DIY Camera Gimbal For $0: The Key To Shooting Buttery Smooth Videos

Can't afford an expensive camera gimbal? Here's how to create a DIY gimbal for $0 and capture buttery smooth footage even on zero budget.

October 30th, 2017

There’s one challenge every videographer will face: Shooting smooth videos.

Whether you’re shooting home videos, church announcements, or recording a training video for your church, shooting silky smooth footage is key to creating an excellent experience for your viewers. Sharing wobbly videos with people is a great way to distract them from your message, which is not what you want to do.

Now, for many videographers and churches, you most likely have a limited budget and may not have the funds to purchase a ton of equipment, like camera stabilizers or gimbals.

So, you’re out of luck, right?

Well, not exactly.

Today, I’m going to share with you a technique you can use to shoot buttery smooth videos like a pro, but with a low budget. Here’s how it works.

1. Get a wide lens

For your camera, the first thing you will need is the widest lens you can get your hands on. For the examples in this article and video, I will be shooting with the URSA Mini Pro and the Rokinon Cine DS 16mm T2.2 lens. Aside from my camera and lens, I did not use any other video gear in these examples.

To make this technique work, it doesn’t matter what camera or lens combination you use. You don’t need a high-end cinema camera like the Blackmagic URSA Mini. You can use a DSLR or Micro-Four-Thirds camera. In fact, these two cameras may serve you better in this situation because your lens or camera may have image stabilization built directly into them.

Regardless of the camera and lens you use, the key to successfully pulling off this technique is to use as wide a lens as you possibly can.

2. Find a friend and a car

This idea is going to sound crazy, but the next thing you will need to do is find a friend with a car.

Then, after you nail down the subject you want to shoot, hop into the passenger seat of your friend’s car and have them drive. Now, roll down the window, cradle your camera against your body to stabilize it as much as you can, point it out of the window toward your subject, and hit record.

Cradle the camera close to your body and point the camera out the window
Cradle the camera close to your body and point the camera out the window

3. Shoot with a high frame rate

Next up, you’ll want to ensure that your camera is set to a high frame rate.

60 frames per second is my preferred frame rate for this technique. However, even at 30 frames per second, you may still be able to pull this off.

When you shoot with a high frame rate, you can slow down your video and minimize the inevitable bumps and jerks of the car as much as possible.

4. Move slowly

To pull this off, you need to make sure your driver goes slowly.

Over the years, I’ve found that going 10–15 miles per hour is the sweet spot. Or, if you’re outside the United States (I’m Canadian), then right around 20–25 kilometers per hour will do the trick. If you go any faster, then you will run the risk of messing up your shot.

5. Stabilize your footage in post editing

What I’m about to share with you is the secret to the secret sauce.

After you record your footage, it’s time to stabilize your material in post editing.

If you use Adobe Premiere Pro, you can add a free plugin called Warp Stabilizer. Just let this plugin do its thing, and you will have a smooth clip.

$0 DIY Gimal
$0 DIY Gimal

A smooth video DIY technique

As a friendly reminder, I shot these videos in downtown Milwaukee in the rain, in construction zones, and with an unreal number of potholes and bumps in the road. But it didn’t matter. This DIY technique still worked. All of this goes to show you that you don’t always need expensive gear to capture professional looking shots

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