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All about GYRO's

Brad Hruboska

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"As a long time gyro owner, I think Mishka has it about right. When we mount the gyros on the steadicam, we work against their stabilizing force to pan and tilt the camera. This makes operating with the gyros a challenge and a compromise."


Sure, but is that not the whole point of mounting a gyro? make the rig stiffer against the wind. I don t feel this is a lack of design integration by any means. Possibly I am being pedantic but gyro s make the rig stiffer hence stabilizing it further just like making the rig longer. Needing much more definate forces to operate the rig but also on the other hand these operator forces can be a lot more clumsy because the gyro is doing a lot more stabilizing.


I do find I operate with a full grip when with gyros. For ages I just put one gyro on the top of the camera sideways before I had the proper brackets. The extra weight up top also made me lenghen the bottom of the sled giving extra inertia against the wind.


When conditions require gyro s I often find the compromises or challenges of using the gyros become the least of my problems compared to hanging on on the side of the truck or keeping it together in the howling wind and driving rain.


Another gyro myth I would be keen to debunk is putting one gyro upright to keep horizon and alowing you to pan freely and quickly making you "look the the best operator in the world" ... I had heard this tens of times before I got gyros and seems to work in theory but in practise I am begining to believe all the purporters of this rumour are full of it and have simply never actually tried it as it just does not work making operating incredibly clumsy.... am I wrong? you just seem to be edging on the side of the gyro and it s rubbish.


The other thing is I have KS6 's and putting 2 of them onto the sled makes a big difference in weight! Sure it s only another 6kg s but often that s a good 6kg s you don t want. I would overall say avoid gyro s and invest in wind sheilds described in other posts. Gyro s do have good uses on vehicle mounts when hard mounted or in situation s with high high winds too high for people to hold up big boards or nets, both of these situations should be avoided by newbies and certainly don t warrant their investment as there are many toys you should probably buy first.

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I really appreciate your post Mishka, however you seem to leave more questions than answers .


?The Steadicam is not initially designed to work with Gyro.? .... why not? What design features negate the use of gyros


?The problem is the Gyro can?t be used correctly on existing Steadicam post.? ..... why not? Whats wrong with the range of post clamps or in my case MK-V cage brackets


?It needs modified post and different balancing approach.? .... really? I just balance with the gyro s turned off and then turn them on, tweaking the balance as the mag moves through based on what slow feeling I get. Is this any different to operating with a longer camera or antlers?


?The common mistake of using Gyros is ?let the gyro stabilize? usually ends with disturbing the gyros till the system is erratic or constantly unbalanced and

Difficulties in ?steering? the camera.?..... I don t understand your point at all.... I just operate as normal just possibly with a full grip seeing as it is a howling wind and I am intending to let the gyro do the stabilizing.


?The reason is: all the rigs attached with additional gyros are basically working against

Gyroscopic stabilization mechanics and principle.?..... How?


?* Tilt up down feature can be done without tilting the post.?..... wow! How do you do that?


?* The system can be motorized or fully manual.? ..... Really? What on earth are you on about?


?* The overall system will be the same weight as existing Steadicam.?..... what by not using any batteries on the sled and powering your whole sled/camera from a battery belt and cable s


?The sound problem is a minor problem.? ..... I would love to see you try and explain that whilst doing a daily on a feature with a crew you don t know


I am very interested in using my gyros, I think maybe with hindsight I may be missing some very clever point s you are making in your post, did you translate it using a computer based translator? Does that explain ?* The system can be motorized or fully manual.? as in ?The gyros can have the power kept on them or unplugged just before the shot?


I promise I am not trying to be difficult, just am very interested in anything anyone has to say about using gyros and would love to get to the bottom of your post.


What gyros are you using Mishka? Are you using those 12v Israeli gyros? What ever happened to that company? They just disapeared or got way too many military contracts to be able to serve civilian customers as is often the way with specialists like this.






Oh and Marque, If you are worried about wind, buy some antlers.


I can answer some your questions directly to you if you?re interested

And some here

About the Galilieo System gyro?s I?m my self looking for them for past 3 years.


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Copied and pasted with special permission by Mark O'Kane, from his website:







This is or was my real gyro package before I had them updated. (2) KS-8?s, (2) KS-6?s w/ KS-8 springs, (1) KS-5 and (2) KS-4?s.

I have used them all for various reasons. Every time I thought of getting rid of some of them I ended up using them for one reason or another.

I?m doing this rap because as I read the forum it seems like a few people discount their use or don?t really feel they are necessary. It is all personal choice but I think this is worth going into. Some people just think they can rent them when needed. That is great when you know what is coming, but 70 percent of the time I had no idea I was going to need them until the conditions presented themselves. Plus you have to know how to use them. This stuff isn?t for beginners. It takes real skill and knowledge to use them properly.

I first used gyros on a bunge camera rig mounted to the front of a ?camera car? in Saudi Arabia in the late 70?s. As we had to go up to 60 miles per hour off the hood of a converted to speed-rail pickup truck

I figured it was worth the try. It worked.


