Production, Video

How good is your video camera slider at steady slow speeds? One simple way to find out

Rhino Motion mounting on the slider

What good is a video camera slider if it can’t provide rock-solid motion, with no vibrations? And if it does, what can you do about it? By accident I found out there are circumstances the Rhino slider EVO Carbon with its Motion motor creates footage that makes your zoomed-in subject look like a Parkinson patient. This costs time as you need to edit in post-production to get rid of the carriage vibrations. Especially when there’s little weight pressing down on the carriage, vibrations may be a serious problem with any slider.

Trost Motion
Image © Trost Motion

I only know of one slider the developer claims it doesn’t vibrate at all. That’s the Trost slider from Trost Motion. I don’t know if that claim holds true if you would run my very simple test to see if a slider will vibrate. I do know that I have video camera three sliders that all have the vibration problem to some degree. The way I found out was by attaching a GoPro HERO4 to an extension arm you would normally use for carrying a video monitor like the Atomos Ninja or Shogun. The arm served as a sort of amplifier. It resulted in me actually being able to clearly see the HERO4 stutter along some of the slider’s track.

Lining up Rhino Motion with EVO slider

I went about to see how bad the stuttering was by filling a large mug with water and submerging the HERO4 recording — lens pointing upwards — in the beaker. I then had the Rhino Motion looping through the 24in track in three minutes, which is fairly slow. I first ran the test without extra load on the carriage. As an average load on any slider will be somewhere between 1kg and 5kg, I repeated the test with a 3.5kg heavy camera and made the same recording all over.

Not everybody will have a GoPro to plunge into a mug filled with water. I therefore repeated the test with a glass of water, filming the surface from the side to see whether that would show what is going on. It worked, but the submerge test shows better how bad your slider may vibrate.

Test your own video camera slider and help others by sharing results

It would perhaps be helpful to others who use sliders if we could create a sort of database of sliders having gone through the test. That’s why I would like to propose to everybody using video camera sliders to run the test with the mug as I have done or if you lack a GoPro, with the glass. Run the test with zero weight on the carriage, to create a level playing field.

Send me a link to your movie in the comments section below. Include the name and type of the slider and perhaps a link to the maker’s website. I moderate all comments on this site, so be a bit patient before you see your entry being published. And as I mean this to be a service to users, I will filter spam out ruthlessly.

[videojs mp4=”/media/slider-stutter.mp4″ width=”480″ height=”270″]

The only way to solve this problem is not buying a slider that stutters and vibrates too much in the first place. If you have one that does, you can try to find out what its optimum load is, at which it should vibrate less than when it has to carry less or more weight. Start with adding little weight and with each additional weight, test the slider again using the glass of water method.

If you still experience stutter in the end-result, there’s not much else but to compensate for it in post. For Final Cut Pro X users, CoreMelt has an excellent plug-in, Lock & Load.