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  • Subject area(s): Engineering
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  • Published on: 7th September 2019
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Lab Report grip equipment

1 Introduction

The capabilities of camera stabilization equipment have been expressed to determine which is the most practical in a range of environments. The results are expressed in terms of time taken to set-up, ease of operation how impactful it is in various environments. Because of limitations to where tests could be run, they have been recorded in controlled environments where there were less potential hazards. The results are constant with the data in the literature, within experimental error. The experiment was carried out with Steadicam Glidecam 4000, Sachtler Ace Shoulder Rig, Tripod, Crane/jib, Fig rig and Konova K5-A1-80PL Slider, With also the added extras of Ledgo lighting kit, Westcott Fast Flags and an r44 recorder. References have been sourced from various online sources as well as my own.

2 Experiment 1:

The experiment was carried out using a Sony FS100 and EA50 both using the standard 18-55 kit lens.

Both were set up up on the same picture profiles image quality and frame rate. The experiments involved the use of the Steadicam, fig rig, tripod and Shoulder Rig with follow focus, Ledgo Lights and R44 Sound Recorder. Three separate test were run to gather a full range of the capabilities of the equipment in different environments: on the street, in corridors and hallways and the TV studio. All footage was shot around set locations where it could easily be monitored for dangers. A course was set to test the grip equipment for pitch, yaw and roll capabilities while maintaining camera stabilization.

2.1 Steadicam- Glidecam 4000:

2.11 About Steadicam-Glidecam

The Steadicam was invented by cameraman Garrett Brown and was introduce in 1975. (Wikipedia) this camera stabilization device isolates the camera from the operators’ movements. This allows the user to move as fast and freely as possible while still giving a smooth shot. The user wears a vest which is then attached to an arm, this then connects to a gimbal which the camera will then be mounted upon, in the case of our experiment the Glidecam xr-4000 developed and designed by Martin Stevens in the spring of 1991, Glidecam uses a three axis gimbal which incorporates several adjustable axis convergence controls. (

2.12 Tests/Results

The set up of the Steadicam/Glidecam is a very meticulous process before use ca while it provides for a smooth shot it is not practical for those looking a quick this isn’t the best go to. The first test ran was outdoors as can be seen in clips 1,2 and 3 of video reel when tracking subjects with the Steadicam it is smooth and there is very little shutter roll, Glidecam being such a sensitive device there is movement in the pitch and yaw of the camera which only becomes more fluid with practice of the Glidecam. While there are disadvantages to this equipment there are many pros of Steadicam it allows you to not only track subjects but fit into spaces where you cannot go with other pieces of such as stairs, through corridors and tight gaps. The Steadicam is a lot more comfortable to operate than the other piece’s grip equipment by wearing a vest weight is evenly distributed throughout the torso and on the hips, for example the shoulder rig puts a lot of pressure on the shoulders which can be be uncomfortable and painful especially when using larger cameras such as the Sony FS100 and EA50, the Fig Rig can become tiresome after periods of time as you are having to hold it up with just your arms. Indoors the Steadicam can be kept close to the body to get in and around hallways, with the Steadicam being adjustable you are able to get different arms and gimbals for a range of maneuverability.          


2.2 Shoulder rig:

2.21 About Shoulder rig

The Sachtler Ace shoulder rig is designed to support a camera that helps to prevent or compensate for unwanted camera movement, i.e. camera shake. The shoulder brace allows for pressure to be taken off the arm and transferred to the shoulder which helps to reduce tiredness and muscle cramps when filming. (Wikipedia) Test were performed to see how stable the camera could be kept when tracking, panning and stills.

2.22 Tests/Results

The shoulder rig along with its follow focus does not take long to set up, the most strenuous part of the process is attaching the follow focus. The ergonomics of the shoulder rig allow for comfort when filming, it can however become uncomfortable after long periods of time as a majority of pressure is on the shoulder. The shoulder rig also restricts a lot of movement as the operator is not able to move as freely in comparison to the Steadicam because of the body being the main source of stabilization. As can be seen in clip 4 tacking is fairly smooth until you make any sudden movements, the results showed that there is shutter roll when turning with the apparatus making the image blurry for a brief moment there is also, noticeable camera shake being that all the movement of the camera is dependent on where the operator as apposed to the Steadicam which can independently move on the extendable arm. Despite these factors the shoulder rig has its advantages over the other devices, because of its quick assembly time you are able to pick up and shoot which makes this good for filming documentary as well as tracking subjects spontaneously. While it may not be the best for shooting indoor its outdoor capabilities are why it is such a useful piece of equipment.

2.3 Slider

2.31 About slider

A camera slider is a set of bracketed tracks that to either a set of tripod legs or a light stand. (explora). The slider has movable plate that a camera can be attached to or a tripod head can be placed between the camera and the carriage, for a wider range of panning and angle option. The slider also allows you to film low angle dolly shots by being placed directly on the floor without the use of a stand. A sliders main feature is to be able to shoot smooth, compelling *tracking shots that can be set up and executed in a matter of seconds.

