Category Archives: Gimbals

How to Quickly De-Fish Your Fisheye Footage in Adobe Premiere CC

Rapper Joell Ortiz and I recently collaborated on a promo spot for New Era titled “Home of the Authentic”. Our goal was to shoot a few of Joell’s childhood stomping grounds in addition to capturing soundbites about his love for his hometown of Brooklyn, NY. Our locations were mostly walking exterior scenes so we decided to shoot on the Panasonic GH4 with the Rokinon 7.5mm 3.5 fisheye mounted on the Varavon Birdycam 3-Axis Camera Gimbal. Although I love the fisheye look, it felt a little extreme for a promo video. However, I knew that I would be able to de-fish the footage in post without slowing down my workflow. Here’s how I did it.

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For those using the latest version of Adobe Premiere CC, there’s a quick trick to de-fishing your footage when using lenses like the Rokinon 7.5mm or action cameras like the GoPro. Simply create an Adjustment Layer and place it on a layer above the fisheye footage. Next, go to Video Effects > Distort > Lens Distortion and drag that onto your Adjustment Layer. Under Curvature, enter -20 and you will instantly notice that the footage has been de-fished or straightened out. Your mileage may vary when inputing the Curvature settings but somewhere between -20 and -30 should be your sweet spot. If you have more de-fishing tricks hit me on the comments below.


product information button runplayback Panasonic GH4 4K Video Recording

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product information button runplayback Rokinon 7.5mm f/3.5 Ultra Wide-Angle Fisheye Lens for Micro 4/3

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Varavon Birdycam2 3-Axis Camera Gimbal

DEFY Ready to Launch the G2X 3-Axis Camera Gimbal for GH4 and A7S

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U.S. based DEFY is gearing up to launch the G2x lightweight camera gimbal next year. As you may recall, we showed a preview of the G2x during the PhotoPlus Expo event in New York City back in October. The G2x was designed with the Panasonic GH4 and Sony A7S in addition to the new wave of small mirrorless 4K cameras that are being introduced. According to DEFY:

The G2x is everything you could want from a gimbal with a small footprint. Lightweight and Portable, with multiple modes of operation including an inverted mode to easily get those eye level shots…

Visit the DEFY website for more information.

Behind the Scenes of the Joey Bada$$ “No. 99” Music Video

A few weeks ago, rapper Joey Bada$$ and I collaborated on a music video for the single “No. 99”, an uptempo Hip Hop anthem reminiscent of a 1990’s classic. Our goal was to create a voyeuristic, gritty street video with many scenes of chaos sprinkled throughout. Realizing this would require two shoot days and multiple locations, I came up with a simple gear list that would get us through our many setups.

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Dual GH4’s with Metabones Canon FD Speedboosters were used. B Cam was mounted with a Canon FD 35-105mm f3.5 for mediums and closeups while A Cam used the Canon FD 20mm f2.8 with the ePhoto R640 18” LED Ring Light rigged to a custom shoulder mount. To power the ring light we used a Switronix XP-L90S Lithium Battery with a Fiilex D-Tap Cable.

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

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ePhoto R640 18” LED Ring Light

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Switronix XP-L90S V-Type 14.8VDC Lithium Battery


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Fiilex Coiled D-Tap Cable (1.9′)

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P&C Shoulder Rig Handles and a Honu GH4 Cage with a top handle were used to mount the ring light across three points with velcro straps. Since the camera had to sit in the middle of the ring, this was the most efficient way to rig it. From there we ran the Fiilex D-Tap cable to the Switronix battery inside of our Camera Operator’s jacket, giving us a power source that would last all day. And since we were going for a voyeuristic, run and gun feel, this would be our main camera setup for every scene.

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P&C Shoulder Rig Handles

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Honu 2.0 GH3/GH4 AND SONY A7/A7R Video Cage

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Honu Top Handle

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To shoot Joey and a mob full of his crew performing, we utilized the Varavon Birdycam 3-Axis Camera Gimbal with a Rokinon 7.5mm Fisheye for our C Cam while shooting from the back of a cargo van. Since the road at our main location was littered with potholes, the Birdycam eliminated almost 95% of the shakiness.

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Varavon Birdycam2 3-Axis Camera Gimbal

rokinon
product information button runplayback Rokinon 7.5mm f/3.5 Ultra Wide-Angle Fisheye Lens for Micro 4/3

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We also incorporated the DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ Quadcopter mounted with the GoPro HERO4 for a few scenes that would simulate footage from a news helicopter. Our location in Willets Point, NY also known as the Iron Triangle has a very post-apocalyptic appearance and is filled with auto repair shops and scrap yards – a feast for aerial shooting.

