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Why does my cheap gimbal make jittery footage?

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Afbeeldingsresultaat voor shaky video iphone

Going through my footage I shot with my cheap gimbal on my computer and saw jitter in a lot of videos. Where does this jitter come from?

The jitter or micro-shakes in the footage are caused mainly by the optical image stabilization on a smartphone itself. The so called OIS tries to compensate the movements that are made with your phone. But when using a gimbal, the OIS and the gimbal are compensating for every moment. This causes the overcompensation and therefore the jitter in your footage.

What is OIS?

OIS is optical image stabilization and works by using gyroscopes to calculate how much countermovements must be made by your lens. When these movements are made during the capturing of an image or video, the camera movement blur is reduced. So the optical image stabilization can be very useful in any situation with good lighting. Giving you the ability to create content without any problems by hand. But in lower light situations the OIS gives the user an advantage it didn’t have in the past. Shooting with less light, means longer exposure times and therefore you need quit a steady hand.

How can I minimize the jitter?

The jitter is quit often caused by using a gimbal and a smartphone with OIS enabled. Where you would think the overstabilization could actually work.. It doesn’t. I thought I had some good shots, because they looked great when playing it back on my Iphone. But when I imported these gimbal shots on my mac, I was instantly disappointed. The jitter is noticeable and very annoying, definitely when your just getting into videography. You can use workarounds in the editing proces with plugins that smooth out movements. But when your videos are ‘shitty’, they’ll not sudden become amazing with some video effects. You’ll have to make good looking shots, preferably without jitter, to make a good looking video. So how did I minimize the jittery effect as much as possible?

I found some apps for my Iphone that give me the option to disable the OIS and this instantly gave me better footage. The jitter was almost completely gone and now I really enjoyed the gimbal footage. So a good way to eliminate the jitter caused when using a gimbal, it to disable the OIS.

Can I disable the OIS in the native camera app?

The native camera app in your Iphone does not support the feature to disable the OIS. This will explain why a lot of people have been complaining when using their gimbal with the native camera app and getting jittery footage. In the native app on the iphone the optical and digital image stabilization is automatically turned on. Thus creating quit a lot of problems.

What apps can I use to disable the OIS on my iphone?

The app I use to disable the IOS is Procam and it gives me the option to shoot in 4k Max and this disables the image stabilization in the phone. Not only is the optical image stabilization disable, but the digital image stabilization also. I read something about it on the Procam tutorials page: ‘Neither digital nor OIS video stabilization are supported.’.

You can also use other apps like Filmic Pro, that also support the option to disable OIS. I have not tested the Filmic Pro app on this option before, so I will get back to this in the future.

What are other solutions?

You can try to improve your movements and move like a ninja. I’ve already told about some movements you need to master in my other article. But improving your movement can increase the quality of your footage dramatically.


A few simple smartphone gimbal tips ..

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Instantly improve your shots (when using a gimbal)!

Smartphone gimbal

Stop shooting video vertically..

When your shooting vertical with your Iphone, than the footage will show black bars on the sides. This will take everything out of the cinematic feeling and make it feel like your watching something like a simple snapchat video. And because everyday more people are shooting video vertically, you can stand out by doing the opposite and creating with a ‘cinematic’ – horizontal feel. Otherwise the gimbal won’t be used to it’s full potential. So make sure that you’re always shooting horizontal to ensure the same look overall.

When you’re not shooting slowmo choose 4k 30fps settings..

When using the native Iphone camera app, make sure you’re using the right video settings. If you’re not looking to shoot slowmotion footage, then choose to use 4k 30fps (when using an Iphone 8 or higher). This framerate will be adequate enough to shoot in conditions with less light. When using a higher framerate, you need more lighting to capture good looking footage. Each frame will be taken in a shorter time, which means that there is less exposure time/light per frame. But don’t worry when you’re not looking to shoot slowmotion footage. The higher framerate mostly is needed to create smooth slowmotion videos.

Mind your step

Minimizing the vertical movements you make while recording will give steadier footage overall, but especially when using a gimbal. Gently walking with your feet heel to toe will decrease bouncing. Also keep the knees bent to absorb shocks when walking on an irregular surface. At last, keep the elbows bent where they can function as some kind of shockabsorber.

Use ‘push in/pull out’ movements to add drama with your gimbal

Don’t use standard movements when you have your smartphone on a gimbal. You need Gimbalto utilize the gimbal as much as possible by using techniques that will take advantage of a stabilizer. Two simple movements like the ‘push in’ or the ‘pull out’ movement will give you more dramatic looking shots. It uses the relationship between the subject and the background to open up a shot or to close up and focus.

Push in: when using the ‘push in’ you’re moving towards the subject and make sure that the focus is locked on it. As you come closer and closer to the subject you automatically let it seem more important. For example, when you’re subject is a person and makes expressions, you grab the emotion of the person and this will be added to your shot.

Pull out: when using the ‘pull out’ movement you’re moving away from the subject, while staying focused on it. This movement will reveal the space surrounding the subject and can give a viewer new impulses. With the ‘pull out’ movement you can also the relationship between the subject and the area it’s in. Giving you the possibility to make it seem that the subject is isolated.

Make use of ‘booming’ shots

When using the ‘booming’ shot you’re raising or lowering the camera vertically. The purpose is to show new elements or show what the subject is seeing.

Create action with the ‘orbit’ movement

Doing a ‘orbit’ movement keeps the focus on the subject while circling it with the camera. The background will be shifting constantly and gives new perspective to a scene. This movement can be used to create energy and is perfect for some kind of action shots.

Use third party apps when filming

When your using the camera app in your smartphone, it’s quit likely you can’t manually choose every parameter. Things like exposure, contrast, white balance will be automatically adjusted in the native camera app. So when you’re using this app every shot can vary in look and settings. Therefore, you would likely want to use an advanced video app like filmic pro to manually put in each setting. Giving you the ability to freeze the settings being used when making multiple shots.

Explore perspective with lenses for your smartphone

You can use the standard lens on you Iphone and already create good looking shots, but everybody can make videos this way. By using a lens for your smartphone the footage you make, will be more unique. For example, when using the wide lens made by Moment will give your a wider shot and this will give you a more interesting shot. This perspective will differ from other videographers that are using the standard lenses. Not only can you use wider lenses, but you can also use a telelens. A telelens will give you a doubled zoom optically, not digitally. So the quality of the shots won’t become worse.

Iphone lenses

Edit footage and grade using presets or LUTs to start

When the filming is done and you have made the shots you need, it’s time to do some work post processing. You’ll need to edit and montage your shots to create a good story. After you’ve done this step, it’s important to grade your footage. It will give your video a cohesive look and let you set the mood by using color. Shots can look dull and lifeless, but by grading you create a feeling.

Colour grading can be achieved easily by using LUTs. They’re like presets for your video, like the presets you can find for photos in the VSCO app for your Iphone. You can find a lot of free LUT presets created by other videographers. Some presets are premium and so you have to pay for these.

Alternative gimbals for Iphone (and other smartphones)

Freefly Movi: the Movi is one option you need to keep in mind if you want the best gimbal for the Iphone. Bare in mind the higher pricepoint for this gimbal, but it does have a more advanced stabilizing system.

DJI Osmo Mobile: the DJI gimbal is also a great gimbal, but higher priced than the Zhiyun. For the higher price you get an app that actually is functional. The DJI Osmo Mobile App is without a doubt better than the Zhiyun software.

Check the review I made of the Zhiyun Smooth Q gimbal and why I think it is the best choice for beginning videographers!