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Overhead Frame Advice


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#1 Steve London

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Posted 12 February 2009 - 02:06 PM

I work as gaffer (and often grip) on lots of freebie shorts for the local indie filmmaking community but some paying gigs as well -- commercials and small-budget features. I supply the grip and electric on the freebies so I'm always acquiring stuff at the best price I can and right now I'd like to have frames for 6X6 and 12X12 overheads. I DO NOT want to go all DIY cobbled together in the garage from the hardware store, both for reasons of time, true cost, functionality and professionalism.

I'm thinking that it would be best to get corners from Matthews, Avenger or American Grip and buy the tube locally. But there are lots of choices.

Should I get 1" square hardware or 1 1/4" square, or 1 1/4" round tube hardware that can be used with aluminum tubing or Speed-Rail? Does anyone know the correct alloy and gauge, especially for the square tubing? I plan to use 6' lengths with a coupler that clamps on over the outside of the tube at the joint for the 12X12, that sound okay?

For now, I don't have high-rollers or combos or mombo-combos so will make do with some baby stands or possibly C-stands for some situations. Flown flat, how high does a silk typically need to be with standing talent to diffuse the sun?

Nor do I have 4 1/2" grip heads. I'll get whatever I need but if I can nicely use 2 1/2" heads on the stands, that would be good. Furthermore, I have more Mafers than I know what to do with so if I can clamp them on the frame instead of expensive ears that would be good. I'd use a 5/8" stud, of course, between the Mafers and the grip heads. Anyone try this and will it work?

All advice and suggestions are much appreciated.
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#2 Toy Spears

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Posted 13 February 2009 - 11:48 AM

I'm thinking that it would be best to get corners from Matthews, Avenger or American Grip and buy the tube locally. But there are lots of choices.

Should I get 1" square hardware or 1 1/4" square, or 1 1/4" round tube hardware that can be used with aluminum tubing or Speed-Rail? Does anyone know the correct alloy and gauge, especially for the square tubing? I plan to use 6' lengths with a coupler that clamps on over the outside of the tube at the joint for the 12X12, that sound okay?

I would certainly work on getting at least a pair of combos. C-stands just dont have the "ass" for a 12X12. You really need at least combos and a couple of sandbags. The square tubing should be fine for up to 12x12 i would use thick-walled aluminum then there will be no problems with rusting.

you will have a hard time clamping down the smaller heads you need lollipops. remember anytime you fly something the enemy is wind. if you are flying on c-stands or babies theere is a good chance of it getting picked up and thrown on top of somebody or a corvette or something else expensive.
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#3 Warwick Hempleman

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Posted 14 February 2009 - 08:21 AM

2 1/2" heads and grip stands just won't cut it. Remember a 12 x 12 is 144 ft² of sail. Hang gliders are not very much bigger. Weather and wind can change very suddenly, especially (under Murphy's Law) as soon as you put up frames. Using anything lightweight to attach, position or secure a frame ensures that there will come a day when either it fails or you fail to provide the coverage needed.
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#4 robert duke

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Posted 15 February 2009 - 11:23 AM

2 1/2" heads and grip stands just won't cut it. Remember a 12 x 12 is 144 ft² of sail. Hang gliders are not very much bigger. Weather and wind can change very suddenly, especially (under Murphy's Law) as soon as you put up frames. Using anything lightweight to attach, position or secure a frame ensures that there will come a day when either it fails or you fail to provide the coverage needed.



Speed rail is Schedule 40 aluminum tube alloy 6061. It is available from most metal distributors.

There is no magic 7ft will do number. c-stands may be OK for 6x6 and 8x8's depending on conditions. you can risk a 12x12 with cstands but one light wind will ruin a c-stand and your day, and possible other peoples lives. Combos, rollers, and mombos are the best for 12x12s, and larger frames. Spend the money and save your self the losses and the risk.

1" hardware for square frames is suffiecient unless you are in heavy winds frequently. 1.25 square tube is sturdier, and takes a beating better. Speed rail is pretty rock solid in 12x12 to 20x20 frames. bigger frames need more.

The coupler is fine if you are in a studio or light wind. I does become ANOTHER thing to lose, break, or not be used right.

Remember to secure your frames with rope and tent stakes. Learn the truckers hitch.
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#5 Jeff Locke

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Posted 19 February 2009 - 04:57 PM

I'm sure these are called something specific, but we made these all the time at my theater.

Another way to go would be to make the frame out of thick walled PVC. Build the frame from 1" pipe, drill holes for the mounting pins, and for the fabric mounting points. This way you can attach the fabric to the frame on one side for transport. Also, you can end up making any shape you need, and it shouldn't take more than two hours under the worst conditions. (provided access to a table saw of course.)

To attach the other three sides, take 1 1/4" pipe, cut length-wise so that the pipe is a cresent shape. (You will end up with a 210 degree circle shape) Then cut this into one foot sections so you can customise the fit and strength. Pull the fabric taunt over the frame, and pop the new cut pipes over the fabric on top of the frame. Make sure to sand the inside edges of the cut pipe smooth so you don't snag the fabric.

The versatility and low weight of the PVC allows it to be gripped like flags, boomed over talent, or elevated on four combo stands with tie down anchors to diffuse a large amount of sunlight. I would also grommet the side that permanantly attaches to the frame so that it is more secure and won't rip. The ability to "undo" the screen provides some safety in high winds as well.
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#6 Bob Hayes

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Posted 23 February 2009 - 08:27 AM

I wouldn't go any larger then a 6'x6' if all you have is C-Stands. You'll break the C-stand and someone WILL get hurt. If you have an 8'x8' you might get by with one combo stand. 12'x12' definitely will require at least two combo stands, sand bags and tie down ropes. I'd recommend going the 8'x8'route until you have the cash to get real support for your package.
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#7 Danny Lachman

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Posted 01 March 2009 - 10:20 PM

I was in a similar position with my 12x12.
I had been using baby triple risers with the 4 1/2 heads attached to them (it was ghetto) but it worked and saved me about 200 bucks. But the more you do it the more you'll see you should have gotten the combo stands. You'll start to notice the metal bending when you go up high, the smaller stands won't last. I just purchased two hi hi rollers for $280 a stand from modern studio - they are probably one of the cheapest providers of equipment out there. It's a worth the investment and you'll probably end up needing the bigger stands eventually like I did. Plus you can always use them for other purposes and they won't fuss at all.

Edited by Danny Lachman, 01 March 2009 - 10:23 PM.

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#8 Danny Lachman

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Posted 01 March 2009 - 10:27 PM

http://modernstudio.com/
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