Setting up a beautiful crane shot takes a little bit of muscle, a little bit of finesse, and unfortunately a little bit of math.
If you're like me and you take the "that's probably fine" approach, I promise you there's a better way. Not only will knowing the equation to use to counterbalance your jib cut guessing completely out of your process, but it'll let you calculate to correct weight quickly and accurately so you won't be wasting everybody's time on set.
Filmmaker IQ has made this handy infographic that shows you how to calculate the counterbalance weight you're going to need to balance your jib. Check it out below:
If you're looking at this thing and saying, "I'm a filmmaker, not a damn mathemawhatever," cool your jets. The equation is simple algebra -- just solve for W counter:
- W = weight
- D = distance
The product of the weight of your camera and the distance between the mast and the camera should equal the product of the weight of the counter weight and the distance between the mast and the counterweight. (e.g. If you're working with a 6 foot jib and a camera that weighs 5 pounds with a distance of 4 feet (20) then your counter weight should be 10 pounds.) In order to find out how much your counter weight should be, just divide the product of your camera weight and "camera distance" by the "counter distance" -- and there you have it.
Did I make it easier? Didn't think so. That's why you should bookmark or save this infographic for future reference.