Category Archives: Gimbals

The Feiyutech G5 Action Gimbal Is Buttery Smooth

Thanks to the rise and popularity of portable action camera gimbals, there’s a lot of options on the market. From DJI’s flagship Osmo gimbal to a plethora of overseas brands – some with awkward calibration and erratic stabilization motors. One of the most compelling options so far is Feiyutech’s G5, a 3-axis handheld gimbal compatible with just about every popular action camera out there. Here we’ll take a look at how some of the G5’s features stand out from the rest of the pack. Great stabilization, splash proof design and comfortable grip make this a great looking, complete package.

The G5’s rubberized, structural design is built splash-proof all over, so paired with the waterproof GoPro HERO5, shooting in the rain or by a body of water is no longer a problem. With it’s simple 3 button user interface, the G5 provides a convenient way to access various functions. With a simple tap of the function button you can access the different features. A single tap brings you to Panning Mode where tilting and rolling direction are fixed but the camera lens moves according to the hand movement of the user. A double tap enters Panning and Tilting Mode where rolling direction is fixed and the camera lens moves to the hand movement of the user. A triple tap makes the lens rotate 180 degrees while a quadruple tap resets the tilting axis of the gimbal to initial orientation.

This leaves us with the handle, which houses a battery that goes in from the bottom, a micro USB port for charging/firmware upgrades, a joystick for controlling pan and tilt and an LED indicator. Thanks to the soft grip, the G5 is one of the more comfortable hand-held gimbals to control with easy thumb access to the joystick. On the bottom of the handle is a 1/4-20” screw hole for accessories or to mount on a tripod.

I typically use my action gimbals mounted on a 10 foot painter’s pole while shooting high speed electric skateboarding shots with speeds of up to 30mph – no easy task for most small gimbals. But, given Feiyutech’s reputation for camera stabilization, it’s no surprise I was able to capture some amazing footage. Other gimbals often lose orientation during high maneuvers but the G5 handles even the most abrupt moves with ease. In terms of response speed, the gimbal managed to keep up with my street carving, which you can see in the video review.

Most people who are looking for an action gimbal are not starting from scratch and have at least one to several GoPro’s of various generations in their kit. By comparison, the DJI Osmo is more expensive but features it’s own camera which is hit or miss, depending on how much faith you have in their camera technology.

The Feiyutech G5, like my previous impression of their SPG Plus, is a very well designed, polished product. It is powerful yet intuitive with none of the annoying handheld gimbal glitches than often ruin a shot. I have to say that Feiyutech is really going hard at DJI’s gimbal market and it shows. Their product line impresses year after year and if they keep this up, everyone wins.


FeiyuTech G5 3-Axis Waterproof Handheld Gimbal

Feiyu Tech SPG Plus Smartphone Gimbal First Impressions

Just when I thought I’ve seen every small handheld gimbal that’s out there, along comes the Feiyu Tech SPG Plus 3-Axis gimbal for smartphones. With it’s two handed operation, it resembles the style of traditional gimbals but in a smaller, more compact frame. It’s perfect for content creators who share their videos directly on social media.

One cool feature is that the SPG Plus can automatically alter between horizontal, vertical and upright modes using a specially designed altitude sensor. The gimbal also offers 360 degree panning, tilting and rolling. Combined with it’s structural stabilization, the SPG Plus makes it easy to take perfect panoramic shots with your smartphone.

In addition, the SPG Plus also has a sliding arm on the roll motor side to easily fine tune the balance of just about any phone, even with accessories like lens clips or filters. With foam spacers, the SPG Plus is also capable of flying action cams like the GoPro or Xiaomi Yi.

Accessory wise, the SPG Plus features 5 1/4-20 threads – three on top and two on the bottom of the handles for attaching a top handle, lights, mics or other accessories. Feiyu Tech also released a companion app which allows you to initialize gimbal calibration, update the rig’s firmware and customize settings. The SPG Plus is powered by a massive 22650 Li-Ion battery that offers up to eight hours of shooting.

Recently I’ve become pretty gimbal weary, especially for mobile phone or action cams but I was pleasantly surprised by the SPG Plus. With it’s sleek two handle design, and auto balancing features, it’s truly a unique entry in the crowded world of lightweight gimbals. If you have any questions about the Feiyu Tech SPG Plus, hit me up in the comments below.


Feiyu Tech SPG Plus Gimbal Rig for iPhone

Why I Built a Carbon Fiber Electric Skateboard Mini Cruiser


Shot exclusively with the LanParte LA3D Action Gimbal, DJI Phantom 3 and Polar Pro Filters

My original DIY Electric Mini Cruiser Skateboard still holds up quite nicely even after 6 months of hard riding and natural wear and tear. But as with all things DIY, parts can always be upgraded. One key feature that I wanted to improve upon was weight, so once again, I researched the right combination of components to make an already awesome commute even better. I’ve nicknamed this build – the A2ESK8 Mini Cruiser.

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My original 29″ mini cruiser was the perfect size thanks to the unique design of the now discontinued Jet Spud deck. But I wanted to do something different, which is why I chose the Hi5ber Ion 30 mini cruiser deck. Hi5ber has built a great reputation for manufacturing the best carbon fiber longboard decks available. They are lighter and stronger than typical wooden longboards which create a more controlled, responsive experience for the rider.

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The Ion 30’s design is the definition of stealth with it’s ultra thin rails that gradually curve thicker towards the wheelbase. The added benefit is an enhanced wheel clearance that looks so damn futuristic. Other than the low weight, the characteristics of the Ion 30 include high rigidity, high tensile strength, corrosion resistance and fatigue resistance. And unlike wood, carbon fiber doesn’t warp when exposed to water.

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product information button runplayback Hi5ber Carbon Fiber Ion 30

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Before electricfying the Ion 30, I tested it out with Gullwing Sidewinder II trucks alongside 72mm ABEC11 Freerides and it was a blast. That combination of an ultra lightweight carbon fiber deck and double kingpins was so much fun I was a little hesitant to throw electronics on there. But my curiousity got the best of me so I got to work.

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The next step in weight reduction was the battery. My original build contained the 10s3p Enertion Space Cell, a wonderful battery pack, but 30 cells demand a lot of real estate in the wheelbase for a small mini cruiser deck. With a wheelbase of 16.25″ on the Hi5ber, I knew I had to figure out another power solution.

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I ended up creating a custom 12s1p LiFePO4 battery pack with the help of my friend Landon who is an electronics wizard. LiFePO4 batteries are the safest type of lithium batteries as they will not overheat, and even if punctured they will not catch on fire. The cathode material in LiFePO4 batteries is not hazardous, and poses no negative health or environmental hazards. Due to the oxygen being bonded tightly to the molecule, there is no danger of the battery erupting into flames like there is with lithium-ion. We used 12 cells in series for a total voltage of about 36v. Paired with a BMS, voltage display, charge port and power button, the pack ended up having a more compact size – perfect for the Hi5ber deck.

