In situations when you need to discern between footage captured by enthusiast and seasoned professional, one of the key factors that really makes a difference is shot stability. In recent years, gimbal stabilizers have given indie filmmakers the opportunity to perform exceptionally smooth camera movements without having to rent large and expensive gear.
With a single-handed gimbal like the Ronin-S, however, there are several settings you need to adjust beforehand to improve the overall quality of your gimbal shots. In the following video, filmmaker Junior Jack goes over some incredibly simple tweaks and techniques that will take your cinematography to the next level when using the Ronin-S.
If you have ever used a 3-axis gimbal stabilizer, you should know well that these devices do not fair well when it comes to vertical motion. To reduce the amount of vertical jitter in your video, it’s highly recommended that you mount your gimbal on something that rolls, such as a tabletop dolly track for instance. However, if you choose to simply hold and walk while filming, Junior recommends strolling as slowly and as steadily as possible to reduce unwanted vertical motion.
Furthermore, most professional gimbals give you the option to fine-tune a wide array of settings, thus further improving shot stability. If you’re using the Ronin-S, you’ll want to access the DJI’s app and enable SmoothTrack for the Pan and Tilt axes.
This will force the gimbal to move according to your body handling motions, rather than controlling the device using the joystick which seems to be a much more difficult way to produce smooth video. If you end up utilizing the joystick anyway, Junior suggests reducing the maximum speed while increasing the amount of smoothening.
You’ll also want to enable the Push Pan feature, which gives you the ability to manually adjust the gimbal head using your hands. This is very convenient if you have to make any minor changes to the position of the gimbal head itself occasionally.
Going deeper into the SmoothTrack Settings, you’ll want to set the speed for the Pan and Tilt axes to slow, which helps your gimbal movements star and stop with more ease. Besides speed, you’ll want to adjust the Deadband – the movement threshold before the gimbal actually responds to your movements.
For the Pan axis, set the Deadband to Medium so that the gimbal doesn’t constantly inch left or right when you don’t intend it to. As for the Tilt axes, switch the Deadband to High, which will ensure that you won’t accidentally move the camera up or down when trying to maintain a level shot.
If you find yourself filming a fast moving object for a short amount of time, such as a car zooming by the frame, consider using the Sport Mode, which temporarily increases the speed of the gimbal’s movements for as long as the Sports Mode button is held.
Alternatively, if you want to plan your camera movements ahead of time, you can use the Track feature under the Creative tab in the Ronin-S app to pre-program the desired positions. Doing so will allow you to replay your gimbal movements as many times as you want without having to perform them repeatedly by hand.
Finally, to maintain stability in your shots, it’s best to not make any contact with your camera whatsoever. This includes avoiding pressing any buttons mid-take or using autofocus rather than manually moving the focus ring.
Besides that, with a compatible camera like the Panasonic GH5, you have the ability to manually pull focus using the gimbal focus ring. In addition, you’re able to adjust exposure settings via the Ronin-S smartphone app, specifically when using in-app functions such as Time Lapse.
Even though gimbal stabilizers have helped many filmmakers get stable, cinematic footage, a lot of time must be spent in advance to calibrate and set up these advanced systems to attain the best results possible. By understanding the inner workings of your Ronin-S and its variety of settings, you will be able to tweak your gear to best suit your shooting style and get the most out of the gimbal itself in virtually any shooting situation.