Yes Virginia, DV Cameras can Float (At least Feel like it)
Article obtained with permission from Digitalfilmmaker.com.
Camera stabilization is must for anyone shooting anything professionally. Some might tell you the shaky cam look is in but let's be real. It gets annoying after a short while. Stability is the key. The Glidecam 2000 and 3000 are quickly becoming a hot property in filmmaking, particularly in films shot on digital video and there's a reason for that. Sure it looks cool to have your camera connected to this strange contraption but the coolest thing of all is it can make you shoot look more professional. One of the things that very a pro shoot from that of rank amateurs is the amount of "shake" in a camera. Pros normally don't like any kind of shakiness to a camera unless that's their style or they're filming an earthquake scene. This is where the Glidecam comes in.
First thing first, setting it up. You could do it by looking at the pictures alone but read the directions so you won't screw anything up. What you get is a bunch of screws, a rod and some metal plates. You stare for a moment and wonder what you got yourself into but believe me it's simple stuff. The nice thing is it sets up like it says it does in the book unlike instructions that you can make heads or tails out of. I think you can put this together in about forty-five minutes or less. It took me about thirty.
The key to the Glidecam is how you hold it and how much weight you add. When I first put it together (the Glidecam 2000 Pro) I used it with my Panasonic PVDV100. Not a heavy camera at all but the Glidecam kit comes with these weights that you screw on to the bottom of the unit to give it as much weight as needed to get it to balance right. So I put all of the weights on which give me about a good five pounds. The unit itself is a pound and the weight are four. The question is can the Glidecam give you as good of shots as you see on professional shoots? The answer won't surprise anyone who've used the Glidecam before - yes. For about $400 (give or take a few bucks considering where you get it) you'll get the quality of a pro stabilization.
Another key to the Glidecam is weight balance. I experienced a bit of awkward balancing causing the camera to tilt a bit either way. Based on how your camera is made you will have to stack the weights against the weight of your camera. Hold the Glidecam as directed with a good grip on the front and holding the back handle with your other hand. The Glidecam can be held steady even without a vest but a vest isn't a bad investment (really bad pun intended).
After playing around with the Glidecam for awhile I became very impressed with the fact that it was as steady if not more than any in camera stabilization. You can move slow or fast and get the types of camera movement you see on the big screen with little fuss. It takes a little practice but you can master it in a day or less. Even if you're on a small budget shoot the Glidecam not only gives your video a professional look it makes you look professional operating. Image is everything even behind the camera.
If you've got a big budget you can probably get any means of stabilization you want but if you're doing a low to medium budget shoot and you want great stability look into the Glidecam. The 2000 Pro is for smaller lighter cameras while the 3000 Pro is for cameras in the Canon XL or Panasonic DVX100 range. The Glidecam is strange because in some ways it seems that it makes you stabilize yourself as you use it. I don't get it the same unstable hand is now somehow stable. I get that feeling that if I look into it and find out this thing shouldn't work as well as it does it'll just fall apart and stop working. I have that fear with airplanes too. Seriously, Glidecam Industries also offers vest and other things to aid you with shooting. For more information see www.glidecam.com.
GLIDECAM INDUSTRIES, INC.
23 Joseph Street
Kingston, MA 02364