A motorised gimbal is one of the most useful tools you can get today for camera stabilisation. They’re much easier to get to grips with than a steadicam style stabiliser, and their prices have come down dramatically in the last year or so. For mobile phones, action cameras, DSLRs or even big RED setups, they are absolutely invaluable. But using them effectively can be challenging.
The temptation is just to hold them static in front of you and shoot away. But this can lead to pretty boring footage. This video from DP Justin Jones for Aputure’s Four-minute film school goes through 13 essential movements that you should know. You don’t need to use all of them in every production, but they will give you many interesting and exciting options when it comes time to edit.
I didn’t realise how many of these I seem to have picked up just using my Zhiyun gimbal for the past year or so. But there’s definitely a few here I haven’t tried, that I will be practising with now. Some will require a gimbal with specific features, though. In the video, they use the DJI Ronin. Here’s the full list.
- The Push-in and Pull-Out
- Push/Pull + Parallax combo
- Mouse Eye
- Ground Up
- Toe to head
- Poor Man’s Jib
- Whip Pan
- Car Rig
- Bird’s Eye
Some of these, like the corkscrew will require specific gimbals, and a remote control. In that particular example, one operator pushes in toward the subject while another rotates the camera with the remote. The Whip Pan, too, will also depend on the gimbal you’re using. It’s not something motorised gimbals can typically do. But, there’s tricks to get around it.
Some of these are also much easier with lighter gimbals. For example, omething like a Zhiyun Smooth II or Smooth Q with a mobile phone, or a DJI Osmo. The poor man’s jib can be done with a painter’s pole and a SPIG 1420 VAL Spigot screwed into the tripod mount at the bottom. This allows you to raise your camera from ground level up to around 16ft (5m) in the air. I wouldn’t try this with a heavier rig, though.
I tend not to do much with parallax or orbiting when I use the gimbal. They produce some pretty cool results, though, with dramatic effect. I’m not making music videos like Justin, but I can easily see these sorts of movements fitting into my video work.