THE GIMBAL MOUNT
Whether you’re shooting with your phone or an expensive SLR rig, a gimbal will help stabilise your shots and prevent your videos from looking like they were shot by Jason Bourne after 16 cups of coffee. For your phone – especially larger ones like the 7 Plus and the Pixel XL – the Zhiyun-tech Smooth Q about R3 000; pictured) takes only five minutes to set up. It works basically like a car mount: your phone sits in the cradle. After getting everything balanced on all three axes using the gimbal’s two sliders, you can power on the motors that will ultimately control the movements. It was much easier than I expected. I used the Zhiyun to annoy film my wife making dinner. I got way better shots than I expected and although it was just to practice, I was thrilled with my ultra-slow-motion pan of tomatoes cascading on to a fresh bed of salad greens.
For my SLR, a Canon 5D Mark IV with a 24–70mm lens and an attached Røde shotgun mic, I tried the Ikan EC1 threeaxis gimbal (R11 000). Balancing a big SLR with a long lens was much harder than balancing a phone. The centre of gravity is harder to figure out and I was worried the whole thing would tip over and break before I got to shoot anything. All this was made worse when I tried to assemble and balance the rig at a dusty racetrack. Worst of all, it was heavy. After 14 hours of shooting a motorcycle race in Kentucky in the hot sun, my hands, back and shoulders ached. That’s when I appreciated the joystick. I could set the whole rig on a flat surface and pan by moving the stick. The video came out great. My back, however, still feels terrible. – Michael Wilson