"You want your shots to be fire, not on fire."
Indie filmmakers have a lot to contend with when shooting a project. Budget, time, equipment, technical workflow, crew... did we mention budget? Camera package rentals are one of those line items that can eat into productions costs if you don't happen to own gear or are unable to borrow from a contact.
One way to balance that lost budget is DIY camera accessories and lighting setups. For the camera operator looking for new ways to create interesting inexpensive shots, creator Nick Sales has a few camera hacks that could be useful. Check them out below.
Dryer sheets as a dolly
While we can't endorse using banana peels as a dolly replacement, placing dryer sheets or even soft cloth towels under each tripod leg on hardened surfaces can create smooth tracking shots. Before placing the camera on top of the tripod, it's best to do a couple of test runs to see if the surface is smooth enough.
Use a tripod as a shoulder rig
If you don't have a shoulder rig for handheld camera work, you can always use your tripod. If using a Manfrotto tripod, all you need to do is pop up one of the legs and place it directly on your shoulder and the other two legs act as the handle. It's one of the oldest tricks in the book, but if you just happen to be a filmmaker starting out, it's definitely one worth knowing.
A cheaper light dome
If you can't afford something like Aputure's Light Storm 300d II and a Light Dome that sells for around $1,300, you can make an inexpensive version using different products for about $300. The workaround is to combine two light panels, a softbox, a camera holder, and a dual mount tripod bracket in order to create the alternative soft light source. While you won't get all the same features as the 300d, including color quality, output, control, or even reliability, if you plan on setting up the fixture as an indoor set-it-and-forget-it style light, it might be ideal for you.
So what are some of your favorite camera tricks? Share them in the comments below.