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Build Your Own Steadicam 293

John Jorsett writes "Always wanted to film one of those cool 'walking' sequences, where the camera stays rock-steady as you trudge along? Well, so did Johnny Chung Lee, except he didn't want to lay out major cash for a professional Steadicam rig, so he built his own for $14. He further claims you can do it in about 20 minutes if you know what you're doing. What more could a cheap, impatient Spielberg wannabe ask for?"
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Build Your Own Steadicam

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 09, 2004 @11:40PM (#8822698)
    How about talent?
  • What more could a cheap, impatient Spielberg wannabe ask for?"

    How about a better room to film in than the bathroom? Seriously, are we going to be expected to line up around the block for "SteadyShit"

    • Actually, what I noticed was that he really, really loves chopping people's heads off, which might not be the most brainy scheme for an actual production.

      That nonwithstanding, this is still a pretty cool idea. I may ask my shop guy to give it a try since it would be really cool to have that for my XL1 - and he's right, these things really are pretty pricey.

  • by capz loc ( 752940 ) <capzloc@gma i l . com> on Friday April 09, 2004 @11:42PM (#8822709)
    I stumbled upon this site about a year ago and, being an ametur filmmaker, decided to give it a try. The parts were cheap and it really was quite easy to put together. But don't expect it to be perfect. It takes a little while to get the feel of it, and even then you won't be getting perfectly steady shots while running quickly. But for the price, it's tough to beat.
    • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Saturday April 10, 2004 @08:57AM (#8824163) Homepage
      I saw it over 2 years ago and ran away from it screaming... it is WAY too heavy for real work.

      the best solution I have ever seen was a monopod modified to have a plastic coated weight at the bottom, it collapses into something that can be carried and is much easier to control plus costs less and weighs less.

      although it is still NOTHING like a real steadicam.. wearing that vest with the spring arm and rest of the gear coupled with a REAL 5 inch LCD monitor mounted on the weight plate... a trained operater can almost run at full speed without motion in the camera... the home brew units can not do anytihng like that.

      Plus I find the vest unit to be more comfortable and can shoot for much longer... having your body support the weight compared to the home built that requires your arms to support everything is significant!
  • Tourist... (Score:4, Funny)

    by Bl33d4merican ( 723119 ) on Friday April 09, 2004 @11:42PM (#8822713)
    YEAY!...Now I can look even stupider when I visit other places and take meaningless film I'll never watch again.
  • Pretty cool stuff (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Saint Stephen ( 19450 ) on Friday April 09, 2004 @11:44PM (#8822721) Homepage Journal
    The videos are pretty interesting. Sony should make a commercial version of this, if they can make it for $14. Isn't it amazing how much cooler things sound with a soundtrack.
    • by EvilTwinSkippy ( 112490 ) <yoda@ e t o y> on Friday April 09, 2004 @11:52PM (#8822750) Homepage Journal
      Except that shipping anything with such and odd shape with a dead-weight attached is going to be more expensive to ship than $14.

      • I could swear there was something like this for VHS cams back 5-8 years ago when they first got popular. Only it was curved like a bow so the center of gravity was directly below your hand so it didn't wear you out. It used the batteries as counterweights. That's probably the $600 "cheap" one's he's talking about.

        Really, It's all about Center-of-gravity. The key is to move the CG as low as possible to make a stable pendalum, with as much mass as possible to increase inertia and reduce jitters. These

    • Re:Pretty cool stuff (Score:3, Informative)

      by sakusha ( 441986 )
      Yeah, they do make commercial verisons of this. Well, not Sony, but there are plenty of cheapo handheld cantilever camera platforms for sale. They're useful, but not all that useful.

      If you REALLY want to impress people, try building your own camera crane [], bonus geek points for computer motion control.
    • Re:Pretty cool stuff (Score:5, Informative)

      by beckett ( 27524 ) on Saturday April 10, 2004 @12:30AM (#8822900) Homepage Journal
      Steadycam does: the Steadycam Jr. [] It even has an external LCD monitor.
    • "Sony should make a commercial version of this, if they can make it for $14. Isn't it amazing how much cooler things sound with a soundtrack."

