October 5, 2013

Assemble an Inexpensive DSLR Shoulder Rig. 5 Items You'll Need

DIY Shoulder RigThere are many options when it comes to stabilizing your camera, but sometimes, even when money's tight, you don't want to sacrifice some essential customizations that'll make your rig truly your rig. About 3 years ago, DSLR Video Shooter's Caleb Pike  shared a video explaining how to build a rig using the CowboyStudio Support Pad, and this week he has updated the whole thing by replacing the old hardware with newer hardware. So, if you're ready to invest in some descent stabilization, but are scouring your couch cushions to do it, check out Pike's tutorial after the jump:

Now, if you're a professional filmmaker or videographer, a rig that offers more versatility, as well as stability (and a larger price tag) is probably what you're looking for. But, if you're just getting into filmmaking and wanting to experiment with something inexpensive, Pike's rig seems like a quick and easy way to do that.

From what I could see from the video, Pike's rig looks simple to assemble and easy to operate the camera once it is. I have heard that the downfall of the CowboyStudio Support is that it isn't really designed to be walked around with much, but for static handheld-looking shots. However, for the money, you're looking at some pretty decent image stabilization.

Here is a video showing some  footage shot with Pike's rig:

In the video below, Pike explains what materials you'll need, where to get them, and how to assemble them to make the rig:

Here is a list of the parts Pike uses to put his rig together:

So, depending on how you customize your rig, the final cost will range from $250 - $375, which is a pretty decent deal given the add-ons. It's easy to look at the latest technological advances in camera stabilization, like the MōVi and other 3-axis gimbals, and drool over the results, but sometimes you just need something easy and inexpensive to put together in order to start making films.

What do you think about Caleb Pike's rig? Feel free to share any insight into adding modifications and accessories onto shoulder-mounted stabilization systems.

Links:

[via Filmmaker IQ]

Your Comment

24 Comments

Well, get 70D (with more models to follow) and chuck the follow focus.

October 5, 2013 at 7:24AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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DLD

What...? Does it come with one?

October 5, 2013 at 9:24AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Pat

No, he means b/c it can do autofocus. Which I have no idea why he'd use but different strokes I guess.

October 5, 2013 at 11:45AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Jared

70D is a good tool for a low budget production - doc or fiction - which is what a low cost rig implies Will other cameras produce a different look? They will, by definition. But the auto focus will save you a ton of time, if you want a certain type of track/dolly shots. And, as I said, this feature will soon migrate onto the higher end cameras anyway.
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PS. FWIW, I also happen to like the 70D IQ. Its All-I is more than good enough for most internet viewed and distributed projects.

October 5, 2013 at 12:01PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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DLD

Auto focus is NEVER a good solution for filmmaking. Like, EVER. The closest thing would be using the rocker focus mechanics of the Fujinon Cabrio Lens and even that's $30k or so.
Please, PLEASE don't try to convince people to invest in a 70D for auto focus reasons. We already have enough mediocre content on the web as it is.

October 6, 2013 at 7:17PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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I got handles for about $10 and a base plate for about 30-40 on ebay.

October 5, 2013 at 7:56AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Gareth

whats the name of the baseplate on ebay

October 5, 2013 at 8:32AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Carlos G Davis

http://www.ebay.com/itm/TRIPOD-BASE-PLATE-for-MATTE-BOX-RODS-16MM-35MM-MOVIE-CAMERA-DIGITAL-ARRI-BOLEX-/271175536196?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3f23524e44

It's super solid.

October 5, 2013 at 9:30AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Gareth

Whenever I see a rig setup, I think "Nah.....I''ll just wait for my Midas Mount rig to arrive"

But it's been a year and a half...maybe it's time to move on.

October 5, 2013 at 8:52AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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@Devap, what rig did you order? The Midas Mount guy (I forgot his name) actually hired me for 1 day (I thought it was going to be longer) to assemble some of his sliders and if I remember correctly it seemed like he was pretty much done with the second iteration of the snap focus. This was all over a year ago though...

