Pans, tilts, jibs, and sliders are all solid, established tools to help you add motion to your documentary. But a steadicam, or more recently, a brushless gimbal, can emulate all of those traditional movements with ease. More importantly, they can do things that no other tool can do: they can take your documentary production to a whole new level.
I hope you’ve learned a few basics on how to use a gimbal for steady footage, without going broke or making it far too complex.
No matter what camera you put on a gimbal, one of the biggest issues is monitoring what you’re shooting. Some cameras have removable LCD screens that you can mount somewhere on the gimbal, or you can flip out the camera screen so it’s in a decent position.
While using the gimbal’s follow mode allows you to control the overall gimbal direction by moving the camera, many gimbals have a remote or toggle that allows you to pan and tilt with buttons, rather than by moving the camera and gimbal itself.
If you have a variety of lenses, or just one zoom lens, you have some important decisions to make when you’re shooting with a gimbal.
A gimbal can keep your camera level and pointed forward, but if it wasn’t able to turn with you while you follow a subject, it could be very frustrating.
A 3-axis gimbal can keep your shot level and smooth no matter if you rotate the camera left or right, tilt it up or down, or rotate the camera on its roll axis. But it can’t help if the entire contraption moves up and down.
Once you’ve mastered the art of walking while shooting with a gimbal, you can create some more interesting shots by simply getting off your feet and onto some wheels.