Thursday, November 8, 2012

iStabilizer Dolly - A shaky review

One of the latest accessories we have been sent is the iStabilizer Dolly for smartphones.  If you're unfamiliar with what a dolly is, you are not alone.  A dolly is commonly used in shooting moving pictures (movies) to create tracking shots, or follow shots, etc but to be allow the video to be buttery smooth.  Think the scene from The Shining as the little boy is riding his big wheel around the hotel, being followed by the camera.  Here, let me get that for you:

The shot above would've been next to impossible to get handheld, without a ton of noticeable jerks in frame.  Okay - so we've established the purpose of a dolly.  Pretty cool actually when you think about it.

Enter this crazy smartphone/camera phenomenon where everyone is a Stanley Kubrick, and suddenly there's a market for small versions of steadicams and dolly's right?  Well in concept, it's cool, but what we have here leaves a little to be desired.

The iStabilizer Dolly is actually seemingly well made.  Made from a high quality metal, and with skateboard-like wheels and smooth rolling bearings, it has some potential.  The problems we kept running into were finding reasons to use it.  The platform is pretty short, so shooting people in a normal scene, your shots would be from the ground up, as it only stands about a foot off the ground.  Imagine watching a movie where everyone is 5 and 6 feet, but the camera angle is only 12 inches off the ground, wouldn't be very interesting.
Okay, so maybe we're trying to shoot miniature video.  That's pretty cool actually.  If you're one who can setup and build some sets with your GI Joes, or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles action figures, you could in theory create some cool stop-motion-like shots.  The only other use I could think of, is perhaps some product photography/videography.  Smooth video shots from all angles over products, if you're in the business of that...but I'm guessing if you are - you have a much fancier setup.

A device meant for professionals, dumbed down to a consumer market, just doesn't really work.  You could probably get creative and modify the unit to support a taller stance, but I just really have to ask "why"?

Unless you're wanting to be the next Tim Burton and start off by practicing some stop-motion movies, the iStabilizer is a pass in most consumer's books.

iStabilizer is $59.99 direct

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