How to Build Your Own Steadycam How to Keep Your Camcorder Steady and Smooth when Shooting Internet Video

04.06.2013 22:04

 How to Build Your Own Steadycam

How to Keep Your Camcorder Steady and Smooth when Shooting Internet Video


by Mark Shapiro


It is important to make your video watchable. Video that shakes, jerks and wiggles is not pleasant to watch and can make your viewer seasick. In addition, during the conversion process - turning your raw video into an compact Internet video format, jerky and moving video puts a lot more strain on the compression process which can result in your Internet video having lower overall quality when streamed over the web.

The smoother and more stable your video before you run it through the compressor, the better your final product will look.

How to Hold Your Camcorder Steady

Yes, you can use a tripod but sometimes you want to move your camera.

There are a variety of ways to do this. The simplest option is to activate your image stabilization feature on your camcorder. In the last five years, digital stabilization technology has greatly improved. Not only will it smooth out many bumps and jiggles, it not longer noticeably reduces the quality of the image.

Another way is to shoot wide angle which reduces the effect of the camera jiggling. It still shakes but you won't notice it as much.

If your camcorder is mounted on a tripod, you can try this. With the tripod legs fully extended, hold the tripod by the top of the center pole (the extender) - directly underneath the camcorder and the tripod head. Hold it loosely and move. You'll notice that the legs sort of act like a counterbalance to the camcorder, smoothing out the camera movement some. However that technique is only to be used as a last ditch effort where nothing else is available.

Putting your camera operator in a  wheelchair and have them roll one direction or another, is another bargain basement way to get a professional looking and smooth camera movement with spending a lot of money.

If you can plan ahead, and have some budget,  you can purchase special camera cranes and jibs. Some use wheeled tripods rolling along tracks, others are sophisticated (expensive) camera platforms that not only roll but incorporate cranes to let you elevate your camera for a dramatic shot.

There are also a wide range of handheld video systems and jibs to stabilize your shot.  Some are inexpensive - some can cost tens of thousands of dollars.

See this GlideCam review

Or you can build your own camera stabilization system.  They may not be as smooth or professional looking, but they work pretty good.  Here is a cool article that shows you how to build one and save lots of money. $14 SteadyCam

Here is another good article  its a bit more expensive but gives a smoother  final product. Do-It-Yourself Camera Stabilizer: The Home Made Steadicam. You will find five different versions of a do it your self stabilizer to chose from.

By the way, if you DO end up with shaky footage, many video editing programs also offer ways to digitally stabilize the video in your computer- check out this short excerpt on How to Use iMovie 09 to stabilize shaky video footage