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How To Use Remotes and Toggles With a Gimbal

Read Time: 2 mins
This post is part of a series called How to Shoot Video With a Gimbal.
How to Choose the Right Lens for Your Video Gimbal Rig
How To Use External Monitors With a Gimbal

While using the gimbal’s follow mode allows you to control the overall gimbal direction by moving the camera, many gimbals have a remote or toggle that allows you to pan and tilt with buttons, rather than by moving the camera and gimbal itself.

Some gimbals have a toggle built in to the gimbal itselfSome gimbals have a toggle built in to the gimbal itselfSome gimbals have a toggle built in to the gimbal itself

There are advantages and disadvantages to using a remote or toggle. Ideally, with two operators, one person can be concentrating on operating the gimbal while avoiding obstacles, while another person can control the camera picture, including aperture, focus, zoom, and the gimbal direction using a wireless remote. This person could also create cinematic moves like tilts and pans while the gimbal is moving, for really nice transitions in the edit.

Realistically, this kind of setup requires a ton more gear, time, and complicated rigging, and it often isn’t possible for small one or two man band productions. Instead, for most solo operators, you will set your image before starting the gimbal, and then once you’re in motion, you can mount a small toggle next to your hand to pan and tilt into the frame. This gives you all the controls of a remote operator, without relying on the gimbal's follow mode to change the gimbal direction. 

A wireless remote attached to a gimbalA wireless remote attached to a gimbalA wireless remote attached to a gimbal

But having another thing to control, or think about, while you’re operating the gimbal and camera can be challenging. Not to mention it’s another thing that can go wrong. Remotes can ran out of batteries, wired toggles can became loose, you name it.

Above all, you really have to go into software settings to manipulate the speed of the remote pan or tilt, in order to make it move gracefully. Most toggles, by default, create quick, stuttering movement, and they have hard stops at the end of their pans and tilts. 

Essentially, the toggles are great for correcting your gimbal direction, but for graceful cinematic pans and tilts, stick to the gimbal's follow mode.

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