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Once again I designed a custom 1/8″ ABS enclosure using my homemade vacuum former. This time I wanted the buttons to be located on the side of the enclosure as flush as possible. This created a more pleasing appearance that complimented the look of the carbon fiber. The length of the enclosure came out to 11″ and width at 5″. This meant plenty of room to spare on the Ion 30 wheelbase.

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product information button runplayback A2ESK8 Apone V1 Electric Skateboard Enclosure

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Another big upgrade I made was swapping my original Torqueboards 2.4ghz Mini Remote with an even smaller 2.4ghz Nano Remote that features a thumb throttle instead of a trigger throttle. As far as how it feels in my hand, it’s pretty awesome. Granted, I’m not a big guy but it’s the right size for stealth in the city. It’s as if they took the best features of the Yuneec EGO and Boosted Boards remote and put it into a no frills casing. I like the short throw, knob throttle which is a much better design than Boosted’s long throw thumb dial and trigger button. Shout out to Kaly over at ESK8 builders for the hookup on this remote.

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The only components I ported over from my original build are the Ollin Board VESC and the Carvon V2 Single Hub Motor. Because of months of wear and tear and a few moisture issues, Landon and I decided it was best to clean the VESC up with some gentle scrubbing and a coating of anti-corrosion spray. Even so, the VESC is still going strong with no issues or errors – a testament to Ollin Board’s high quality manufacturing practices.

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My Carvon V2 Single Hub Motor was upgraded with authentic 90mm ABEC11 Flywheels and is really the backbone of my entire mini cruiser build. I’ve put the hub motor through the ringer in every harsh road condition imaginable and it continues to perform flawlessly. Carvon continues to push the boundaries of eboard drive trains and I look forward to seeing what they do next with their V3 hub motor design and EVO series.

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Dialing in the VESC settings is critical for creating a safe and fun mini cruiser. My original build was capable of hitting 31 mph but the sweet spot for a board this small is around 15-18 mph – more than enough for carving through a dense city filled with intersections and pedestrians. Also, the 12s LiFePO4 battery delivers a stronger punch than my 10s lithium ion with a more stable discharge and minimal voltage sag. As much as I enjoy releasing the full power and speed from a DIY eboard, there’s something quite satisfying about taming a mini cruiser eboard that has the ability to hurl you but won’t because you’re keeping it on a leash. More importantly, this build never feels like it’s struggling or straining and that kind of confidence transfers into longer range and fun, safer rides.

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Skating the A2ESK8 Mini Cruiser around the city proved to be a blast. On FOC mode with the Carvon V2 hub motor, the sound is nearly silent. The ultra light Hi5ber Ion 30 board makes acceleration from standstill fantastic and it really feels like your riding on some kind of space age material because of how responsive it is. Carbon fiber handles bumps slightly differently than wooden decks but in a good way because vibrations don’t transfer as much harsh energy to your body. Oh and did I mention how light this thing is? Seriously I’ll take carbon decks over wood any day of the week.

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DIY electric skateboard builds have been getting better and better in just a few months yet there are still just a handful of 30″ and under DIY mini cruiser builds. Perhaps it’s a bit of a stigma to purposely limit your top speed on a smaller deck but I feel like it’s our responsibility to be ambassadors of this technology everytime we step on a board. I’ve already seen friends who’ve hurt themselves on eboards and in almost all cases, the problem was either an inexperienced rider or a road obstacle and not a board failure. Going over 25 mph instead of 13 mph on a non electric board meant crashes that have caused broken bones and serious concussions. Believe me, I’ve had first hand experience with this and it’s made me a very visible advocate for eboard helmet safety.

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This mini cruiser was not designed to be a land missile and it shows. It’s become the ultimate conversation starter whenever I ride in the city because I’m seriously just having fun. The weight reduction made a huge difference and carrying it on public transportation is even easier. If you’re in the Detroit area at the end of July, check out this mini cruiser build in person at the Detroit Maker Faire where will have an A2ESK8 booth and demonstrations. For more information on the products I used to create the video above, please check out the links below.

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product information button runplayback Lanparte LA3D Detachable 3-Axis Handheld Gimbal

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product information button runplayback Polar Pro GoPro Frame 2.0 Professional Filter 6 Pack

My New Film “Force Touch” Is Streaming For Free


Force Touch is now streaming for FREE

Check out my latest short film “Force Touch”, shot entirely with the Varavon Birdycam Lite and the Panasonic GH4. Synopsis below:

When four friends discover a smartphone that takes pictures of the future, things go from bad to worse as their darkest secrets are revealed. Written, Shot & Directed by Rik Cordero. Produced by Arbor Day Pictures & Neutral Zone. Executive Produced by Nancy Mitchell.

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Photo Credit: Katie Alexis

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Photo Credit: Katie Alexis

The sold out screening at the historic Michigan Theater was a huge success. The power of independent storytelling, community and inspiration is a potent combo and it was evident from the positive feedback from the audience. A big thank you to our sponsors – Camera Mall, Aspen Mics and Polar Pro for the wonderful raffle gifts, Neutral Zone, Sunday Afternoon Pictures, YPSI24, our photographer Katie Alexis and our friend Jason Buchanan who conducted the interview below about the making of “Force Touch”.

I sense an influence from The Twilight Zone here. In particular, the episode “A Most Unusual Camera”, was that show an influence on you as a storyteller? Could you talk about some of your influences in writing and directing?

Yup that episode of the “Twilight Zone” was a major influence, especially with the voiceover narration that provides just enough exposition to pull you into the story. Charlie Brooker’s “Black Mirror” was also a strong influence as I wanted to explore the consequences of modern technology on a specific group of young people who aren’t very likeable. I imagined these characters had big dreams in college which never fully materialized. It’s like that weird time in your early 20’s when you’re not young enough to be dependent yet not old enough to be jaded by the grind.

My wife Nancy (Executive Producer of the film) and I, moved from New York City to Ann Arbor last July. We shot a ton of music videos and commercials during our time there but the work life balance sucked. Once we moved, the creative quality of our lives improved almost immediately through meeting many diverse folks with common interests.

With more time to focus on storytelling, I came up with the idea of “Force Touch” and my goal was to capture elements of the college culture here from an outsider’s point of view. I’m a college football fan but maybe not to the degree as some of my friends who have lived here their entire lives so I wanted to explore those emotions and how they would bounce off the characters in the story. Also Ann Arbor was a new canvas for me to employ a layer of sci-fi and technology which is another passion of mine.

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Photo Credit: Katie Alexis


Neutral Zone Promo video produced by Arbor Day Pictures

Can you expand on the role that the Neutral Zone played in producing the short? What was it like working with them?

