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Olympic footage /filming question

Simes's picture
Last seen: 2 years 10 months ago
Joined: 10/29/2011 - 6:35pm

Hi guys, I've been watching footage of the filing of the Olympics. Oftentimes, cameramen/women with very large video cameras are moving quickly around winners (say at the end of races). I've been wondering how the images from these cameras are stabilised, as from the movement around of the camera, they sure look like they must require a lot of it. A few cameramen/women have mechanical image stabilier arms on, but most don't.

a) Do such large video cameras have image stabilsation built in.
b) Or do they film at a far higher resolution than HD - to allow for stabilisation during editing.

Like I say, it's not the fact that image stabilisation is needed (as when wouldn't it be) - but rather the huge amount that must be being used to get stable HD images - and if so - that the equipment must be filming at far higher resolutions to permit this..


paulears's picture
Last seen: 2 days 14 hours ago
Joined: 11/05/2006 - 8:36am

They're not stabilised - they are using wide angle, close in and are good cameramen. Shoulder mounted cameras, even modern ones are pretty heavy, and inertia helps an awful lot. On wide, it's simple to produce quite usable shots. With a camera being held in front of you, it would wobble like mad. We've had stable shoulder mounted images for years. Give a camera to a novice and they'll wobble. Give it to an expert and it'll look stable. If they zoomed in, of course, then wobbly would be an issue - but they don't do that - that's what the others on proper supports are for.


SafeHarbor's picture
Last seen: 3 weeks 4 days ago
Joined: 01/22/2010 - 3:28pm

Yes, a wide-angle lens definitely minimizes movement. I shoot with hand-held DV and HDV cams and consider myself to have a very steady hand, but screwing on a .7x adapter really makes a big difference in smoothing out motion.

Jeff Pulera

Safe Harbor Computers


Simes's picture
Last seen: 2 years 10 months ago
Joined: 10/29/2011 - 6:35pm

Hi guys, I hear what you describe, but I'm still surprised by how much movement there is. I located a relevant clip on youtube here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LtYYqawJUg8 [after Bolt has won the 100m].

It's difficult to believe much useful footage was obtained by the camera guys up-close.

When you mention wide-angle, aside from the fact that it can be more stable by nature, do you also mean it's easier to stabilise at editing time (i.e. tends to have more margin around subject).

Your comments appreciated.


paulears's picture
Last seen: 2 days 14 hours ago
Joined: 11/05/2006 - 8:36am

No - I can't remember the last time I stabilised anything I shoot? It's to do with field of view. If you go extreme - like the stuff you see shot on GoPro HD - the camera was on skis, board, planes, bikes and looks pretty stable - at the other end you have people who work at the long end of the lens quite a lot and need big heavy cameras supports. With a lens on full zoom, then 1mm on the pan handle downwards could shift the picture maybe half of the screen height. Just touching the pan bar produces a jump. On wide angle - as in wide angle of a normal zoom, that 1mm would be hardly noticeable. On a wide-angle zoom such as the types used in the video clip, you can get stable shots quite easily. Also remember that the inertia of a big camera also helps smooth out movement. Doing the same with a hand sized palmcorder would produce more wobble because it's so light. Watch the news footage of the celebs coming out of an event where there's a camera scrummage - sure they can wobble, but in the heat of the moment that can actually look exciting!

Image stabilisers are the video version of the audio man's auto tune. Some people leave them on all the time and pitch correct as a matter of course. It's much better to get a decent singer than have to faff around correcting everything. Same with video - shoot properly and then there's no need to stabilise.