Maintaining Dynamic Balance with a Steadicam Archer

The Steadicam Archer is a system that allows users to freely move around while still containing all of their needed video production equipment. Basically, all the equipment is connected into a vest that the user wears. But, when somebody first starts manipulating this equipment, it can be difficult to maintain dynamic balance. Most people will require some practice before they can efficiently use the system.

Step 1: Understanding Dynamic Balance

To be in dynamic balance, the person has to be able to fully move and control their motion. When a person first puts on the vest and the equipment, he can feel top or side heavy. This is due to the extra weight of the camera.

When a person is out of balance with the camera, he cannot obtain the needed range of motion that the camera system requires. But, there are ways that a person can compensate for this extra weight.

Step 2: Using the Archer Battery Mount

One way to obtain dynamic balance is to use the extra battery mount. The battery mount can hold several different types of batteries. While a person may not need an extra battery, having one in there provides the user some opposing balance.

The battery mount is placed almost opposite the main weight of the system, creating a counterbalance. This not only helps with balance, but also inertia control.

Step 3: Getting the Sled in Dynamic Balance

The Archer sled is part of the mounting system for the camera. The sled must be in balance, or users will not be able to take certain shots, including whip pans. When the sled is in dynamic balance, the camera’s center of gravity will be .75 inches to the rear of the center line, which is located on the center post.

There is no uniform system for finding the dynamic balance for the camera. Users must be willing to experiment until they get it right. If the camera does not pan properly or if it creates blurry shots, then the camera is probably not within dynamic balance.

One way to experiment with the camera is to manipulate the battery. Move it in or out. But, keep track of which way that it was moved. Try rebalancing the camera, and see if that improves the overall look of the shot. If it does not, move the battery the other way. Usually, when the battery is within a quarter of inch of being perfect, the Archer Steadicam will actually feel more balanced. At some point, the sled should pan flat. Usually, this does not take too much time, but it does take a bit of experimentation.

Step 4: Adding Accessories

Any time that an accessory is added to the Archer Steadicam, it will have to be re-balanced. Balance will be affected depending on how heavy the object is or where it is located.

When this happens, users will have to go through the above process again. Try adjusting the battery again to see if that helps, and do some test shots.