In the mid eighties I was booked on a job in the California desert which involved a walk and talk with two actors walking around a house. A sand storm blew up making it impossible to control the rig let alone see. The shot had to be done on a dolly after digging into the uneven terrain to lay track just to get a useable shot in what turned out to be a real s##t-fight. The wind and blowing sand were so bad they had to loop it anyway. There had to be a better way. I made my first gyro mounts.


Soon after I was booked on a shot where the director wanted me to come down on a crane parked in the street, come off, and lock the cross-hairs on the doorknob of a house as I ?dollied? from the street to a close-up of the doorknob without that ? floaty stuff? . I ran (2) KS-8?s on an Arri III. It worked surprisingly well. The director was apprehensive at first but extremely satisfied in the end and I acted like every other operator of the early days who was inventing the job as he went along.

? Of course it worked ? you didn?t think it was going to? ?


Then came ?Waterworld ? . the mere description of the conditions made me wonder if it was possible ? high winds, heavy seas all the while bouncing around on the support nets. On the test I ran the KS-8?s on an Arri III. The shot involved bringing Kevin Costner from the back of the boat up to the bow spirit on a 100mm lens into a tight close-up facing out to the sea. When we screened the test for the universal execs - they asked how we rigged the dolly on the trimaran. When it got to the close-up it was a dead lock. The only reason you knew you were on a boat was that the horizon was traveling up and down through the frame behind Costner?s close-up. Dean Semler, the DP was sitting behind me. After the shot he leaned over and whispered ? I hope you can pull that off again? They were really helpful for doing wide vista shots from a rocking and rolling barge in the wind where any movement would have ruined the shot.


About a month into the show I get a call from Larry McConkey. He was working off a camera car where the grips had built him a plexiglas cage to work in and stay out of the wind. I?m getting my ass kicked on a boat at sea and he?s riding around in a plexiglas housing ? go figure. He had a shot coming up where he had to ride on the crane arm of the camera car and wanted to know how the gyros were working out for me. ( Clairmont told him I was using them ). I described the experiences I was having.

Nobody in the Steadicam world has spent more time listening to the hum of the gyros, figuring out how they work and designing the best mounting positions than Larry. His new configuration with the gyros at 90 degrees to each other at 45 degrees to the lens plane sounds like a winner. He described it in a forum post awhile back. It would behoove anyone who buys this package or wants to do any serious gyro work with their present machine to check it out. The battery rack gyro mount included in the package, which I love for the versatility, should help with any new configurations.


Another good example was a shot on an ATV for a car commercial. The location was the wind farm in the California desert using the gravel service road. ( I don?t need to describe the conditions ) I was using the KS-8?s. The director watched the ATV bounce all over the place as we tracked the picture car. When we returned his first question was

? Do you think we got ANYTHING useable ? ?

When we played the portable player back it was a lock on the car and he wanted to do more.

I?ve used them on stage to do a 15 foot extremely- painfully- painfully slow creeping move into a close shot over furniture in low mode because the jib arm would not fit into the set and there wasn?t time to pull the walls. Gyros do not make up for lack of skill, they actually require more. You have to know what you and the gyros are doing and how they are going to react.


One of the more unplanned moments was on ? The Longest Yard? at the funeral scene for Caretaker in the New Mexico desert. The wind was gusting so hard that we had to wear goggles for the dust. It looks like just a breeze is blowing until you look at the background foliage.

The grips were trying to scrim me but they kept getting buffeted by the wind and blown into me which forced them to back off to where they were not really effective. Constant wind is one thing, constantly buffeting wind is a whole other ball game. We were running three cameras trying to get the scene as the sun was going down. The crane shots were bouncing around even with extra manpower trying to hold on. They went with the few most stable bits in the edit. I ran 2 - KS-8?s on a 435 and did the close-up pans and the placing of the gifts on the coffin with a 180mm lens. If you watch the scene you can feel the occasional hard wind hit, but it worked and we could wrap the location. These are the times the gyros are gold.


These are just a few examples of the times I have used them and this tirade is already getting too long. The rule is only use them when you have to - but when you need to and you know what you are doing they can make a bad shot acceptable, an ?OK? shot great and let you get some shots that would normally be considered impossible.



Mark O'Kane

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charles- i think we should fire that grumpy puppy up at the next steadicam drinking....er....social event and use it for the laugh factor. maybe we could even have a show and tell of all the expensive toys we've all bought over the years that don't really work. we could toast every hundred or thousand dollar loss with a shot. oooh, that could be a long night.



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charles- i think we should fire that grumpy puppy up at the next steadicam drinking....er....social event and use it for the laugh factor. maybe we could even have a show and tell of all the expensive toys we've all bought over the years that don't really work. we could toast every hundred or thousand dollar loss with a shot. oooh, that could be a long night.





Count me in! When and Where? Doesn't Baldwin have a kegerator that needs to be broken in?

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Do a search here under "gyros." Much has been written. Here is a link to a post from Larry McConkey, where he talks about gyro placement.




Many people in this thread have referenced posts made by Larry McConkey about the 45 degree gyro placement. The link above is no longer active and I have searched and searched and cannot find this post anywhere.


