="Paragraph">1/. Use a wide lens.

class="Paragraph">2/. Take a deep breath and tuck your arms in.

class="Paragraph">3/. Overcrank at 32 fps to smooth out residual movement.

class="Paragraph">4/. Don't try to walk while handholding. If you absolutely HAVE to move, do it in a wheelchair.

class="Paragraph">Scott Dorsey
Kludge Audio
Williamsburg, VA.


class="Paragraph">Scott Dorsey writes :

class="Paragraph">>>1/. Use a wide lens.

class="Paragraph">Yes, always good.

class="Paragraph">>>2/. Take a deep breath and tuck your arms in.

class="Paragraph">Nope, not good. Unless you can hold your breath for 10 minutes. Tucked arms limit responsiveness.

class="Paragraph">>>3/. Overcrank at 32 fps to smooth out residual movement.

class="Paragraph">Not too good for sync shooting!

class="Paragraph">>>4/. Don't try to walk while handholding. If you absolutely HAVE to >>move, do it in a wheelchair.'

class="Paragraph">Feh!

class="Paragraph">What's most important is a perfectly balanced camera on your shoulder -- balance means your arm is only aiming, not supporting, the camera. Practice walking backwards with it. It's not all that hard, and don't have someone "guiding" you -- just someone who warns you of potholes and open manholes.

class="Paragraph">Jeff "the difference between comedy and tragedy... and open manhole
covers" Kreines


class="Paragraph">>>4/. Don't try to walk while handholding. If you absolutely HAVE to >>move, do it in a wheelchair.'

class="Paragraph">Walking isn't too hard. There'll be some bounce, but that's why you're shooting handheld!

class="Paragraph">You'll probably find that shots that you think are too bouncy aren't when you see dailies. Your body tells you things are rockier than they are. Might be worth a practice with a video camera just to get a feel for what your motion looks like.

class="Paragraph">If breathing is an issue then you're either a very heavy breather or shooting on a very long lens. Overcranking should only be used as an effect. Most handheld is done at sync sound speeds.

class="Paragraph">What Jeff says is absolutely true. Make sure the camera is balanced.

class="Paragraph">One of the best ways of steadying the camera is to hold the corners or sides of the matte box with your hands, making sure they are out of frame of course.

class="Paragraph" Art Adams
Director of Photography
Film | Hidef | Video
San Jose, CA, USA
www.artadams.net


class="Paragraph">An Easy Rig is the way to go:

class="Paragraph">http://www.easyrig.se

class="Paragraph">Tom Camarda
LA DP (IA600)
www.tomcamarda.net


class="Paragraph">>>"I remember seeing Chris Doyle on set with a sort of backwards >>backpack."

class="Paragraph">I agree with Jeff in his observations, the idea of being handheld is to be handheld if you want to be super steady hire a Steadicam Operator.

class="Paragraph">A perfectly balanced camera will make all the difference; light weight video camcorders are much harder to handhold than a well weighted film camera.

class="Paragraph">But to get back to the quoted section above it sounds like he was using an:

class="Paragraph">EASYRIG : http://www.easyrig.se/

class="Paragraph">The usual constraints do apply - I am not an employee of or associated to... blah... blah... blah... (Although we do have one for rent)

class="Paragraph">Dean Slotar | One8Six Cape Town
t +27-21-555-1780 | f +27-21-555-1828 | m +27-82-895-2620


class="Paragraph">Tom Camarda wrote:

class="Paragraph">>> An Easy Rig is the way to go:

class="Paragraph">If you don't mind looking like a machine...

class="Paragraph">Jeff Kreines


class="Paragraph">I have used the easy rig a number of times. I don't like it for all types of situations, but for long walking shots it can be a good solution.

class="Paragraph">Also consider attaching an on-board monitor to operate and judge your framing. It will free you up and make your operating easier...

class="Paragraph">Toby Birney
D.O.P. / Camera Operator
Based in Lithuania


class="Paragraph">Thanks for the suggestions all

class="Paragraph">Eoin McGuigan
AC
Minneapolis/St. Paul


class="Paragraph">>>An Easy Rig is the way to go:

>>If you don't mind looking like a machine...

