It’s fun to surround yourself with awesome clients, great concepts and a talented team…but what’s the one thing that we all love?
Yep: it’s ok to let your inner geek out every once in a while. Even the most risk-averse person has to get excited about a drone–a mini flying camera platform–and the footage that it can capture.
Well, it’s not a drone but on a recent shoot videographer Yan Theoret and I employed his Ronin camera gimbal. If you don’t know what that is, let me enlighten you!
The Ronin gimbal is an electronically-compensated camera stabilization system that is, essentially, able to be operated by hand. It’s a bit complicated to picture but it’s essentially a carbon fibre bar from which a servo controlled camera basket hangs.
As you move your body around the electronics tell the servos to compensate for your body movement and keep the camera rock steady. These are complicated devices that take experience to operate…and that’s why I called on Yan to handle a shoot that really required some dynamic fluid movement.
Because it’s electronically controlled the Ronin also allows for panning and tilting which gives us the ability to do these wonderful sweeping shots. Paired with a great looking camera like the Canon C100 and a wide angle lens, the results are dramatic.
Does the Ronin really make that much of a difference versus handheld? Yes, I think it does; the smoothness and fluidity of the shots you can achieve with the Ronin have an entirely different dynamic look than shooting handheld. On the right project, the Ronin is an amazing tool that brings a higher level of production to a video.
Since we’re geeking out on amazing equipment…
Second Shooter Time-lapse
I also have a phenomenal motorized time-lapse system called the Second Shooter, which allows us to do beautiful three axis time-lapse shots when paired with our Pocket Dolly. Static time-lapses are great but if we can add some dollying movement and some panning and tilting it really elevates the look and draws the audience’s attention in.
And to round out the cool gear list, my Pocket Jib. A jib is essentially a long counterbalanced arm that a camera can be mounted to. Historically they’ve been heavy, cumbersome and time consuming to set up, but the Pocket Jib is smaller and has been designed for quick deployment.
This is really an all-in-one production tool for me; it allows me to change the angle of a shot with ease, going from a few inches off the ground to six or more feet in the air without having to dismount the camera, adjust a tripod and re-level. Coupled with a nice set of wheels (as shown in the picture) you can shoot around a set from multiple angles without a care in the world!
The one piece of gear that everyone wants to know about and I haven’t mentioned (except briefly) is drones. Drones are an amazing technology that allows us to achieve shots that would have been prohibitively expensive a few years ago. Aerial shots are a spectacular visual tool that give the audience a different perspective, but they do come with some caveats and things to watch out for.
I contract out the acquisition of aerial footage to qualified operators. Other than the regulatory grey areas I really believe that capturing stunning aerial footage is a specialized skill in and of itself. Getting the right operator makes all the difference in getting the most spectacular shots.
We all love cool gear (I sure do) and it’s great to bring it all out in the service of compelling content. Cool gear in my experience either allows us to have the audience see a different perspective or makes life easier for me, the guy doing the work, which lets me get on with being creative and to not worry about my equipment!