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Self-made camera rigs


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#1 Micah Fernandez

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Posted 22 January 2006 - 05:57 AM

My friend purchased a book that provides plans for homemade camera rigs. Sample footage can be viewed at www.dvcamerarigs.com. The movies look pretty good, but the resolution is too small to make a sound judgement. I was wondering if anyone here has already built/used any of the rigs featured in the book, and whether it's worth the trouble of constructing.

Also, any tips for contructing homemade dollys, cranes, or camera stabilizers are welcome. ;)

Edited by Micah, 22 January 2006 - 05:59 AM.

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#2 Mark Sasahara

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Posted 24 January 2006 - 11:01 PM

A few winters ago, I was bored, so I made a dolly. I designed it myself and it's a tank. I even made outriggers for it. Version 2.0 will have removable wheels so I can put street wheels on it.

I made my dolly out of Unistrut for the frame, two layers of birch plywood for the deck and Kee Klamp fittings for the push bar.

I was very lucky and got the skate wheels and trucks for $80 on eBay. I recently bought new bearings and softer Kryptonic wheels from a friend who makes the lovely and talented Brooklyn Dollies.

You can also use aluminum Hollaender speedrail, or Kee Klamp fittings. I used the Unistrut because I can place the bolts and trucks wherever they need to go. The whole thing is pretty heavy, but it's very smooth. I've modified the trucks so that I can use my dolly on my Matthews 10 foot radius dolly track. Having the ability to move the bolts around facilitated this.

Use thick wall 6061 T6 aluminum tubing.
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#3 kirk thornton

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Posted 07 February 2006 - 01:04 PM

hi guys
i would be careful using home made rigs on jobs. in theory if something went wrong and the rig hurt somone or broke a camera you might not be insured ! check out any insurance you have. the rig might not be approved for its purpose in the eyes of an insurance company. i may be wrong but worth a couple of hours research compared to a large law suit.
keep on gripping
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#4 Michael Collier

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Posted 07 February 2006 - 03:32 PM

I have built a sturdy dolly. It was even fairly lightweight. I took angle Iron (Instead of the uniframe) and put bolts in the middle of both sides. I mounted skate wheels I found at wallmart for 20 bucks (they were still attached to skateboards at the time, made for great shoe grips) and had the whole thing for under 30 bucks. It ran super quiet and smooth on PVC track and was very safe.

I would second kirks sugestion but add its all dependant on the production. If I had a shoot that was funded to 500,000 or more then yeah I wouldnt mind having production spring 200 bucks a day on a good dolly. But my dolly would still be in the back of my truck. Always will. Its cheap, reliable, fast to set up and its always there. Getting a wide establishing shot and thing that forground needs a slow creep to it. Boom. It allows me some flexability on set, and keeps me movin on productions with less money to throw around.

As for building jibs or cranes, I personally wouldnt recomend it unless its a personal camera (and no riding cranes. buy a remote head). Also make sure you design the thing like a tank, there is no room or use for flimsy equipment (otherwise we'd all be shooting on those $50 walmart tripods. (immagine an Arri ontop one of those. Haha, I think the column would snap if you raised that gear driven pedestal too high.)


I did make a stabalizer for a shoot I did with a GL1. I used my bogen 3036 sticks with a 501 head and mounted a few weights to the feet. It was a heavy rig, but all that weight below the head allowed me to run and keep steadycam-solid shots (Im pretty good with over-the-shoulder however. I have been a freelance ENG photographer for years) You can make one though with some steel conduit, a board to mount the camera too and some weights. make sure it has a horizontal stabilization bar for your left hand, otherwise you will correct all shake except the twist made possible by the eleastic nature of the skin on your hands (even a rock-climbers grip wont be able to stop the twist if your movin) I found a good way to make this bar is to hing it, so yourleft hand is free to move up and down (keeping your moves flexible and one-handed) but restricts the bar from moving forward and back. that way all your left hand does is control the pan of the camera, and will never give you a dutch angle if you push down to hard on it.

Edited by Michael Collier, 07 February 2006 - 03:38 PM.

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#5 Matt Pacini

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Posted 07 February 2006 - 04:01 PM

I had a machinist friend build me a skateboard dolly a few years ago, but it seemed to stay at home a lot, because it took up so much space, with all the PVC track, etc.
I now use a wheelchair that I stripped down, and seriously, it works much better.

Smoother, I can crab in any direction, I can either sit in it handheld, or mount the camera on a hi-hat on the seat. It works great. Cost me $15 in a thrift store, & folds up really small, since I took off the feet and the back. It's basically 4 wheels & the seat.
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#6 Charles Haine

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Posted 03 March 2006 - 11:00 AM

I built the dvcamerarigs jib and stabliizer about 3 years ago, have used them extensively on Mini-DV stuff, and occasionally I've rigged my friends little IIC to the jib for 35 stuff.

I've also loaned the jib out extensively and seen from fantastic footage shot by a lot of different people using this gear.

However, I probably wouldn't take the time again to build them today: surprisingly, you just don't need a jib for that many shots, and they slow you down a ton on set. I probably use it twice a year at this point, which, for all the hassle of building one (it was fun, but took time), I should probably just rent when I need it.

