Hello, I have my camera set up on a benro geared head on a dolly track. I’m getting smooth movement on dolly shots by taping a ruler to the track and measuring the movements. However, on pans and tilts I’m having some trouble. Is there a way I can put some kind of crank wheel on the geared head so I could measure it in rotations? What would you recommend for getting smooth pan and tilt shots? Thank you.

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Would it be possible to rig a cheap plastic protractor to use as your position markings along with a length of wire to use as a makeshift pointer/indicator?

Yes. That may work. Thank you.

There’s actually printable circle protractors that you can customize to size. That will probably work.

There’s actually printable circle protractors that you can customize to size. That will probably work.

I use a Manfrotto Junior geared head, which has the 3 knobs which are then geared down for the actual pan movements.  I made a disk for each crank, about 150mm diameter, with markings around the edge and a wire pointer. That allows very fine and accurate moves a frame at a time.  For something that does not have a crank that is geared down, I put a much larger disk on it with the increments marked along the outside, so I can break it down into smaller moves.  That works for doing a smooth zoom, rather than measure on the lens barrel itself I measure on the edge of a 300mm foam core disk that sits on the lens.  A printable protractor sounds like a great idea, mine are marked by hand.

I was going to get the manfrotto head but the benro was a little cheaper. It seems to be working alright. It has markings on it but they’re not close enough together to accurately measure. Printing the protractor didn’t really work because it was of poor quality so it was hard to see the markings and numbers. Now I’m making my own circle with markings in illustrator and color coding it so it’s easier to see. That should be much better quality and it’s easy to make the markings the exact same length apart. This tutorial was very helpful.

circle with markings tutorial: https://youtu.be/LxV1xlcUKNQ

StopmoNick said:

I use a Manfrotto Junior geared head, which has the 3 knobs which are then geared down for the actual pan movements.  I made a disk for each crank, about 150mm diameter, with markings around the edge and a wire pointer. That allows very fine and accurate moves a frame at a time.  For something that does not have a crank that is geared down, I put a much larger disk on it with the increments marked along the outside, so I can break it down into smaller moves.  That works for doing a smooth zoom, rather than measure on the lens barrel itself I measure on the edge of a 300mm foam core disk that sits on the lens.  A printable protractor sounds like a great idea, mine are marked by hand.

I just tried to update my post but it failed.  Here is photo.  Yes, the Benro head looks very similar so the same thing would probably work.  One error, my disks are only about 100mm diameter but that is enough.  For a full speed pan, the 24 marks around the disk are enough, I turn it one or 2 marks per frame.  But I do smaller in-between moves when ramping up to speed or decelerating at the end.   I took off the rubber knob to show the splined shaft, I push the knob back on to use it.  

That's interesting. I didn't think of doing it like that. I was going to tape the marked circle on the markings on the geared head and then put wire next to that. Here's what I made in illustrator. My guess is that I made it too detailed and that I'll need to delete lines. They seem further apart when I'm zoomed on illustrator.

circle.pdf

StopmoNick said:

I just tried to update my post but it failed.  Here is photo.  Yes, the Benro head looks very similar so the same thing would probably work.  One error, my disks are only about 100mm diameter but that is enough.  For a full speed pan, the 24 marks around the disk are enough, I turn it one or 2 marks per frame.  But I do smaller in-between moves when ramping up to speed or decelerating at the end.   I took off the rubber knob to show the splined shaft, I push the knob back on to use it.  

Some detailed lines are good for ramping up maybe, but because of the gearing, you actually turn the knob a lot further to rotate the camera head just a little.  (Don't know what the actual gear ratio is.)

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