— Digital Cameras
The Smoothee - a Steadicam for your mobile phone or pocket camcorder
The Steadicam Smoothee uses the same principles as full-sized Steadicams to smooth the shakes out of footage shot by mobile phones and pocket camcorders
It's humbling, and in fact almost a little scary, when you realize just how far the video quality of mobile phones and pocket camcorders has progressed over the past few years. While features such as their resolution are truly something to behold, they do however have one distinct disadvantage when compared to their larger, heavier predecessors – they shake like crazy. It's a shortcoming that's addressed by the Steadicam Smoothee.
Professional videographers tend to have steadier handheld footage than casual shooters mainly because they're using wider lenses and shoulder mounts, but also simply because the extra weight of their larger cameras has a way of "flattening out" the jiggles. A featherweight mobile phone held in an unsupported extended hand, however, tends to show up every little breath, heartbeat or nervous tic of its user.
Like Steadicam's existing rigs for movie and television cameras, the Smoothee uses counterweights to live up to its name. The phone/camcorder mounts on top, in a quick-release bracket, while the weights are located on a curved metal arm that extends underneath. The user holds the contraption by a pistol-style grip, that is joined to the mounting platform via a freely-moving gimbal connection.
Adjustment knobs on the platform allow the phone to be minutely moved from side to side or front to back, in order to get its weight perfectly balanced over the Smoothee. Once that has been achieved, the device will always maintain that level position, with the energy of user-generated shakes going into moving the grip instead of moving the phone. Should users want to move the phone, such as to pan or tilt, they can do so by reaching up with their thumb and forefinger and gripping a guide ring on the underside of the platform.
The Steadicam Smoothee currently accepts the iPhone 3GS and 4, iPod touch, and the FLIP Mino HD, although mounts for additional phones and cameras are reportedly on the way. It sells for US$200.
World of Smoothee from H. Wilson45 on Vimeo.
About the Author
An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away.
All articles by Ben Coxworth
WANT. So many people could benefit from this.
this is so so so cool!
Agreed. Excellent device meeting a growing market need, and it looks cool.
The Smoothee looks very cool. If you want a stabilizer for your pocket camcorder that fits in your pocket you should check out the readySTEADY. It\'s solid (made from aluminum), portable and inexpensive (under $30).
I\'ve owned several hand-held video cameras, the latest being an Aiptek unit that has quite excellent HD video, but suffers from shake. I do hope a holding bracket for this type of camera is developed, in which case, I will surely invest in a Smoothee (love the name, BTW)...
The readySTEADY looks nice but is only compatible with 4 camcorders. The Smoothee looks great, but too damn expensive for the materials it uses. I think it is key the release a mass amount of compatible brackets if they want to be successful.
I will stick to my poor man camera stabilizer for now. If you are a DIY type just google STEADYCAM and click the first result, the parts are just $14.
Didn\'t you know? Steadicam shots are passé. For instance, Battle: LA has no steady shots in it at all. Shaky Cam is the way to go now.
FWIW, I HATED Battle: LA, I almost got seasick from all that damn shaky cam stuff. The only steady shot scenes where the aerials.
I second Eletruk. Most hollywood movies don\'t use steadycam. Instead they cut budget and hire camera operators with shaky hands.
If you want your video to look professional, do it the hollywood way.
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