Tripod Talk

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Silverdream
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Tripod Talk

Post by Silverdream » Fri May 18, 2018 2:59 pm

I thought it would be good to raise the subject of the use of tripods in films especially to those new to film making.
People in the past often related home movies to the shaky images that were shown to friends and family during those memorable, (or otherwise) movie nights. If the audience were lucky (or unlucky) they would also be treated to a demonstration of the camera's zooming ability while the camera person rolled the film.
Add in the out of focus, over /under exposed, jump splices, poor sound, no directing ability of the film maker and it was little wonder many small format movie cameras were relegated to the broom cupboard and audience numbers dwindled.
But it doesn't need to be so !

Good editing can remove a lot of the above flaws, but one that can not be removed, if one plans to project the film, is a shaky image.
That's why in my opinion the number one priority of a camera operator is to capture steady images.

The tripod is the answer !

If you want your movies to look professional and have a chance of being taken seriously get yourself a tripod and use it as much as possible. One with a fluid head is ideal.
Of course some hand held is OK but this should be done by mounting the camera on a stabilizer. The simpler mechanical types can be had for under $100 and they work well.
My thinking is at least 70% of the movie should be shot from a tripod. This gives the audience time to rest and they won't mind the less stable footage of the hand held stuff.
Also, as the movie camera shutter speed is typically quite slow at 1/30 - 1/50 of a second, using a tripod will improve the image sharpness and that's especially important with the small formats.
Great, now we can all look forward to more professional looking amateur films being uploaded.

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Re: Tripod Talk

Post by Will2 » Tue May 22, 2018 6:51 pm

Biggest and heaviest tripod you can find. Makes all the difference in the world.

Although, Super 8 Footage is almost synonymous with crazy handheld camera movements...it's kinda what you expect and part of the charm.

I've found that handing off cameras to kids to shoot events is great when coupled with tripod-shot footage that you do. That way you get the best of both worlds.

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Charlie Blackfield
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Re: Tripod Talk

Post by Charlie Blackfield » Wed May 23, 2018 2:54 pm

Will2 wrote:
Tue May 22, 2018 6:51 pm
Biggest and heaviest tripod you can find. Makes all the difference in the world.
Normally I would agree. But somehow, I was glad about my lightweight (2kg or thereabout) travel tripod when I walked around 10 miles in the sun yesterday to shoot my last cartridge of Ektachrome 100D.

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Re: Tripod Talk

Post by Mmechanic » Thu May 24, 2018 8:06 am

post-35633-0-59127300-1300826380.jpg
Many thanks for the subject! As a technician I much too often am not heard. A motion-picture camera belongs on sticks. 999 per mille of what we see in the movie theatres are steady shots. All that hipster, self-declared artists hand camera blurr is an insult and plain stupidity of Kodak to boast about. Their announced new Super-8 camera has an undercut body offering less rest surface than possible. How many times better the Ciné-Kodaks were!
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Re: Tripod Talk

Post by doug » Thu May 24, 2018 11:33 am

If we are talking of super-8 cartridge cameras, it's very difficult to get absolutely steady footage even with the heaviest tripod... due to the design of the cartridge. Ironically it looks OK because movement of the camera masks that imperfect registration. Maybe Kodak intended super-8 to be used mainly for handheld filming, as indeed it was.

For cameras that have good registration it's often possible to get static shots without a tripod, by holding it firmly against a solid object like a lamp-post. And if you can make a sturdy flat base for the camera, surprisingly steady shots can be taken from a wall or the ground.
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Re: Tripod Talk

Post by Mmechanic » Thu May 24, 2018 2:07 pm

Dead right and a notion discussed already over fifty years ago

There are lighter tripods than the Universal (other MIller brother) I showed.
Nothing against lighter tripods, monopods, any support or rest

In the cinematic language, camera movement has a meaning like a hard cut, like perspective. To me it is even one of the strongest syntactic elements such as verbs in phrases.

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Re: Tripod Talk

Post by Silverdream » Thu May 24, 2018 6:58 pm

I also have the Universal 8 head on wooden legs, just like your picture. It's a good setup.
Filmers must remember that hand held footage may look OK on one's computer monitor but if it gets shown on a large screen then any shaking is going to be so much more noticeable.
The viewer is supposed to get absorbed into the story being told or images being shown and not be reminded every five seconds that there is a camera involved.
I've seen some camera persons leave the camera attached to the tripod and after folding the legs together they then rest the tripod horizontally on their sholder with the camera now pointed forwards. The rig then becomes a shoulder mounted camera support. Of course you'd only want to do this if you have plenty of room behind you with no risk of hitting people with the tripod legs.
It's true that the small formats were designed for home use and travelling but most users today would be aiming for professional results I would think. And although the Super 8 cartridge has the registration problem in my opinion it's no where near as annoying as unpredictable camera shake.

