December 28, 2015

5 Ways to Move Your Gimbal for More Creative Shots

Now that buying a gimbal isn't such a devastating blow to the ol' pocket book, tons and tons of shooters are getting their hands on them.

This means, of course, that it's in your best interest to learn all you can about shooting with a gimbal, in case a client, project, or shot requires the use of one. If you're new to shooting on a gimbal, or if you just want to learn a few new tricks, this tutorial from Cinecom teaches you 5 creative moves you can use the next time you shoot.

Here are the 5 tricks in case you don't have time to watch the video:

Trick #1: Better Camera Tilt

If you're shooting from the ground and want to tilt your camera up, Cinecom suggests offsetting the handles (one adjusted toward you, the other away from you) to make the move easier on your wrists.

Trick #2: Fake a Jib Shot

One of the great benefits of shooting on a gimbal is that it can do the work of a bunch of different camera stabilizing tools, including a jib. It does take a little finesse, but you can get a pretty nice "jib shot" simply by lifting your gimbal up over your head. You can get creative with this move, too -- I've seen an operator stand on a balcony and lower their gimbal down over it until it reached the ground (and then subsequently picked up by a second operator to continue the shot), which turned out to be a pretty spectacular "jib shot".

Trick #3: The Telephoto "I've Lost My Son" Shot

Okay, I feel like every film in which a parent loses a child in public, the camera circles them with a telephoto lens. No? Just me? Didn't think so. Gimbals are perfect for this shot. Not only do you get great depth by using the parallax effect (when the background elements moves faster than the foreground elements), but you also make the shot more dynamic by including smooth camera movements, as well as a telephoto lens.

Trick #4: Get Up Close and Personal

More of a friendly reminder than a trick, but you don't have to constantly capture all the action in long shots. Yes, gimbals allow you to get straight up athletic with your camera work -- acrobatic even, but they also allow you to get in close and capture the nuance of your subject.

Trick #5: Camera Roll

Even though gimbals let you pull of some insane camera moves, they don't allow you to roll your camera -- unless you use this little hack. Here's what you do: Start with your gimbal off and your camera rolled on its side. Hit record on your camera, then power your gimbal on; it'll automatically roll your camera right side up. This obviously isn't going to give you a perfect effect, since 1. you can't control the speed of the roll, 2.) you can't really anticipate exactly when the roll will occur, and 3.) your gimbal might not even do this to begin with.

Diversity and freedom of motion all depends on what kind of gimbal you have. For example, gimbals that have different operational modes, like the DJI Ronin, allow you to shoot in different positions, which makes modifying your shot easier. The more options you have, the more creative you can get.

What are some tricks you use with your gimbal? Let us know in the comments below.     

Your Comment

10 Comments

#1 also can adjust the handles so you hold it upward or use the center handle. #6 add a hoverboard and you get a long lasting dolly. :) https://youtu.be/Mj8hSaZaRfU and #7: add a wireless follow focus and you get a fun time doing rack focusing: https://youtu.be/q0M201srgkk

December 28, 2015 at 7:00PM

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Johnny Wu
Director, Producer, Editor
402

well most of that looked like garbage...

December 28, 2015 at 7:55PM

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matt
713

This really wasn't all that helpful... and a better way to do a roll shot would be to map the joystick to the roll motor rather than the pan. This way you can roll to a Dutch angle as needed and still tilt as well. I find this a much more practical way than what was suggested here. Relying on you gimbal "power-on" calibration to do a camera move seems like bad advice if you ask me.

December 28, 2015 at 8:11PM, Edited December 28, 8:11PM

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J.M. Anderson
Director of Photography
543

#5 can be easily done by just turning on the Roll axis in the SmoothTrack settings for the DJI Ronin.... Then you don't have a dodgy shot or need a second operator

December 29, 2015 at 2:56AM

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With a MoVI + MIMIC you can roll easily.

Running backwards with a gimbal is difficult and can be dangerous, so we do that by carrying it with 2 persons: both holding 1 handle while running forward with the camera pointing backwards.

The next thing on my to-try-list is suspending the gimbal from a construction crane to sort of imitate aerial shots in place where the use of drones is prohibited.

December 29, 2015 at 7:44AM

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WalterBrokx
Director, DOP, Writer, Editor, Producer
9020

Strongly recommend moving very slowly.. the slower your movement is the less jerky your shot is but more importantly it will look more professional. the pace he was calling very slow in the motorcycle shot is what I would refer to as medium fast.

December 30, 2015 at 12:54AM, Edited December 30, 12:55AM

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Ramy Daniel
Cinematographer
313

If you'd like to see some really epic gimbal shots filmed using rollerblades, you should check out my "EPIC NYC RUN" video that posted a few weeks ago - enjoy it in 1440p for the smoothest playback if possible :) https://youtu.be/AMhrDvKPyzw

December 30, 2015 at 8:29PM

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Chris
Production Company Owner / DP
81

As a fulltime professional gimbal operator and Tech I found these tips to be a little off... Especially the last one, why not just use the controller provided by DJI to get smooth and controlled roll axis movement?

And I'm with you when it comes to smooth slow movements Ramy. I feel that a lot of people get a gimbal and feel it's their duty to run around and get crazy with it. Slow, smooth and choreographed shots that are meant to engage the viewer look much more professional and cinematic IMO. Gimbals are not a replacement for a dolly or steadicam but put in the right hands it is an amazing film making tool used to add to the story...

Shameless Plug: Check out my IG to see what I've been working on @steadishot

January 2, 2016 at 1:58PM, Edited January 2, 2:09PM

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Keith Ferreira
Steadicam/Gimbal Operator
81

If you don't know how to roll your gimbal you shouldn't be writing articles about how people should use theirs.

January 3, 2016 at 8:53AM

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Not sure what he's talking about as far as most gimbal footage being wide angle ... some of my favorite focal lengths to shoot with are 50mm @ t1.5 and 85mm @t1.5 - yes pulling focus requires measuring marks or working with an AC but I disagree with the notion that gimbals are mostly used with wide angle focal lengths...

May 28, 2017 at 9:09PM

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Jordan Wright
Owner. DP
88