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Merricam: Converting a Tripod to a Steadicam

Posted: Wed, 1st Jul 2009, 9:15pm

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Merrick

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Rating: +27

Hi there,

I thought you might be interested in a little discovery I made the other day. This video will show you how to convert your tripod to a simple steadicam using only a crosspoint screwdriver. Unlike simply using your tripod as a counterweight, this method provides one pivoting angle to help reduce your hand's shaking.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JW6AWmqa8ZM PLEASE WATCH IN HIGH QUALITY!

I would love to hear any reviews, constructive criticisms, or improvements you have in mind.

Thanks,
-Will

www.sundogpictures.com
www.youtube.com/sundogpictures
wm@sundogpictures.com
Posted: Wed, 1st Jul 2009, 9:25pm

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Thrawn

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Wow, Merrick, very nice video. I don't think I've ever seen such an effective way to convert a tripod into a steadycam. Though I'm not sure that will work for all tripods, as my cheap one may be too light, and my expensive one too heavy. But I'll give it a shot today and let you know my results.

The presentation of the tutorial was also very smooth and watchable. Props for putting such an effort into it. One thing you could have improved upon is maybe not using the word "thingy" and such in your VO, as it took away from how proffesional it was, but otherwise really good.

+1
Posted: Thu, 2nd Jul 2009, 4:29am

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lwmedia

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Fantastic. Thanks for the tip!
-Logan
Posted: Thu, 2nd Jul 2009, 6:11am

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Jeppo

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Now that's what I call improvisation. the footage you took looks great. It's amazing what can be achieved with a bit of lateral thinking & some imagination. Great stuff.
Posted: Thu, 2nd Jul 2009, 3:44pm

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pdrg

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And that makes +9 as I added mine...excellent bit of invention.

Terminology-wise, if you can find out from a tripod manufacturer what they call all the 'thingies', it'd sound more professional.

Also - you MUST call this the MERRICAM or something, it's more similar to a manually operated jib arm or somesuch - it gets different (and in many cases better) shots than a steadicam, which can't get down to those low angles...so get your name on it as the inventor of the MerricKam (or whatever) just in case it takes off - then when you're applying for TV jobs later in life, you can have "Inventor of the Merricam" in the Other Info section, it'll give you some good talking points in the interview wink
Posted: Thu, 2nd Jul 2009, 5:14pm

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Tim L

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Garrett Brown is the inventor of the Steadicam (and many variations of it). His very first approach at building a camera stabilizer was called the "pole rig", and looks very similar to the Merricam.

http://www.garrettcam.com/docs/ancienthistory.pdf
(See the second page. I didn't have time to read the article, just found it in a quick search.)

I think I read somewhere that he was inspired by seeing "Chinese water bucket carriers" or something like that -- you know, where they carry two buckets of water on each end of a long pole.

Anyway, nice footage, Will (inventor of the Merricam) and nice tutorial video.

Tim L
Posted: Thu, 2nd Jul 2009, 5:47pm

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No Respite Productions

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What a fantastic idea! Luckily I happen to have an old tripod lying around that I'm going to convert right now.

+1 - brilliantly simple solution to the age old problem of getting a steadicam on the cheap that doesn't require extensive DIY knowledge wink
Posted: Thu, 2nd Jul 2009, 6:27pm

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Limey

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damn dude, thats a great tip.
thanks
Posted: Thu, 2nd Jul 2009, 7:49pm

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Goldenjabba

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Brilliant! I love it!
Posted: Thu, 2nd Jul 2009, 8:09pm

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Tommy Gundersen

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That is awesome, Will smile

+1 from northern Europe as well!
Posted: Thu, 2nd Jul 2009, 8:11pm

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cory

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Nice! I can't wait to try it. +1!
Posted: Thu, 2nd Jul 2009, 8:14pm

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Mike Q

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Excellent find, I like the way you can adjust the balance by using the legs as counter weights, I'll bet you can get it pretty accurate like that. +1
Posted: Fri, 3rd Jul 2009, 12:45am

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Merrick

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Thanks guys! For some reason I only recorded one voice-over - just making it up as I went along. It probably would have been better had I done a couple more practice runs or recordings and looked up the names of the tripod parts. That said, as long as the video expresses the idea, it can't be too terrible. Thanks again!
Posted: Fri, 3rd Jul 2009, 11:53am

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DVStudio

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Really nice job. Thanks. And I'll add my +1 to make it 18 (hey, I think some one is going for higest rated post of the year)

I have 3 tripods, so I can easily see making 1 into a steadicam. Thanks, I will pass this around smile
Posted: Fri, 3rd Jul 2009, 1:38pm

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Mike Q

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DVStudio wrote:


I have 3 tripods, so I can easily see making 1 into a steadicam. Thanks, I will pass this around smile
Not a stedicam, a MERRICAM, or a MERRIRIG. biggrin
Posted: Fri, 3rd Jul 2009, 6:38pm

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spydurhank

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+1 from me to you dude.
I saw you post the other day and finally got around to trying it out.
my tripod was not made the same as yours but the same concept was still there. When I detached the leg... it looked and worked just like the elbow in our arms. Very cool stuff. I'm glad your brain has an imagination like that.
Thanks for coming up with this.
Posted: Fri, 3rd Jul 2009, 11:19pm

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TheOutlawAmbulance

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I have a question. How do you do this if your screws (or whatever. Rivets I guess) are riveted down?
Posted: Sat, 4th Jul 2009, 1:08am

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spydurhank

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Uh.... did you look at the base of the tripod where the legs meet, right under where you attach the camera?
That's where I found the screws on my tripod but as I said before... the same basic concept still works. I hope your tripod isn't held together with just rivets and no screws... that would suck, but if it is I'm sorry.
Posted: Sat, 4th Jul 2009, 1:41am

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TheOutlawAmbulance

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spydurhank wrote:

Uh.... did you look at the base of the tripod where the legs meet, right under where you attach the camera?
That's where I found the screws on my tripod but as I said before... the same basic concept still works. I hope your tripod isn't held together with just rivets and no screws... that would suck, but if it is I'm sorry.
It is but I did the same thing just turning the tripod on its side and its not to bad because I have a handle to hold it by. Doesn't totally suck.
Posted: Sat, 4th Jul 2009, 1:50am

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spydurhank

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Awesome, it's cool that you got it working.
Posted: Sat, 4th Jul 2009, 2:10am

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CX3

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This is awesome. +1 from this negro.
Posted: Sat, 4th Jul 2009, 3:55am

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Merrick

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Thank you!
Posted: Sun, 5th Jul 2009, 10:01pm

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A l e x

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That works insanely well! Thanks so much - I'll definitely be trying this out. Your shots at the beginning are brilliant - especially the one with the cat. It looks like it could be a DVD menu background if it was in slow motion!
Posted: Wed, 15th Jul 2009, 8:34am

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Simon K Jones

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Thought I replied to this when you first put it up. This is an awesome, awesome tip.

I think this'll definitely be in the running for the most popular post of the year. smile
Posted: Wed, 21st Jul 2010, 6:59am

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RodyPolis

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Saw this on Youtube and wondered if our own Merrick did it. Looks like I thought right. I'll be trying this tomorrow.
Posted: Wed, 21st Jul 2010, 8:37am

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miker

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Thanks for the bump, Rody.

I'll be trying this tomorrow as well. Cool stuff.
Posted: Wed, 21st Jul 2010, 9:18pm

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Micah master studios

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that was great ! very easy to understand . I hope I can buy a tripod and do that soon .