Maintaining Static Balance with a Steadicam Archer

The Steadicam Archer is a state of the art camera mounting and stabilizing apparatus that is widely used by cameramen in the global entertainment and film trade. The aim of the Archer, as it is referred to in the industry, is to allow its operator to easily configure it, to get the best shot possible both when in a standing or static position or on the move. The following tutorial describes how to adjust the Static balance of a mounted Steadicam Archer.

Step 1: Balance the Steadicam Archer

Before beginning to balance a Steadicam Archer in a fixed position, make sure that the camera and the Steadicam Archer’s batteries are attached securely. Also, make sure that all cables are secured and the accessories that will be needed during the film are on the Archer. Position the camera C.G. at about three-quarter of an inch behind the centerline of the Telescoping Post. Slide the two Battery Rods outward three or four inches before tightening them again with their clamps; this will increase the bottom balance of your rig. Also, make sure that the Camera Mounting Stage, Battery and Monitor are all properly aligned vertically. If not, then release the proper clamps and rotate any section into its proper position.

Attach the Gimbal onto a stand. This will require more than one person to complete without damaging any of the equipment. Make sure to have an assistant handy to hold the C-Stand in place. It is important to make sure that all three axis in view--the Fore-Aft, Side to Side and Top to Bottom--are balanced properly. Start with the most out of balanced axis and bring it to a roughly balanced position.

Step 2: Fine-Tune Top to Bottom Balance

Now you need to adjust the Top to Bottom balance. To do this, move the Steadicam Archer till it is in flat (horizontal) position. While holding it firmly in hand, release the Gimbal clamp. Slide the Gimbal till the filming apparatus balances itself out. Once it is reasonably balanced, slide the Gimbal from this new position half an inch towards the camera and lock the Gimball clamp down.

Step 3: Check Drop Time

Allow the apparatus to drop and rotate through vertical; remember to note the time of the exact moment it crosses the vertical. Try to set a target of two seconds. If it takes longer or shorter, re-adjust the Gimbal and battery to or away from the camera to get a shorter or longer time.

Step 4: Adjust Side to Side & Fore/Aft Balance

Keeping the camera C.G. three fourths of an inch behind the Centerpost, adjust the battery back and forward to get a rough Fore/Aft balance. Tweak the fore/aft balance with the fine-tuning handles on the stage. Hold the apparatus completely vertical with one hand before adjusting the side-to-side or fore/aft balance. With your other hand, use the adjustment mechanism on the Steadicam Archer to steady the balance until you stop feeling any pressure in the hand holding the rig. Use the knobs on the stage of the Archer to adjust its side to side balance.