Tag Archives: gimbal

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.

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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.

Panasonic GH4 Multi-Camera Shooting

I’ve known Emm from Cheesycam for quite some time but our first collaboration was a shoot for Heineken, Complex and Team Epiphany who wanted a branded content piece featuring big names in fashion such as Chris Gibbs from Union LA and luxury brand Parabellum. The task was straightforward: a multi-camera shoot featuring three on camera talent intercut with slick fashion product shots and Heineken branding.

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A slew of Panasonic GH4’s are great for multi-camera interview shoots

Since I knew he’d be in the area, I reached out to Emm to help with the shoot and we came up with a simple gear list: 4 Panasonic GH4’s, tripods, a Zoom H6 recorder, a few Sennheiser G3 wireless lav kits, a Rode NTG-2 shotgun mic, F&V K4000 LED Light panels with stands, and of course one of his homemade gimbal stabilizers.

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Panasonic GH4 + Panasonic Lumix 14mm 2.5 pancake lens + Homemade Gimbal

The size and weight of the Panasonic GH4 means less gear you are required to pack. With the compact size of the GH4, we were able to use smaller lenses, smaller tripods, and smaller stabilizers. Traveling to different locations, we knew this would make moving around the city fast and easy while being able to manage multiple camera angles.


product information button runplayback Panasonic GH4 4K Video Recording

The Zoom H6 was chosen specifically as we knew we would be recording audio from at least three subjects and used the Rode NTG-2 as a backup audio source. The Zoom H6 can input at least 5 audio sources – (4) XLR (1) 3.5mm.

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product information button runplayback Zoom H6 Portable Audio Recorder

When working with wireless audio, there is always the potential of interference. To avoid any issues, stick with using a high quality proven system. The Sennheiser G3 Wireless Kits are a solid and reliable industry standard that I’ve been using for years. A Rode NTG-2 Shotgun mic was placed close to the subjects mainly as a backup audio recording.

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product information button runplayback Sennheiser G3 Wireless Audio

Rode NTG-2 Shotgun Mic
product information button runplayback Rode NTG-2 Shotgun Microphone

We knew all of the shots would take place during the day, so we mainly needed a set of lights as fill for our subjects. We wanted to work with a set of panels that offered soft lighting and can be battery operated. The F&V K4000 LED Light Panels offers a good amount of light output and were powered by cheap Sony NPF batteries through a V-Mount Adapter. These worked great and supplemented a lot of the natural daylight setups that we were fortunate enough to shoot in. I wanted a very subtle lighting setup that highlighted some of the cool products featured in the designer’s studios.

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

Sony NPF Battery V Mount adapter
product information button runplayback V-Mount Battery Adapter using Sony NPF Batteries

For the detail shots and closeups we used my GH4 + Metabones Canon FD Speedbooster combo while everything else was shot on Panasonic Lumix lenses. GH4’s are great for long conversational style interviews because the batteries seem to last forever. The less interruptions, the better the soundbites.

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Panasonic GH4 + Metabones Canon FD Speedbooster + Canon FD 35-105mm 3.5 lens

Although we matched our color profiles and settings across each camera, Emm and I noticed the Speedboosted GH4 had a much creamier quality than his sharper digital cousins. I couldn’t part with the “lived in” look of the Metabones Speedbooster so we decided to roll with it anyway.

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Panasonic GH4 + Panasonic Lumix 14mm 2.5 pancake lens + Homemade Gimbal + Electric Skateboard

The opening and outro shots were shot with Emm’s homemade gimbal while walking or riding on his electric skateboard. And seriously Emm is like Q from James Bond in that he’d present and demonstrate a new gadget for me and it was a near guarantee that each tool would be invaluable to the shoot. The final product was a hit with the agency and client and a lot of it was attributed to the flawless performance of the GH4 and some solid DIY technology. Check it out below.


Heineken 100 “Open Your World” Branded Content

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.

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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