We have been working in the Washington, DC metro area for many years and are always looking for an edge in obtaining beauty shots of monuments and government buildings. The problem is in most locations you need to obtain a tripod permit from the Park Service or Capitol Police. The option to use drones in the DC metro area is absolutely forbidden and even if you tried most drones with their restricted software cannot even take off.
I decided to try to mount our Ronin camera rig on a bike, which seemed like a discrete, low-key way of obtaining beauty shots. I found you can ride or walk the bike allowing you to move from shot to shot quickly and giving you various levels of control. I worked with the bike mount and Ronin settings for more than a week testing and retesting it on our gravel dirt road. The bike mount I made somewhat dampens vibrations from riding over stone or cobble stone covered roads and pathways but I plan on adding more modifications to our mount to reduce those types of vibration even more. I thought if I could get it to work reasonably well on a dirt road, I should have few problems with it on city streets and sidewalks.
At the end of the DC tracking shots video you will see video from a GoPro camera mounted on the bike pointed at the Ronin setup. I wanted to watch how the Ronin set up reacts to the bumpy ride. Watching the beauty shots it’s startling to see how well the gimbal works to stabilize the camera keeping it centered on the subject I’m filming.
My gimbal settings were set to as much stiffing as the motors would take without vibrating. I adjusted smooth track on all axis close to zero, I found in my trial runs that smooth track would over compensate for small sudden turns I made on the bike which made the image jumpy at times.
Because the camera was mounted upside down I reversed my pan and tilt controls on the Ronin controller, I inverted the image in the camera and, because the F5 does not flop the horizontal plane of the image internally, I flopped it in the monitor and insured in post that the image was corrected on the horizontal plane.
Besides the Ronin and F5 camera mount I also have a Small HD Bright monitor and Ronin Gimbal controller attached to the handlebars which allows me to control pan and tilt and watch and review the footage.
The footage was shot using a Sony PMW-F5 camera with a Tokina 11-16mm lens, set to 4K Slog2 at 36fps over 30P. Color correction was done in DaVinci Resolve Studio, exporting out of Resolve a 4K 10bit uncompressed file.
I used Adobe After Effects CC for stabilization using Warp Stabilize. Manual settings were made and most of the auto cropping came out to be around 2% to 4% going as high as 6% on shots of the Washington Monument where the wind was gusting up to 25mph that day. I also added a small amount of Scatter Grain in AE to cut down on banding and other artifacts, which were noticeable on 8bit computer monitors after compression.
I exported out of AE an uncompressed 10bit 4K file into Avid for the final edit. I exported 4K out of Avid to Sorenson Squeeze and compressed the file down to 2K at 20MB/s and uploaded it to Vimeo. Music was licensed through Sonicfire Pro.
I can’t end this without mentioning filming from Segways. The first time I saw a Segway used with a Steady Cam was a shot made in England rolling down a line of the Queens Yeomen Warders (Beefeater Guards).
Segways make a great platform for the Ronin, I’ve seen some amazing stable footage shot from an operator riding on a Segway wearing an Easy Rig or Ready Rig. The rigs compensate for most of the vibrations leaving the Gimbal to take care of the rest. With a Segway you can operate in forward or reverse and if you have the large Segway you can even maneuver over grass and dirt.
DJI Ronin setup with Sony PMW F5 Camera, Small HD Bright Monitor and Wireless Audio attached to a CineMilled Ring slung from our Ready Rig system.