Shaky Footage? How to get SMOOTH HANDHELD shots like a beast!


– What’s up everybody? Peter McKinnon here, and
today we’re talking about how you can start shooting
better handheld footage without a stabilizer, a
tripod, nothing, just you. (upbeat guitar music) Okay, so one of the
things I get asked a lot, and I see it a lot in comments and just general inquiries
about this kind of thing, is what kind of stabilizer do you use, or what kind of monopod do you use, or how can I get smoother footage, or how can I track objects better? Your b-rolls really
smooth, how do you do that, and how do I do it? So, I put together a couple
tips with a few examples, using some B-roll, of how I get smoother footage without the use of a tripod or a slider or a three axis gimbal, or a glide cam, none of that. We’re gonna cover those
things in another video, but I wanted to preface
that video with this, by saying you don’t need
to have all of those things to get smooth, great looking footage. Now, they help, absolutely,
and a lot of the times, they do make your life easier. But at the same time, not everybody has those things. Sometimes they’re really expensive. Sometimes they’re more of a
nuisance to have to lug around and drag through the woods and up a cliff, and pack your car and try to get your friends
in at the same time. It’s just easier to
grab your camera and go. So these are a few of
the techniques that I use when I wanna stabilize my footage without having to use all
of this extra equipment. Okay, so the first thing
you’re gonna wanna do when you’re holding your
camera to shoot handheld is you wanna hold it with two hands. Now, you’d be surprised. A lot of people just shoot like this and they’re like, ah whatever, I got it. But, you want two hands on there, it’s gonna be a much more stable grip. A second is you don’t wanna
have your arms extended. You don’t have as much core strength when you’re shooting this way trying to adjust settings, it’s a lot easier, and you’re gonna get way better results if you pull that camera into your chest and lock your elbows in. Think about moving as one, instead of all these
different things moving. Instead of having the camera move and your wrists moving
and your arms moving, try to pull those arms in, lock it in close so it’s nice and tight, you got a grip on both
the body and the lens, and then just move your body. You’re gonna get way better
camera movements like that, than you are if you’re trying to just move all your extremities
at the same time, doing different things, you’re gonna get camera shake that way. Okay now, similar to a three axis gimbal, having three points of contact on the camera at all times will, again, help get
your footage more stable. So, you got one point of contact, two points of contact, what could be the third? Well, it could be holding
it against your chest, it could having it up against your eye, which the third point of
contact would be your face. But what I like to use
is the camera strap, which is a technique you’ve seen probably a lot of filmmakers use, but that goes around your neck. I like to use this peak design one just because I can take
it on and off real easy, but this is now my third point of contact. So I’ve got my hand on one, two on the lends, I’ve got this against the back of my neck, with tension, allowing me to
have a third point of contact. So now I’ve got a way more stable shot with a good, solid grip. My arms are locked and extended outwards, and I’ve got that tension
on the back of my neck, so I’m able to do panning shots. I’m able to move up and down, and that is a huge, huge
benefit in the field. I use this trick all the time. If you’re doing hyperlapses, it’s a little bit dark and you gotta drag that shutter
out a little bit longer, this is a huge help without
having to set up a tripod, or throw it on a gimbal,
or something like that. Try this out, you’ll be really, really
happy with the results. Okay, obviously the
next thing is gonna help is having an image stabilized lens. So that’s gonna help a lot when
smoothing out your footage. So now you’ve got your
three points of contact, you’re using an image stabilized lens, you’ve got it nice and close, or you’ve locked those
arms out with the strap. The camera is doing it’s thing, either you have an IBIS, which is In Body Image Stabilization, or you have the stabilization
built into the lens, one or the other, that’s
just an obvious added bonus for getting those smooth,
buttery shots I like to say. On top of that, if you
get back to the studio, your office, your bedroom,
your dorm, whatever, if you get back to your place, and you’ve done these tips and you’re using the strap, you’ve done the three points of contact, you’ve got an image stabilized lens and it’s still a little bit, just a (mumbles) it could
just be a bit better, you can still the run the warp
stabilizer in Premiere Pro. So all you’re gonna do is go
down to the Effects panel, you’re gonna type in warp, it’s gonna pop up, you’re gonna drag that onto your footage and it’s gonna analyze the clips. What that does, is it adds
a gyroscope to the footage, and it zooms in a little bit to get rid of shake on the edges. So, that’s gonna stabilize your footage past having an image stabilize lens, past you doing everything
you could in the field to make it smooth. At this point, your footage
should be pretty smooth, so. If it’s not, maybe
you’re just really cold. (shivers) Or you have arthritis, or maybe you just drank
like 16 cups of coffee and it’s just a little bit,
whoo, little bit crazy. Now this text tip is something that I’ve been doing for years. I haven’t really seen anyone else do it, so I’m gonna go out on a limb
and say it’s original to me. Anyways, I came up with it myself. It’s kind of ridiculous, but what I do is I learn forward, and then I just let myself
go a little bit too far, so that I kind of fall for
like one to two seconds then I put my foot out and I stop myself. And I do that both forwards and backwards, and what lets me do is get
like two perfect seconds of free fall motion before
I get that camera jerk. And the best part about
putting your foot out, aside from not falling on your face or smashing the back of your head, it obviously makes the camera jerk, right? Like, you’re learning back
and the camera stops suddenly. That’s kind of like my
marker when I’m editing. I look for that camera shake, and then I go back about two seconds and I know that’s my sweet spot. So I take those two sweet seconds, falling forward or falling backwards, and I know those are gonna
be really, really smooth, ’cause it’s essentially the
camera is in a free fall. I can then run warp
stabilizer on top of that, and now I’ve got a really nice, just either slow pan forward
or slow pan backwards, depending if I was shooting
