Gimbals: How They Make Your Scenes Buttery Smooth

If you are new to the filmmaking game, or are just starting out with filming B Roll the term gimbal might be a little unfamiliar to you. I’m sure you have watched a YouTube video where the video is so shaky it makes you physically ill! This is a sure sign that the person filming is an amateur. These mistakes are easily solved with a gimbal!

A gimbal is a simple device that rotates on a 2, 3, or 4 axis via electronic motors.

This enables the person who is filming to walk over uneven surfaces, or to pan from point A to B while walking, or to move while filming to capture the scene with very little “shakiness” for lack of a better term. This tranlates to a buttery smooth shot! This is possible because the gimbal counteracts the movements that cause the side to side, and up and down movements caused from walking or moving while filming. The motors are also designed to prevent jarring, or sudden weird movements from the operator. You can see this in action from the video below…via the link. It really is an amazing piece of technology!

If B Roll for stock is your thing and you aren’t using a gimbal stop what you are doing right now and go buy one! Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a $1.2k dollar DJI Ronin! Check out the Zhiyun Smooth Q here. This fancy little gimbal costs less than $100 USD and is developed for a smart phone, or Go Pro with the proper attachment here.

The cameras on our smartphones are absolutely phenomenal these days and we all know that GoPro, when shot in Linear mode is capable of stupid good footage! By going this route you will very quickly learn the tricks of the trade and finally learn how people are getting those EPIC panning/moving shots while maintaining a smooth scene. All of this can be achieved “professionally” for under $100 USD if you buy a used gimbal. Once you have everything figured out with your Smooth Q, or the like….sure, then upgrade to the Ronin or more expensive Gimbals that are designed to hold a DSLR or mirrorless camera. Your shots will be that much better by learning with the smaller gimbal/phone/GoPro setup anyway.

However, you’re a risk taker, an untamed animal if you will, and I know you want to take your shots to the next level! Keep reading and I will teach you how!

Buy a Monopod online, or from your local Best Buy! One like this:

It doesn’t have to be that brand…just something that is good and sturdy to mount your gimbal on. Once you have your monopod, screw your gimbal to the end of it, then insert your camera, phone, or GoPro into the Gimbal housing! (GoPro setup shown in the video here)

Boom….instant crane shots! Hold your Gimbal and monopod setup above your head and sloooooowly lower it down for a badass crane shot! You can also set your frame rate a little higher….say 60 to 90 frames per second (FPS), then lower your monopod/gimbal setup at a somewhat quick rate and slow it down in post production which will also give a great crane shot effect. More on that topic at a later time though because we still have much to learn about gimbals.

One very important thing to keep in mind is that no matter how smooth your footage….nothing replaces a well thought out shot.

This brings us to our next topic; filmaking. A camera is just a tool. As is a gimbal, and a fast computer with all of the latest softaware, etc… Your CREATIVITY is what will set you apart, but you must know how to USE the fancy tools as well. It’s not an either or kinda thing! They work hand in hand.

Never shoot before planning a shot. What’s the bigger picture? How will this shot effect the overall story? Is there any clutter in the background? Are my camera settings correct? The list goes on and on. Once you’ve crossed the list off….THEN hit the record button.

Once you get some experience under your belt do some shopping….purchase that beautiful DJI gimbal with a DSLR or Mirrorless camera setup. I PROMISE you….the end result will be phenomenal because learning through hard work, dedication, and failure will ensure the expensive gear pays dividends exponentially. Without the hardship….you just have fancy, albeit very expensive paper weights.

To learn WAY more than you need to know about gimbals follow this link!

As always, thanks for hanging out and keep checking back to learn more awesome stuff!

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