A few months ago I got back from doing BTS on the set of “Polycarp: Destroyer of Gods.” My cameras of choice were Canon's DSLRs, and going into this I knew there were a few pieces of gear that were critical. Since hand-held was obviously out of the question, I needed to find a rig that was very mobile, durable, and comfortable to use for hours at a time. There are no second takes with BTS, and to keep from giving your viewers a mild case of motion sickness, you need a good rig to smooth out those shaky hand-held shots.
That's when I took a look at Ikan's Recoil Camera Stabilizer. It's a very simple and effective design; with a padded shoulder rest and an adjustable chest brace. It also features two mounting extensions and a foam padded grip that elevate and extend the camera so as to more easily view the display. With the mount in place, I attached a shoulder strap (not included) around my back that effectively made the rig hands-free if I needed to change a card or battery. It also brought the number of contact points up to four and I still had a free hand to pull focus. All the contact points meant that normal hand-held shake was eliminated as the rig became just an extension of my body. The downside is that the vertical movement caused by my breathing or walking was exaggerated, but compared to handheld, the footage was super steady and the entire rig gave great freedom of movement.
Pros: Light weight, easy to use, fairly comfortable, and adjustable.
Cons: The rig feels great when you are using it for short periods of time, but the constant pressure of a DSLR with a zoom lens resting on your gut and lower ribs can cause some discomfort if you use it 6 days a week. Also, at first I had a hard time keeping the multiple baseplates tight and in place. They would work their way loose and wobble a bit. The plastic nob on top of the steel bolt connecting the handle to the top plate eventually got stripped from frequent tightening. But I discovered that if you put the bolt through a small steel washer before attaching it to the handle that you completely eliminate this problem and the rig stays nice and tight.
Closing Thoughts: Overall it is a great rig. The mobility allowed me to shoot some great footage in
almost any situation and keep it steady, whereas hand-held would have been completely unusable.
From the back of pickup trucks to high scaffolding, through rain and mud, low and cramped, it served me well. Plus being fully decked out with a mic and Ikan monitor looks good in the eyes of the general public.
More info at ikancorp.com.
Check out some of the footage below: