Archive for March 15th, 2008

The MobiFilm Academy

I linked to these tutorials 1.5 years ago, but back then most of my readers were not video-related, plus the link changed since then. So, if you are an aspiring filmmaker, make sure you read these 9 lessons. The initiative was Nokia’s and Discovery’s, trying to market Nokia’s cellphone video capabilities. But the lessons are good for everyone really.

I suggest you save down the pages+pictures/videos, because this site will eventually go just as the original did. The new URL is simply an old backup you see, a (forgotten) demo by the web design team that developed it. Save down as “complete webpage” the “Printer-Friendly version” of each lesson, and also download manually the video(s) associated with that page (you will need to snoop on the HTML code to get the video URLs).

MMC Hague Mini Motion-cam Stabilizer sent me over their new product “MMC Hague Mini Motion-cam Stabilizer“, an affordable steadycam for small, consumer, camcorders. The low price and ease of configuration has created a pretty enthusiastic following over at HV20’s forum.

The MMC Hague steadycam is very light and it consists of a modern design similar to this of the Merlin (a steadycam that sells for over $500). You mount the camera on top and then you adjust the weight on the bottom: There are 8 big weights and 2 small ones (and you can purchase more if you like). When you find a good balancing point for the camera, and you use the right amount of weights, you can adjust the position of the bottom weights left or right, in order to balance the whole thing. For example, because the HV20 is pretty heavy on its right side, you can slightly turn the bottom weights towards the left, in order to balance everything out. The MMC Hague can support up to 0.8kg of camera weight, however many users have “overclocked” their configuration by adding heavy wide-angle lenses and microphones, without much problem. In fact, in some cases adding all that weight helped achieving better balancing.

The product sounds too good to be true at this price, and in fact it is. The MMC Hague tends to swing left or right way too easily — a problem highlighted by many on the HV20 forums too. Some say that by either adding some weight on the left side of the camcorder (e.g. some heavy tape on the back of the open LCD screen), or by using different weights, it minimizes the problem. The left/right problem is pretty apparent though, and my (very good in physics) husband claims that the real problem is the friction in the ball-type gimble, just above the handle. He insists that if a plain metal cone was used instead – to have as small of a contact patch as possible– the left/right turning problem would be less apparent. Additionally, there is no “quick release” ability, so you will need to use a marker to mark the exact position you need to attach the camera each time.

Nevertheless, with enough time to configure the product correctly, and also by training your arm to not move while operating the steadycam, you can still achieve a pretty good result. I found that the steadycam, when operated carefully, can offer some pretty convincing short dolly-like shots, pans and walking. It’s very useful to have a steadycam especially when the terrain is not smooth, and a dolly is not possible. Check other people’s MMC Hague’s videos here for more examples and configurations.