I'm directing a teaser for a web series in which the camera will be in the POINT OF VIEW of a passive protagonist. I'm wondering what the best way to do this is. A helmet camera rig? Steady cam? Do you know of any ways which this has been done? Best results?
There are many solutions and they can all work for you, but each one offers a different aesthetic. So it really depends on the kind of look you want.
Something like a GoPro on a helmet or head strap can work, but the movement tends to be very jerky and unstable. Your head moves a lot more than you think it does. This looks more like reality TV.
You could rig something like a snorricam, which is a way of mounting the camera right in front of the operator’s face with a complex harness that braces the camera to the operator’s head, shoulder, and torso (or a combination of any of those). This rig is more often used with the camera facing the operator, but can be used with the lens pointing away. Again, a very stylized look. It is more stable than a helmet cam but still has a movement that can be a little jerky based on the movement of the operator.
Steadicam, Glidecam, etc. could work, I guess. A 3-axis gimbal fits in this group. Smooth motion comes with practice and these are not tools to use straight out of the box. They take many hours to perfect. Motion is also stabilized and restricted a little bit more than POV may need.
The simplest and possibly most effective method may be just to shoot handheld. It’s not mechanically stabilized. Its movement isn’t dependent on being strapped to a body part like a forehead. It’s more organic and can move the way it needs to. This is probably your best bet and you won’t even have to buy new gear.
Thank you! If my DP comes thru with his Canon c100 we'll just shoot handheld. My camera is a Sony a7sii which is not good for handheld (the image is jerky and digitally wonky). So if I end up shooting it, I may look into the snorricam.
Going handheld with a camera that does not have a global shutter can lead to some distracting qualities in the footage (i'm looking at you Jello-cam). With that said, you can still achieve great POV shots by trying to minimize how much and how quickly the horizon shifts in the frame. Also fast whip pans really highlight the Jello-cam effect, so keep pan speeds slower. Granted, I'm giving you these suggestions and I don't have any idea what the story is or what you want to want to achieve with the POV shots. Many great POV shots have been done on tripod or dolly. Also, putting the camera on a sandbag (or something similar) on top of the tripod (or any stable surface) can allow you to still move the camera in a way that still has a subjective feel to it but may not be as shaky as going handheld. Shoot some tests with your a7 with different amounts of 'shake' or movement to see what works for the story.
Another factor is the LENS. Going hand held and using a wide angle lens looks really cool...especially when you get real close to the person you are talking to. A wide angle lens is also more forgiving to shakey camera moves.