January 24, 2018

5 Ways to Make Your Gimbal Footage Look Even Better

A gimbal alone won't make your images amazing. You'll need technique as well.

If you've ever used a gimbal stabilizer, I'm sure you remember your excitement as you mounted your camera on that baby and set out to shoot. Your footage was bound to look so good and buttery smooth, right? (You know, because gimbals.) However, slapping a camera on one of these handheld 3-axis stabilizers isn't going to magically turn you into a master cinematographer, which is why you should check out this video from Matti Haapoja of TravelFeels. In it, he goes over a few techniques and practices that will help you shoot better, more professional and cinematic gimbal footage.

Every piece of filmmaking equipment is a tool you can use to make capturing certain kinds of shots easier, and the quality of your images depends not on which of these tools you use, but on your ability to properly use them. (Among many, many other things.)

Gimbals are no different. While they are incredibly powerful and adept at stabilizing your camera, you'll need to 1.) use it correctly, and 2.) incorporate creative visual storytelling if you want your images to truly be memorable. So, here are the tips Haapoja mentions in the video.

  • Get balanced: Using a gimbal correctly is probably the best place to start. Get your camera correctly balanced on your gimbal before you head out to a shoot. Improper balance can lead to weird camera shake as the gimbal's motors try to calibrate and recalibrate.
  • Move your camera: Well, duh! You're using a gimbal! This is your chance to try out some sweet camera moves, right? But remember that you can also employ some subtle, more traditional moves, like small tracking, panning, and dolly shots.
  • Put something in the foreground:  We work with a 2-dimensional medium, which means creating depth is always somewhere near the top of our to-do list. Having foreground elements can help, especially if you move your camera to create the Parallax effect.
  • Get close: Gimbals allow you to get nice and close to subjects without having to sacrifice stability, so take advantage of it. Shoot close to the ground or wall or even your subject for a nice orbital shot.
  • Plan your shots: Unboxing a gimbal is a thrilling experience and I know all you want to do is run around and film everything in sight. However, taking the time to plan some shots will allow you to actually capture everything you want without them getting lost in all of the excitement.

These tips are great, but they're only the beginning; there are many other techniques and tricks you can do to make your gimbal cinematography as good as you want it to be. If you have experience in working with gimbals, share your tips down in the comments.     

Your Comment


Get balanced:
Oh really? How the hell the gimbal should work otherwise?
It is the Alpha and the Omega to have any stabilization system mechanical balanced in advance.

Move your camera:
Uhm... is this not the main purpose of a gimbal??
For static shots, use a tripod which does not require f******* set up time and no Blutooth crap.

Put something in the foreground:
This applies to all forms of a shot (tripod, crane, dolly, Steadicam,...).

Get close:
If you mean the transission from a wide shot to a close up, this does only work with a wide angle lens (take care of lens distortions) or a high aperture value. Or you have a 1st AC to pull focus wirelessly.

Plan your shots:
So, here is my pro tip free of costs: DO NOT film everything with a stupid gimbal. I have seen so many music videos and so many shorts with this specific look the last 3 years. It is boring to watch and it gives no value to your footage if you overdo it.
Everytime I see such a clip I just think... wow... he/she discovered the gimbal for him/herself. And now you can even see more the non existing talent.

Even photographers discovered the REC button..... it is terrible. They call themselves DP but it looks like old holiday footage made by uncle Bob.

January 25, 2018 at 2:19AM

Steadicam Operator/Owner

exactly. Planning out a mix of handheld, gimbal , steady cam, tripods all with both wide and telephoto to give it a mixed flow makes such a difference than just then same movements the whole time. i also hate it when i see drone or gimbal shots that keep to long and show the camera move in adjustments. it messes up the grove a lot.

January 25, 2018 at 4:12PM

kevin barton
editor and photographer


January 25, 2018 at 11:20PM

Steadicam Operator/Owner

It won't be the last one.
I guess next weeks we will have some drone articles due to the new DJI release.

It is like in "Groundhog Day" where everything repeats and repeats and repeats and repeats and repeats and repeats and repeats and repeats and repeats and repeats and repeats and repeats and repeats and repeats and repeats and repeats and repeats and repeats and repeats and repeats and repeats and repeats and repeats and repeats and repeats and repeats and repeats and repeats and repeats and repeats and repeats and repeats and repeats and repeats and....

NFS rather publishes obvious content in masses than less articles in high quality.
NFS.... you really should ask for writers.

January 25, 2018 at 4:20AM

Steadicam Operator/Owner

Vanessa (the article writer) is THE laziest writer on this site. Most, if not all of her posts are just YouTube videos that she then transcribes for this site, while including the video in the post. NFS has little integrity IMO... and Vanessa is a big reason why.

January 25, 2018 at 3:28PM

Chris Kas
Jack of all trades