      A.) It's patenteted.
      B.) Sony wouldn't sell it for $14, they'd sell it for like $10 than an actual one costs.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 09, 2004 @11:45PM (#8822727)
    more links and such.

    memepool []
  • by fermion ( 181285 ) on Friday April 09, 2004 @11:46PM (#8822729) Homepage Journal
    These are cheap enough to use with a picture phone. And with the inverting bracket, we can now have upskirt shots without the blur!
  • by PS-SCUD ( 601089 ) <peternormanscott@yahoo . c om> on Friday April 09, 2004 @11:46PM (#8822731) Journal
    How'd he manage to build it without Duct tape!? Now that's impressive.
  • by MajorDick ( 735308 ) on Friday April 09, 2004 @11:47PM (#8822732)
    Wow thats got a dual purpose, works to keep your movement from interefeing with the shot and if the actors get out of line you can break it down and beat em with the pipe, also works great for self-defense when shooting ghetto style.
  • Ouch... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by _LFTL_ ( 409654 ) on Friday April 09, 2004 @11:47PM (#8822733)
    Posted to /. with videos on the page to show sample footage. I'd say he's about to get hosed, but he is at CMU so I doubt it'll blink.

    As I was reading his setup I was really expecting his footage to look like crap, but after watching the sample they really are incredibly smooth given that it was only $14 to make. Props.
  • Lego steadicam (Score:5, Interesting)

    by __aajqwr7439 ( 239321 ) on Friday April 09, 2004 @11:49PM (#8822741)
    LEGO (C) Hand Held Stabilizer []

    Dead Nancy
    • Re:Lego steadicam (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      The smooth rooftop pan from Expiration [] was filmed with a motorised base made from Lego.

      Good film btw.

  • Aliens (Score:3, Interesting)

    by The AtomicPunk ( 450829 ) on Friday April 09, 2004 @11:50PM (#8822744)
    I always wanted to use one of those industrial strength ones to build the machine gun supporting apparatus from Aliens. :)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 09, 2004 @11:57PM (#8822769)
    Saw this in RES magazine last year. Built one in under 30 mintues and with exactly $16 worth of parts. It actually works too, though you do have to practice with it to get good at controling your own body movement. Also, I reccomend making the lower section about 50% longer than the upper section to further even out movement.
  • by chgros ( 690878 ) <charles-henri... ...> on Saturday April 10, 2004 @12:02AM (#8822787) Homepage
    Actually, more of a Kubrick wannabe
  • by ghostlibrary ( 450718 ) on Saturday April 10, 2004 @12:02AM (#8822790) Homepage Journal
    Bruce Campbell in "If Chins Could Kill" relates some of the improvised steady-cams used in 'Evil Dead', especially for running shots or window shots.

    They just had 2 people carry a heavy board with the camera through the forest, and had a 'camera plus battering ram' for the crash-through bits.

    A lot less elegant than this design, basically, the idea of "really heavy = not much vibation or wobble" worked for them.
    • by gfxguy ( 98788 )
      That was the "Shaky Cam." The "Steady Cam" involved vaseline, AFAIR.

    • by Hast ( 24833 ) on Saturday April 10, 2004 @05:51AM (#8823747)
      You also have Peter Jackson who improvised his own steady-cam for the recording of Bad Taste. In that commentary (I saw it on VHS with behind the scenes extras, not sure if it matches the DVD releases.) he tells that he used a standard desktop lamp (those with an arm with an "elbow" on it, balanced with springs). By changing the lamp to a camera, adding a counter weightand altering the tension of the springs he got a steady cam.
  • Damn! (Score:5, Funny)

    by pair-a-noyd ( 594371 ) on Saturday April 10, 2004 @12:03AM (#8822791)
    How the fsck do you /. a .edu system?

    Holy shit!
    • Re:Damn! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by repetty ( 260322 )
      "How the fsck do you /. a .edu system?"

