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What's a Lock-Off Head?


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#1 Adam Paul

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Posted 19 January 2007 - 04:50 AM

I saw a picture of one of those heads and it looks like a sort of mini geared head. It seems to have gears for operation. What are they used for? I wonder if it's a good head to convert to a geared head.
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#2 Adam Paul

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Posted 20 January 2007 - 06:39 PM

Is it that stupid of a question? :(
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#3 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 20 January 2007 - 07:05 PM

A "lock off" head is really any head that you just use to frame the shot up and lock it off. At least as far as I know, there is no such thing as a dedicated "Lock off head" except maybe for some crappy old Cartoni. :D
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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 20 January 2007 - 07:43 PM

I have no idea what you're talking about either, Adam. Heads are usually either friction heads, fluid heads, or geared heads. You'll need to show us a picture of what you saw.

"Lock-off" just means to lock-off the tilt and pan fuction of the head for a static frame.
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#5 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 20 January 2007 - 08:20 PM

Otherwise known as the "Gaffer-head." :P
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#6 Adam Paul

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Posted 21 January 2007 - 05:48 AM

Ok. I found this picture and the description said just ?lock off head?.

http://www.3dg.de/7M9Kg

It doesn't look to be a fluid head. Looks more like a geared head, but it has no gears :lol:

I couldn't manage to post a picture so I hope the link works.

Edited by Adam Paul, 21 January 2007 - 05:50 AM.

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#7 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 21 January 2007 - 11:40 AM

I couldn't manage to post a picture so I hope the link works.


The link didn't work for me.
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#8 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 21 January 2007 - 11:47 AM

Ok. I found this picture and the description said just ?lock off head?.

http://www.3dg.de/7M9Kg

It doesn't look to be a fluid head. Looks more like a geared head, but it has no gears :lol:

I couldn't manage to post a picture so I hope the link works.


It looks more like a tilt-plate with a panhandle.
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#9 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 23 January 2007 - 12:32 PM

Looks more like a geared head, but it has no gears :lol:


Ha ha...rrrrrriiiight
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#10 Adam Paul

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Posted 28 January 2007 - 05:06 AM

Posted Image

I hope the picture shows this time. It doesn't look like a tilt plate as you can clearly see it also pans. Maybe it's just a friction head? Not sure why they called it a lock off head though.
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#11 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 28 January 2007 - 05:44 AM

Looking at the picture it's what you'd use when you just want to "lock off" the camera on say a car mount. It's not intended that you'd pan or tilt with the camera on the head. It's got a low profile, so it would be ideal for use on cars etc, when you want to keep the camera as close as possible to the actor's eye line.

People commonly just lock off their normal heads for these types of shots, but with bowls etc., these can be quite high, so compromising your shot on some camera rig set ups.

This head would be a lot cheaper than a normal head. However, I wouldn't consider modifying it to a gear head, although in the past you could get your Arri friction head modified to a fluid head

Edited by Brian Drysdale, 28 January 2007 - 05:45 AM.

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#12 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 28 January 2007 - 11:55 AM

Yes, it looks like something for a car mount to me, or perhaps something for dutch angles. It would be stretching to call that a "tripod head" versus a camera mounting device.
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#13 Onno Perdijk

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Posted 28 January 2007 - 01:54 PM

This is what some manufacturers call a rockerplate (e.g. MovieTech.de) It is commonly used for lowangle shots without the need for a Ronfordf7 or other type of underslung-head. You could use it on car-rigs as well as in underwater circumstances. You can pan and tilt with this heads but they are defenitly not fluids! Rebuilding it to a geared head could be not this cost effective...

Good Luck,

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Netherlands
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#14 Adam Paul

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Posted 28 January 2007 - 03:25 PM

It seems to me a rocker plate would be slightly different. More like a tilt plate, like this:
Posted Image


But the other head seems to tilt and pan. I was thinking if you could put some gear drives underneath to drive the pan and tilt and connect them to driver wheels on the sides, it could work as a geared head. Most likely only one speed and for sure not as good as a real geared had but I think this could be done for much cheaper than the price of an used geared head which is in the 3-4k range.
This head seems to have the right shape and the right space for the conversion.

Edited by Adam Paul, 28 January 2007 - 03:26 PM.

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#15 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 28 January 2007 - 06:21 PM

The lock off head looks a lot smaller than a gear head and the arc on a gear head the tilt section is shallower than the head you've illustrated.

Not having costed it, but from past experience from getting off one components manufactured in a machine shop I suspect it would cost you a lot more than buying a used gear head to modify this.

Edited by Brian Drysdale, 28 January 2007 - 06:23 PM.

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#16 Adam Paul

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Posted 28 January 2007 - 08:06 PM

Yeah, you may be right. It may be actually cheaper to just make the whole thing from scratch. A simple geared head shouldn't be that hard to machine. Specially that you can find the gears ready to purchase.
By the way, is the arc of the tilt gear that important? If instead of the shallow type of geared heads there was a more steep one like a half circle, how would it impact usability?

Edited by Adam Paul, 28 January 2007 - 08:10 PM.

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#17 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 29 January 2007 - 05:28 AM

Unless you're an engineering student looking for a project I wouldn't bother. There's quite a lot of precision machining and given how much fussing there is over the flaws of the manufactured gear heads, you'll be into quite a lot of trial and error with prototypes before you'd be happy.

Off the top of my head, I think the deeper arc would the same as pushing a car up a steeper hill. You could also find the tilt could override the gears, so you couldn't leave the tilt wheel unlocked.
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#18 Adam Paul

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Posted 31 January 2007 - 02:59 PM

Yeah, after some thought I gave up on the whole idea. Seems like too much work after all.
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