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product information button runplayback DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ Quadcopter with Extra Battery Bundle

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product information button runplayback GoPro HERO4 Black Edition 4K Video Action Camera

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Occasionally we would require some fill or backlight so we used the F&V K4000 LED Light Panel. This worked great with the ring light and helped to enhance all the background action. Any additional fill on Joey came from the prop torches he was wielding. A run and gun yet highly organized effort made this a great shoot to work on. By minimizing our gear list, we were able to get more setups and candid moments. Check out the full video below and let me know what you think!

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K4000 Daylight LED Studio Panel

Varavon Launches New Storefront With Lower Prices

The Varavon Birdycam 3-Axis Gimble, which I’ve been getting a lot of mileage from lately, just got a price drop to $1,999.00 only until November 21st. This is great news for those who want to take a dip into the gimbal world without the steep learning curve of DIY or having to shell out extra bucks for heavier gimbles. Be sure to browse through the new Varavon site for savings on gear such as the ARMOR cage for the Panasonic GH4 or Sony A7s.

Here’s some new Birdycam test footage taken during some downtime on a recent shoot at a beer brewery.


Varavon Birdycam2 Gimbal

Big Balance Gimbals – PhotoPlus Expo 2014

PhotoPlus Expo 2014 coverage continues with a look at the versatile product line from Big Balance Technology. The line includes the Bronco – a single-axis gimbal designed for smartphones, the Husky – a 2-axis gimbal for the GoPro and large smartphones, the Gibbon – a 2-axis gimbal for small DSLR cameras and finally the Brown Bear, a 3-axis gimbal system designed for large DSLR’s.

We spoke with Steven from Big Balance for an in-depth demonstration.

Freefly Tero – Photoplus Expo 2014

The Freefly booth was one of the more popular spots at the PhotoPlus Expo 2014 as their MōVI camera gimbals are considered the industry standard in most circles. They definitely spared no expense in the design and presentation of their products. The most impressive thing to me was the Freefly TERO, a radio controlled car that can be fitted with the M5 Gimbal and MōVI Controller. This is the kind of setup that makes me super nostalgic about my days tinkering with RC cars!

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Freefly TERO Behind The Scenes

Defy G2X 3-Axis Gimbal – PhotoPlus Expo 2014

PhotoPlus Expo 2014 coverage continues with an exclusive look at the unreleased Defy G2X 3-Axis Gimbal, a new lightweight gimbal that supports popular mirrorless cameras such as the Sony A7S and the Panasonic GH4. The ability to flip the G2X to upright mode seamlessly is a great feature that’s sometimes tricky with larger, beefier gimbals. Defy has been carving a solid reputation in the gimbal industry with their products that are “built by cinematographers for cinematographers”.

We spoke with Seth Compton from Defy for the scoop.

Varavon Birdycam Gimbal Custom Settings

Frequently, I’ve been asked what my PID settings are for the Varavon Birdycam Gimbal mounted with a Panasonic GH4, Metabones Canon FD Speedbooster and a Canon FD 20mm 2.8 lens. While this is slightly heavier than a GH4 with a plastic digital lens, my PID settings might get you close to the weight of a speedbooster and a manual prime lens like the Canon FD’s.

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Adjust the PID settings using the Bluetooth SimpleBGC app for Android devices

Unless you have my exact camera combination I would highly suggest that you dig into the PID settings via Bluetooth app or software and tweak the P’s and D’s until you find the right balance. Emm from Cheesycam goes into great detail with fine tuning here, but my general rule is that you can achieve the perfect the balance when the motors aren’t fighting too hard or too little. Essentially, they shouldn’t make any noise vibrations once the settings are dialed in correctly. Hit me up if you have any questions and check out my first video shot almost entirely with the Varavon Birdycam Gimbal using the above settings:


Joell Ortiz “Q&A” Music Video


Varavon Birdycam2 Gimbal

New Varavon Wirecam Footage

Varavon recently launched behind the scenes footage from a Korean dance show that demonstrates the Wirecam, a radio controlled device that attaches to the Birdycam Gimbal to provide smooth, zipline-like manuevers across a cable that’s tethered across two points. These are the kinds of camera moves typically seen on pro sports broadcasts and would be great to use for performance based music videos. If the build and functionality is anything like the Birdycam, I think we’re all in for a treat. The Varavon Wirecam officially launches this November and you can buy it separately or together with the Birdycam Gimbal.