      Bandwidth shaping?
    • Same as you do any other server?
    • Re:Damn! (Score:2, Insightful)

      by nfsilkey ( 652484 )
      Erm, you dont? This is CMU were talking about. Packing more bandwidth than the state of Pennsylvania can shake a stick at. :)
    • Depends on the .edu (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Saturday April 10, 2004 @01:31AM (#8823071)
      But more often, the server. I've worked at the same university for about 6 years now, and at the various departments, we've been slashdotted a few times. Biggest difference between problems and smooth sailing? Dynamic content. At the school paper, it's a 100% static system. A PERL script takes all the stories and images and composes a bunch of static pages. This works well since the old content never changes (it's an archive of the news as released on that day). It ran on a dual P2 system and just laughed it off. I mean the system could have served more than it's 10MB link, if it has been asked to.

      Just receantly the department I now work at got slashdotted (the meteor impact simulator). It was on a Sunblade with deceant stats, and the load average shot to 98 within a couple minutes. We finally offloaded it to a brand new (as in got it a week ago) Sun blade doing nothing but hosting that simulator and it was STILL at about a 25 load average, though it stayed up and serving.

      Here we were on a much improved network (dual gig backbone to 3x OC-3s as opposed to the 10mb to 1x DS-3 back in the newspaper days), servers an couple orders of magnitude more powerful, and one dedidacted to serving, and yet got hit much harder. The big difference was the content was dynamic. The network wasn't even strained (it was all text anyhow) but the server was being asked to do a ton.

      In this case it looks all static, so I'm guessing it's probably either the connection, or general load on the system. After all, this isn't his server, it's a departmental server, and probably one with a lot of users.
  • by stratjakt ( 596332 ) on Saturday April 10, 2004 @12:06AM (#8822803) Journal
    Like any of you jog, let alone with a camcorder.
  • Nothing you can't do (Score:5, Interesting)

    by KalvinB ( 205500 ) on Saturday April 10, 2004 @12:07AM (#8822808) Homepage
    with a background in marching band (or martial arts) and steady hands.

    All he's doing is adding a weight to make it hard for you to move your hands. And you can tell he's having a rough time with it as many of the shots are crooked. It's not properly weighted on the other side so he has to push down with one hand, up with the other and maintain a horizontal position throughout the shot. And he can't do it so the image is tilted most of the time. He'd have a chance of keeping the horizontal straight if he made a "T" instead of an "L"

    This is why real steady cams are mounted on the chest like a snare drum. The springs/hydrolics take care of the vertical bounce and the mounting position balances the horizontal. The operator would have to bend over to one side to tilt the shot. If you want to get an "up" shot you bend over, point the camera up and walk backwards.

    This is also why most movies move the camera around a lot. Besides it adding to the scene. It's actually easier to keep a steady path of movement than to hold a camera still.

    • No (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 10, 2004 @12:36AM (#8822918)
      "This is also why most movies move the camera around a lot. Besides it adding to the scene. It's actually easier to keep a steady path of movement than to hold a camera still."

      Keeping a camera still is trivial if you use a tripod. A steady path of movement gets expensive (in crew and equipment) quickly. The steadier you want it the more it costs. Even getting a non-jerky pan multiplies the cost of a tripod time ten.

      The reason that movies move the camera a lot is because that is usually what tells the story best.
  • by eaglebtc ( 303754 ) * on Saturday April 10, 2004 @12:08AM (#8822811)
    I was able to load the site, and printed a copy to PDF. Download it here! (right-click, save as)

    The $14 Steadycam []
  • by PotatoPhysics ( 126423 ) on Saturday April 10, 2004 @12:10AM (#8822820)

    I've built one of these too, and all things being equal, I think you would be better off spending $120 to get one of the Steady cam clones. True, he has some cool shots on his page but those are not nearly as easy as he makes it out to be. Maybe I am just clumsy.