I was introduced to Lori Roddy and Mary Moffett at Neutral Zone through Dug and Linh Song. After getting the tour of the facilities I was instantly inspired to contribute something to their video program that’s run by Alysha Schlundt-Bodien. Once we set our shoot dates, I reached out to Neutral Zone to help produce it. From our script rehearsals with the actors to camera assisting, lighting and sound, we provided some Neutral Zone Teens first hand experience with independent filmmaking. It was a tough shoot, especially since our first day landed on a major snowstorm but we made it through and hopefully some of the kids will stick with it.

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Force Touch pre production meeting at Neutral Zone, Ann Arbor

As a relatively new transplant to the area, what are your impressions of the local filmmaking scene? What do you like? Anything you wish you could find but haven’t?

I met the majority of our cast by participating in last year’s YPSI24 24 hour film competition and it was one of the best experiences I’ve had in a long time. There’s a special sense of camaradrie and collaboration here that’s been missing for awhile in New York City. It’s easy to stay busy in NYC but most video creatives including myself were often stuck hustling multiple gigs just to pay the bills. There’s a better work life balance here that’s very refreshing and reminds me about why I got into this business in the first place – to share stories and stay inspired.

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Photo Credit: Katie Alexis

Can you talk a little about your work with Duo Security?

Duo Security reflects a lot of why the Ann Arbor community is appealing to me. Our CEO Dug Song, Creative Director Pete Baker and Multimedia Specialist Martin Thoburn have embraced my thirst for living a creative life which motivates me to think about creative video solutions for Duo. Things like recruiting videos to brand awareness and case studies are not often big priorities at most tech companies but Duo is unlike any other company I’ve worked for. Our creative team can go toe to toe with some of the best creative agencies in any major city and it’s a testament to the forward thinking goals of the leadership here.

One thing that most filmmakers have in common when it comes to doing the corporate grind is – how much of my artistic integrity do I have to give up just to fit in? I’ve retained 100% of my artistic integrity since working here and that comes from having an office culture that doesn’t force you to conform to tradition.

My value at Duo may not have a direct measurement as someone in Sales or Engineering and while metrics and procedures are important, nothing is more valuable than offering up creative solutions that keep our street cred intact. There’s a reason why our website doesn’t look like an out of the box template or why our videos entertain some of the most successful tech people in the world. We must be doing something right.

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Photo Credit: Katie Alexis

Lastly, are there any video projects in development that you can talk about?

At Duo, I’m working on a huge marketing stunt called “Duo in Space” where we will launch a weather balloon equipped with a phone and prosthetic finger that will perform a Duo 2-Factor Authentication push from close to 120,000 feet above the earth. In my spare time, I’m sharing DIY techniques on my blog runplayback.com and building electric longboards with my crew A2ESK8.

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Photo Credit: Katie Alexis

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product information button runplayback Polar Pro Trippler 3-in-1 Tripod/Grip/Pole

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Varavon Birdycam Lite 3-Axis Camera Gimbal


product information button runplayback Panasonic GH4 4K Video Recording

Lanparte LA3D 3-Axis Action Gimbal First Impressions

Action gimbals are all the rage these days, especially at this year’s NAB Show, yet the one that really stood out to me was the Lanparte LA3D gimbal for the GoPro. Cosmetically, it’s similar to the Came TV Action and the Ikan Fly X3-Go but if you look further, it has some really well thought out design features that make it the best action gimbal out right now.

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The most standout feature on the LA3D is the detachable mounting system. With my previous Came TV electric longboarding rig, weight distribution was often a problem as mounting the entire gimbal to the end of a painter’s pole created a very front heavy rig that would be tricky to handle especially when traveling at high speeds. With the LA3D you can mount only the gimbal on the top of a boom pole via a 1/4-20 thread and hold the battery/control stick in another hand via a wire control cable. For electric longboarding where you need have one hand on the transmitter, I’d recommend keeping the control stick in your pocket or strapping it to your boom pole with some velcro straps. It would have been nice if Lanparte had added a 1/4-20 thread on the controller side as well to keep things even more modular. Some other interesting ways to mount the LA3D are using a Polar Pro Trippler Grip Pole or a standard GoPro chest mount and head mount to keep things centered.

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The LA3D holds two 18350 Li-Ion batteries but you can attach a 2″ tube extender and use two larger 18650 Li-Ion batteries for up to 8 hours of power. The three modes are pretty standard – follow mode that pans and tilts to your wrist direction, semi-follow mode where tilt is locked but can be adjusted using the control pad and locked mode where tilt and pan adjustments are made manually on the control pad. The best integrated mode feature is probably inverted mode which enables you to turn the gimbal completely upside down. This makes booming from high angle to low angle action shots super seamless. Stay tuned for Part 2 where I’ll demonstrate some LA3D footage. If you have any questions hit me up in the comments.

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product information button runplayback Lanparte LA3D Detachable 3-Axis Handheld Gimbal

trippler
product information button runplayback Polar Pro Trippler 3-in-1 Tripod/Grip/Pole

I Made an Action Cam Rig for Electric Longboarding

After racking up hours of DIY electric longboarding videos, I’d like to share some of the tools that I use for capturing high speed action. If you recall from my original DIY Electric Longboard build article, I was initially inspired to use an eboard as a dolly when paired with my camera gimbal. As I got into high speed riding with eboards I needed a way to capture the action and feel of a ride through inventive, hard to reach camera angles. Here’s a very compact setup that’s easy to handle while in the midst of all the action.

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ACTION CAM
The Xiaomi Yi has been my main action camera for quite some time. At around $80 you get a wi-fi action cam that records 2k videos with natural colors, definition and solid low light ability. The quality is comparable to the GoPro Hero3+ and the best feature is the 1/4-20 female thread on the bottom which allows better compatibility for clamps and rigs instead of GoPro’s proprietary mounting system. The Wi-Fi app is super easy to use for live preview and remote recording. You could pick up three Xiaomi Yi’s for the price of one GoPro Hero3+ which is a value that’s really hard to beat.

Price: $78

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Xiaomi Yi Action Camera with Wi-Fi

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ACTION CAMERA GIMBAL
The Came-TV 3-Axis Action Gimbal is a 32-bit gimbal that features brushless motors with Encoders. Encoders are often used in Robotics for highly accurate monitoring of motor position. This helps prevent motors from losing synchronization and skipping steps, provides important information about frame and camera angles, increases battery life, increases torque and the precision of stabilization.​ The gimbal is constructed from aluminum alloy, weighs in at a very light 300 grams, has a 1/4-20 female thread and is compatible with the Xiaomi Yi.

Price: $300

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product information button runplayback CAME-TV CAME-Action 3-Axis Gimbal

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PAINTER POLE ADAPTER
This DIY Painter Pole Adapter is designed to connect to the top of a standard paint pole and turn it into a very long monopod. It’s made of CNC machined aluminum with an anodized black finish and has a 1/4-20 male stud to fit perfectly with the Came Action Gimbal. Alternately, you can use this with a small ball head for accessories or even as a microphone boom pole.

