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Part 7: How to manage stabilization and movement with light-weight cameras

Equipment dedicated to tracking movements on board with remote setting

1- Mini-Jibs, vertical height and sense of levitation

A crane is composed of a base with a boom arm attached : the camera is set upon one end and it is balanced by a counter-weight on the other end.
Movement is most often vertical; with the arm’s articulation axis much closer to the counter-weights than to the camera, movement of the camera is greater than the movement of the counter-weights. You can easily achieve vertical movements over several meters, going all the way up to remarkably good points of view. But the camera is not limited to vertical movement: the arm’s axis can also be moved horizontally. So you see how it works : the combination of movements the crane can make is limited only by the imagination of the film maker!


Just a few years ago, cranes were the exclusive tools of big budget productions, but these days they are available much more widely. Today there are several Mini Jib systems that are especially intended for light digital video camera and HDSLR units, and they are available at a price affordable for individuals. This type of equipment nevertheless requires the use of remote controls and a complete HF system to work properly (monitoring, release remote, and Follow focus), because with this equipment the camera can be used remotely.

My personal choice of Mini-crane is the Kessler Pocket Jib Traveler for HDSLRs but also the brand new Genus MiniJib for the EOS Cinema line with its prime lenses. These are ingenious systems with very light arms that can be set on your tripod, with very simple mounting and disassembly that doesn’t require tools. This unit offers the best quality/price ratio available by far. Clearance ranging from 1m50 to 3m provides you with quite a respectable range of perspectives. The secret of these mini-cranes is to use the fluid head of the tripod which can therefore span both vertically and horizontally. All of it is controlled with your finger tips thanks to the counter-weight which balances the arm; with a little training, you can achieve some very interesting movements.

2- Camera loaded for off-road adventures!

When we talk about a “loaded camera”, we mean that the camera is set so that it becomes one and moves as one unit with its base support. The base could be the entire motorized vehicle, by sea, by land, by air, but also the bases that are worn directly by the person filming, like special helmets or harnesses.
To appropriately and safely set up camera on any of these types of vehicles, I recommend two methods.

To set up light HDSLR type cameras, I use all of the many Manfrotto accessories (Clamps, suction cups, magic arms, snake, etc.) combined with security straps. My personal experience has taught me how effective and secure they are on the handlebars of a motorcycle, on the exterior body of a helicopter, the roof of a 4×4 or a Mercedes SLK. The most important advice for the best possible stabilization of really light HDLR type cameras is to always block the case by the flash plug by using a magic arm combined with a hot shoe adapter. This second plug will help prevent a lot of vibration.
To set up cameras that are heavily accessorized, I prefer to call on specialists with tubular equipment that can bear heavy loads.

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3- Drones: take to the skies!

In addition to cameras loaded onto helicopters as I mentioned above, the use of drones dedicated to video has completely democratized aerial video shots.
Drones have become affordable solutions for taking aerial video shots that meet the needs of film professionals, but here are some recommendations to get the best quality results.

1 – Call upon a professional team composed of a pilot and a cameraman.
Completely separating the function of piloting the drone and controling the camera gives you total freedom in the choice of frames and camera movements.
2 –Use the best of current technology in terms of motors and stabilized baskets for the drone, but you should also opt for high-quality cameras and lenses.
3 –Insist on precision with frames and movements to avoid as much as possible post-processing of rushes (reframing and stabilization).
4 –With respect to speed of placement, make sure to verify and comply with safety measures, necessary approvals, and credentials.

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If all of these facets come together, you’ll achieve innovative (dynamic or descriptive) and high-quality aerial shots.

Here is part six, just in case you missed it and here is part eight.

The original article was written by the author in French and has been translated for the purpose of the MSoX website.

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