    When I walk forward my system wants to behave like a pendulum causing the camera to rock forward and back around the horizonal fulcrum. If things aren't perfectly balanced it is very difficult to keep the cameras tilt at a given attitude. Your left hand (if you were the author in the photo on the page) will not be able to keep the attitude without pendulum style oscillation. It's also difficult to make the camera turn around the camera of the horiontal bar and the fact that the rotational inertia of the person-pipe-camera system is not appropriate for turning around the camera.

    Beyond those basic problems: it's also hard to hold on to and I tend to smack into door frames and innocent bystanders with the horizonal pipe.

    One of the key parts to a steady cam rig is a gimbal joint that isolates tilt/tip motions of your hand from the "mass" that has the camera. Without this isolation it's really hard to get good shots without Zen master balance or just being lucky.

    If anyone out there wants to make a Steady-cam like rig, I suggest they copy something like the Flowpod []. Note the gimbal connecting the handle to the body of the device.

    • by Ibanez ( 37490 ) on Saturday April 10, 2004 @02:59AM (#8823360)
      I've built one of these too, and all things being equal, I think you would be better off spending $120 to get one of the Steady cam clones. True, he has some cool shots on his page but those are not nearly as easy as he makes it out to be. Maybe I am just clumsy.

      I can kinda understand where you're coming from, but honestly, it kind of erks me. And I've started seeing quite a few of these in this article. This guy spent $14 and maybe thirty minutes to an hour learning how to get the thing to work well, and yet for some reason paying nine times as much and also taking some time to learn to use it seems like a better idea?

      Maybe if you can afford it. I'm a poor college kid who has several expensive hobbies. What you are saying is, I would be better off taking my car to a car audio store and having them install my stereo system for me, at the cost of $300 or so. That or I can do it myself, take a few days longer, for $40, and maybe not look quite as good. In my case I thought it was pretty damned close, and even though it took me a lot longer, I got the satisfaction of doing it myself. Thats the key thing here, I think, that most people miss.

      He improvised, saved some money, and made a pretty good gadget himself. Decent accomplishment even if it isn't as good as something that costs nine times more. And thats just the cheap one, right?

      Now, as far as him trying to make money off of it, I might see where you could complain about that. I think I would in his case too, but I don't think that would bother me as much.
  • by Dun Malg ( 230075 ) on Saturday April 10, 2004 @12:17AM (#8822856) Homepage
    This isn't quite the same as a real steadicam. What makes steadicam rigs so smooth is the combination of the weight AND the gimballing. His $14 unit has the weight, but requires that your HAND be the gimbal mount. Even the cheapest, simplest steadicam unit (the Steadicam Jr []) has a gimballed grip. One of the most important things you can do with a real steadicam is set the shot angle of the camera beforehand and, no matter how much you tilt the handgrip, the shot angle stays the same. Also, real steadicam techniques involve panning the camera by applying minute preassure with the fingertip to make the rig swivel on the grip. Again, the $14 model can't do that.

    Cripes, it's a T-shaped pipe arrangement with a weight. Steadicam it ain't.

    • If it's simply weight that they guy is adding to the camera, to make sudden changes in momentum more difficult, than why not just duct table a large chunk of metal to the side of your camera? I believe it would have the same effect.

      The fact that this little project made it to slashdot is kind of sad.
      • by Spy Hunter ( 317220 ) on Saturday April 10, 2004 @01:41AM (#8823096) Journal
        If it's simply weight that they guy is adding to the camera, to make sudden changes in momentum more difficult

        That's not at all what he's doing. The key to the steadycam is that the center of gravity of the apparatus is inside the handle (which is why you need a weight on the end of a pole to counterbalance the camcorder). This means that as you yank the camcorder around by the handle, *only* the position of the camera changes, not the orientation. This removes the much of the "jerkiness" of handheld shots that otherwise screams "low-budget amateur video!" Even without a gimbal mount for the handle, this device can still reduce handheld video jerkiness by a significant amount. Of course a gimbal-mounted handle would be better and would allow easier smooth panning, but it would be hard to do for $14 with commonly-available parts and easy assembly.

    • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Saturday April 10, 2004 @01:42AM (#8823098)
      Just building a weighted shoulder mount. The problem with damn DV cams these days is they are TINY, Some of them, I can almost wrap my hand completely around. Little thing like that is really hard to keep steady. It's hard to even get a good 2-handed grip on it. Well you could probably get pretty good results be designing a mount for it that rested on your shoulder and added about 5-10 pounds. It then has a brace, and some weight to it, like a real professional camera.

      I mean watch a football game. There are tons of shoulder mounted shots that are quite good. As with anything, the skill of the operator is a large factor, but you don't need a stedicam to get a deceant shot, just a solid unit on your shoulder. Probably better than this, since this unit is going to want to act like a pendulum when faced with motion.
  • by psoriac ( 81188 ) on Saturday April 10, 2004 @12:21AM (#8822871)
    In the two minutes it took me to skim the page and hit reload, his counter went up by 780. I wonder how long it will take before either the network admin shuts down his account or it wraps around. :)

  • by dj245 ( 732906 ) on Saturday April 10, 2004 @12:23AM (#8822879) Homepage
    Its a ghetto type job, but it looks like it works. This quote from the article is a little disturbing though:

    Getting good results is not so much about the equipment, but how you use it.

    I tried that bit on my girlfriend but she didn't fall for it.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    This "dude" has obviously violated the SteaduCam patent as per the DMCA. Gentlemen, quite simply, this is IP rape, of the vilest order. I'm notifying the patent holder immediately.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 10, 2004 @12:36AM (#8822923)
    It ran in the 80's, briefly. It was a special-effects howto for 16mm and 8mm. There was an article in one that described how to build a better "steadicam" than this, using pvc pipe and springs. I think that one actually worked better than the one in this article, as it handled horizontal as well as vertical. It also strapped to the body. The author received a cease & desist from the Steadicam people (he offered to sell completed versions of his as well).
  • Better Links (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 10, 2004 @01:00AM (#8822996)
    The 14$ thingy is pure crap...

    if you want some real inspiration check out the following websites:
    The original site for all your home built video needs
    Discussion forum full of lots of useful information

    Might take a bit more effort, but the results are incredible. Cody's plans are awesome, and I would gladly purchase them again.
  • Not a Steadicam (Score:5, Informative)

    by IcEMaN252 ( 579647 ) on Saturday April 10, 2004 @01:08AM (#8823015) Homepage
    With the exception of the Steadicam JR [], most Steadicams [] have a body harness. That makes them much more stable than using you hand.

    This is really more similiar to a lower end Glidecam [] stabilizer (even this is floating).

    There are also some rather cheap [] alternatives out there to make a camcorder smoother.

    Granted this is significantly cheaper to make than these products, but from my experience anything that is handheld doesn't work as well as the bodyrigs. Personally, I'd rather just do it by hand alone.

    You also might want to check out a relatively cheap [] jib [] too.
  • Why not correct for camera jitter by digitally re-aligning the frames afterwards? Ok, you'd lose the edges of your image, and parallax might be a problem, but I doubt these would be major issues in most movie sequences.
    • Two reasons:
      1. Difficulty. You'd have to put a key on almost every frame to make it look good. It would take far too much time to do this in post.
      2. Resolution/Scaling. It's not as simple as losing the edges. You have to rescale the image. Unless you do this by an integer factor, you're going to get at least some distortion.
    • Final Cut Pro has a filter that supposes to do this, but I'll be damned if I've ever seen it work. I've used it to change footage from totally unusable to unusuable and very annoying. Maybe some FCP guru can set me straight.

      I believe some consumer cameras do this for small, high frequency vibrations in software and using tiny little servos to move something in the lense/sensor assembly. I've never seen that in a professional type camera.