Price: $15

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DIY Boom Painter Extension Pole Adapter

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PAINTER POLE
The Shur-Line Easy Reach 60″ Adjustable Extension Pole extends from 30″ to 60″ with almost no flex. It also features an ergonomic handle and is great for capturing hard-to-reach shots. With a painter’s pole I’m able to get the camera as close to the action as possible. One shot I like to do is having a rider cut in front of me as I raise the pole from bottom to top to create a booming effect.

Price: $18

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Shur-Line 60 in. Adjustable Extension Pole

TECHNIQUE
Mileage may vary depending on your stance on the eboard but since I ride goofy and use the eboard trigger remote on my right hand – I keep the painter pole tucked under my left shoulder while balancing the whole rig on my left hand. This position lets me use my whole body to maneuver the camera while still being able to lean and carve on the road.

For safety, I’d advise wearing full safety protection (helmet, pads, etc) and always keep your eye on the road through peripheral vision. Communication is also key so be sure to direct the rider and let them know if you see something cool. You’ll know that you’re nailing your technique when you forget that you’re filming and are focused on composition.

CONCLUSION
Electric longboards are super fun to ride and combine the feeling of longboarding and snowboarding except you can eboard anywhere with large, smooth pavement. With speeds that hover around 30mph and over, having a compact, lightweight rig is essential to capturing the rush of excitement that comes from eboarding. Also get creative – shoot some drone shots, capture B-Roll of your homies or clamp the action cam on the board itself. If you have any questions or suggestions hit me up in the comments below!

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Carvon Electric Mini Cruiser (Pre-Order)

My New Royce 5’9″ Video Was Shot Entirely with the Varavon Birdycam Lite

Check out my latest music video for Royce 5’9″ titled “Which Is Cool”, shot entirely with the Varavon Birdycam Lite and the Panasonic GH4. The concept is that Royce can hardly contain his honest thoughts which start filtering into the real world through his music. Here’s my treatment for the song:

We open on Royce and his brother walking out of their SUV and into a convenience store in Detroit. Inside the store are various extras – a skinny dude wearing feminine tight clothes, a girl dressed in baggy, masculine clothes, rich businessman, street dude, hooker, etc. Each time he calls out these personality types in his thoughts, we’ll cut to their actions. As this is happening Royce will walk through the store, gathering various items to purchase.

Royce’s performance will be gradual. It will begin as just his thoughts so his lyrics will be translated through his body language and looks which causes him to rap in spurts. The extras will interact with him, offended that they are being called out yet are too afraid to do anything about it.

Suddenly we cut to Royce and his brother purchasing the items at the counter. In the background all of the extras are staring at them in silence, emotionless and offended. We follow Royce and his bro into the SUV. Royce turns the radio on and suddenly we…

Cut to black.

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Varavon Birdycam Lite 3-Axis Camera Gimbal


product information button runplayback Panasonic GH4 4K Video Recording

How I turned my Ztylus iPhone into a DSLR Killer

Ztylus has been releasing some of the best iPhone accessories for quite some time and their latest product, the premium Z-Prime Lens Kit is no exception. The Z-Prime claims to be a professional grade solution for serious photographers. But I’m mostly into video so in the clip above, I pair it with the Varavon Birdycam Lite to see if a Ztylus equipped iPhone could produce professional DSLR-style results. In short, I was blown away.

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Ztylus Z-Prime Telephoto Lens for iPhone 6

Both the wide and telephoto lens contains 5 glass elements in 4 groups that enable corner to corner sharpness with ultra low distortion. Packaged with the two lenses is the iPhone Metal Series Case, a lens carrier, a pouch and lens cloth. Once again, Ztylus has reinvigorated the power of the iPhone. Be sure to click the banner below to receive 25% off all Ztylus products with our special RUNPLAYBACK referral code.

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Ztylus Z-Prime Lens Kit for iPhone 6

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Varavon Birdycam Lite 3-Axis Camera Gimbal

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product information button runplayback Dot Line SMARTbracket Smartphone Tripod Adapter

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Custom Fancier 717 Quick Release Adapter Base

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WF717 Replacement Quick Release Plate

Varavon Birdycam Lite Gimbal Inverted Mode Test

Here’s a quick field test of the Varavon Birdycam Lite using inverted mode. Inverted mode is a great way to get a higher angle without having to over extend your arms. It’s also useful for getting a clear view of your camera’s LCD screen without the need for an external field monitor. With an already light weight form factor, the Birdycam Lite is quickly becoming my favorite run and gun gimbal. Hit me up in the comments below if you have any questions and be sure to visit the Varavon website for more details on the Birdycam Lite.

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Varavon Birdycam Lite 3-Axis Camera Gimbal

How to Balance the Varavon Birdycam Lite 3-Axis Gimbal


Varavon Birdycam Lite coverage continues with this demonstration video on how to quickly balance your small mirrorless camera like the Panasonic GH4 or Sony A7SII right out of the box. Balancing the original Birdycam was already a quick process and the Birdycam Lite speeds the workflow up by having a more compact, minimalist system. The improved motor encoders are probably the most impressive feature with better stability and smoothness. Hit me up in the comments below if you have any questions and be sure to visit the Varavon website for more details on the Birdycam Lite.

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Varavon Birdycam Lite 3-Axis Camera Gimbal

Varavon Birdycam Lite 3-Axis Camera Gimbal Unboxing + Assembly

Varavon has finally released their highly anticipated Birdycam Lite 3-Axis Camera Gimbal, a lighter and more portable gimbal for small mirrorless cameras like the Panasonic GH4 and Sony A7SII. With similar weight class gimbals like DJI’s Ronin M, Came TV’s Mini and Defy’s G2x already on the market, Varavon seems to have taken their time with the Birdycam Lite for maximum performance.

While the original Birdycam is an already compact system, the Birdycam Lite is lighter, more modular, has motor encoders for increased stability, a wireless joystick and detachable handles to mount the gimbal to various rigs. Check out the video above to see what’s included in the Birdycam Lite package as well as a quick tutorial on how to assemble the parts. Stay tuned for the next video where I’ll demonstrate how to balance your camera along with some test footage. Hit me up in the comments below if you have any questions and be sure to visit the Varavon website for more details on the Birdycam Lite.

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Varavon Birdycam Lite 3-Axis Camera Gimbal

Build a DIY Gimbal Support Stabilizer for Under $100

As camera gimbals have grown in popularity, many folks take for granted how much strength it requires to hold a gimbal, even a lightweight mirrorless one, for an extended period of time. I’ll be the first to admit that I can’t fly my Varavon Birdycam at chest level for more than 1 minute without straining my arms and shoulders. Once I start shaking, my focus shifts away from the composition of the shot to my body endurance which is never an ideal situation. I bought a camera gimbal to create interesting, unique scenes, not to work out my upper body.

