Magazine article American Cinematographer

The New Arri Image Stabilizer System

Magazine article American Cinematographer

The New Arri Image Stabilizer System

Article excerpt

Film 79

A new lightweight, compact device from Arnold & Richter, which fits in front of the taking lens and effectively smooths out vibrations for hand-held shooting with film and TV cameras

Sneak-previewed to a chosen few at Photokina '78 (but only in terms of a video cassette showing what it can do), the new ARRI Image Stabilizer came all the way out of the closet at FILM '79 and created something of a sensation in its own understated way.

Formally introduced by Arnold & Richter Marketing Manager Horst Bergmann by way of a paper entitled "A New Approach to Image Stabilization", the device remained on display in the equipment exhibition area throughout the duration of the conference, along with the aforementioned demo reel (this time on film), showing a young camerawoman using it while filming hand-held from cars, boats, helicopters and on horseback.

To be sure, there is nothing new about seeking to stabilize a motion picture camera image and free it from vibration under jerky or bumpy conditions, and quite a few devices have been developed toward this end. Varying greatly in size and cost, these devices operate on different principles and some of them have highly specialized applications. Each also has its limitations, due to size, sensitivity, focal length of lenses that can be used, or the frequency of vibrations it is best adapted to dampen.

Devices of this sort which have been in service forthe longesttime inthefilm and television industries, proving their dependability along the way, are mainly those fixed appliances designed to be mounted securely to helicopters and other moving vehicles. The Tyler and Continental mounts are prime examples of this type. Closely allied to these are the gyroscope-stabilized platforms, such as those designed by Tyler, which are mounted as units onto various moving vehicles and which accommodate the entire camera equipment. While all of these devices function admirably well, they share the sole drawback of being quite large and bulky-in no way practical for stabilizing the movement of a hand-held camera.

In a second category are mobile stabilizing rigs, such as the Steadicam and Panaglide, which involve pendulum suspension of the camera on a springcompensated gimbal joint system. The cameraman is strapped into this rig so that his body literally becomes a functioning element of the device. While these devices are certainly more mobile than the aforementioned solidly mounted stabilizing platforms, they are still quite bulky in configuration and require the services of a rather highly trained operator.

A third category of stabilizing appliances achieves its objective by optically compensating the image forming rays. This does not involve stabilizing the entire camera, but is achieved by means of an additional unit attached to the camera lens. In one type of such appliance, the Dynalens, compensation is affected by means of a liquid prism which is controlled by an electronic gyroscope system to deflect the path of the light rays. The latter system requires that its electronic components be constantly finetuned by a specialist.

The new Image Stabilizer introduced by Arnold & Richter differs in design and function from all of the aforementioned systems, although, like the latter, it does achieve stabilization by means of an auxiliary optical system placed in front of the taking lens. However, the device itself is an autonomous system to be applied to a wide range of cameras (both film and TV) and taking lenses.

The unit is distinguished by its lightweight construction and compact silhouette, both characteristics rendering it a convenient and unobtrusive device for hand-held filming. In actuality, it can be used with or without a tripod and in nearly every mobile filming situation on land, in the air, from a waterborne craft, or even when sitting on the back of an animal. It is equally suited for TV or film shooting, with both 16mm and 35mm cameras. …

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