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Varavon Wirecam + Birdycam Gimbal

Varavon Wirecam Cable Cam
product information button runplayback Varavon Wirecam Camera Cable Cam System


Varavon Birdycam2 Gimbal

Varavon Birdycam 3-Axis Camera Gimbal

As you can tell from the video above, the Varavon Birdycam2 Gimbal is a lot of fun (especially in 4K)! After a few days of indoor balancing, I was able to put the Birdycam to the test by running and gunning around Midtown Manhattan in New York City with rapper Joell Ortiz for his upcoming music video “Q&A”. From a rooftop in Times Square to the C train subway platform, the Varavon Birdycam2 Gimbal performed with ease. Here’s a few details that some of you will find helpful:

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Varavon Birdycam2 Quick Release System

UNPACKING
The quality of the Birdycam2 is pretty impressive. Any camera related gear I’ve received from Korea has a level of quality that feels solid and the instructions were straightforward (though it helps to have gimbal balancing experience). The only place I got stuck, literally, was the baseplate. It was too tight and I had no idea how much force I was supposed to apply to remove it until I unscrewed the top of the mount and discovered the metal red loop thing is a crank lever. I balanced my GH4 + Metabones Speedbooster + 20mm 2.8 Canon FD combo quickly while watching the Cheesycam tutorial video. Everything worked pretty solid except my calibration was a bit off. Now I didn’t enter any PID settings, so out of the box, it was a pretty good balance. Then I practiced packing it into the bag to see how fast I could take apart and rebuild. It’s surprisingly easy to fold up and fold out. Just watch your battery and joystick wires as they tend to flop around the handles.

BALANCING
The second day I put a Manfrotto baseplate on top of the Birdycam baseplate to give it some extra weight for my GH4. And that’s when the gimbal freaked out. I removed the Manfrotto to regain my original balance but the gimbal just wasn’t having it. That’s when I went into PID settings to fix.

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7″ Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 running SimpleBGC Bluetooth App

PID SETTINGS
I ended up purchasing a used 7″ Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 to use the Bluetooth control that’s built into the Birdycam2. Please keep in mind that in order to download the SimpleBGC app into the Galaxy you’ll have to download the actual .apk file here:

http://www.basecamelectronics.com/downloads/android/

For some reason, the Google Play Store will not download it through the Galaxy. I emailed Basecam and they’re trying to solve the issue. The software does seem to download on other Samsung devices such as the Note and the S series. Go figure.

samsung galaxy tab android simplebgc bluetooth app gimbal
7″ Android Tablet Samsung Galaxy 4

So, after some tweaking I got my PID settings to a great place. The only thing that felt off was the calibration. No matter how many times I balanced it on the stand, the camera would favor a slight 10 degree rotation to the right. To correct that I turned off the motors using the Bluetooth app. Then I placed the gimbal on a solid desk surface, with the rear kickstand sitting flat. Finally I calibrated both the Camera IMU and Sensor IMU and that did the trick. So basically if you want a proper calibration, do it on a flat surface instead of the stand.

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Pelican 1610 Rolling Hardcase for Birdycam2 Gimbal

TRAVELING
While the soft carrying case that comes with the Birdycam is nicely padded, I could see the thing falling apart, especially with how I like to move around the city. To solve this, I ended up using a Pelican 1610 Rolling Hard Case that is a perfect fit. I simply removed the padded foam from the soft bag, transferred it into the Pelican and added some loose foam pieces around the edges to keep it secure. It’s the perfect size as you can tell from the photo.

Pelican 1610 Hard Case gimbal Birdycam
Pelican 1610 Case with Foam for Camera (Black)

FINAL THOUGHTS
So far so good! I had a brief time flying the DJI Ronin but it’s a bit heavy for my GH4 combo so the Varavon Birdycam2 Gimbal seems to hit the sweet spot for me in terms of functionality and price. Like most gimbals I’ll have the occasional freak out glitch where I have to reset before a take and wait 10 seconds. But that can be solved by some shortcut programming in the PID software. Also I’m a short guy so shooting in upright mode will most likely be my main gimbal style. Since the rear kickstand blocks the lens when turning it to upright mode, I’ll have to mount the camera backwards.

Well done Varavon.


Varavon Birdycam2 Gimbal