Gimbal Backpack

So I searched the internet for some gimbal stabilizing options and the cheapest one I found is the Came TV GS01 for $400. On the other side of the spectrum is the slick Ready Rig for $2,000. Both of these options are beyond my budget so I decided to make my own. While there are a few DIY tutorials on Gimbal Backpack Stabilizers, I thought Cheesycam’s DIY Gimbal Support Backpack and Modest Reaction’s riff were the best options out there. With a few key items from your local Home Depot and eBay, I’ll provide a step by step guide on how to make your very own DIY Gimbal Support Stabilizer for less than $100. You may already own a lot of these items so you may spend even less but the ingredients I’ll list are the best balance of cost, assembly time and performance.

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Came TV GS01 Gimbal Stabilizer

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Ready Rig Gimbal Stabilizer

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The first item you will need is the backpack frame. A rigid frame, combined with heavy duty shoulder straps and waist support is the most important element to distributing the weight of the camera gimbal from your arms and shoulders to your entire torso. The best option I found is a U.S. Military MOLLE II system. MOLLE is a modular attachment system that’s been adopted by the US Army. Basically it’s built for troops to carry 100lbs of supplies for up to 25 miles so you know these things are built for serious situations. The frame is constructed from ABS plastic which are known for impact resistance and toughness and the shoulder straps and waistbelt are constructed of 1000 Denier Cordura and nylon threading which is mold and mildew resistant, water-repellant and the same material as the Ready Rig. Since it’s a modular system, you can also add a rucksack to the frame for additional supplies or you can paint it to add a touch of customization.

PRICE: $40 (shipped)

molleii
All New USGI Molle II Frame, Belt and Shoulder Straps DCU Desert Camo COMBO

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Next you will need 4 fiberglass tent poles that are 27″ long and 9.5mm in diameter with metal ferrules. The rods are used to soften the Y axis movements during walking shots to provide a more stable and less jittery image. I found these super affordable Coleman Fiberglass Tent Poles on eBay but they can easily be found at your local sporting goods or camping store. To secure the poles to the frame you’ll need a package of standard 8″ zip ties.

PRICE (4 Fiberglass Tent Poles): $15
PRICE (20 Zip Ties): $2.18

coleman
Coleman Fiberglass Tent Pole Replacement Kit

zipties
Commercial Electric 8 in. UV Cable Tie – Black (20-Pack)

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To connect the rods together you will need 100lb rated metal braided wire used for hanging heavy picture frames and mirrors. The wires are pulled through the rods and together they act like a crane to hoist the gimbal over your chest.

PRICE: $7.48

wire
100 ft. 20-Gauge Multi-Purpose Wire

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Next you will need 2 small washers and 2 150lb aluminum carabiners. These will be attached to each end of the metal braided wire.

PRICE (Washers): $3.14
PRICE (2 Carabiners): $1.96

washer
3/8 in. Zinc-Plated Flat Washer (25-Pack)

carabiner
2 x 150 lb. 80mm x 8mm Bright Aluminum Spring Link

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To protect the exposed metal braided wire I bought these cable covers that are used for organizing computer cables. You’ll need 3/8″ for the metal wire and 1/2″ for the fiberglass rods. These are purely a cosmetic feature but I think they add a more polished look.

PRICE (3/8″ Tubing): $2.48
PRICE (1/2″ Tubing): $2.48

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3/8″ Flex Tubing

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1/2″ Flex Tubing

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The adjustable straps are used to customize the height of the gimbal for framing a scene. I went with these heavy duty Husky Hang-Alls which are commonly used to hold tools, bikes and other heavy equipment. Since Husky has a great reputation for quality and are very common in almost every Home Depot store, this is a much more convenient solution than buying lashing straps and carabiners separately.

PRICE (2 Hang-Alls): $9.94

husky
2 x Husky 18 in. Zinc-Plated Steel Hang-All

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To attach the rig to the gimbal, I used standard 1-1/2″ key rings on the gimbal’s horizontal support secured by velcro straps.

PRICE (2 Key Rings): $1.94
PRICE (Velcro Straps): $3.74

keyring
2 x 1-1/2 in. Split Key Ring

velcrostraps
8 in. Cable Ties (5-Pack)

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STEP 1: ASSEMBLE THE BACKPACK
First you’ll need to assemble the Molle II frame to the shoulder straps and waist support. Since it isn’t very intuitive and there are no instructions that come with the package, it can be a little tricky to assemble. Fortunately I found this awesome tutorial that can walk you through the process. Be sure to follow the directions carefully as the rig’s structural integrity is centered on the location and firmness of the straps.

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STEP 2: ASSEMBLE THE RODS
Next, assemble the rods by inserting one pole into another using the metal ferrules. You should now have 2 pairs, each one 54″ total length.

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STEP 3: INSERT METAL WIRE & MEASURE
Then, take the metal braided wire and carefully push it through the first pair of poles using a needle nose plier. Be sure to do this slowly so you don’t bend the wire which will make it much harder to push through the pole. Once you get it through the end, let about 12″ of wire hang out of it.

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STEP 4: SECURE CARABINERS & MEASURE
Next, using a pair of needle nose pliers, take the metal braided wire and wrap 2 tight loops around the small end of the aluminum carabiner then wrap it back around itself several times to secure the loop. Snip off any extra wire with a wire cutter and bend the end of the wire with the pliers to avoid any sharp points sticking out. Measure 12″, edge to edge, from the top of the pole to the end of the carabiner. This distance should be exact so if you accidentally tug on the wire, just re-measure and adjust.

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STEP 5: SECURE WASHERS & MEASURE
You’ll want to secure the other end of the wire using the metal washer. Measure 6″ from edge of the pole and cut the wire. Next, measure 1″ from the edge of the pole and bend the wire at that point. Place the washer at that bend and wrap one tight loop around it using the needle nose pliers. Again, wrap it back around itself several times to secure the loop around the 1″ length of wire. Snip off any extra wire with a wire cutter and bend the end of the wire with the pliers to avoid any sharp points sticking out. Repeat Steps 3-5 for the second pair of poles.

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STEP 6: SECURE RODS TO FRAME
Next, take an assembled pole and secure it to the left side of the Molle II frame by inserting it into the bottom two straps of the waist support. You may want to loosen these straps to get the pole in and tighten them to secure it. The edge of the pole should rest against the bottom plastic ridge with the metal braided wire and washer hanging off to the side. Then, secure the pole to the frame with the zip ties. I chose to secure the pole on every other strap opening all the way to the top. Be sure to have the zip tie ends facing inwards and tighten all of them evenly once the pole is fully attached. Make sure each zip tie is tight then snip off the ends using a wire cutter. Repeat this process for the right side of the Molle II frame.

