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Leveling Stands Outside


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#1 Jack Barker

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Posted 27 May 2006 - 12:36 AM

From time to time, I find myself out of doors setting up light or C stands on grass or dirt. If not for lighting, I'm doing it with boom stands holding reflectors, or more critically, high stands supporting a largish (77x77") overhead frame & diffusion. The ground is NEVER level and it's always a chore to find the necessary bits and pieces to get a stand level.

There has got to be some simple piece of kit that's relatively portable to aid in this task. I am tired of carrying around a selection of plywood and they usually end up getting left behind anyway.

Any ideas?
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 27 May 2006 - 01:05 AM

Most common trick is to use the "Rocky Mountain leg" of the stand (one of the three legs will extend for unlevel ground) or raise one of the base legs of the C-stands higher for the uphill side, then lots of sandbags. If that's not enough, use apple boxes or cupblocks. And safety roap if necessary, like sash cord.
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#3 Jack Barker

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Posted 27 May 2006 - 11:46 AM

Hi David, thanks for responding. I already have a boatload of Matthews light stands and C-stands, and I just can't afford to replace them with the adjustable leg type. I guess when I got the C-stands, I thought I was getting the type with the vertically movable third leg, but I guess not.

I use sandbags for stability, and once or twice, I've put the sandbag under the 'short' leg of a stand to level it, but full sandbags are more of a chore to haul around than pieces of plywood. Mostly, I am looking for something to use where the ground is slightly uneven. When the level of the earth is really out of whack with your desires, well you know that going in and are prepared with your apple boxes, etc.

Inside, if I encounter an uneven floor, I use cheap 'folding wedges' from the local hardware or lumber store. They're meant for leveling windows and doors during installation, and can be used in multiples, not just two. Since they are only about 1/4" at the thick end, being able to use multiples is a GOOD THING. The downside is, they are only about 1 1/2" wide, too narrow to use confidently on uneven ground. What's needed is a handful of wedges say, 6" wide and 1/2" thick. Maybe I could get a woodshop to make me some in a durable hardwood. Then just sandbag the stand.

I was just hoping that there was a really portable invention (like cup blocks) already in use.
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#4 Hunter Sandison

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Posted 27 May 2006 - 03:32 PM

What're cupblocks?
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#5 Jack Barker

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Posted 27 May 2006 - 04:13 PM

These are cup blocks
http://www.bhphotovi...oughType=search
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#6 Michael Nash

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Posted 27 May 2006 - 07:50 PM

What's needed is a handful of wedges say, 6" wide and 1/2" thick. Maybe I could get a woodshop to make me some in a durable hardwood.


These kind of wedges and cribbing are standard with any dolly package for leveling the track. I'm sure you could rent or purchase just a crate of wedges (or weight of credges, as we like to say) very easily. And you really should have cribbing with general grip gear, both for leveling stands and "padding" clamps.

Wedges are also used as a wheel chock for large rolling stands.
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#7 ChrisConnelly

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Posted 27 May 2006 - 10:30 PM

As others have stated apple boxes and cup blocks are the safest way to level a stand that does not have a Rocky Mt. leg, but wedges and sandbags will suffice in a pinch. Stepblocks work too, as will any other piece of cribbing.
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#8 Michael Nash

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Posted 30 May 2006 - 02:34 AM

BTW, many of these tools and tips are covered in "The Grip Book" by Michael Uva.
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