      It's best to just get your footage right the first time. "Fixing it
    • VirtualDub users can try Deshaker [], which sounds like it does exactly what you want it to do. If you want to see the type of output it produces, here []'s a page where someone actually tests it out on real camcorder footage...alternately, you could just try it yourself.
    • by Thagg ( 9904 )
      We do this kind of thing all the time. The biggest problem is with motion blur. If the camera is shaking around, even if you stabilize the motion you still get motion blur, which tends to 'buzz' the image in a completely terrible way.

      Now, before you kids start saying "well, just turn down the shutter speed", you do run out of light pretty soon. Modern CCD cameras, though, can do amazing things with short shutter times, and in that case your idea of stabilization after-the-fact will work just fine.

      If yo
  • Glidecam (Score:3, Interesting)

    by localman ( 111171 ) on Saturday April 10, 2004 @01:15AM (#8823032) Homepage
    Some type of stedicam can really make a difference in low budget films. Sure wish I had one back in the day []. I did buy a Glidecam 3000 [] (discontinued... but very similar to the one on the right) for $300 on ebay a couple years back. It works quite well though it gets mighty tiring on the arm after a few minutes. I'm using a Canon GL1 these days, which is a bit heavier than most consumer cameras.

    One thing that I found very interesting about the whole steadicam thing is that it's not so much XYZ movement that causes visible camera shake, but the rotational movements (heading, pitch, bearing). That's what the gimbal mechanism on a steadicam eliminates. My model is handheld and doesn't have a spring loaded arm or vest, so there's still a fair amount of XYZ movement... but the shots still look stable.

    With the camera usually looking at objects several feet away, moving up or down a fraction of an inch doesn't change the field of view much. But tilting the camera forward or back even a tiny amount changes the field of view a great deal. This wasn't intuitive to me until I tried the thing out.

    Without any real experience, I doubt this guy's rig (basically a big weighted handle) is going to make shots much steadier than a careful handheld shot. I'd surely give it a try though, if I wasn't already set.

    Anyways, steadicams are pretty cool.

  • by porkchop_d_clown ( 39923 ) <mwheinz&me,com> on Saturday April 10, 2004 @01:27AM (#8823063) Homepage
    A monopod with a handle isn't a steadycam. Steadycam uses gimbals, springs and a bodymount to basically put a shock absorber between you and the camera.

    All this does is add more weight - which will help you hold your modern teeny-tiny camera steady, but's that's far cry from being able to hold the camera still while you jog up the Art Museum steps.
  • How strange (Score:3, Funny)

    by RainbowSix ( 105550 ) on Saturday April 10, 2004 @01:45AM (#8823108) Homepage
    How weird is it to go to the site, read the text, then watch the movie, only to see some very familiar backgrounds. I then looked at the url and realized that it is from the same school I go to. No wonder the download was so fast :)
  • The truth? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by MasTRE ( 588396 )
    In the end, it's not your equipment it's how you use it (no pun intended). So stop wasting your money on the latest 8 Megapixel digicam and 3 CCD camcorder. Read this guy's note: "These samples, as well as all of my own films, were captured with a $300 Sony Digital 8 Camcorder (the cheapest digital camcorder you can buy)." Until you shoot as good as he does (which is exceptional, have a look - click on his name at the very top and prepare to be amazed), you're completely wasting your money on even a $100

  • Geek builds heavyweight tripod for camera. Learns that weight makes tripod stable (The vertical shaking is pretty much dampened by the weight, unquoth.) Well, duh (O'K)

    O'K. Does it with hand drill. Yay.

    O'K. Stops selling them. "I have stopped selling these until Summer of 2004 at the earliest."

    Gets posted on slashdot. Server burns/bandwidth bill causes heartattack.


    News for Nerds? Eh? Would you like to buy one? now that I've described how to make it?

  • by kmweber ( 196563 ) on Saturday April 10, 2004 @02:16AM (#8823217) Homepage
    Buy a pair of wrist weights and wear them whenever you can.