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STEP 7: ADD HUSKY HANG-ALLS
Add the Husky Hang-Alls to the poles by connecting it from the strap to the aluminum carabiner. The Husky carabiner should hang from the bottom and will be used to connect to the gimbal.

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STEP 8: ADD FLEX TUBING
Next you’ll add the flex tubing. Uncoil the 3/8″ flex tubing and stretch it across the exposed metal braided wire to measure the distance. Cut the 3/8″ tubing and wrap it around the wire by using the slit in the middle. Repeat this for the other side. Next, take the 1/2″ tubing and stretch it across the top fiberglass pole. Again, measure the distance from the top of the Molle II frame to the end of the pole, cut it, and wrap it around. Repeat for the other side. In my opinion, this looks more aesthetically pleasing than exposed tent poles and picture wire.

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STEP 9: ASSEMBLE KEY RINGS TO GIMBAL
Add the key ring to the end of the gimbal upper support plate near the handle and secure it using the velcro strap. Loop this a couple of times through the key ring as tight as possible to keep it secure. Repeat this with the other side.

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STEP 10: TEST THE RIG WITH GIMBAL
Finally, put the Gimbal Support Stabilizer on and adjust the shoulder and waist support straps to a comfortable level. Everything should be tight but not uncomfortable or constricting. To attach the Gimbal Support Stabilizer to the camera gimbal, carefully bend down and maneuver yourself to a proper angle that makes it easy to attach the Husky carabiners to the key rings. Grip the handles on the gimbal, stand up and everything should feel stable and secure. You will have to adjust the Husky Hang-All straps to get the proper height but otherwise, everything should be good to go. With all of the weight now distributed across your torso there should be an immediate feeling of lightness with the gimbal. You’ll still have to move like a ballet dancer but with the ability to properly frame a shot and rehearse a move without getting tired, there will be a much deeper creative connection with the camera gimbal.

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CONCLUSION
This is by far one of my favorite DIY projects ever. Although you’ll get a lot of funny looks and comments in public, it makes using a camera gimbal a breeze. I can literally hold it for over 20 minutes straight without fatigue. This gives me more time to block a shot and really think about the creative composition of the scene. I would totally encourage anyone who owns a gimbal to give this DIY project a shot. Hit me up in the comments if you have any questions and please share any ideas to make this DIY Gimbal Support Stabilizer even better. Thanks!

The 24 Hour Shootout Survival Kit

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Last week Arbor Day Pictures aka Nancy Mitchell, Hannah Mitchell and myself participated in YPSI24, a 24 hour shootout competition where we won second place amongst 40+ entries. It was an awesome experience to witness so many filmmakers of all levels express themselves using a variety of video techniques within experimental and narrative storytelling.

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However, with a 24 hour time limit and a 3 person crew including myself (2 of whom were acting on camera), it was vital that I assemble an equipment package that worked for our story. Too much gear and I’d risk a lot of unncessary setup and breakdown time. Too little gear and I’d lose the visual storytelling that was essential for characterization. We were super honored to win an award and it may not have happened without our 24 Hour Shootout Survival Kit. So here’s how we did it.

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THE STORY
A few weeks before the shoot, we bounced around some preliminary ideas, some that either proved too difficult or too time consuming. Finally, the night before YPSI24, Nancy assembled all of our initial ideas into a creepy story about supernatural revenge. Next, I fleshed out the summary into a rough, 5 page script which would be our blueprint for the day. We all agreed that the concept would remain loose in order to incorporate the YPSI24 “ingredients” that we would be given. Creating a script as a guide for our shotlist/schedule was definitely a critical part of our planning.

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THE SUPPORT
For Camera A support I went with the heavy duty yet light and portable 8.5lb ProAm Heavy Duty Tripod Legs which are typically built for jib cranes but work great with a Manfrotto fluid head and Konova K3 slider as they can hold up to 80 lbs. It even has a super convenient mid level spreader for added stability and adjustable rubber or spiked feet for all kinds of terrain. At $120 shipped, the ProAm Heavy Duty Tripod Legs are an exceptional deal for the quality.

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product information button runplayback ProAm USA PROAMFT Pro Tripod Legs & Bag Kit

manfrotto
product information button runplayback Manfrotto MVH500AH Fluid Video Head with Flat Base

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product information button runplayback Konova Slider K3 100cm (39.4-Inch)

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THE LIGHTING
Lighting was very minimal as we were mostly daylight dependent. For the ending interior shots we used a pair of budget friendly ePhoto 600 CN600HS LED Lights with Kayo Maxtar V-Mount Li-Ion Batteries. The Kayo Maxtar is a new addition to my kit and one of the best V-Mount battery options out right now. Fully charged, the Kayo can power these lights for up to 6 hours straight. Very impressive!

ephoto
ePhoto 600 Led Dimmable CN600HS Video Photography Light

kayo
Kayo Maxtar 177Wh(12000mAh/14.8V) V Mount Battery

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THE SOUND
To keep our sound kit as light and simple as possible, I went with the Zoom H1, Rode Micro Boompole, Rode VideoMic Pro, Aspen HQ-S Lav Mic, P&C Handgrip and an audio extension cable. Our rule was that whoever wasn’t on camera would be the Sound Recordist. With some easy to remember sound recording basics and having a kit this simple ensured that no one would have to be a pro to capture quality sound.

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product information button runplayback Zoom H1 Ultra-Portable Digital Audio Recorder

rode
product information button runplayback Rode Micro Boompole – 3-Section Boom Pole

rode
product information button runplayback Rode VideoMic Pro Compact Shotgun Microphone

aspenmics
AspenMics Lavalier Microphones

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product information button runplayback Dot Line P&C Handgrip

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THE CAMERA A KIT
Having some early success with the latest Panasonic V-Log color profile, I decided to use my workhorse GH4 mounted with a Metabones Canon FD Speedbooster and classic Canon FD glass – 20mm, 28mm, 50mm and 35-105mm. This combination would create a vintage, lived-in look that I thought would be perfect for a horror film.

