4 Helpful Tips for Filming with Video Stabilizers

August 01, 2019 4 min read

4 Helpful Tips for Filming with Video Stabilizers - Movo

Trying to film movement without the help of video stabilizers can be extremely difficult. No matter how hard you try to keep your hands and body as still as possible, there will still be some level of shakiness to the shot because it’s almost impossible to hold a camera completely still on our own.Video stabilizers of all sizes and types are necessary for creating really beautiful and emotional shots. If your recordings are missing that professional look that a stabilizer can give, try using a handheld stabilizer or even a gimbal to take your project to the next level.

What is a Video Stabilizer?

Simply put, a video stabilizer is a device that connects to a multitude of different cameras to help hold the device steady while filming. Virtually every type of recording involves some sort of movement, but the moment that you begin walking with the camera, you’re bound to shake the frame, making it difficult for the viewer to focus on the action and giving your project a very amateur feel.

Video stabilizers are designed to eliminate some of that movement to make your shots smoother and more professional.Handheld stabilizers are affordable and easy to use but can still display a slight shakiness if you don’t learn how to properly control the device. Gimbals are another type of video stabilizer that have motorized parts and batteries to control and stabilize an image. However, without a tripod, you will still need to hold the device and walk with it, meaning a degree of shakiness may still be apparent. Use these tips to learn how to properly control your video stabilizers and get the crispest, steadiest image possible.

Tips for Filming with Video Stabilizers

1. Practice How You Walk

Some beginner filmmakers assume that recording with video stabilizers means that any trace of shakiness will be eliminated from their recording, but this is not the case. After you attach your video stabilizer, try walking at a normal pace while recording to see just how susceptible the device is to movement. Then, start practicing a different way of walking to keep the stabilizer straight and capture that steady image you’re looking for. Move slowly—the quicker you walk, the shakier the image will be. And, try to keep your arms locked in at your sides. You may not realize how much you’re swinging your arms as you move with the camera. Hold them tight against your body with your arms at a 90-degree angle for the optimal image.

man skateboarding with video stabilizer

2. Hop on Some Wheels

Even if you perfect the video stabilizer walk, you may never be able to completely eliminate that unsteady frame. The best solution to this is to add wheels to your camera. Of course, you don’t have to literally put wheels on the device, but if you, the filmmaker, cancapture the shot while moving on wheels, you’ll notice a much smoother result. If you’re a particularly adept skateboarder, this is a great way to keep the camera steady while shooting without having to move slowly by foot, but anything from riding in a car to hopping on a bike can produce a smoother image.

3. Get Rid of Extra, Heavy Accessories

Handheld stabilizers will get heavy fast, especially if you’re spending the entire day filming. Trust us, your arms will be exhausted after a long day of shooting, which is why you should try to make your camera as light as possible when using video stabilizers. This means removing big, heavy batteries, using a smaller lens and recording audio separately so you won’t need to lug a heavy microphone around above your camera. Lightening your camera will make it easier to keep the handheld stabilizer steady and help your camera last longer. It’s also a smart idea to invest in a tripod for your video stabilizer to help relieve some of the strain off your arms and improve the steadiness of a still shot. Tripods are particularly great when filming, panning or tilting shots, as well.

kids watching movie in a theater

4. Use Movement to Create an Emotion

This may be the most difficult part of using a video stabilizer for moving shots. Reducing shakiness obviously makes your production look more professional, but it also helps to insert the viewer into the scene as if they are really there experiencing all the same events.Movement of a camera can incite an intense emotional response in the viewer, which is what any filmmaker hopes to evoke. This, however, is not a technique that can be taught easily. Once you’ve learned how to use your handheld stabilizer, begin experimenting with different styles and speeds of movement until you find the one that gives your project the effect that you’re looking for.

Video stabilizers are very important to the filmmaking process because they can help steady the camera to create a more professional, clear shot. Without a handheld stabilizer, your shots will look amateur and may even be confusing if the viewer cannot easily follow the action on the screen. Invest in a stabilizer that works with your camera and begin experimenting with different styles of movement to create something truly unique.