Working in public radio, budget is always a major concern. I wanted to come up with new techniques to add some life to our videos of in studio performances, but I didn't have a lot of money to work with. Enter the DIY Steadicam. Copying Jorge Martinez's design, I combined $10 worth of parts from Home Depot, with a skateboard bearing, a remote controlled car drive shaft, and a $50 Manfrotto 577 quick release plate to make my own Steadicam rig.
Assembly was pretty easy, thanks to all of the instructional videos available online. Balancing was a little trickier. The camera is balanced by washers sitting on the bottom of the rig. It took a couple of hours to figure out the correct number of washers to use and the correct position to put the washers in. Every time you adjust the LCD screen on your camera or adjust the focal length of your lens, you need to spend a bit of time rebalancing the rig. Once balanced, it takes a good deal of practice to get a "feel" for the rig. You can watch a sample above of the first video we shot using the rig. I think it adds a pretty interesting dynamic to the video, at a fraction of the price that a commercially available steadicam/stabilizer would cost.