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I kitted out my GH4 shoulder rig with a Varavon Armor Cage, Aputure V-Screen field monitor, Fotga follow focus, Ikan Tilta V-Mount Plate and a Kayo Maxtar BP-GL175 Li-Ion Battery. With the Kayo, I was able to power the Aputure monitor and use it as a counterweight for the GH4. There’s also a convenient USB port located on the side which kept my iPhone charged at every location.


product information button runplayback Panasonic GH4 4K Video Recording

Metabones Canon FD Speedbooster GH4
Metabones Speedbooster Canon FD Lens to M43 Adapter

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Varavon Armor II GH4 & GH3 Cage

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Aputure VS-3 V-Screen 7″ IPS Field Monitor

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Fotga DP500IIS Follow Focus

ikan
ikan Tilta TT-C12 HyperDeck Shuttle Mount with V-Mount Plate

kayo
Kayo Maxtar 177Wh(12000mAh/14.8V) V Mount Battery

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THE CAMERA B KIT
Our story included many scenes of walking through the woods so I wanted to incorporate gimbal tracking shots without having to spend any time balancing or breaking down the Camera A Kit. For this situation I went with the Ikan Fly-X3 Gimbal paired with the Xiaomi Yi Action Camera aka the $80 Chinese GoPro. Since these walking shots would include both Hannah and Nancy in the shot, it would leave me as the Sound Recordist. The Ikan Fly-X3 doesn’t have a 1/4-20 thread so I rigged a Joby GorillaPod to the handle and fitted it with a Rode VideoMic, Zoom H1, an audio extension cable and a pair of lightweight Auvio Headphones. With the shotgun mic I was then able to capture realtime location sound while also performing stable gimbal shots while walking backwards through the woods. Trust me, it’s not as easy as it sounds.

flyx3
product information button runplayback Ikan Fly-X3 Plus 3-Axis Smartphone Gimbal Stabilizer Kit with GoPro HERO3/4 mount

xiaomi
Xiaomi Yi Action Camera with Wi-Fi

Joby Action Clamp GorillaPod Arm
product information button runplayback Joby Action Clamp with GorillaPod Arm

auvio
Auvio Black Ear-Cup Foldable Headphones

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Another interesting rig we built was an Indy Mogul style DIY 3rd person POV action camera backpack. Designed with cheap PVC pipe from Home Depot, we mounted an Oben Mini Ballhead and the Xiaomi Yi on the rig to create the over the shoulder look during the “search” scenes in the woods. With the Xiamoi’s Wi-Fi app, I would be able to monitor the shots while giving direction to Nancy. We wanted to present an unusual sense of vertigo during these scenes since her character would become more desperate as day turned to night.

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product information button runplayback Oben BD-0 Mini Ball Head

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THE CAMERA C KIT
For a 24 Hour Shootout, it would be tempting to use the DJI Phantom 3 Professional as a shortcut for production value but we didn’t want to go that route. Our initial thought was that an aerial would take up valuable time that we could put towards characterization. Also, because of the hazardous weather conditions on the shoot day, flying a drone would prove too risky. However, nature was on our side when we had a small 10 minute window of clear weather. It was a tricky manuever as I had to fly through a 10 foot clearing in the trees towards a height that revealed just enough of the forest without showing any residential homes or highways. I fitted the Phantom 3 with a Polar Pro Polarizer Filter to prevent glare off the water and was able to get the shot in just two takes. However, flying the drone back to home point was nerve racking as I clipped a few small branches due to the wind and unstable GPS lock. Luckily I had Nancy and Hannah as my spotters on each side of the clearing to prevent the Phantom from going down into the water. The shot was definitely worth it as it created a vast sense of exploration for the Alice character, establishing the forest as a kind of supernatural playground.

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product information button runplayback DJI Phantom 3 Professional Quadcopter with 4K Camera and 3-Axis Gimbal

polarprofilters
Polar Pro DJI Phantom 3 Professional Filter 6-Pack

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THE POST PRODUCTION
We finished our last shot at about 11:30pm and after ingesting all the footage in Adobe Premiere, post production began at 12 midnight. By this time, I was exhausted but not completely tapped out. I knew that once I got past the hump of assembly I would go into creative mode, driven by pure adrenaline. With the help of a large iced coffee I finished assembly by 2:00am and edited straight until 9:00am. The GH4 V-Log setting was especially helpful in color correction for each clip. After dropping in the Panasonic Varicam 35 LUT, I simply adjusted exposure within Lumetri Color and did my best to match the Xiaomi Yi and Phantom 3 footage.

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As the sun started to rise and the 10:00am delivery deadline looming, I did a few last touches and exported the file onto a flash drive. Since the YSPI24 rendevouz was a half hour away, I wasn’t able to do a final preview. At this point, I was completely delirious and just grateful that we completed our film.

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THE EXPERIENCE
YPSI24 was an insanely inspiring good time. From the cordial and energizing meetup with our fellow filmmakers to the hack-a-thon like shooting experience to the final screening at the 500 seat venue, YPSI24 reminded me of why I got into video in the first place. It wasn’t to win awards or make commercials. It was to tell a story using a language that didn’t require an army of people pontificating about the laws of Cinema. It’s a relief to know that the DIY spirit that’s shaped both my personal and professional life has never left me. Hashtag #setlife is not enough. Old traditions and new technologies are not enough. It’s the communal experience of being vulnerable with people that I care about which matters most. Check out our 2015 YPSI24 short “Always Alice” below and remember to always stay inspired!


Always Alice (2015 YPSI24)

LanParte HHG-01 3-Axis Handheld Gimbal – NAB 2015

Our 2015 NAB Show coverage continues with a look at LanParte’s HHG-01 3-axis handheld gimbal for a smartphone or GoPro camera. With a simple touch of a button it takes about 2 seconds to calibrate. The camera has a default follow mode and you simply use your wrist to control the pan and tilt. The LanParte HHG-01 3-axis gimbal is very lightweight and incredibly stable. For more further details about the features of this gimbal check out Cheesycam’s NAB coverage below.

lanparte
HH-01Handheld Gimbals for smartphone and GoPro

Ikan Fly-X3 Plus 3-Axis Smartphone Gimbal Unboxing + Test Video

At NAB 2015, we stopped by the Ikan booth where we tested the Ikan Fly-X3 Plus 3-Axis Smartphone Gimbal Stabilizer. Several manufacturers have been creating smartphone gimbals including Shape and Lanparte. Retailing for about $350, the Ikan Fly-X3 seems to hit the right price point for a small 3-axis gimbal.

As smartphones continue to advance their video recording capabilities, they will eventually begin to crop up in more and more professional shoots. Take for example the recent Sundance hit “Tangerine” which was shot on a few iPhone 5’s with stabilizers.

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The Ikan Fly-X3 Plus comes in a durable hardcase bag with nylon straps, a charger, one battery, and counterweight for large phones. For a few more dollars you can get the GoPro mount attachment for flying the Hero 3/4. The grip has a comfortable rubberized coating and the gimbal itself has a sturdy, metal construction that feels like just the right amount of weight for flying a smartphone. Design-wise it would have been nice if Ikan had included some 1/4-20 threads on the grip both on the sides and below for mounting accessories.

filmicpro
Filmic Pro for iOS

cinemafv5
Cinema FV-5 for Android

After unboxing the Fly-X3, I immediately paired it with both my Apple iPhone 6 and LG G3 smartphone. In order to move in and out of different lighting situations, I wanted to have more control over the manual settings. So I did some research on the web and discovered the two best mobile video apps for each platform – the $7.99 Filmic Pro for iOS and the $2.49 Cinema FV-5 for Android devices. While both apps theoretically do the same thing, the iOS Filmic Pro is able to record in 60p for slow motion in addition to manual control of the shutter angle. Unfortunately for the Android Cinema FV-5, the camera drivers on Android phones do not provide developers access to shutter control.

