Thursday, February 17, 2011

Rigged Out And Ready To Roll...

I think I've mentioned in a previous post that I would be trying out some DIY projects over the next few months. Well, project number one has finally made it to the finish line... For now.

All it needs now is paint.

It seems strangely ironic to me how much effort videographers have put into turning their small and lightweight DSLR cams back into the HD Camcorders they left behind. It's done wonders for the camera accessories industry over the last couple years. Before DSLR video, I never considered using a shoulder rig on a regular basis because I either shot with actual shoulder cams, or with medium-sized HDV cams that I used hand-held. I tried a couple shoulder mounts, but the camera wasn't positioned right while mounted and it really didn't free my second hand or place more weight on my shoulder since the cam sat more forward. Nowadays, if your DSLR isn't rigged out with an LCD Viewfinder, shoulder mount with offset, rail system, follow focus, external monitor, shotgun mic mount and about a hundred other things, well... I think you need to ask yourself, "Do my child's first steps really need to be on video?"

While some suburban soccer moms and dads are going a bit overboard on the accessories for their needs, I will admit that a couple of those items can greatly improve your camera. While I can't quite afford a viewfinder or follow focus just yet, there is one item I can pick up on the cheap to help out with a major pain I've been dealing with.

One of the first issues I had with shooting on my 550D was handheld shooting. Shooting from a tripod is great, but for most of my jobs I hardly use one. As I've shot with it over the past few weeks, I've found that I need something to help with shake and shooting awkward angles. After digging around a few DIY sites, I came across something on the Frugal Filmmaker site that I wanted to try.

I was able to make a few changes to the design, namely eliminating his entire mounting setup with my own. I found that if I used 3/4" CPVC instead of 1/2" PVC I could just slip a cheap tripod head over the tubing and secure it with the handle. Then, I also added an inch on one side because I thought the grip side of my T2i would stick out a bit more, but it turned out my eyes were playing tricks so I may go back and adjust it. One final change I made was adding another CPVC T-joint on the rear bottom instead of the elbow joint. I just wanted it to sit level on a table or flat surface.

I won't go step-by-step on the build since you can follow links to the FF site, but I will post pics below to show my version and the changes I made. I'll also try to post some test footage once I take it out for a spin.

Lesson one. Use PVC cutters.
I did, this is how they cut them at the store. I was not impressed.

Assembled. The handle was too long to let the mount sit level,
so I had to cut it short.

Handle shortened with PVC cutters.

All done and mounted. Notice the unnecessary gap on the left.

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