What do you need to consider before you attempt a gimbal handoff? We'll tell you!
You can probably think of a dozen examples of long, continuous tracking shots that seem to go through a wall or surface. Sometimes a soundstage setting will allow a camera operator free movement through spaces or easy interior-exterior shots.
But what if you're working on a set where you can't just take the wall down?
You're going to have to learn how to do a camera handoff, probably with a handheld gimbal rig. But you can't just toss the camera out of a window! There are a lot of things you'll have to consider to achieve the perfect handoff.
Rubidium Wu over at PremiumBeat walks us through everything you need to know to do a camera handoff from an interior to an exterior through a window.
Watch the video below, then dig into the tips!
Consider your gear
For this video, the team used a Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K, a fairly lightweight camera that uses a simple rig.
For the gimbal, they chose a Ronin-S but added a dual handle grip. Wu explains that this allowed for three points of contact as he and another camera operator handed off the camera, which provided extra stability and limited camera shake.
You could choose other, bigger gimbals, but in this kind of limited setting, you have to remember that your rig will need to fit through a small space.
Consider your lighting
If you're moving between two spaces with different lighting and exposure, you'll need to do some work with that set-up, too.
Wu says they also shot the interior at a lower stop to accommodate the brightness outside, then during post-production editing changed the ISO with a digital exposure pull. This allowed them to fade between ISOs (800 to 100) and prevented the exterior from being blown out.
Consider simple ways to make things easier
Wu points out a couple of simple but effective things that helped them on this shoot.
First, he acknowledges that he let the more experienced camera operator do the second half of the shot, taking the camera through the window and over terrain with variable elevations. It's a practical choice that makes things run more smoothly.
Second, he notes that by having the talent move through a shut door, the time it takes for the door to be opened gives the camera operators an extra second to make the handoff in the window. If the door had already been opened, or if the actor had been running, this kind of handoff wouldn't have worked, and they would have had to figure out a different setup for the shot, probably involving cables.
What's next? Check out more tips for working with gimbals.
Take a closer look at the Ronin-S, and some cinematic moves you can use with it. Here are some transitions you can try, too! But what if you don't have a gimbal at all? Here's how to stabilize those shots.