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THE STEADICAM SMOOTHEE TESTED

Posted by Art Aguilar On April - 18 - 2013

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WHAT COMES WITH THE SMOOTHEE. ONE BELT CLIP, ONE GOPRO MOUNT, SMOOTHEE, AND ONE BAG

MAKING WEBSITE MAGIC
As you our readers go through the mecca of knowledge on our website countless times and see all the cool footage of test, cool stories,  events,  and all things mountain biking, you must wonder, “how do they it”.
I’m not only talking about the effort and lengths we go to when we get that ultimate pic that just blows your mind, or that photo presentation of products, and let’s not forget the how to sections we do.  A lot of this has to do with our raw ability to showcase our subject in such a way you that you just have to go right out there and buy it or go straight to that trail to have the same fun we do. We like that we excite you in that way, but I have to tell you It’s a lot harder than that, it’s the early mornings and late nights, long film edit nights with constant emails and sit down meetings about what to put on the site. There are really a lot of trade secrets I can’t go into.

OK, OK, so it’s not all us and it doesn’t have a lot to do with trade secrets, but that sounds so good right.  To do what we do, we rely on the tools of the trade and when we descend on an event like say Interbike or Sea Otter, in tow is our media gear to make the magic. These are backpacks with the weight that only an Army Ranger can carry.
Our typical gear list goes something like this, laptops, camera gear, cords, pens, voice recorders, tri pods, and a whole lot more. We more or less walk the equivalent of a marathon during some events with gear in tow.

THE SMOOTHEE IS VERY STREAM LINED AND SMALL WHICH MAKES IT GREAT TO HANDLE

TIFFEN STEADICAM SMOOTHEE
We are always looking for equipment to use that will make a test product look great or an interview and ride smooth. Our camera gear is essential to our use to help tell our story to you and if we find something that won’t break the bank that we know you can use to tell your story we’ll let you know.
Before we left to Interbike last year I had seen a video on YouTube where a guy was using a hand held Steadicam, this made me think this would be a great tool to use in what we do, but I needed something small that would work with a GoPro or Contour cameras. It had to be small and light in weight so we can say carry it on our belts or backpack straps. Now if you’re not familiar with a Steadicam these are used to get movie shots where the camera man is running or walking next to the actor and the shot is smooth meaning no bumps or jiggling. These rigs changed movie making, but they are very big and very expensive. There are smaller units that will work with DSLR’s (Digital, Single, Lens, Reflex) cameras and they go anywhere from $100 to $300 bucks.

Still needing something that would work with small POV cam can be a tall order to fill, so while researching on the web I came across the very company that makes the big time rigs for Hollywood. Steadicam and their Steadicam Smoothee. This is a small hand held unit that will work with GoPro, iPhone 4/3G, iPod touch, and Flip, no Contour yet.

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COOL PACKAGING

 

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ADJUSTMENT IS EASY WITH THE RED KNOBS AND SLIDING COUNTER WEIGHT ON THE FRONT BARS.

HOW IT WORKS
Now when you order your Smoothee you need to order the one that will be for the camera you need it for, in this case it was the GoPro. It comes in a nice box that looks like a briefcase telling you what it’s for and what you get  is one Steadicam Smoothee, one quick camera mount, one belt clip, and a nice carry bag for all of it.
Now when I received the Smoothee it was very easy to set up. I borrowed a GoPro, mounted it to the cam mount no problem. The next thing I had to do was set the fore aft and left right balance. This is all done by the two red knobs on the unit. The one on the left side controls the tilt right, tilt left and the one on the rear of the unit controls the tilt forward, tilt back. Now if you still have a slight balance issue with the camera going too far forward or back the round black disc on the front that says Steadicam is a counter weight that you can slide up or down to fine tune the Smoothee.
One other thing that is really nice about the Smoothee is the handle; it fits your hand very nice and allows you great control moving it left and right, or tilting it down or up. This is all done by the super smooth gimbal in and on the top of the handle. This will take a little practice to get used to when you use it.
Go to the Steadicam website they have some very good videos on how to use the Smoothee.

GOPRO MOUNT UP CLOSE

TEST TIME

Before we took it out to any trails I wanted to do something that I thought would be a little easy (around the house) and the other thing I had to play with was the fact that I have the Contour cam and Steadicam does not make a mount for the Smoothee, so seeing that it was only days before the MtnBikeRidres.com team descended upon Interbike and I was going to get my GoPro at the event I had to come up with something quick. I had a standard GoPro clip mount that was for a helmet, so what I did was a little cutting, filing, drilling, and “BAM” I had a mount.
Now this didn’t come without a little balance problems seeing that the Smoothee isn’t really made for the Contour, but I got it to work and did all the Interbike shots with it (see Interbike footage 2012). I had quite a few people stopping me and asking me about this little beauty. The Smoothee worked really great getting in and around products and doing interviews.
The next test I gave the Smoothee was the walk around bike view. This allows us to give a great perspective of the bike showing you all aspects of a bike.
The run/walk test takes some practice seeing that if you bump into an object it can kill you shot, but walking or jogging next to a rider gives you a smoother shot then if you didn’t have the Smoothee.

THE SMOOTHEE HAS GREAT CONTROL WITH JUST USING YOUR THUMB, BUT ON A WINDY DAY IT CAN BE HARD TO USE.

THE SMOOTHEE HAS GREAT CONTROL WITH JUST USING YOUR THUMB, BUT ON A WINDY DAY IT CAN BE HARD TO USE.

 

PRACTICE DOES MAKE PERFECT. PLAY WITH IT AND YOU WILL SEE A DIFFERENCE IN YOU VIDEO

PRACTICE DOES MAKE PERFECT. PLAY WITH IT AND YOU WILL SEE A DIFFERENCE IN YOU VIDEO

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

This will prove to be an invaluable tool for us and seeing that I was able to get my Contour to work on it was a good thing, but Tiffen’s Steadicam Smoothee is made to used with a GoPro and it works great for it. It’s very easy to work, it’s built tough and with practice you will make some great movies.
The price for movie magic goes for about $170.00, but go online and shop around for them.

We wish to thank Tiffen for sending us the test unit and putting it through its paces.

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