class="Paragraph">The easy rig is a godsend for shooting long handheld hours with cameras that are either heavy or unbalanced. It takes the weight from the shoulder to the hips and that can really help with RSI problems and fatigue.

class="Paragraph">It doesn't really smooth things out much (OK, a bit) but it sure takes some of the pain out of a fourteen hour day of handheld with an F900 fully loaded for drama production.

class="Paragraph">It also provides a very slim footprint, with a little stabilization, for occasions where a Steadicam wont fit.

class="Paragraph">Works well with roller blades on the right floor!

class="Paragraph" Who cares if they look like a machine?!?

class="Paragraph" David Perrault, CSC


class="Paragraph">Good suggestions so far, personally I don't like the easy rig too much. You don't need it for a well balanced camera IMHO (obviously an F-900 falls out of this category).

class="Paragraph">As for walking, walk with your knees bent for a smoother look. This requires strong upper legs.

class="Paragraph">Florian Stadler, D.P., L.A.
www.florianstadler.com


class="Paragraph">David Perrault wrote:

class="Paragraph">>>It doesn't really smooth things out much (OK, a bit) but it sure takes >>some of the pain out of a fourteen hour day of handheld with an F900 >>fully loaded for drama production.

class="Paragraph">I'll second this - it you're using the F900 it's great because it Improves the balance of the camera by redistributing some of the weight from your shoulder to your hips, but it really doesn't do much in terms of giving you steadier shots. I wouldn't use it with a 16mm camera because they don't weigh enough to really need to have their weight redistributed.

class="Paragraph">What works best for me (when handholding 16mm cameras) is instead of trying to keep the camera perfectly motionless is to add a very slight, very subtle movement to the camera. (If someone can notice the movement, then it's not subtle enough.)

class="Paragraph">So instead than fighting the mass of the camera and it's inertia by locking tensing up and locking my muscles in place (which quickly causes them to fatigue), it's more like gently guiding and dampening what the camera wants to do.

class="Paragraph" Another way of looking at it is that if you were carrying an infant or a small child on your shoulder, you'd balance him a bit differently than if you were carrying a box of canned goods. (I hope analogy makes sense - I can already imagine the sarcastic comments about infants and canned goods.)

class="Paragraph" Jessica Gallant
Los Angeles based Director of Photography
West Coast Systems Administrator, Cinematography Mailing List
http://www.cinematography.net


class="Paragraph"> David Perrault wrote:

class="Paragraph" >>Who cares if they look like a machine?!? <g>

class="Paragraph" Those who shoot non-fiction films, where the equipment should attract as little attention as possible. For you folks shooting fiction, no problemo.

class="Paragraph">Jeff "same thing re Steadicams, of course" Kreines


class="Paragraph" Jessica Gallant writes:

class="Paragraph" >>What works best for me (when handholding 16mm cameras) is >>instead of trying to keep the camera perfectly motionless is to add a >>very slight, very subtle movement to the camera.

class="Paragraph">Yes. Trying to keep things rock-steady induces the kind of muscle tension that then induces more abrupt motions and corrections, etc...

class="Paragraph">This fluidity is especially important when you've got only got one crack at the action and suddenly find yourself in a physically uncomfortable position that will drive you nuts and eventually blow the shot. (Part of the art of verite-type shooting is to avoid getting into that kind of position in the first place. But it can't always be avoided.)

class="Paragraph">Of course, camera balance is essential. If you're stuck with a handheld camera that's poorly balanced, at least use a monopod that's seated in a belt-pouch. (a Steady-Stick-type arrangement) That can be a good compromise between steadiness and flexibility. Bogen/Manfrotto make some very lightweight monopods with little lockable tilt heads that let you set an optimal camera angle and adjust it as needed. (Ball-heads are for still cameras!)

class="Paragraph">Dan Drasin
Producer/DP
Marin County, CA


class="Paragraph">Florian Stadler wrote:

class="Paragraph">>>As for walking, walk with your knees bent for a smoother look. This >>requires strong upper legs.

class="Paragraph">I've also found that the shoes you wear make a difference. Hard soled boots like timberlands don't help - barefoot or trainers are best.

class="Paragraph">Michael Sanders
--
London based DoP/Lighting Cameraman
Mobile: 07976 269818
Diary: Digital Garage 020 7348 1910