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Tips on Stabilizing Your Shot on a Low Budget Project

Regardless of your budget, stabilizing your shot is a vital technique to learn as you grow in the field of videography. Whether you’re simply trying out a new video stabilization technique to produce a smooth pan or you’re simply tired of the same old static shots that come from your camera set atop the tripod, we’re here to help you learn some simple tips on stabilizing your shot on a low budget project. You don’t need tons of money to make these tips work–just take your time and keep trying!


Smooth Pan Without Tripod

You may think, “yea, I can pan without a tripod. I’ll just hold the camera out steadily in front of me and twist my torso from side to side.” And, while that will work, you’ll likely need to take additional efforts to stabilize the video after the shot as this is method will not provide maximum stabilization as you pan.

Instead, consider this simple technique to smooth pan without any added equipment besides your camera strap. With the strap around your neck, hold the camera out in front of you so that the strap is taut around your neck. Now, spin your torso slowly with your arms stretched out and the camera strap remaining taut as you film.

This technique provides camera stabilization without the need to incorporate any added equipment that could otherwise be costly or unavailable when working on a low budget project.

Tracking with a Tripod

DIY professionals offer up several solutions to help low budget filmmakers produce smooth tracking shots without the use of a jib or dolly tracks. Everything from skateboards to shopping carts have been used to produce the desired effect. However, when there’s no skateboard or shopping cart on site, you can produce a tracking effect using just your tripod in a few simple steps as outlined below:

  • Keeping two of the three legs of your tripod firmly planted on the ground, gently raise the stick that is positioned behind the camera.
  • Grasp the pan handle so that the tripod does not fall over. This will be your handle for movement control of the tripod as you film. Be sure that the tilt mechanism of the pan head is loose.
  • To create the tracking effect, as you film, push or pull the handle forward or backward so the camera shifts smoothly closer or further away from the subject.

It may not provide the best shot, but this free video stabilizer technique can be used on low budget projects to produce desired tracking effects with zero added costs involved.

Affordable Tracking without SteadiCam

SteadiCam made tracking a subject from room to room possible but it comes at a significant cost that may not be feasible to those working on low budget projects. Fortunately, you can recreate a tracking scene without using the SteadiCam video stabilizer. Create your own stabilizer as follows:

  • Purchase some PVC tubing to create a makeshift SteadiCam.
  • Create a T with the tubing in which the pan head exits the top portion of one side of the T and a metal pipe with added coin weights exists the other side of the T.
  • The device will be shifted upside down so that the leg of the T is up top and includes a smaller pipe for handling.
  • While it certainly isn’t the best option, you can use makeshift SteadiCam devices like this to produce the desired film effects.

The trick is to ensure that there is enough weight at the opposite end of the camera so that the camera is balanced for a smooth shot.

More Options

Another option to produce a makeshift SteadiCam video stabilizer on set with limited or no budget is to use your tripod. Follow the steps below:

  • Use the Tripod as a monopod by squeezing the legs together and holding them close with one hand.
  • Extend the hand out as you record the scene.

This will produce a more stabilized effect as you film versus carrying the camera without any added weight attached.

Follow these tips on stabilizing your shot on a low budget project to get the most out of your production resources.