2.32 Tests/Results

The results showed the Konova slider to be a sturdy piece of kit, smooth pans and tracks are able to be achieved with little to no camera shake, when used with a tripod head makes the use of the slider much easier as well as being able to achieve pans and track small tilts can also be performed. The Slider performs better at achieving shots low to the ground as set up on tripods can take a while to balance and can get in the way of performing certain movements.

The slider is the best at achieving smooth pans compared to other it being on a fixed path you can left and right fluidly whereas with the Steadicam cam or shoulder rig shots may tilt or shake from the movement of the operator.

2.4 Jib Arm

2.41 About Jib arm

The Jib is a boom device with a camera at one end, and counter weights/camera controls at the opposite side. It operates similar to a see-saw, but with the balance point located closer to the counter weight to allows the camera to move through and extended arc. (Wikipedia) a Jib is usually operated by two people one controlling the pitch and yaw of the jib and the other controlling camera movement.

2.42 Tests/Results

The jib having similar characteristics of a standard tripod allows the jib to shoot smooth pans or tracks or both as well as stills, clip 6 shows a diagonal upward tilt the camera image maintains focus while still keeping smooth, however by the camera being placed on a standard tripod head it does not have the same stability features as the gimbal staying in a set position while rotating on multiple axis’s, which leaves little camera roll when moving camera. Another disadvantage of the jib is its transportability, it is a very larger device which has to be taken apart to move between locations, restricting it to a single place once set up. However, jibs are usually on wheels which allows to move it around a studio/ set when filming giving you the ability to not only track but capture high tilts/over the head shots you wouldn’t be able to reach with any of the other devices.   

2.5 Fig Rig

2.51 About Fig Rig

The fig is the most recently developed piece of equipment out of all of the equipment. This grip device is designed for smaller film/video cameras and was designed by film director Mike Figgis. The fig rig was then made commercial by the Manfrotto group. (Wikipedia)

2.52 Tests/Results

While tests with this piece of equipment were not run during the experiment it was necessary to include previous use with the equipment as it is the most basic form of shooting out of all the devices.  The fig being so similar to hand-held shooting it was easy to conclude that this is the worst out of all the devices, unless your going for a handheld look this will not be able to give the smooth pans r tilts like the other camera. Holding the fig rig can become tiresome after short period of time as all pressure is put on the arms when holding the equipment, footage is very shaky and there is a lot of camera and shutter roll even when trying to keep steady. I would only suggest using the fig if your filming a POV style or where camera shake doesn’t effect the quality of the movie.   

3 Lighting/sound

We also tested the capabilities of the Westcott lighting flags along with the Ledgo lighting kit under a studio environment to see how lighting was effected when used, we tested how well the Ledgo kit was at lighting a studio setting. The Roland R44 field kit was used to record audio along with the NT2-A microphone.

3.1 Westcott Fast Flags

Lighting flags are a quick solution to changing the lighting conditions of a scene without changing the camera settings. The Westcott kit has 4 different flag options cutting from 3/4 stops to a full two stops down, this is a collapsible system which makes it ideal for on the move shooting where set up time is crucial.

 The flags work well under controlled studio condition but when used outdoors there not as effective outdoors where light is more spread and other light reflectors perform better.

3.2 Ledgo Lighting kit

3.21 About Ledgo Lights

Ledgo lighting kit is a Led based Lighting system with a v mount battery plate option, they can last up to 10,000 hours and generate 75%less electricity and 80% less heat compared to conventional lighting methods such as the Arri lighting kit. The LED-600 uses 600 ultra bright 5400k LEDs and is able to produce the equivalent output of an 860-watt tungsten light. (VirtualStudio.TV, Jamie Huckle).


Test were run to see if they could be used similar to a standard lighting system and still be as effective, the backlight Ledgo was set to roughly 2400k while the key light was at full with a diffuser and spot spot at roughly 3500k as can be seen in slider 2 footage this was the look achieved. Results found were that although they a very good at lighting a scene there is not much ability to direct the light exactly where you want it as the matte box isn’t a big as you would like, they cannot be dimmed or manipulated like other lighting which have spot lighting and spread features.

3.3 Roland R44 Field Recorder

The Roland R44 recorder is a 4 channel field recording kit, with the ability of recording 4 stereo/mono tracks. The recorder has a combination of inputs which can be used such as XLR’s, TRS phone plug and a standard phone plug cables. Tracks can be monitored independently to check volumes as opposed to other field recorders without this function.

4 Conclusion

I believe there full engineering capabilities of each device was explored as thoroughly as possible as was clear the limitations of the grip equipment and which performed better in specific environments. The Steadicam is very versatile with the ability to have the operator move freely while the camera balances on a 3 axis gimbal gives smooth professional shot whether the operator is running, skating or climbing stairs. The shoulder rig has its limitations when it come to stability because of its reliance on the user’s steadiness here is little camera roll when shooting or performing turns. The Slider is able to achieve smooth pans while maintaining a smooth path, its limitations are the fact you are required to use two tripods to keep stable and balanced.

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