2017-05-11
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Sliders and how to use them effectively - Part Two


In the previous blog on sliders, I covered what to look for when purchasing a new slider and the exciting and creative types of movement you can produce with this amazing piece of kit.  In this second blog you’ll find info and guidance on further camera movement using your slider, including time-lapse and motion control.


When is a slider not a slider……. when it’s a jib!


Like the monopod, the slider has so much creative potential as an essential piece of camera support equipment. Again, you will require the use of a decent quality tripod and two good quality camera heads.


The sweeper


Set the slider mid point on the tripod and the camera at one end. Use this pivot point to move the camera in a 360 degrees circle or in a sweeping movement towards or away from your subject.


Video:  turn slider 360 degrees with Ian walking and presenting directly to camera


The crane


Attach the end of the slider to the tripod and mount the camera on the other end. This will provide excellent vertical movement and height.


Video: tripod and slider end on with camera on far end and creating jib vertical movement. Camera jibs down to Ian from sky and stops on face as he starts to talk


The combo


You can of course combine the above two movements. If you are going to incorporate tilt, pan or focus you will need to ensure that your tripod is robust enough to support these movements and possible get a friend to help!


Video: combine the above


Animation


The slider must be seen as a real asset to stop motion animators as it provides a range of calculable and predetermined, smooth camera movement, hitherto only dreamed of. I feel another blog coming on here!


Let’s take this to the next level


So you are now a slider ‘Ninja’ and have entered the hallowed realm of being ‘at one’ with this essential bit of kit. Watching you work, people are unsure as to where you end and the slider begins….it’s a seamless fusion, a synchronised, harmonious relationship that relentlessly pours forth beautiful moving image. What next I hear you ask……..wireless motion control is my answer!


Slide, pan, tilt, focus and zoom


Yes, you too can have all of the above by using motion control, providing you with smooth vertical and horizontal (or somewhere in between) movement, 90 degree tilt and 360 degree pan, focus and zoom control. Automated, preset, wireless control opens up a whole new world for time-lapse photography, whilst you sit back and have a nice hot cup of  tea.


The two main benefits of wireless motion control are around real time and preset operation. A simple handset allows you to remotely control camera movement and better still, this movement can be practiced and then preset to run automatically. I have used two wireless set ups for A and B camera interviews which had been preset on the slider to move slowly throughout the interview, allowing me to concentrate on getting the very best from the interviewee. It’s also interesting to note how quickly your contributor learns to ignore the cameras and concentrate on the interview itself. Cameras can be set  so that they slide and pan, remaining focussed on the interviewee throughout the recording. With the right shot composition, framing and lighting this be visually very interesting and offer a new dynamic to boring old talking heads. If you record medium wide in 4K, on a long lens, not only do you have great depth of field, but you offer your editor plenty of scope for a range of close-ups, which they will, of course, love you for.


Video: CU of all of the above movements in one preset as camera moves and presenter is seen in background facing camera


Overlays


Ever wanted to record multiple layers of the same shot but with camera movement…..well now you can. Simply set the slider in a fixed position and preset the camera movement which can be repeated again and again.  You could appear, in shot, multiple times because you can match up the overlays with complete accuracy.


Time-lapse


Sliders have become essential kit for time-lapse producers. Whether you’re recording the night sky, clouds or tidal movement, the wireless motion slider can be a great friend. Something as simple as the camera moving 1.5 metres over a six hour period whilst it records the movement of the moon and stars can lead to beautiful image making which can only be achieved through using preset motion control.


Why use a wireless motion control slider


It offers high quality, professional real time and preset, three axis motion control.


All shots are consistently smooooooth! You simply could not replicate this type of movement by hand.


Programming allows for planning and testing shots as well as consistency with shots.


It provides for multiple, identical takes which can be layered on top of one another in post.


Remote or preset camera operation allows production teams members to concentrate on other tasks and can be less intimidating to interviewees.


No need to stop and change batteries. Long battery life powers motors, uninterrupted for hours and hours and hours….well….up to 12 hours with the best systems!


Equipment is compact, lightweight to transport and easy to set -up and run.


Works with all DSLR cameras and in any set up, vertical, horizontal or 45 degrees.


Is a cost effective addition to your existing slider and opens up a whole range of creative moving and still image possibilities including panoramic and photostitching.


Summary:


I remember seeing my first slider in 2008 and thinking that it was ok, bit dinky and may never catch on. How wrong was I. Used with skill and creativity, this is an awesome bit of kit which can take your productions to a whole new level. It is also a time-lapse essential and should be added to any serious video producers kit list of must haves!  


As slider design and build develops, we will see a lot more lighter weight, easier to carry and assemble mini sliders with additional support kit such as fixings and clamps that allow the slider to be used anywhere and in any position and wireless motion controllers operated from a smartphone app….thus giving what is a very flexible bit of kit , even more flexibility!



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