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Re: Tripod Talk

Post by Will2 » Thu May 24, 2018 9:27 pm

Biggest and heaviest comment was really for 16 and 35mm. Super 8 can do fine on a light weight tripod but you may need to invest in a remote shutter trigger so you don't have to touch the camera.

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Re: Tripod Talk

Post by nikonr10 » Sat May 26, 2018 3:06 am

Silverdream wrote:
Fri May 18, 2018 2:59 pm
I thought it would be good to raise the subject of the use of tripods in films especially to those new to film making.
People in the past often related home movies to the shaky images that were shown to friends and family during those memorable, (or otherwise) movie nights. If the audience were lucky (or unlucky) they would also be treated to a demonstration of the camera's zooming ability while the camera person rolled the film.
Add in the out of focus, over /under exposed, jump splices, poor sound, no directing ability of the film maker and it was little wonder many small format movie cameras were relegated to the broom cupboard and audience numbers dwindled.
But it doesn't need to be so !

Good editing can remove a lot of the above flaws, but one that can not be removed, if one plans to project the film, is a shaky image.
That's why in my opinion the number one priority of a camera operator is to capture steady images.

The tripod is the answer !

If you want your movies to look professional and have a chance of being taken seriously get yourself a tripod and use it as much as possible. One with a fluid head is ideal.
Of course some hand held is OK but this should be done by mounting the camera on a stabilizer. The simpler mechanical types can be had for under $100 and they work well.
My thinking is at least 70% of the movie should be shot from a tripod. This gives the audience time to rest and they won't mind the less stable footage of the hand held stuff.
Also, as the movie camera shutter speed is typically quite slow at 1/30 - 1/50 of a second, using a tripod will improve the image sharpness and that's especially important with the small formats.
Great, now we can all look forward to more professional looking amateur films being uploaded.
I like to film on the fly traveling very light , point is was not super 8 a diy film making medium.
if you need to use a tripod why not use a shoulder support or a monopod way better than having to carry around a heavy tripod also it can attract the wrong kind or unwanted attraction in this day & Age .

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Re: Tripod Talk

Post by doug » Sat May 26, 2018 10:24 am

A good point Nikonr10 about unwanted attention. Maybe this should form a separate discussion ? Big tripods certainly attract attention, and when people see the vintage analogue camera there's likely to be a friendly conversation... can be annoying though :ymsigh:
So the shot you set up for can be affected badly. Also concentration goes out of the window.
I recently found a neat little video tripod that goes into my back-pack. Previously I had scorned these short ones as not very good, but this one I've found is pretty rigid, and even takes my Bolex H16 fairly satisfactorily.
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Re: Tripod Talk

Post by Phil_F_NM » Sat May 26, 2018 4:49 pm

Unfortunately, in many larger cities such as here in Philadelphia and in New York, one needs a permit to use a tripod. A sturdy monopod is a good way around that rule if one wants to shoot stabilized. I have a lightweight monopod that I'm sure will find its way under my Filmos but it is no substitute for a real tripod.
Even in still photography, the results often are evident that a good tripod was used.

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Re: Tripod Talk

Post by Silverdream » Sat May 26, 2018 5:16 pm

That's true about the unwanted attention of looking too professional and I suppose in some areas the city will be putting their hand out for local usage fees. However, my original post was to encourage those making experimental or scripted films to make more use of camera supports. Especially those that were previously using video cameras as there is no inbuilt camera antishaking in the old movie film cameras.
I agree in documentary or travel films there may not be time to set up a tripod.

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Re: Tripod Talk

Post by Silverdream » Sat May 26, 2018 5:54 pm

For a compact discrete camera stabilizer filmers could try using the string method.
It involves a length of string, (determined by your height and camera), with one end attached to a small metal plate and the other end to a screw that fits the tripod socket.
To use this device one stands on the metal plate and raises the camera until the string is tight.
Mainly improves vertical stability and it's so quick to use.

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Re: Tripod Talk

Post by nikonr10 » Sat May 26, 2018 7:00 pm

Silverdream wrote:
Sat May 26, 2018 5:54 pm
For a compact discrete camera stabilizer filmers could try using the string method.
It involves a length of string, (determined by your height and camera), with one end attached to a small metal plate and the other end to a screw that fits the tripod socket.
To use this device one stands on the metal plate and raises the camera until the string is tight.
Mainly improves vertical stability and it's so quick to use.
This is a old tip & trick from using a rolleiflex tlr :D

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Re: Tripod Talk

Post by Silverdream » Sun May 27, 2018 8:18 am

Yeah, I heard about this years ago. I thought it's a clever idea and worth mentioning for the unaware.

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