Depending on your phone, the Ikan Fly-X3 can have either very sharp and quick moves or more natural, fluid moves. As you can see in the video above, the iPhone 6 moves at a slower, more steady pace due to the aluminum Ztylus case that helped add some weight to the Fly-X3. The LG G3 is a very lightweight phone so the moves feel a little more abrupt and sudden. With a metal case to help add weight to the Fly-X3, the LG G3 should fly more fluidly. A heavier and larger phone like the Samsung Note 4 would probably require the counter balance.

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Shooting outdoors on an Android phone without shutter control created a staccato-like effect. To solve this I made a DIY ND filter by taking a pair of plastic sunglasses, popping out the lens and gaffing it to the front of the G3 lens. While it isn’t pretty, this helped to bring down the shutter angle and create better exposure.

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While shooting on a smartphone gimbal can feel a little weird, it’s much easier to get smooth, candid tracking shots in public places as it attracts very little attention. Most people think its just a holder for a smartphone. And because of it’s size, you can come up with some really inventive one take shots where you can fly it through small spaces and do hand offs. If you have any questions about the Ikan Fly-X3 Plus 3-Axis smartphone gimbal, hit me in the comments below.

flyx3
product information button runplayback Ikan Fly-X3 Plus 3-Axis Smartphone Gimbal Stabilizer Kit with GoPro HERO3/4 mount

LG_G3
product information button runplayback LG G3 32GB Smartphone (Unlocked, Metallic Black)

Flying the iPhone 6 with Ztylus Lens on a Varavon Birdycam Gimbal

So after unboxing these Ztylus iPhone lens accessories, I wanted to take it out on the field for some test shooting. And for the sake of overkill, I mounted an iPhone 6 with Ztylus smartphone case and the 4-in-1 Revolver Lens onto the Varavon Birdycam 3-Axis Gimbal using a Custom Fancier 717 Adapter Base and the Dot Line SMARTBracket Smartphone Adapter. The combination of all these parts gave the iPhone 6 just enough weight to fly on the Birdycam.

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Ztylus Metal Series Camera Kit for iPhone 6

varavon birdycam
Varavon Birdycam2 3-Axis Camera Gimbal

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Custom Fancier 717 Quick Release Adapter Base

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WF717 Replacement Quick Release Plate

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product information button runplayback Dot Line SMARTbracket Smartphone Tripod Adapter

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Ztylus 4-in-1 Revolver Fisheye Lens for iPhone 6

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Ztylus 4-in-1 Revolver Fisheye Lens for iPhone 6

Next we shot some stills using the 4-in-1 Revolver. First we used the fisheye lens which captures a hefty 180 degree field of view.

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Ztylus 4-in-1 Revolver Wide Angle Lens for iPhone 6

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Ztylus 4-in-1 Revolver Wide Angle Lens for iPhone 6

The wide angle lens is great for capturing that extra field of view without having to stand across the street.

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Ztylus 4-in-1 Revolver Circular Polarizer Lens for iPhone 6

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Ztylus 4-in-1 Revolver Circular Polarizer Lens for iPhone 6

The circular polarizer lens cuts glare and reflections from the sun to allow natural colors to show along with great saturation.

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Ztylus 4-in-1 Revolver Macro Lens for iPhone 6

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Ztylus 4-in-1 Revolver Macro Lens for iPhone 6

My favorite is the macro lens as everything looks fascinating when its macro right? Stay tuned for the next part where we’ll try some night shooting with the Ztylus LED Ring Light Attachment. If you have any questions, hit me in the comments below!

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Ztylus LED Ring Light Attachment

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Behind the Scenes of Jared Evan & Taryn Manning “Bass Is Low” Music Video

Recently I had the chance to work with talented actress Taryn Manning (Orange is the New Black, 8 Mile, Hustle & Flow) on a short film/music video for music artist Jared Evan. The concept was a slight narrative mixed with surreal fantasy elements set in a dark, maze-like atmosphere.

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Panasonic GH4 + Metabones Canon FD Speedbooster

Other than a few handheld shots for the intro, we stayed primarily on the Varavon Birdycam Gimbal with my Panasonic GH4 + Metabones Canon FD Speedbooster and a Canon FD 20mm 2.8 lens.

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Actress Taryn Manning using the Panasonic GH4 + Varavon Birdycam2 Gimbal combo

Without focus control or the luxury of time for lens changes, we went with a wide angle fluid look. The camera was always moving on the Birdycam Gimbal, from side to side, strafing performance shots, low to high panning shots and following shots. It was so intuitive even Taryn got in on the action.

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Varavon Birdycam2 Gimbal

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Music Artist Jared Evan lit by the F&V LED Lite Panel

My favorite scene by far was a front gimbal tracking shot as Jared walks backwards down an aisle flanked by 20 foot steel shelves. We also had an F&V LED Light providing fill from another aisle casting strange and mysterious shadows on his face. As Jared backs into the exit, Taryn finds him and together they run towards a massive light source at the end of a tunnel. We then track them from behind as they run into the light.

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product information button runplayback F&V K4000 LED Light Panel Kit

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Panasonic GH4 + Metabones Canon FD Speedbooster + Varavon Birdycam2 Gimbal + Aputure V-Screen VS-3 7″ Monitor

It was a great shoot and actually my first time using the Varavon Birdycam. Here’s a few tips I discovered when shooting entirely with a camera gimbal.

1. A wireless follow focus option.

2. A wireless video option such as the CMR Radian Pro.

cmr_radian_pro
product information button runplayback Camera Motion Research Radian Pro – Unicast Wireless HDMI Set

3. A tether support such as an Easy Rig Mini to provide hands free camera adjustments and save time having to set it on a stand.

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product information button runplayback Easyrig Mini Camera Support

4. At least two Varavon Gimbal Power 16V batteries when running a full 10 hour day.

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Varavon 16V Battery

Check out the final video and hit me up with any questions about the Varavon Birdycam Gimbal in the comments below.

Lightweight Defy G2x Camera Gimbal Now Available

Today the Defy G2x camera gimbal has been officially launched for a retail price of $1,995.00. Since checking out the G2x prototype back in October, the final launch version looks to be very similar, at least cosmetically. The gimbal is designed for lightweight mirrorless cameras such as the Sony A7s or Panasonic GH4 and features the following specs:

  • Holds camera and lens combinations up to 3.5lbs
  • Built in stand for ability to balance in 3 minutes
  • Pre-selected auto tuned mode selections
  • Dual IMU sensors for auto sensing camera orientation
  • Extremely compact and lightweight at only 4.5lbs
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    Defy G2x Camera Gimbal