I finally got the DIY steadycam rig, I’ve been tinkering with the past couple of weeks to function, just in time for this year’s Santacon. The Santas gathered at the northwest corner of Tompkins Square Park. A definite police presence was there to greet them. At ten an organizer elf arrived with santa poles and signs for the “Secret Service Santas” to direct flow of Santas. He also had trash bags to clean up any Santa mess afterwards. Some caffeinated fruit drink company haded out samples to the Santas, don’t think they stuck around to recycle the bottles. And I didn’t stick around to see if the cart-in cart-out idea worked for these Santas. Santacon has gotten a deserved bad reputation in recent years for the lout factor that joins the bar hopping through the day and evening. But the start-up yesterday was nothing but good-natured fun.
The stability the rig gains when it is balanced is quite magical, it reminds me of watching a hummingbird hover. But if the balance is even slightly off, it will start to oscillate and produce a sea-sick effect that is even worse than regular hand-held footage.
I’m still working on the design, but here is my understanding of how these balancing type of steadycams work. You place the universal joint just slightly above the center of mass of the camera/rig system. Gravity keeps it vertical and if the u-joint is close enough to balance point, jerking your hand around doesn’t have enough leverage to knock the rig off balance. The precise positioning of the weights was the hardest part of designing this. Most of the steadycam rigs I’ve seen online are for much heavier cameras than my Sony DSC-WX300 pocket camera. It actually looks a bit ridiculous to put this tiny camera on such a rig. But it does a nice job of capturing HD video for use on my blog. And when used as a still camera it fits in my pocket wherever I go.
If there is any demand for it I’ll post dimensions and such for this project.