at 60 frames or 120 frames. So that, is a little bit
of an unorthodox technique, but it’s something that I
do personally all the time. Now, disclaimer, you look
absolutely ridiculous when you’re doing this in public, and people wonder if
you’re drunk or if you are, they don’t understand people. They don’t understand, but we understand. So, you’re gonna try it, and you’re not gonna be embarrassed. Let’s call it the, let’s
call it the PM Rock N Tilt. Sure. (laughs) Now another tip doesn’t
necessarily have to pertain to a technique, but motion hides shake. Alright, so if your camera is panning, if you are moving those shots forward, backwards, side to side,
that kind of thing, it’s going to cut down
on the camera shake 100%. If you’re just trying
to keep a steady shot, as steady as you can, it’s gonna be obvious by looking at the edges of the frame, if the camera is moving or if
the frame is shaking or not, opposed to if you’re actually
panning like we talked about, it’s a lot harder to pick up the fact if the camera is shaking or not. Something else you wanna keep in mind: focal distances. If you’re shooting wide, you’re gonna get less shake. It’s way easier to get
smooth looking footage when you are shooting wide, okay. Here’s some examples, shooting at 16mm, doing some pans, doing some motion, doing some of that stuff
we just talked about. That looks great. Now cut to the next scene, which is shot at 200mm
without image stabilization. And I’m doing my best to handhold it, Gabriel is taking some
stuff out of the truck, but it’s a lot more just jittery, because my frame is so much
further zoomed in at 200mm. And just as I side note, if we flip on the image
stabilization on that lens, look at the difference. It looks a lot smoother. So if you are shooting handheld, and you wanna be in at like 200mm or 100mm or something like that, it does absolutely help to
have an image stabilized lens, there’s the proof. But when you have a wide shot, shakes are way less noticeable, opposed to something zoomed
in really, really far. The slightest movement of the camera when your zoomed in at
like 200mm or 100mm, is gonna be a huge reaction on-screen. It’s gonna look like you
just went (exasperated noise) It’s gonna look massive! But if you’re shooting wide, and you do a little bit of this, it’s almost undetectable. And then if you run the
warped stabilizer and post and it zooms in a little bit, it cuts off those edges. Here are some things that will cause shake that you can keep in mind not
to do when you’re shooting. Changing settings, you wanna make sure that you have your camera settings
the way you want them. Your stabilization is on, your auto focus or your
manual focus is on, you’ve got all your dials dialed into what you want, because if you’re trying to
move the camera on the fly, obviously, you don’t have that
nice, secure grip anymore, you’ve turned the camera, or you’re looking at it and now you’re pushing
something on the side, and that’s introducing camera shake, you’re gonna see that in the footage if you’re pushing auto
focus to manual focus, you’re physically pushing the lens in, so you wanna make sure that you’re not touching anything on the camera, that you’re preset, you’re ready to go, your settings are locked off and you’re just focused
on getting the shot. Okay, so I’ve just thrown
together a little kind of edit of everything that we
just used for examples, the B-roll footage,
into one little segment so you can see that this
whole thing was done handheld. There was no tripods, there
was no gimbals, nothing, just using the warp stabilizer or the image stabilization in the lens, doing the techniques, the fall, the PM Tilt, whatever we called it, I don’t remember already. (laughs) But just using the techniques
that we just learned, this is what that looks like. Now, side note, there are some shots of me
shooting those shots in this. Those were done also handheld, either with image stabilization or warped, the same kind of thing, just
with a different camera, okay? (upbeat electronic music) So those are a couple tips. Now, it’s important to say, sometimes you want camera shake. Sometimes you want to introduce a little bit of natural movement, if it helps tell your story, if it helps drive home a point, like we mentioned before in the Step Up Your Filmmaking series, sometimes it helps to set the tone. If you’re chasing somebody, if it’s supposed to feel a
little stressful or intense. Sometimes that camera shake, and handheld camera shake, is very, very beneficial. You’ll notice in a lot of movies, like even the Born Identity series, they use a lot of camera shake in that. Sometimes to the point
where you’re just like. Okay, yeah, I mean I wouldn’t be opposed to a tripod at this point. It goes without saying, sometimes it adds that raw feel. If you have too much smooth
motion in all of your shots, sometimes it can come off
just a little too produced. A little fake, and it just feels like there’s no real, raw connection. So, sometimes throwing
some of this out the window and getting some camera shake into a particular clip or scene is absolutely essential to portray what it is
you’re trying to portray. Now the last thing that’ll help you get some smooth, buttery,
tasty handheld shots is shooting in slow-motion. Be it at that 60 frames a second, or 120 frames a second, or even higher speed frame rates. Shooting with those
will definitely help get nice, smooth handheld footage. Let’s say you even shoot a
clip that’s five minutes long and it’s 120 frames a second. That’s A, gonna be a huge file size, but B, even if it was
really, really shaky, there’s probably something
in there somewhere, that several seconds of
a nice, smooth rotation you can clip and you can cut in and out of that one clip to pull what you need from it. So that’s the last tip for the day. And that pretty much does
it for this video, guys. I hope you enjoyed it. I’ve been asked that a lot. So, I’m really excited to be
able to share some of these gorilla-style filmmaking tips with you. I hope you got something out of it. If you did, hit that like button. Smash it, if you so desire. And, and, if you hit the bell, you’ll be notified every
time I upload a video. So I’ve got several more
planned for this week, so hopefully you guys will
come along for the ride. Thank you to everybody who is new here at the Peter McKinnon channel. We talk a lot about
photography and cinematography and teach cool stuff and
vlog different things. So, it’s a fun ship to be
on, as I’ve said before. And I appreciate each
and every one of you. I will see you guys in the next video. Not wearing a hat. (airy sounds) (funky hiphop music)

About the Author: Michael Flood

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