May 6, 2009, 6:34 am
Filed under: Photo/Video | Tags: , ,

Took the camera with the steadicam to the park to get some test footage, and stumbled upon a game of good ol’ baseb-ol’

It was a bit windy and I think I still need to teak the weights a bit because the rig kept spinning a bit. Maybe it’s a problem with the bearing not being 137% in the center. I’ll have to check that out.

In the meantime, you can see the results… I got a few walking shots but these were the best…

I also took some stills… The D90 is just awesome. I noticed that pictures are super punchy when it’s overcast. It was genuine fun!

May 4, 2009, 5:45 am
Filed under: Photo/Video, tutorial | Tags: , , , , ,

Tutorial Numero UNO! I’ve had the D90 for quite some time, actually ever since it came out. It’s been treating me very well. As a still cam its¬†absolutely¬†amazing. And with addition of some strobist gear and knowledge you have to work hard at making the picture bad. The video on the other hand, is the opposite. Lots of work for good video. But if you use the info on the net about using the D-movie mode properly you will get good results. I’m writing this tutorial so that maybe it will help some with the workflow. I’ve been trying to find the best way of transcoding, editing and exporting for quite some time and with lots of headaches. But I feel that I found a good solution. If this is totally “no-duhhh!” for ya, then have a cup of coffee or go have fun shooting some video, just don’t yell at me… heheh…


For the others, like me, here is the workflow:

1. Get files from the D90

2. Export these files to Apple ProRes 422 (you need Final Cut Pro 6 for that codec) USING the MPEG Streamclip You can do a batch export from MPEG Streamclip… SWEEEET! Just press command-B or go to menu LIST>BATCH LIST. Add the clips and choose EXPORT TO QUICKTIME.


These are the settings for PRORES422


3. Install TOO MUCH TOO SOON D90 Rescaler courtesy of Mattias and Lee Wilson

4. FireUP! Final Cut Pro

5. Import your clips, Drag the clip into the timeline, Do your edit, Double click on the clip you want to remove the stairstepping in the timeline and it will open in the clip viewer

6. From Effects Tab go to VIDEO FILTERS>TMTS Video and drag the D90 Rescaler onto that clip in the viewer or in the timeline. That’s it. Its done. BAMM! It should now show up in the Filters tab on that viewer of that clip just so you can make sure it’s there.

7. Export the video. FILE > EXPORT > EXPORT TO QT choose ProRes again. DONE…

8. If you want to save the video for Vimeo or YouTube, Use the MPEG Streamclip to convert that file into H264.


9. Go and get yourself a good pecan pie for all the hard work you’ve just done! Or whatever other thing you like to do to celebrate… who knows! Watch the tutorial for specifics…

Let me know if you have a better way of doing this!

DIY Steadicam
May 2, 2009, 1:35 pm
Filed under: Photo/Video | Tags: , , , , , ,

DIY Steadicam

I’ve been working on a camera rig for my Nikon D90. This design is based on the Merlin Steadicam, but since I don’t have 800 bucks to dish out on something that should cost 150 max (I’d rather get that 70-200mm zoom – “the bazooka”), I managed to do it for 12 bucks. Yes I had a lot of freebies (like the bearings and the aluminum)

I have to give credit to WSCLATER from diycamera.com for the design and the brilliant idea of using a universal joint usually found in radio controlled toy cars and trucks. He has been a great help and has lots of goodies on his site, so make sure you check it out!

I’m using the the TRAXXAS driveshaft for the joint and skateboard wheel bearings.

traxxas driveshaft

Traxxas Driveshaft Assembly

I’ve been able to use my school’s shop to machine all the parts to make the joint fit into a handle and into the camera plate.

As you can see from the above picture, I turned a handle from aluminum round stock on a lathe. Put a set screw on the side of it so that when the ball bearing/traxxas joint assembly is put in, it can be secured. From left to right we have:
-the handle 1.5″ aluminum handle (milled from raw aluminum round strock)
– nut, washer, skateboard ball bearing, washer that all go on a threaded piece 1/4 20 bolt that I cut off to the right size. I had to file the bolt so that it was smaller so that the ball bearing would fit, and then thread the end of it (left end) so that the nut could be used to tighten the ball bearing. The other end of the bolt screws into the traxxas joint that I had to cut to the right size and thread. The other end (right) of the traxxas joint was threaded so that it could screw into another piece of aluminum round stock that then attached to the bottom plate of the rig.
– The plate is made of two parts. The bottom part, with the slit, is 1/4 inch aluminum that’s been milled so the slit can be used as a sliding adjustment for the forward/backward tuning of the rig. I then used four bolts that screw into another, 3 inch aluminum c-channel. I used spacers to offset the two plates. I guess you can use washers for that or get some spacers at your hardware store. WSCLATER has this kind of design that I appropriated. The c-channel has been cut in front into a triangle shape and bent so that it could receive the bent arm. The connection between the top plate and the bent arm could be made more elegantly, but I found it was very sturdy so I just left it alone.
– The arm is made of .5″ (I think) aluminum tube with a very thin wall. It is bent according to a very particular, scientifically calculated shape… ahh… NO, that’s not true, is it? I just sketched a shape that looked “right” and bent the tubing to that shape. The arm has a hole drilled in the front so that a forward weight can be attached. I just drilled a hole and used a carriage bolt to attach the weights. You can use washers as weights although they get expensive so I just used steel round stock that I had in the shop. The bottom of the tube is using the leftover traxxas shaft that I cut off. It is jammed into the tubing (fit almost perfectly) so that a bolt can be screwed into the end of the bent arm and the bottom weight can be attached.

To finish off the rig, I attached a Boghen sliding quick release plate to the top aluminum plate. This allows me to nicely attach the camera but most importantly it allows me to tune the rig so it stays balanced sideways. Look at this video to see what I’m talking about.

Balancing is crucial ! The right position of the camera, the right weight is very important. Start out with the bottom weight. Add just enough weight so that when you perform the “drop test” (look it up on merlin site) the camera rig should swing back from horizontal to vertical in about 1 second. Watch the quick start guide on youtube *it’s kinda funny* also you can download the merlin manual for more info. If you have TOO much weight on the bottom your rig will sway as you move it from side to side, when that weight is just right, there will be no swaying.

I hope this kind of explains the build. As you can see most of these parts are machined from scratch, except the joint, ball bearing, bolts, and the quick release plate… sorry, there really isn’t a list of off the shelf parts.

Here is the test… [blog]

Here are some pictures…