DIY Builds: Portable Jib That Doubles as Shoulder Rig, Panoramic Head, Dirt Cheap Steadicam
There’s a variety of rigs out there for pretty much all your mounting needs — Cinevate and of course Kessler are go-to solutions for jibs running the gamut from heavy-duty to collapsible, respectively. The same goes for shoulder rigs, with options ranging from professional solutions to lightweight prefabs all the way down to homebrew kits. Of course, something that can pull double duty as a portable jib and custom shoulder rig — which you can put together yourself for $50, to boot — may be the best of, like, three worlds. Read on to check out some details — plus info on how to build your own 360 degree panoramic head mount, plus some hardcore DIY stabilizers — all geared toward the low-to-no budget but crafty shooter.
RotoRig — a Portable Jib and Shoulder Rig
DIY Photographer has featured this how-to material by Chad Bredahl (Krotoflik), who is also the mastermind of the larger (but at $20, somehow cheaper) KrotoCrane. Here’s Chad breaking down his master design:
For the sake of all-inclusiveness, here’s the complete materials list (plus a diagram for where to properly drill things out), via Chad’s video description:
Drill Hole Diagram Download (Updated 1-26-2013): http://full.sc/WmuQBP
Strong Scissors, Needle nose pliers, Regular plies or channel locks, Phillips screw driver, Drill, 1/4 inch Drill bit, Smaller pilot drill bit, Larger Drill bit to remove burs, Electrical tape, Something to mark drill points with, and Eye and glove protection when drilling.
Parts: (The x before the number represents that many packages of said item)
- Monopods – Targus Digital TG-MP6710 67-Inch x2 or almost any monopds = $20
- Flower Box Metal Wall Bracket (2-Pack) (Homedepot sku 277-870) x1 = $5
- Small Designer Shelf Brackets (Menards Black sku 211-3630 single x2) or (homedepot White 2 pack sku 222-484 x1) = approx. $7
- Ground clamps (Homedepot sku 621-708) x7 = $11
- 1/4″ nylon washers 4 pack (Homedepot sku 595-058) x4 = $3
- 1/4″-20 1″ Round head Phillps bolts (Menards sku 233-8686) x3 = $3
- 12 lock nuts (Menards sku 232-9734) x1 = $1
- 2 fender washers (Menards sku 201-1194) x1 = $.5
- 6 pack 1/4″ wing nuts (Menards sku 233-9148) x1 = $1
- 1 inch x 6 ft pipe foam (homedepot sku 419-949) x1 = $1
- Scrap material (I used neoprene from beer cooler)
- Rubber non slip material (I used a scrap non-slip rubber dish mat)
If you use this guide, be sure to consider donating to Chad with Paypal and otherwise supporting his work (he’s shared a lot more great material, too) in all those fun sociable ways — follow on Twitter, sub on YouTube, like on Facebook, add on Google+, and bookmark his website. Furthermore, if you give the assembly a shot, or even modify the design as you see fit, be sure to let us know in the comments below (and share demo work) — and, of course, let Chad know too! Chad’s also made a short film to demonstrate the effectiveness of the RotoRig, entitled Strength of One — :
Not bad for $50 and a little old-fashioned elbow grease, if I don’t say so myself!
With any of this DIY stuff, you have to pick what balance of utility and cosmetics that best suits you or the needs of your situation. If you’ve been shooting a feature in your backyard on weekends for two and a half years and you don’t care how your rig looks — so long as it gets the job done acceptably well or better — perfect, in that case. If you have to impress clients or clients’ higher-ups, the following stabilizers probably aren’t for you — unless your clients are middle-aged construction workers, which would also be great.
This is obviously along the fringe of DIY gear builds pretty much as, well, hardcore DIY as you can go — but it’s nice to know you always have low-cost options that at least work well enough to get you by. Lifehacker featured this guide from Instructables user DIYHacksandHowTos — which also lays out some of the principles behind any Steadicam-type system. Knowing as much (about things like balance and gravity) allows you to re-appropriate pretty much anything for such uses. Let us know about any similar builds you’ve constructed yourself below — and how they may have differed from these models.
360 Degree Panoramic Head
This has to be one of the coolest DIY builds I’ve seen so far, which is saying something given all its good company. That said, it’s pretty advanced as far as difficulty goes. From Photography on the Net user Steve Chen (images courtesy him), here’s DIY Photographer, who lay it all out:
A panoramic head has calibration options so the camera rotates around the entrance pupil which depends both on lens and camera. There are dedicated pano-heads out there like the excellent panosaurus, Nodal Ninja and 360 Precision, there are some super cool DIY options out there ranging from easy through medium to complex.
5teve over at photography-on-the.net was inspired by Dr. Sean Parkin’s design and built quite an impressive DIY pano-head. Aside from being a kickass pano-head, one of the nice things about it is that it uses no “heavy” tooling and can probably be built at your garage even if you don’t have a lathe or a CNC machine at your disposal.
As far as featured go, this head is just packed. It “clicks” every 30 degrees of the rotator head, allowing for a repeatable panorama; It allows for careful calibration of the entrance pupil; And it can be used as a gimbal head in a pinch. Between those two articles there is all the data you need to make one of those babies, including the plans, parts, tooling process and the final assembly. As well as a bit of info about anodizing at home, bearings and springs.
If any of you guys try to tackle this one, definitely let us know of the results!
- RotoRig Portable DIY Travel Jib / Shoulder Rig
- How To Make an Impromptu Camera Stabilizer — Instructables, user DIYHacksAndHowTos
- Homemade Panoramic Head — Dr. Sean Parkin
- My homemade spherical panoramic head design — photography-on-the.net