The lighting and grip department is full of unspoken rules that are geared towards keeping the cast and crew as safe as possible. However, there's one rule that might just be the most important of them all. That rule can be summed up as: "ALWAYS USE SANDBAGS WHEN USING A LIGHT STAND, C-STAND, OR COMBO STAND FOR ANYTHING." I'm sorry I yelled, but this simple concept can prevent some seriously calamitous things from happening on a set, chiefly hot lights or heavy modifiers falling on people's heads. With that in mind, let's take a look at an incredibly ironic video and talk a little bit about proper techniques for setting up C-Stands!
Just in case you're not already convinced of the potential danger of falling stands, here's a rather lighthearted (and absurdly ironic) clip that shows what can happen when stands aren't weighted down properly:
Luckily, in the case of the reporter in this video (who, in a cruel twist of fate, was reporting on sandbags), the only thing that fell on her head was a small silk. However, had the production team been flying a light of some sort on that stand, or had the reporter gotten hit with a bulky gobo head, the outcome of this short video could have been devastating.
With that out of the way, here are some basics for weighing down your various stands.
- Always put sandbags on your stands, regardless of whether you're flying lights, modifiers, or anything else. Always.
- On C-Stands, point the largest leg in the same direction as your light or modifier. This will make it incredibly difficult for your light to tip the stand, no matter the weight. (I've also heard that the largest leg should be placed opposite of your light or modifier, but placing them in the same direction makes the most sense to me.)
- On C-Stands, the sandbag should be placed on the largest leg.
- Make sure the gobo arm/head is pointing towards the righthand side of the knuckle so that the knuckle will tighten down on itself with any additional weight.
- On regular light stands and combo stands, you can place sandbags on one of the braces at the bottom of the stand, preferably on the opposite side from the light or modifier.
Here's a quick video that walks you through the basics of how to set up a C-Stand and place your sandbags.
As simple as this stuff seems, it's incredibly important to make habits out of all of these small techniques so that basic lighting safety is engrained into the way you work.
Do you guys have any horror stories of improper stand setup? What are some of your tips for maintaining safety when working with various types of stands? Let us know down in the comments!