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Working in the world of professional video, your customers will always expect and often demand your footage to be smooth & stable, especially if the final product is aimed at being watched using Virtual reality Headset such as Oculus Rift and Gear VR. Every video producer knows how painful it can be to achieve a "Silky smooth" finish using post production tools. This is where a good gimbal is a necessary piece of kit Ultra Panorama has been the first company to start testing a prototype of the new 360 Pro Gimbal from Finnish Company LeViteZer  in London (Pictured below)

Pro really stands for Professional

This 3 axes gimbal is no toy. It has been built for professionals using high quality 360 degrees camera. It can take the weight of a Nokia OZO setup which comes close to 5 Kgs. We have tested it using a Zcam S1.  The gimbal core itself isn't particularly heavy less than 2.5Kgs despite the strong electrical motors. The built is very robust and high quality which reflects the fact that almost the entire product is made in Finland. No cheap parts from Asia here with the exception maybe of the logic board controlling the motors. The gimbal comes with movable counterweights. The one we tested were about 1 Kg on Each side which nearly doubles the weight of the Gimbal.  Having made that comment to the manufacturer, we were told that they are already working on lighter stackable weights which aims at reducing the overall weight. This will come handy if the camera operator has to lift your setup for a long period of time. The weights with their adjustable positions will allow you to balance the gimbal depending on the weight distribution of your camera. you can also opt for a tilted setup which will change the position of the weights, very useful feature to minimize the visibility of the gimbal and weights at your nadir. 

LEFT: Levitezer 360 PRO Gimbal with tilted setup for Nokia OZO

RIGHT: Levitezer is also launching the 360 compact gimbal, a smaller gimbal for consumer camera such as Samsung Gear 360, Nikon Key Mission 360 or a kodak pix pro 360.

The Setup

This step is absolutely necessary as a well balanced and setup gimbal will improve the stability overall. We will not go into much details here for the simple reason that we were lucky enough to have a Levitezer representative meet with us to introduce the gimbal to us and perform the setup. First, with the gimbal turned OFF we balanced the camera mechanically positioning the fully adjustable counterweights as mentioned in the paragraph above. The Gimbal can then be connected to its controller using a USB cable (provided with the gimbal). The controller is available for both MAC and PC. I have to say, the controller did look a bit scary at first glance but after using it a while along the instructions from the Levitezer tutorial video, it should help you going trough most of the setup. At that stage, We found useful to limit some of the angles of movement to avoid having the weight touching your pole should you rotate the pole having the camera slightly in front of the operator as opposed to above him. Once happy with our setup, it was recommended to use the "auto fine tune" during which the software will improve the setup in case it wasn't perfect already! ;-)
At every stage of the setup the Controller software allows you to save different profiles which you can open up again if something doesn't go in the direction you wanted or should you simply want to switch between different camera setup. There will also be 4 pre tuned profiles with different camera models for you to choose from. And if this isn't enough, LeViteZer will create a forum where users will be able to share with the ever growing 360 production community the profiles for their camera setups. You will also find their Detailed tuning instructions for those of you who wish to do that themselves.

Using it for the first time

The Levitezer 360 Pro Gimbal has only 2 switches loaded with several functions. each function can be called by a specific number of clicks Up or down. This can be programmable using the controller but its probably best keeping the default settings which we did for our test.

Please Note: The the use of the gimbal buttons described in the following paragraph is subject to changes for the final product. We want to make you aware of how we were able to operate the gimbal but this may change in the final version of the product. 

The first switch allowed us to control the "follow" option of the gimbal. By default this option is deactivated, this means the gimbal will keep its initial direction so if your camera faces north, it will always face north even when your rotate towards the south with your Pole. the number of rotation allowed is of course unlimited as long as the cable powering your camera is not caught arounf the pole... yes we've all been there and done that... moving on...   With the Follow option activated (by clicking the first button downwards twice), it will follow your movement on the Yaw Axis. The speed is fully adjustable by clicking the button from twice to 5 times to suit your needs. this also can be customized using the controller should you want even more flexibility than the 4 options that are already programmed. This mode turned out to be very useful when we did our first tests onboard a car. The camera always keep the direction of travel and avoid any entangled cables even if you are going around in circles.  One click down of that same button deactivate the "Follow" mode easily.  The first button could also reset the gimbal to the closest standard position such as 0 or 45 degrees. 

The second button will turn the electrical motors ON and OFF and can put the gimbal in a calibration mode should you need a fresh start without using the controller. 

Pushing the limits 

Using the gimbal for our first proper shoot was very exciting. We wanted to have a shot which included walking down into a London Tube Station, passing trough the Entrance/ Security of a club, climbing up stairs going inside the venue finishing with one lap around the venue. all that in one take only!!!  We liked being able to tilt the camera at an angle from the pole and the gimbal kept it there so we could hide the camera operator in the Nadir. No Stabilization was added in Post Production. In fact, Post work has been kept to a minimum. We only added graphics to test the camera tracking which worked a treat using stabilized footage. We have also left the Nadir untouched so you can take a look at how much of the gimbal is visible... I should probably say how little is visible because there is hardly anything there. Instead of going on about how pleased we were with the result the best thing to do is for us to show you the footage so you can just see for yourself!!


Once we receive our production unit, We will be looking forward to use the gimbal on a regular basis...  probably every time we'll shoot moving the camera! The movement is as smooth as it can be and the result is truly impressive. We don't know yet what pricing Levitezer have in mind but what we do know is the product has demonstrated some great quality and capabilities, with a robust build and all around (no pun intended) a very effective product. A must have item for any professional 360 video production company. 

LeViteZer 360 Pro Gimbal available November 2017
Price: TBC
Contact/Purchase: LeViteZer