Gimbal stabilizers feel like an ancient technology in today’s fast-paced world. They are absolutely a mature and reliable item that most filmmakers should have in their kit. Being so common has made a lot of the previously innovative shooting techniques involving them feel a lot more conventional. Coming up with new ways to use a gimbal might be the injection of creativity you need to make the most of it.
Filmmaker Dan Watson has a few methods for making use of a gimbal stabilizer in your productions. If you want to get some inspiration for your upcoming projects or simply want to learn more about the craft you should watch this video.
Handheld gimbals did change the game, so don’t be worried about using it in normal ways if all you need are some stability. It’s possible to overuse it, but perhaps not the biggest issue if you simply need to use it. And if you are looking for some choice picks there are the DJI RSC 2 and Zhiyun-Tech WEEBILL-2.
1. Tripod Mode
Mounting a gimbal to a video monopod with feet for self-standing is one way to make use of a gimbal in a way that isn’t just holding it. You can still do things like remotely control the gimbal while it is standing up somewhere to get some nice shots. Also, if you need to move it or want to get a quick moving shot all you have to do is pick it up and go.
2. Force Mobile
Force Mobile, while a specific term for DJI products, simply refers to controlling the gimbal from your smartphone—usually via an app. When the gimbal is mounted somewhere you can just connect to the smartphone and pull off some ultra-smooth moves using the app.
It’s a way to get some ultra-smooth pans that might’ve been tough to pull off just trying to manually move a fluid head. Dan actually says that the gimbal’s smartphone controls might even be smoother than that, which is worth checking out if you want or need something ultra-reliable.
3. Subject Tracking
Available in recent gimbals, like the RSC 2 and WEEBILL-2, is subject tracking. It actually requires some additional hardware to do the tracking, but by using this tracking you can more easily create eye-catching shots.
It is incredibly useful if you are otherwise watching something else, like your monitor, or if you or the subject are moving quickly. These devices take the guesswork out and will likely do a better job than you can do yourself.
A gimbal can actually replace both a regular tripod head as well as more complex motion control devices. Mount it to a tripod and you can actually program it to do some complex 3-axis moves for timelapses. You likely already have a gimbal around and by using the built-in timelapse or interval shooting modes you can take your shots up a level.
5. Director Mode
Many gimbals offer some pre-programmed shots. Dan refers to them as a “director’s mode” since it creates repeatable moves that the gimbal essentially controls on its own. By setting up the gimbal to do some very specific moves you can create incredibly unique shots that would be near impossible to reliably capture otherwise.
A final tidbit from Dan is that for faster tracking and panning shots you should use something other than your own legs. He uses an electric unicycle. After taking a bit to learn you can get some incredible stable shots. It works well because it is hands-free and when combined with subject tracking modes in the gimbal, you can get those ultra-fast shots looking even better.
Don’t get into habits and try mixing things up the next time you use your gimbal. Do you have any of your own suggestions for unique gimbal techniques?
[source: Dan Watson]
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