    I play baritone in a competitive drum & bugle corps, and the first thing I did when our winter rehearsals started was to purchase a pair of wrist weights (a G baritone bugle weighs about 7 pounds, and we are expected to hold them in front of our faces for up to two hours or more at a time, repeated throughout the day). I wear them whenever I practice, whenever I just hold the horn up, and anytime else where it's not blatantly inappropriate. After about a month, not only was the horn easier to hold up, but--surprise surprise--my hands were generally a hell of a lot steadier than before.

    With steady hands, you don't need a steadying device for the camera--and the stronger arms are an added plus.
  • Easy (Score:2, Funny)

    by sharkey ( 16670 )
    What more could a cheap, impatient Spielberg wannabe ask for?"


  • SteadyHand (Score:3, Informative)

    by ziggy_zero ( 462010 ) on Saturday April 10, 2004 @02:37AM (#8823284)
    When I was in high school making short films, I tried building a ghetto steadicam, but found it much easier to not use one and fix the footage in post with some software I found called SteadyHand [], from Dynapel []. I bought it, but the demo version actually only puts a watermark in a corner, so theoretically you could just crop it out if you wanted to do it that way.

    Nowadays I would probably fix it in combustion, where I'd have more control over it.
  • by leereyno ( 32197 ) on Saturday April 10, 2004 @02:56AM (#8823351) Homepage Journal
    Maybe this will help out some of the people who make amateur porn and just can't seem to hold the camera still. Just don't let John Ashcroft find out.

    Am I the only one who think's he's the real-life version of John Lithgow's character in Footloose?

  • It's not quite as cheap as it seems if you don't have a power drill, a 1/4" steel drill bit, a good wrench, and a hammer. I imagine the first item would be the most expensive, followed by the rench, the drill bit, and then the hammer. (I managed to grab a really nice hammer from Ace during their "dollar days" sale, a year or so ago. Oak handle, steel head... $1. :-) The others were around five bucks, though....)

    Impoverished College Kid perspective by:

    Undefined Parameter
  • by rjwoodhead ( 112122 ) on Saturday April 10, 2004 @10:18AM (#8824436) Homepage
    There's a cute trick you can use to do impromptu steadicam work.

    All you need is a tripod (the heavier the better).

    Collapse the legs so they are as short as possible.

    Make a peace sign with your hand.

    Use those two fingers, curled up (palm up) to hold the tripod under the camera base, so the whole thing is supported on the tips of your two fingers.

    The weight of the tripod legs will put the center of mass under the support point (your fingers).

    Your arm muscles, tendons and ligaments make natural dampeners.

    I've use this several times with good results.
  • by mr3038 ( 121693 ) on Saturday April 10, 2004 @11:33AM (#8824718)
    ... but a bit uneffective. It's missing a lot of really important parts like a gimbal, for example. Nobody has steady enough arms to hold that stick and not to do any unwanted panning or tilting. Or if you do have such an arm, why are you reading this discussion at all - you don't need a steadicam.

    If you don't care the hours the building takes, then I'd suggest building something like this guy did: a full steadicam-like setup with a vest, two suspension arms, a fully working gimbal and all the stuff this $14 poor man's "steadicam" has []. The costs? About $30, plus 20 hours of work. Sure, it looks ugly but you can't beat the price for the functionality. You'll need stabilizer arms for a stable picture while running or glimbing stairs.

    (As a sidenote, "SteadiCam" is a trademarked term. Wikipedia has more information about steadicams in general [].)

  • by glenmark ( 446320 ) on Saturday April 10, 2004 @01:52PM (#8825507) Homepage
  • Shot Glass Gimbal (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jayrtfm ( 148260 ) <jslash.sophont@com> on Saturday April 10, 2004 @09:46PM (#8828115) Homepage Journal
    When I built a stabilizer rig, I used a nail and a Jack Daniels whisky shot glass for the gimbal. The nail's point was rounded, and was at the center of gravity of the rig. It sat in the shot glass, which I held. This allowed for plenty of horizontal rotation, and about 30 degrees of tilt.

Love may laugh at locksmiths, but he has a profound respect for money bags. -- Sidney Paternoster, "The Folly of the Wise"