Basic Shoulder Rig

Shoulder rigs are vital for stabilising heavy hand-held cameras such as DSLRs. Pro rigs like the one below usually comprise a shoulder mount, handles for two-handed operation and sometimes attachments for lights and filter boxes. It’s now possible to buy a basic rig for around £100, obviously on a multi-camera shoot this starts to add up quickly.

During the shooting of Orientation, we built plywood camera rigs to carry a pair of 5Ds. These took about 30mins to make and cost less than £10 each.

Ratings

  Cost
  Difficulty
  Time (30 mins)

What you’ll need:

5mm plywood
Wood screws
1/4″ x 1 1/2″ UNC screw
Removable tripod plate and clip
Hand saw
Chisel
Sandpaper Screwdriver Electric Drill

Method

1. Download the plans here

2. Cut out the main beam: about 70cm should do it, you can cut it to length later according to comfort.

3. Cut a handle-sized length of softwood or glue two pieces of plywood together. A 10cm length of 3cm x 3cm softwood’s fine.

4. Screw the handle to the end of the main beam as in diagram 2.

5. Now, (carefully) balance your camera on the rig and work out where will be most comfortable to mount it. The further back towards your shoulder the camera sits, the easier it will be to stabilise. However, too far back and you won’t be able to see the monitor. Also, with a wide-angle lens, the front of the rig might end up in shot. When you’re satisfied, attach a clip and removable tripod plate to the camera, balance it on the rig again and draw round it with a pencil.

6. Take the tripod plate off the camera and put it back on the rig, using the outline you just made to position it. Poke a pencil through the hole where the mounting screw goes.Use this to mark where to mount the tripod plate.

7.Drill a hole to mount the tripod plate.

8. Go over all the edges of the rig with sandpaper to ensure that no splinters will poke your cameraman.

9.Screw your tripod plate to the rig with the 1/4″ UNC screw.

Voila. A basic stabiliser which should take some of the shake out of hand-held sequences.

For a more advanced setup, click here.

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