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  • Writer's pictureDenis Ankrah

Gimbal or Handheld?

Gimbal or handheld is the question for many filmmakers and cinematographers. While both have their benefits, I tend to lean towards one over the other. As a video creator, there are so many variables to think about with each project, and when it comes to video production it is essential to choose the right tools to get the job done according to your vision.

Gimbals are great for so many reasons. Most gimbals have 3-axis stabilization creating that smooth floating camera movement. They have become the go-to when it comes to camera stabilization. You might say gimbals have saturated the video production industry. The average viewer would recognize the smooth cinematic movements of a gimbal. For example, about 95% of real estate videos use gimbals. It is essential for this type of video as you would want to simulate an immersive experience.

Gimbals can be overused and therefore lose their appeal. For instance, I find the latest trends in gimbals in performance-style music videos. These types of videos look fantastic, but the camera movement looks generic. The camera movement is usually back and forth, left to right. I am not knocking generic gimbal movements; I believe they should be used with a purpose behind them. This is cinematography 101, but this is just my opinion.

Then there is handheld filmmaking. When I say handheld I mean shoulder rig included. From my experience, you get the most freedom with handheld filming. You can achieve more dynamic movements. You can implement "the shaky camera look" which can serve a purpose in different situations. Also, the more your camera is rigged up, the fewer micro jitters you get in your footage. This of course depends on what you are creating.

Gimbal or handled. which one is for you? It depends on what you're creating, what your vision or story is? At the end of the day, these choices are arbitrary. The choices boil down to your style of shooting and what you feel comfortable with.

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