I've been paying a bit of attention lately to video stability… both from the 5D mk ii and in professionally done movies. Stability is all over the place! And, a lot of it is style. Turns out, you can do just about anything you want, but you have to at least pay attention to it. My wife and I watched a movie the other day, I think it was “Rachael Getting Married”, and it was intentionally shaky… and it drove us nuts.
So, what about with the 5D mk ii? It can be shaky or steady, but that's up to you. There's a variety of resources and tools to help you improve on the steadiness of your videos.
I'm noticing that wide angle lenses don't show much shake. Friend of the blog Dave Shepherd (of Five Giants Studio) sent us this clip where he is scooting around a parking garage on a longboard and is using his 5D mk ii with a 15mm f2.8 Fisheye and a Rode Stereo Video Mic (see the image at the top of the article to see Dave with his camera and mic)
Then, there's the normal kind of shooting that people do without an IS (image stabalizer) lens. This example from Andrew Kraker is a very nice little engagement shoot, but as Andrew pointed out “The shaky video was my fault. No stabilizer and a 70-200mm lens is not a good idea with video.” It isn't obnoxious to most (and the couple probably won't even notice) but I think most of us would like to eliminate this kind of shake.
So what about tools to help you with this?
One idea I use is to wrap the camera strap around your neck and hold the camera taughtly out from your chest giving some more support than just handholding. It gives one extra little bit of help holding the camera stable. I first saw this on the Bebb “Fusion” ad.
Of course, you should be using IS lenses if at all possible. The downside of course as we've all learned is that the IS motor sound is picked up by the internal mic, so if you plan to use the audio from the camera, you'd better get an external mic. Here's a video that I made the day I got my 5D mk ii. It was done with an IS lens – the ‘kit' 24-105 f4 L. You can see it is pretty good handheld… but obviously, I didn't keep the audio.
You can also do some smoothing in your editing software if it has that capability, but you should know that it sometimes comes with a cost… iMovie 09 for example can do stabilization, but over use can create a ‘jelly' like look so be careful and learn how to adjust the level of stabilization that is applied.
You can also go whole hog and buy (or make) a ‘steadycam'. Here's Cloud Nine Creative's (a wedding photographer) sample of a 5D mk ii on a Glidecam:
Here's another sample of a GlideCam 2000 done by Stephen Alvarez:
You may not need a steadycam for everything. I've been experimenting with using my monopod to act like a steadycam for a while and it can help… not perfect, but it may be good enough to get you thru the session. If you want a whole bunch of references to steadycam rigs and how to use them, check the steadycam section of the wiki. You can also look at tips on monopods and tripods in the wiki as well.
There you go, lots of ideas and tools to help you learn how to stabilize your videos (if you want them to be that is LOL)
Tim Vetter's home built rig.
This video was shot with the Canon 5D Mark II, hand held. The video was pulled into iMovie 09, to crop and down scale it (about 1/4 the size of the original file).