Has it been removed? Am I just too inept to find it? I am admittedly horrible at searching on the forum, but I promise I have spent over an hour looking before posting this.


I would be very appreciative if anyone can find it and can repost it - or any of Larry's posts on gyro placement and/or use (I have found many Larry's comments in other people's posts - but I cannot find his posts). Thank you.

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This is from a letter Larry wrote me some years ago, after a movie we had worked together on, my questions were similar to the ones being asked here, so I hope this helps ...



Sanjay! How great to hear from you !!

So, to start with, It doesn’t matter where you put the gyros as far as the apparent inertia that they add, they resist rotation and it doesn’t matter where they are on the rig, but there are several considerations about placement:

- The connection between the gyros and the camera should be as rigid as possible so the ideal would be to mount them directly to the camera. The reason is that any starts or stops of rotation will cause flexing of whatever structure is between the two resulting in a rapid “wagging” unless you are very gentle which rules out much of what you might want to do with the camera.

- You have to figure out how to preserve a workable CG for the sled, and hopefully not add too much weight! That is why I put my gyros where I do. I remove my batteries and replace them with the gyros so my overall weight and CG don’t change much, at least with 2 KS-6’s. I don’t have to make much change to the arm ride height either. That makes it quite fast putting them on or removing them, so if a situation suddenly arises that calls for gyros I can quickly mount them, even after rehearsing first without them, because very little will change about how the sled is behaving (other than resisting quick moves or gusts of wind). Conversely, if I suddenly decide they are causing me or the sound dept too much trouble, I can very quickly remove them and be ready to shoot again. I generally reserve the 2 KS-8’s for vehicle mounts because that requires a lot more prep for everyone and I know for sure I will want to use them, no question, so I can take the extra time to reconfigure the rig, but even there my placement is very similar to what you saw with my 2 KS-6’s. One goes on the battery rails by itself, and the other is mount close to the post but higher up, just over my electronics module, so the CG of the sled does not become too bottom heavy. I don’t have to carry the weight on my back either so extra weight is fine as long as the arm will lift it. I place the batteries as well as the gyro inverter in an external pack connected by an umbilical cable to the sled.

- The configuration they are mounted in makes a huge difference as well. It gets pretty complicated for a complete explanation, but start first with this: the way a gyro would roll on the ground most easily is around the long axis (except for the hump caused by the mounting base and the battery connector, it is pretty round) and that axis is the one you should never try to rotate the gyro on during a shot. Try moving one in your hands to see how bad that is: it will twist all around in your hands because your are causing one of the two spinning wheels inside to suddenly try to swing completely around in its mount, which it can’t do, causing it to hit the stop which causes all the apparent inertia of that one wheel to stop suddenly and completely. That leaves just one resisting on its own so the system acts much like any other single spinning wheel – it reacts by trying to rotate 90 degrees away from the axis you are trying to rotate on. The intent of the design is for the two wheels to react in opposite and perfectly opposing directions resulting is resistance to rotation, but allowing you to move the system in the direction you want and without strange and violent aberrant behavior. It would be easier to understand if you could see what the internal structure is like, but moving them in your hand will give you the idea. It should then be clear that the orientations that should be avoided completely are vertical or horizontal, the first making any pan ugly, the second making any tilt ugly.

- I have tried many configurations but the current version has worked the best. The 2 gyros are oriented at exactly right angles to each other. Viewed from above they form an ‘X’ with each gyro at a 45 degree angle from front to back (and side to side). The mounting bases are either facing straight up or straight down, it doesn’t matter which way. The caveat is that for this to work without any aberrations the two gyros should “match” each other… which I achieved by simply testing a dozen until I found a pair that interacted well – at Kenlab they think this is the result of the wheels in each being exactly the same weight (they are dynamically balanced by drilling holes in each wheel until they spin perfectly, but ultimately some wheels end up slightly lighter than others). If they don’t “match” each other there will be some unintended deviations as you try to move the camera, i.e., tilting or rolling the camera as you pan, etc.

If I have time during the next few days I will try to take some pics of my setup, but it is a TV Pilot and I have very little time. But if you want to confirm what I am saying, make a test figure that mounts the two gyros at right angles and hold it in your hands and try moving it around. Remember that the additional inertia of the sled will mask the little perturbations you will feel.

Get back to me with any confusion about all this and follow up questions.



- If you were to place the gyros further from the post the extra momentum just from their dead weight would increase your overall inertia, just as antlers do, but part of the magic of the gyros’ effect is that as soon as you get past a certain pan or tilt rate, the gyro wheels cage and their apparent inertia disappears! You can therefore do quick accelerations, even whip pans as long as the gyros are close to the post… if they are mounted further out you will find it very hard to do any quick moves and the structure they are mounted on has to be as rigid as the post or you will get that wagging.

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Thanks to all taking their time to dig into this topic as profund as possible.

I am still wrapping my mind around Larrys Gyro Set up. Is there any photo flying around the internet of this set up. I´d love to see the brackets he is using and in which height on the post they are installed and so on.



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