If you have ever shot video on your iPhone, you know how hard it is to pull off smooth filming in general, but when you are trying to film something that is in motion across uneven ground or when trying to navigate around obstacles, it really makes it that much more difficult.
When the masters of Hollywood films want to shoot smooth footage, they rely on a camera stabilizing mount for motion picture cameras. This device isolates the movement of the camera from the operator even when moving over an uneven surface, giving the film a steady, even motion.
The original device that revolutionized the film industry was the Steadicam. Now, with the introduction of Steadicam Smoothee for iPhone 4, Tiffen has produced a product that can give the same movement isolation for your iPhone and allow you to give your videos that same steady, even motion.
The Steadicam Smoothee is small and comes in two pieces. The first is the main unit which contains a gimbal handle which is allowed to rotate through several directional planes. It has a curved, weighted, counterbalanced frame that works to keep the unit balanced. On the handle area are two screws that allow you to adjust the unit into a level position. The second part is the mount, a hard plastic unit that holds the camera. The unit that I have holds the iPhone 3Gs and iPhone 4/4S. There are other mounts that hold FLIP MinoHD, iPod Touch, and GoPro Hero. The company is in the process of making mounts for other similar devices. The mount also has a universal screw on the bottom that can be mounted to a tripod or monopod. The quick release mount on the Steadicam Smoothee lets you swap between them easily.
Once you put the iPhone in the bracket and mount it on the unit, the first thing is to balance it. There are two screws – one that balances to the left and right, and one that balances front to back. The goal is to try to get the camera as level as possible.
Once you get everything in balance, you have to get the hang of working with the sway – the floating movement that the Steadicam wants to do as you move. There are several ways to try to do this. The one that seemed to work best for me is a light touch of the thumb and index finger to the gimbal handle.