Shooting with a steadycam

I recently got involved in a short film project that required shooting with a Steadycam.

Steadycam Operator

Johannes Stromme my good friend and steady-cam operator.

The plan

My first thought was to get my hands on a full steadycam. My friend lent me his Glidecam 4000HD and full body brace and arm.
Good start. I was on a shoot a few weeks ago and shot steadycam but really had no choice but to go ultra wide angle (such as Tokina 11-16) to eliminate the need to switch focus.
And even so experienced that nothing ever seemed to be quite in focus. Either i set the focus to infinity and everything closer than 5-6m looked hazy, or set focus to 5m and everything before and after looked bad.
What I actually needed was a wireless follow focus- but this posed another problem. By the freedom granted by a steadycam one is inclined to move about a lot. This means either the focus puller needs to run after the steadycam, keeping an eye on a on-rig rather large monitor.
Or, I would need a wireless monitoring system. After some serious recearch I deemed any pro market/cinema solutions as waaay too pricey. Paralinx Arrow was still over my budget.
I found a rental place that would rent me an Arri WFU-3 wireless follow focus. After tests we found it could be used with the likes of EF lenses (Nikon F, Sony Alpha and E-mount lenses too). But required manual calibration.
This system is actually built for the Arri Alexa with 3 different motors, Iris, Focus and Zoom. I needed just the focus.

Arri wireless follow focus unit   Arri wireless follow focus motor

Camera and wireless video

Tha camera I wanted to shoot on was the consumer Sony FS700 due to its capability of shooting 120FPS in 1080p HD. Luckily this camera has both live HDMI and 3G-SDI out. Which means it can output high resolution video as it shoots. I bought a cheaper wireless HD solution with a small HDMI dongle that run on USB 5V.
Basically a rebranded Gefen TV it was easy with the camera end.

Fs700 setup wireless steadycam

The simple HDMI video transmitter setup

It required just 5v 0.5AMp to work. So any old USB battery pack would work to power it. Here is one i’d recommend on ebay. But I experienced that a full day of shooting wih only half an hour pause to recharge with a 5800mAh was more than enough to power the WHD transmitter.
The reciever though was a different story. It required 5v 2.1A, which means you need a much more powerful battery. There are several brands out there that can do the job. Typically iPad chargers that can output 2.1A. Here is what you need.
Wireless video unit
I used an ikan 5 inch monitor and rigged it all in a P&C cage.

One tip to evryone- whatever shoot youre on. You can NEVER have enough batteries!

Batteries charging

If you have any questions regarding the build please feel free to drop me a comment below. Have you ever shot with something like this? Would love to hear your experiences in the comments below.

Sources of inspiration for this blog:
Thanks Lee 😉
Cheesycam

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  1. […] recently got to work on a project that required slow motion video and also needed the use of a steadycam in almost all the shots. There are quite a few new cameras out there now that are capable of […]



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