If you are a student just starting film school, it might be worth it, as they are great tools for learning, and I definetely made a few movies in there with a tremendous number of jib shots just because I could, so I feel like I'm able to make more sophisticated decisions about when and how to, or more likely when not to, jib because I have my own and used it so often in the begining.

However, when I go out to work, I almost never mention that I have a jib. It's not professional quality gear. I'm curious about using it with the HVX, I must admit, we'll have to see how it plays out.

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#7 Jamie Metzger

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Posted 03 March 2006 - 02:12 PM

http://www.homebuiltstabilizers.com
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#8 Hal Smith

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Posted 03 March 2006 - 08:59 PM

There's a company in Oklahoma City called L. E. Acker. They have an about 1200 sq.ft. building jammed to the rafters with all sorts of casters, wheels, parts, adapters, etc. I haven't built a dolly from their stock yet but I've renovated road boxes with their parts for about half or less what new casters would have cost.

I suspect every city with any kind of an industrial base has a place like L. E. Acker.

Edmond, OK
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#9 Mike Hall

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Posted 12 March 2006 - 12:57 AM

I think one of the best places to find ideas for home made rigs, and basic film advice is from Ron Dexter's website:

http://www.rondexter.com/

Like David Mullen here, Ron Dexter took a lot of time out to help others in the industry, and showed great selflessness and generosity throughout his career, and our industry as a whole is better of because of them.
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#10 blakejohnson

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Posted 13 April 2006 - 08:53 PM

Hey guys, I own this book, it's good to see you guys taking a look at it too, yes the rigs are nice, I'm about to finish the stabilizer this week and hopefully the Killer's Kiss Crane, my Dark Passage Dolly is already finished and works very nicely, so yes, I'd say it's well worth the money, also the guy's commentary and instructions are funny and easy to follow. He does a really nice job. Go ahead and check it out if you want, it's worth it from me!
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#11 Ray Perry

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Posted 14 June 2006 - 10:23 AM

There's a company in Oklahoma City called L. E. Acker. They have an about 1200 sq.ft. building jammed to the rafters with all sorts of casters, wheels, parts, adapters, etc. I haven't built a dolly from their stock yet but I've renovated road boxes with their parts for about half or less what new casters would have cost.

I suspect every city with any kind of an industrial base has a place like L. E. Acker.

Edmond, OK

A company called MPC has developed a wheel formulation for camera dolly wheels that will not flat spot and have high rebound which allows easy movement from the start and gives a super smooth ride. These are not skate board wheels and will give any small track system excellent performance.

Company MPC, Tel: 1-401-946-4400 ask for Tony Roderick and he will give you the details and availability of the wheels.

DollyWheelMan (Ray Perry)
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#12 Eugene Hughes

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Posted 24 June 2006 - 03:08 AM

I made a crane for $ 295.00 . does pan fairly ggod. I need to refine it some more and make some adujustments. But hey for $295 w/ a monitor....not bad

http://luridcinema.com/cranepics/


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Edited by Lurid Cinema, 24 June 2006 - 03:08 AM.

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#13 Bob Hayes

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Posted 25 June 2006 - 11:10 AM

I built my own handheld camera support system using bungee cords and aluminum tubing. It worked pretty well at stabilizing but was uncomfortable to wear. I ended up buying an easy rig. I built tons of my own foam core collapsible soft boxes. I think the best homemade soft boxes I?ve ever scene. I ended up buying Chimeras because they folded smaller and people were more accustomed to seeing them on the set. At least I was on the right track with these ideas. They worked great until I could afford the stuff guys were doing but better then me. Bottom line was I had a great time inventing, building, and using them. My next invention? I want to build an ultra cheap 20? jib arm to hold a $200 video camera. The goal? A view finder for placing and designing my crane shots.
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#14 Tony Roderick

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Posted 26 June 2006 - 01:49 PM

My friend purchased a book that provides plans for homemade camera rigs. Sample footage can be viewed at www.dvcamerarigs.com. The movies look pretty good, but the resolution is too small to make a sound judgement. I was wondering if anyone here has already built/used any of the rigs featured in the book, and whether it's worth the trouble of constructing.

Also, any tips for contructing homemade dollys, cranes, or camera stabilizers are welcome. ;)



When you are ready for the assembly of wheels on your homemade dolly, be sure to use the soft wheels from the company back east that has a special formula just for camera dolly wheels. Call 401-946-4400 for pricing on the camera dolly wheels, they are the best. Good luck with your project.
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#15 Tim Tyler

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Posted 26 June 2006 - 02:20 PM

be sure to use the soft wheels from the company back east that has a special formula just for camera dolly wheels. ...they are the best.


Tony,

Funny how you and DollyWheelMan both have the same IP address. Don't create multiple forum accounts so you can advertise your wheels.

Maybe your dolly wheels are the best available, and it's OK to jump into a thread like this one and say "I make great dolly wheels. Here are some details..." But don't be sneaky about it.

If you want to reach potential buyers on this site legit, buy and ad.
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