Stable shots are essential to making a good video. The quality of DSLR footage is quickly reaching a point where any untrained eye is impressed by the quality and clarity. As a marketing major at Texas A&M University, I am constantly learning that in order to break through the “clutter,” you have to make your product, service, or idea stand out to the consumer. In a generation where everyone and their dog own a camera that can shoot quality footage, how can you make your shots stand out?
The answer is stabilization.
I would much rather watch a video shot using a 1995 Sony Handycam and all the stabilization and motion toys than the same video shot with a top-of-the-line DSLR attempting the same motion with only a palm and five shaky fingers.
Note that the “handheld effect” can contribute positively to the mood or feel of a scene. It gives a documentary look, and makes the shot seem unrehearsed. But unless you’re really going for that effect, I would try to minimize instability with some sort of stabilization mechanism. And let’s be honest, no one went back for a second chili-dog during Cloverfield.
So with that said, I’m going to tell you the three things I ‘couldn’t shoot without:’
- Manfrotto 547B Professional Video Tripod (Black) (I use Manfrotto 546B sticks)
- Manfrotto 501HDV Video Head – Replaces 501
These two combined make the most professional fluid shots for the price, in my opinion. The head doesn’t actually use fluid cartridges. Instead it uses Teflon-coated disks, which provide extremely smooth pans and tilts. For a fraction of the cost, you get 98% of the quality. Then there’s my slider. I did a lot of research on sliders, and after using several that just didn’t cut it for me, I landed with the Cinevate Atlas 10 Cinevate CILTAT1003 Atlas 10 FLT – 26-Inch LTS with Regular Ball Feet, (Black)
It provides extremely smooth motion, and it doesn’t require much skill to do basic moves on it. You can see that I’ve used it in almost all my videos. Sliders make the difference between a good shot and a great shot. Slight, smooth camera motion really grabs the attention of the viewer, and it looks beautiful if done right. The Atlas 10 will really help you get those incredible sliding shots you’ve been looking for,
The last piece I couldn’t shoot without is the one I’ve had the most fun with. From running across fields at full speed, to getting a perfectly smooth shot of a friend longboarding, my Glidecam HD-2000 never lets me down.
This thing is a work of art, and even after using it for 6 months, I still find myself jaw-dropped at the fluidity of the shots it produces. If you want to add some serious motion to your shots, this is the way to go. Personally, I think it’s the best camera related purchase I’ve ever made. You can check out some of my shots using the Glidecam HD-2000 in Joseph Chang’s Global Journey video. (Also notice how I used my slider in most of his interview shots.)
If you have any questions about any of these, or any other stabilization gadgets, feel free to comment below!