Tips on using a monopod wanted

Discussion in 'Amateur Video Production' started by Brian, Oct 8, 2010.

  1. Brian

    Brian Guest

    Recently I was using a monopod to video record plants and when playing
    back the results I noticed some horizontal camera shake and the
    panning was not smooth. I'm thinking of buying a head that I can screw
    on the top of my monopod to improve it.
    Does anyone have any tips on getting better videos when using a
    monopod?

    Regards Brian
     
    Brian, Oct 8, 2010
    #1
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  2. Brian

    Steve King Guest

    | Recently I was using a monopod to video record plants and when playing
    | back the results I noticed some horizontal camera shake and the
    | panning was not smooth. I'm thinking of buying a head that I can screw
    | on the top of my monopod to improve it.
    | Does anyone have any tips on getting better videos when using a
    | monopod?
    |
    | Regards Brian

    You will be much happier with the results of extreme close-up photography if
    you use a good fluid head tri-pod. I do not think that a head on a monopod
    will provide much improvement. Your alternative is to brace your body
    against something solid if possible, hold your breath while shooting, and do
    many takes. Enought takes and you'll probably get lucky.

    Steve King
     
    Steve King, Oct 8, 2010
    #2
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  3. Brian

    HerHusband Guest

    Hi Brian,
    I use a monopod almost exclusively these days:

    www.mountain-software.com/videos.htm

    It is so much more convenient for traveling or hiking. It collapses and
    sets up quickly, fits easily in luggage, and is easy to adjust to shorter
    lengths for perching on a rock or something. I usually leave mine
    attached to my camcorder and set the pair next to my seat in the car. If
    we see something interesting I can stop, grab the camera, and extend the
    monopod quickly to get the shot. It even makes a fairly decent
    stabilizer when collapsed for hand held shots (good for anything but
    walking).

    However, while the monopod helps steady the shots, it's not a replacement
    for a tripod. It can eliminate most of the vertical movement, but you can
    still shake side-to-side, tilt forward or backward, or be jerky when
    panning. As with most things, it takes practice to make the most of a
    monopod. I usually hold the monopod in my right hand, then flip out the
    viewscreen and hold the outer tip of the screen with my left hand to
    steady the camera. Not a perfect solution, but it helps.

    Always start the camera recording before frame your subject and leave it
    running till after you're done. It's nearly impossible to push the
    record button and keep it steady at the same time. You can always edit
    out the extra waste footage at the start and end of a clip when you get
    back home.

    Accept the reality that some clips will be unusable. I typically film
    several hours of video, only to edit that down to less than 30 minutes of
    usable footage. If there's a subject I really don't want to lose, I will
    often film the scene more than once, and choose the steadier scene when I
    get back home. This is especially true for panning shots, or busy areas
    where where someone may walk in front of the camera.

    My monopod has a rubber tip that can be screwed in or out. On delicate
    surfaces like wood floors I use the rubber tip, otherwise I screw it in
    to expose the pointed metal tip. This reduces friction with the ground,
    and usually makes for smoother panning shots.

    Of course, no matter how careful I am, there's usually a bit of shake
    left in the final footage. So, I process all my videos using the
    Deshaker plug-in in VirtualDub, before editing. Yes, it adds significant
    processing time, but for my infrequent filming needs, it is worth the
    time investment. If you needed to get projects out quickly for weddings,
    news stories, or whatever, extensive post processing is probably not an
    option.

    Whenever possible, use a tripod. I have an inexpensive tripod that works
    well for most stationary shots, though honestly, I almost never use it.
    It's a little bulky to stick in a suitcase, and takes a bit of effort to
    set up (extending legs, making sure it's level, etc.). But, it's
    indispensable for clips I speed-up for time lapse (sunsets, home
    improvement projects, etc.).

    As an alternative, I have a small "Ultrapod II" that I love. I keep it
    in the bottom of my camera bag and it works great when I need a tripod
    but don't want to carry my big one. It's good for situations where I
    want to be in the shots also (like filming my wife and I on vacation), or
    where I have time to setup for a steady shot. The Ultrapod II can even
    strap to a fence post, tree, or railing if there's not a level surface to
    set it on. I've propped it on rocks, garbage cans, car roofs, etc. In
    fact, I often use it with our digital camera for taking family photos on
    vacations.

    Hope this helps.

    Anthony
     
    HerHusband, Oct 8, 2010
    #3
  4. I heartily agree with the above, but I would add "GOOD" to the
    description of fluid head, and these are NOT cheap, and require
    a GOOD tripod that stays "planted" on the ground and does not
    flex or "wind up" as the fluid head is operated. Another solution is
    to forget frame-motion, and leave the camera planted on a tripod
    head that is not moved (but I REALLY dislike this for my own
    work - it is too much like an animated slide show...). I preferred
    (when I could still hold a camcorder steady) to use a substantial
    "L" still-camera flash bracket (with big comfy handle) on the left
    side combined with the right-side camera strap, using a GOOD
    (as in sharp to the corners) WA attachment on the lens, with the
    zoom set for widest (this minimizes unwanted camera movement
    in the image). This one was shot without the handle, and software
    (Mercalli) was used to smooth the worst clips --

    A tripod was used here (for a "nifty slide show" look, which can
    work for some things...;-) by a friend --
    http://exposureroom.com/members/Flip50/3e3aa8a69e454ee8b9d0eb6210bb895b
    For this video, the same person used a combination of tripod
    mounted and shoulder supported camera, at --
    http://exposureroom.com/members/Flip50/c17a22a564c54a1fb6ecbf58e4761ba7/
    Editing helps (by cutting out the shakiest footage). But, for the best,
    most interesting results, I would likely go with a high quality fluid
    head tripod (a MINIMUM would be a hefty Bogen with an
    accessory short center pole so it can be set up almost flat to the
    ground, with one of their better fluid heads (which are at best just
    OK - and their cheap ones are terrible). Pros spend over $5000
    on their tripods for a reason...;-(
    --DR
     
    David Ruether, Oct 8, 2010
    #4
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