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Hardware Hacking Technology Build

Helicopter Parts Make For Amazing DIY Camera Stabilization 78

Iddo Genuth writes "Videographer Tom Antos developed an advanced DIY camera stabilizer which can hold almost any DSLR or mirrorless camera steady for video photography. Although this surely isn't as sophisticated (and super expensive) as the professional MVI M10 handheld 3-axis digital stabilized camera gimbal, its still quite impressive especially when you consider it only costs a few hundred dollars rather then tens of thousands — that is if you feel like building it yourself." Antos' design takes advantage of stabilized gimbal systems made for hanging cameras on remote-controlled helicopters, and does a very impressive job for its price.
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Helicopter Parts Make For Amazing DIY Camera Stabilization

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Why not take the same sensors data and apply the same computation but into digitally manipulating the image on the fly instead of actuating motors?

    • by Goaway ( 82658 ) on Sunday June 16, 2013 @09:49AM (#44021433) Homepage

      Because then you lose a lot of the picture. Plus it doesn't help you if you're using longer shutter times that blur the image.

    • Uhm...because real-time motion blur deconvolution is really computationally intensive?
    • by TheGavster ( 774657 ) on Sunday June 16, 2013 @11:16AM (#44021833) Homepage

      Mechanical stabilization has the advantage of keeping the focal center in the center of the image. If you're moving a crop box around a frame, you're going to get this weird effect where the point that parallel lines meet bounces around the frame.

      • Are you sure that this is the most serious issue? If the vanishing point is on screen, I'd think it would be stabilized as well. What's much more interesting is the perspective change in wide angle shots - that's the one thing you can't compensate with changing the crop window. The vanishing point is simple to deal with because it's just a point (it's a 0D object), but the altered perspective can change a rectangle into a parallelogram or vice versa. You'd essentially be creating a digital version of a shif
    • Because a high-resolution high-framerate camera is more expensive than a complex mechanical stabilization device -- oh wait, it isn't.

    • -resolution loss
      -rolling shutter screws you over

      basically look on YT for digitally stabilized vids - they all look wobbly

  • by 605dave ( 722736 ) on Sunday June 16, 2013 @09:55AM (#44021467) Homepage

    I like this man's ingenuity, and DIY ethic. But the final video is obviously jerky and unusable, which he explains by saying you need to balance the camera better than he did in an earlier step. Perhaps reshooting a better example with the camera balanced would have been better approach to get people interested. Because after watching the video, we have to take his word for it that this will actually work. Which doesn't really make me want to run out and try it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I disagree. Look at the terrain he's going over. That is a pretty extreme use of a handheld camera and the stabilization is quite impressive. On more more typical (flatter) terrain, where you are tracking a subject, not randomly panning up/down I think it would be quite usable. Certainly as good or better than the mini-steady cam setups that most of us could afford.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The latest Olympus cameras have 5-axis in-body stabilization that works with all lenses. They cost $1000, including the camera, and probably work much better than anything that tries to stabilize an entire camera. This third party review [youtube.com] shows off how well it works.

    • Limited range of movement. It's not just about stabilization. Contraptions like this one should allow you to shoot, e.g., a constant angular velocity panorama. How are you going to achieve that with yout in-body stabilizer?
    • Stabilizing the sensor does not work when filming with rectilnear lenses. Nearly all lenses are rectilinear, which means they scale the image differently in different parts of the field of view. If you move the sensor to stabilize the movie, then objects will appear to strech and contract as if they were made of Jell-O.

      • There's also the issue of the view finder. If you're using an EVF it's not an issue, but with OVFs, the view you're getting is still as jerky as it was without stabilization, which can make it a challenge to frame what you like. Sure, it cuts down on some of the blurriness, but you lose out on a lot of the benefits.

        Which is rather unfortunate. I've got a Canon lens with optical IS built in and I can really tell the difference, I can go from being unable to frame a shot, to being able to get a reasonably sha

    • As far as I can tell that camera wobbles more when walking on perfectly flat ground than this guy's does when walking in fairly tough terrain. So, great in body stabiliser but useless for "steady cam" shots.
  • by Fnord666 ( 889225 ) on Sunday June 16, 2013 @10:55AM (#44021737) Journal
    Or you can just google "DIY steadycam" and find any number of projects for $30 or less and the demo videos are more stable than this rig.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The first two had demo videos. It's hard to compare, though, because the first one is a heavily edited short and the second is just a guy walking around on mostly flat ground. Both are better, sure, but this guy is walking through a very rocky and vertical trail. It's not perfectly stable, but it's also much more challenging terrain and he's clearly not really editing the shot to try to look professional.

      I think this is an interesting concept that definitely needs more exploration.

    • You forgot the cheapest of them all: the chicken camera stabilizer [youtube.com].
    • Your example are great, but you can't change the aim of the camera in shot. Which I believe is part of the point of this DIY
  • There's a little bit more to it, but basically for this DIY project he's bought a gimbal that's meant to provide steady images on a model helicopter and mounted it to himself?
    Not quite "DIY steadycam from Helicopter parts"
    In fact, and I realise this is nothing new, the title is completely wrong.
  • And this, dear teenagers, is what the word "hacker" means.

  • Finally after most of the video it showed how the shot looked like from the camera. What I noticed though was that it doesn't appear to smooth out yaw motion. Granted you have to turn it to aim, but it's twitchy. Since the pitch and roll have been well smoothed the yaw noise really stands out.

    What it needs is a steadicam-like gimble that keeps it pointed in the same direction unless you intend to change direction.

  • It's a great money saving tip for sure, but bolting an unmodified Foxtech Falcon camera stabiliser [youtube.com] to a set of handles isn't really a DIY camera stabilization system. From the title I was hoping for something built from an arduino and some old hard drive actuators :)

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