Video Production Tips

What is a gimbal? 

Posted May 11, 2021
Written by Clipchamp

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Do you enjoy creating videos and want them to look more professional? If you’re passionate about videography and are looking for ways to improve, upgrading your accessories could be a great way to take your videos to the next level.

Read on to understand what a gimbal is and how beginners can use it. 

Holding a gimbal

What is a gimbal?

A gimbal is an accessory used during photography and video shoots. Very simply, one mounts their DSLR or phone on a gimbal and can move the camera in any way they wish, and the gimbal will stop the camera from picking up human errors like shaking or jittering. Gimbals use a mix of sensors and motors to stop your camera from unintentionally shaking. This function is called the stabilizer.

The stabilizer is what makes a gimbal so unique. It's the key to how it creates smooth shots. Affordable gimbals are manually operated while more advanced gimbals are battery-operated.

camera mounted on a gimbal

The design of the gimbal is targeted more at the video side of things. However, there is still a wide choice to use a gimbal for DSLR cameras. Using a gimbal for phones will give you a far smoother shot too.

In essence, it stops your video from looking like The Blair Witch Project. But if that’s the look you’re going for then, that's okay too!

How does a gimbal work?

The gimbal stabilizers use motors that allow the camera to pivot along three axes. These axes are called the pitch, the roll, and the yaw.

The pitch is the axis that allows you to tilt the gimbal vertically. While you do this, the camera will still face in the direction the handle is pointing. This action is otherwise known as Tilt.

The roll axis allows you to twist the handle either left or right. The camera will stay in its original position each time you turn.

The yaw is the left to the right axis. With the yaw axis, you can move the handle from left to right while the camera points in its original direction. This action is commonly called a pan movement.

Here’s a good example of the Tilt and Pan movement from The Avengers.

What is a gimbal lock?

But what if you don't want all these axes to function in every shot? One of the benefits of gimbals is you can lock any of the axes to keep them in place.

By locking one of the axes, you shoot your tilt or pan shots without fear of the camera moving in a way you don't want it to.

This function gives you more control over the movement and the outcome of the project you are using the gimbal to create.

How beginners can use a gimbal

The moment you purchase your new gimbal, remember—balance the gimbal!

If you don't balance it, the gimbal will work harder to perform its stabilization. If you’re using a battery-operated gimbal, the battery life will die quicker as it’ll be working harder, which means you’ll have to recharge more often. 

When you first get a gimbal, have a play-around with your new toy! Work out the different features and shots you can achieve! It allows improved close-up shots.

Ideas to Play With

The moment you purchase a gimbal, you will be noticing different shots you could use everywhere. This inspiration can come from YouTube, advertising, and even movies.

The moment you see a shot you wish to try, write it down. When you next take out your gimbal, you can play around and figure out how you can use that shot. Keep practicing to get better! 

Another great way to learn how to use your gimbal is to seek out other gimbal users. These other users may well have some pointers for you to use. You may even have found a few tips that they don't know. Teaching can go both ways.

Learn how to make great videos 

Gimbals can vary in price. Whichever one you wish to purchase, make sure you use it in a variety of situations. Discover how to utilize the axes. Play around with different shots. Plan your shots beforehand. Find learning avenues, like Clipchamp’s glossary of video editing terms!

When you’re ready, just drag, drop and edit an amazing video in minutes with Clipchamp. 

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