This is the companion demo video of our exclusive review of the Steadicam Smoothee by Tiffen.
You're looking at informal footage taken during a day visit to the J Paul Getty Center in LA. The goal was to capture footage that showed the relative usefulness of the Steadicam Smoothee with the almost-impossibly-difficult video mode of the iPhone 3GS.
As all 3GS owners already know, the slippery iPhone has no natural movie grip, no internal stabilization and a rolling shutter so extreme that post-stabilization is virtually useless. It's a video mode for extreme emergencies, not for use documenting your life. Nearly every shot will be a study in how to not shoot video, extremely unstable and the poster image for jerky shooting.
The iPhone is not alone in this regard. Just about all phone video features are about as bad, but the iPhone is the emblem of video-in-a-phone-and-why-it-sucks-so-much.
Enter the Smoothee. I was able to get useful video with this rig. Even though the iPhone is useless for exposure adjustment and does occasionally stumble in its stream of frames, the shots are watchable.
It's not difficult to shoot with, although it will probably take a novice an afternoon to master. Like the larger Steadicams, it disconnects the cinematographer's hand from the camera, eliminating most wiggles, instabilities and twitches.
The camera and balance arm are stable through Newton's First Law Of Motion:
I. Every object in a state of uniform motion tends to remain in that state of motion unless an external force is applied to it. (momentum and intertia)
In this case, the Uniform Motion of the camera/arm combo is usually nearly at rest. Your hand has far more motion, your arm has motion and your feet move you, but all that is isolated from the camera.
Although Law II is working (vectors/push/mass), the Third Law:
III. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.
...comes into play. You can set the camera/arm spinning, slowly, with a whiff of finger pressure, and start a smooth pan, moving the arm to turn the pan into an orbiting move. You will see this several times in the video.
Wind and collisions with things can upset the arm/camera, but there are helium-finger* techniques to control much of that.
The combo turns iPhone video into decent video, even more stable than your camcorder and all its stability features.
Editing was in Apple's iMovie '09. Three shots were run backward to create continuity. A 25 cent reward is available to the first one who correctly spots the shots.
A version of this will be available for the Flip HD cameras, and that promises to obtain much more useful video.
This is the same video seen in the review at DigitalSecrets Dot Net.
* Think: Lighter than air.
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