October 5, 2013 at 12:40PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Alan Torres

I was one of Kickstarter backers in May 2012. I ordered the Hitchhiker shoulder rig and snapfocus combo. I think that was actually when I discovered NFS too.

October 5, 2013 at 6:01PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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I use the SM-1 (Cowboy) direct with my 600D and C100.

If you have a DSLR with flip out screen you don't need anything else.

I really don't see the point of the rails and follow focus when you can touch the lens directly, right in front of you.

For studio cams and bigger cams etc yeah sure, but on a £30 shoulder mount... no need whatsoever.

I have a gimbal based stabiliser and use vinten and sachtler tripods, so it's really not about the money.. I like to have the least assembly, least to break, least to calibrate.

The cowboy is a great tool on its on and of its own merits... as a shoulder mount it will give you similar handling to a shoulder mount camera.... no great surprise there.

It's not going to replace a stabiliser, or a fig rig, or a monopod, or a tripod. It meets it breif for run and gun and will improve handheld shots 1000%

October 5, 2013 at 10:49AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Paul Russell

How does it work with the c100? Do you use the LCD, VF with an eyepiece, monitor, or even the zacuto z finder with the cowboy? Since the c100's LCD is more centered than most DSLRs.

Right now I've been using my c100 with either my 504hd or with the tension of my black rapid strap stretched for handheld

October 5, 2013 at 6:07PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Okay.... So I want opinions from y'all—what is the advantage to having a follow focus for handheld, or just general "run 'n gun" rigs like this? The only time I've personally found a follow focus useful is when a 1st AC is involved.... but whenever it's been just me shooting, I've always pulled focus on the lens. The follow focus felt like an added complication, with no reward.

But I haven't given it much of a shot, so I wanted to hear your thoughts—for a rig like this, what is a follow focus bringing to the table?

October 5, 2013 at 1:27PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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So he made the video and has links on his site so if people buy them through the links he gets a cut. Thereby remunerating him for creating the video and putting it online for free. You re-post his video and put links on your site that you profit from. Interesting.

October 5, 2013 at 4:02PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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FYI everyone, the Cowboy Rig is the biggest pile of crap I've ever come across.

October 5, 2013 at 6:24PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Jeremy

All of the Amazon links are from the Spanish version of Amazon, and end up having to be translated thereby losing the function of the link, as well as affiliate link NFS instead of the guy that did the hard work by making the video about these products. Way to rip off the original content creator and fail at even doing that, NFS.

I swear, if it weren't for Joe's posts, I'd stop coming to this site. It's definitely taken a dive with some of these new guys.

October 5, 2013 at 7:07PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Rob

For real Renèe, this is such junk from China and is all going to landfill

October 5, 2013 at 10:51PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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matt

I really really like this shoulder support (although, I don't have the CowboyStudio's one, got it from eBay instead. It seems CowboyStudio just rebrands it as theirs?).

For the twenty bucks or so that it cost me it delivers off the charts value!

Only problem I have with it for me at the moment is I'm kinda a little tall (6' 3" / 190cm), so when my camera is on this on my shoulder I am shooting at above the eye line for average height people.

Wish there was a way to get it lower?

At the short film I was shooting last weekend I used this for just one take in a particular scene, and then changed to something else instead as when the director saw it he didn't like it because it meant I'm shooting from too high up.

October 8, 2013 at 12:11AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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I thought the title was "Inexpensive".....I guess I was wrong.

October 10, 2013 at 6:03PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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comparing with a rig for $1000+ (which is not uncommon) it is "inexpensive" ...

October 11, 2013 at 2:22PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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You think this is expensive?!? Wait until you hear what real cameras rent for.

October 14, 2013 at 10:56PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Lee

Yeah, no kidding. I thought it was going to be like $50-100. For that kind of money you can get a nice setup from Gini and the like instead of random ebay stuff.

October 16, 2013 at 12:40AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Chris

has anybody tried to offset the camera using this rig - and it work?

April 22, 2014 at 12:27AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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bd