Gyro Operating Issues

I have stressed learning to shoot with both eyes open so that a head-mounted monitor/viewfinder is possible. If this skill is not learned, head mounted monitors/viewfinders are disorienting and not usable by the operator.

There is need for zooming changes in different applications of a moving camera. If the camera is handheld or mounted to your body, you will probably stay wide angle and make most of your framing adjustments by walking about. If you are shooting from a moving vehicle, you will need to zoom, pan and tilt to keep objects in frame. This will effect your viewfinder position especially if sitting and you need the zoom control to be attached in a convenient position. The zoom control should be in line with the CG of the system with the other hand opposite and symmetrical.

There is a limit to the speed which you can pan or tilt a gyrostabilizer. You will find this limited speed is usually okay. If you are panning and tilting faster than this limit, you might not need to use gyros anyway.

When zoomed in all the way from a vehicle, the stabilizer will keep a properly designed gyro camera system image stable, but the operator will have a problem keeping objects well framed because of the relative speed of the camera vehicle to the object being photographed. If the vehicle stays in a straight line at a constant speed it helps, because the pan correction is constant.

Wide shots are of course easier. When you zoom in tight, operating gets trickier. This is true even with a camera on a tripod on solid ground. An indicator in the eyepiece or on the lens showing zoom focal length position can warn you to feather the zoom to a smooth stop and warn you when you are getting too tight for good control of the frame. The VX 1000 has such an indicator. Old 16-mm news cameras had expanded zoom and focus scales that you could read from behind the camera. This would necessitate keeping both eyes open and shifting attention from one to the other.

How firmly you hold the camera system at the guidance points is relevant. You need to isolate your body's motions from the camera system. The operator's body should be comfortable and prevented from sliding around. If your body is bouncing around your arms may not be able to isolate the motion of your body from the camera. It will also be difficult to judge the stability of the shot.

Out of the side door of the van we found wind not to be a factor, but the operator's arms guiding the camera got tired. You can prevent fatigue by supporting the arms and / or elbows from below on very soft foam rubber or from above with slings and bungee or rubber tubing. Don't support the arm too close to the hand. It will effect the camera. We found that just in front of the elbow best.

The rig must always be held while the vehicle is moving. We also provide a slack safety cord attached to the support above in case anything fails. (The operator should also have a safety belt.) Put all your accessories and batteries in a box so they can't fall out the open door.

Barbells are great for practicing walking and learning to walk smoothly. Shoes with arch support but low heals help. Moccasins help but they do not have arch support for heavier systems.

For more information read Gyro Safety and Moving Rigs.

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