Tag Archives: stabilizer vest

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Earlier this morning I was talking to a friend about the weight of his DJI Ronin Gimbal, and he asked if I had any suggestions about a support system to carry the weight. He mentioned during his research, one of the more affordable options out there was between $649 - $849 dollars from a company called the Atlas Camera Support.

Atlas Camera Support Dual Rods
find-price-button Atlas Camera Support

It's definitely more affordable than say an EasyRig, but design wise it's not overly complicated to create something with a similar function. In just a few minutes of thinking about how I would go about this, I had a working prototype using an old camera backpack and a couple of fiberglass rods. Here's what I came up with.


Look Ma! No Hands! Cheesycam DIY Gimbal Support BackPack

My DIY Design is very simple. A few conduit pipes are tucked into an old camera backpack and held in place with a block of wood. The Fiberglass rods are simply dropped into the pipes and removed when not in use.

DIY Gimbal Support Backpack (1 of 4)

Here are some additional details that are important for choosing a support backpack for this project. Choose a backpack with a chest clip and a waist belt. A Waist Belt is a must! You can find both of these features in a good camera backpack or sometimes you will find this with a good hiking backpack. These straps will keep the backpack snug up against your body and allow the rods to bend without pulling the backpack away from you. Here's a couple of backpacks that give you an idea of what to look for.

amazon dslr backpack
find-price-button AmazonBasics DSLR BackPack with Chest Clip and Waist Support Belt

The Fiberglass rods I chose are just common Tent Poles, nothing special. Tent poles are designed to flex and they are also offered in various thicknesses. The 'thicker' the tent pole, the more weight it will support, but the harder it will be to bend. You definitely want some 'bend' with your pole to absorb any bounce. I picked up a 4 Tent poles for $10 dollars at a sporting goods store. I only used two. I know what you're thinking - what if they snap? Keep Reading..

FiberGlass Tent Poles
find-price-button Fiberglass Tent Poles - Amazon

These Fiberglass rods have a very thick wall to them, but are also hollow. So to add a fail safe, i'm using 100lb rated Metal Braided Wire Cables running through the poles. If for some god forsaken reason one of these rods should break (which is very very difficult to do), the cable will keep things from coming apart. I've looped the cable at the end and ran it back through the rod, essentially doubling up the cable inside.

DIY Gimbal Support Backpack (2 of 4)

Heavy Duty Ultra Redundant Setup
As i've mentioned, if you want to carry a heavier system, you can look for the larger fiberglass rods. Another idea to carry extra weight, and to add additional redundancy is to double up these smaller rods on each side - essentially having 4 rods total. With two fiberglass rods on each side with cables running through, it would manage heavier systems, still remain flexible, and would add incredible fail-safe redundancy.

DIY Gimbal Support Backpack (4 of 4)

I left about 6 inches of loop hanging at the end for me to attach an adjustable strap to the gimbal. This 'middle strap' is so you can adjust the height position of your gimbal. If you want the gimbal higher, shorten the strap. If you want the gimbal to sit lower, lengthen the straps.

adjustable straps gimbal fiberglass rods

This was just a quick 15 minute prototype I whipped up, and now i'm going to clean things up a bit more with a second version. The next version I'll try to find a slimmer backpack, and I will have the pipes tucked all the way into the backpack (totally unseen). I'm also going to make a new design for the adjustable strap.

So if you can't DIY this project, go out and find someone to DIY it for you! Of course, there's always the option of purchasing the Atlas Camera Support, but I do think a backpack makes for a better fashion statement. It's also comforting to know that my design has a "Fail-Safe looped 100lb Wire Cable" run through the rods adding both strength and redundancy. As always, thanks for checking out this project and hopefully it will help you on your projects while saving you a few bucks. If you have any questions leave a comment.

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NAB 2014 Varavon continued to display the Wirecam (cable cam) designed to remotely fly cameras across a suspended wire at speeds of over 18mph. They have been showing this product for at least a year still improving on the design. Further camera stabilization and movement can be performed by adding a gimbal stabilizing camera mount.

Varavon Wirecam Cable Cam REmote Gimbal Stabilizer
find-price-buttonVaravon Wirecam [Cable Cam] Video Camera System with Gimbal Platform

For me one of the more exciting products coming out of Varavon this year is the new 'Birdy Gimbal Stabilizer'. They promise to deliver this 3 Axis active camera stabilizer ready to run for approximately $2K.

Sure we've literally seen dozens of new gimbals this past year, but Varavon has refined their build by adding 'fine tuning knobs' to their platform for amazingly simple and accurate balancing of your camera. I can't tell you how much value this feature adds when working with these types of tools.

Varavon Birdy Cam 3 Axis Gimbal Stabilizer Varavon Birdy Cam Gimbal Stabilizer

Over on the Birdy Cam product page they are also showing off an optional Wireless HD Video Transmitter and how the handles are specifically sized to fit many Stabilizer Support vests to help carry the weight for longer periods. Additional photos and videos about the Varavon Birdy Cam Gimbal Stabilizer can be found at the website (click here).

Birdy Cam Varavon Gimbal Stabilizer Varavon Wireless HD Video transmitter Birdy Cam Gimbal Stabilizer Vest Support
Varavon Birdy Cam Gimbal Packing List
find-price-button Varavon Birdy Cam 3 Axis Active Video Camera Gimbal Stabilizer

NAB 2014 Coverage Sponsors

Camera Motion Research Came_80x80banner Varavon fvlighting

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One essential tool for long Flying Video Stabilizer (Steadicam) type shots is a Vest system with an iso-elastic arm. The vest helps to take the weight of the camera off the arms and distributes the load over to the body. The flexible spring loaded iso-elastic arm keeps the camera level as the operator runs, jumps, or climbs a flight of stairs.

The problem has always been that the price of these vest systems were often out of reach. Here's a new Single ISO Arm Camera Load Vest System on the market that appeared recently. Quality, Style, and build looks much sturdier than the ugly Flycam Vest system (seen here), and this new vest runs just under $370. That's cheaper than a basic Rokinon Cine Lens. You can find the new vest available via eBay (Click Here).

Vest_1Vest_2
find-price-button Budget Single ISO Arm Camera Stabilizer Load Vest

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Varizoom-Sportster-Stabilizer-Vest

You've seen me flying pretty lightweight Video stabilizers recently, including the Glidecam HD1000 shown in this video. Well lightweight is nice and very easy to fly for short periods of time, but if you're going to be focusing on longer video footage with any stabilizer, it's time to start looking into a Vest. A Stabilizer Vest isn't going to help stabilize your video as much as the 'stabilizer' itself, but it does help you stay in control by carrying most of if not all of the weight. This is especially helpful for fast walking to running type shots.

Well i'm pretty set with the Steadicam Merlin Vest modified to work with the Glidecam HD4000, but I admit it is a bit overkill not to mention a bit pricey, for something that might only see 5% of your video work. So in my never ending search for the best bang for the buck, I decided to check out the Varizoom DV Sportster, one of the smallest, lightest, and cheapest Video Stabilizer Vests known to mankind...B&H Photo.

When this dropped in, the box looked fairly large and I was a bit disappointed. I was looking for small and portable. Then it was like a Russian Matryoshka doll unfolding box after box down to it's smallest bag. Wow, this thing is tiny. The bag is like a small padded duffle with extra room for other gear. Description from Varizoom states it can support it's own Flowpod, Steadicam JR. and Glidecam stabilizers. Now it's time to put it to the test this weekend and see if it actually holds up. You can find the Varizoom DV Sportster vest here. Stay tuned....

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