Killer Camera Rigs That You Can Build: How to Build Your Own Camera Cranes, Car Mounts, Stabilizers, Dollies, and More! / Edition 3

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Overview

"The singular beauty of this book is that Mr. Selakovich has successfully dedicated himself to producing clarity with every page." - Michael Ferris, Camera Operator/DP (Die Hard)

"For filmmakers who like to shoot their films with a mobile camera withough spending a fortune on equipment rentals, this book is a great gift indeed. I highly recommend it for its clarity and common sense." - Kris Malkiewica, Cinematographer/Author

Don't buy or rent your fillm equipment-build it! Construct professional-quality camera rigs on your own with this comprehensive, step-by-step guide and stop wasting your money on overpriced equipment rentals and purchases! Dan Selakovich guides you through the creation of jibs, dollies, cranes, car-mounts, sandbags, tripods, and more. Features include:

* Build inexpensive but reliable and sturdy rigs-including cranes, dollies, stabilizers, car-mounts, and more; most for much less than $100!
* Includes over 2,000 photographs with clear step-by-step instructions, safety guidelines, material lists, and tool lists for each rig.
* American standard and meric measurements included.
* Includes a companion web site: http://dvcamerarigs.com/

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"If you wanted to start a film studio but only had $1,000, then this would be the book for you. You could be a "Dream Works" in miniature. You can, believe it or not, build a crane for less than $100; a cheaper alternative then spending thousands of dollars to buy one or $500 to rent one."—AAUGB

"If there's one thing Killer Camera Rigs has done for me, it has started me thinking outside of the box. Not that I had loads of name-brand equipment lying around, but having been in school (and therefore having access to a lot of it) made me think that I needed lots of it to make the stories I wanted to. And yes, some of it's nice, and some things really are worth the money (after a new lens, the Vinten Vision Blue and a decent set of sticks in my priority purchase).. Killer Camera Rigs You Can Build is a great idea if you are really looking to create more flexibility for your story-telling, and you will start thinking differently about your DIY filmmaking."—Microfilmmaker Magazine

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780240813370
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 8/27/2010
  • Edition number: 3
  • Pages: 427
  • Sales rank: 1,325,212
  • Product dimensions: 8.40 (w) x 10.70 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Killer Camera Rigs That You Can Build

How to build your own camera cranes, car mounts, stabilizers, dollies, and more!
By Dan Selakovich

Focal Press

Copyright © 2010 Dan Selakovich
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-240-81338-7


Chapter One

The Dark Passage Dolly

The great thing about the Dark Passage dolly is its versatility. By making the dolly platform any size you choose (within reason, of course), you can adapt it for any situation for the price of a piece of plywood. And because of the unique wheel design and placement, this dolly can be mounted to run on rails overhead! And once your wheel assemblies are made, you can just move them from one size plywood to the other. No need to spend a lot of cash on extra wheels for different-sized dollies! The plans for the Killer's Kiss Crane later in this book makes it a perfect combination for use with this dolly. Make sure you read about all the dollies and dolly extras in the book so you can decide on the size and style of your dolly. If you want something heavy duty, double up on the plywood, making it twice as thick. Or build the Killers dolly in the next chapter. I use both dollies a lot!

Materials List for the Dark Passage Dolly

(8) in-line skate wheels. It doesn't matter what size, just as long as they're on sale! (Make sure they have the bearings, or pick some up in a separate pack. Each wheel takes two bearings, so that's 16 in all. You'll also need some if you're building the Shock Corridor Stabilizer). Also, because of the design of the dolly you can use the larger Razor(r) scooter-type wheels. Either will work just fine.

Note: If you want to use more than four sets of wheels, you'll need two wheels for each set for each side of the dolly, and expand the number of everything that follows to build each wheel set. This will be clear once you read through the instructions.

(8) 5/16" (8 mm) washers. They don't have to have an exact 5/16" hole, but pretty close to the bolt diameter.

(4) 5/16" (8 mm) bolts x 3" (76 mm) long. This goes through the wheel bearing, so make sure it's a snug fit (all the skate bearings are 5/16"). I've never found a bearing that didn't have a 5/16" hole, so you should be pretty safe with any wheels you buy.

(4) 5/16" (8 mm) lock nuts. Lock nuts have this little nylon ring that holds it tight to the bolt-important!

(8) 5/16" (8 mm) nuts. Try to find nuts that are thinner than average. They're called jam nuts.

(4) L-brackets. You won't find these with the rest of the L-brackets. These are made for deck building by Simpson Strong-Tie, model number HL-33, so check that part of the hardware store first. They are really heavy duty and take a 1/2" (14 mm) bolt to attach to the dolly platform (see next page). If you don't live in earthquake or hurricane country, these might be hard to find. That's OK, simply follow the plans for the Killers dolly later in this section.

(4) 1/2" (14 mm) bolts x 2" (50 mm) long. These hold the wheel assembly to the deck of the dolly.

3/4" (19 mm) thick plywood. This can be any size you want. I have several sizes: I use a 12" (30 cm) square a lot in tight places, a 24" square, and one big enough for a camera operator that is 26" wide x 40" long. You can make a bigger one, of course, but if you want to dolly through a standard 32" wide doorway, your dolly with its wheels must be narrower than that.

(8) 1/2" (14 mm) ID (inner diameter) or larger washers (for the 1/2" (14 mm) bolt).

3/4" (19 mm) PVC pipe. You'll find this in the plumbing section. This is used for dolly track. You can use other stuff for track depending on the situation. This stuff is good when connecting more than one length. Get ones with the thick core (don't panic–just look at all the PVC the hardware store offers and get the thickest stuff), as much as you need. Four 10" (3 meter) lengths is a good start. You can also use 1" (25 mm) PVC if you want. If you use 1" PVC, make sure your plumbing nipples (next) are 3/4" (19 mm). We'll be going more into track in the track section, but it won't hurt to get two lengths of electrical conduit or PVC while you're at the store so you can test out your dolly.

(4) 1/2" (14 mm) lock nuts (for the 1/2" bolt).

2" (14 mm) metal pipe nipples (get one for every two sections of PVC pipe). These are good for screwing the PVC pipe together for longer sections of track. Since I wrote the first edition of this book, there are commercial connectors for PVC used as dolly track. These are expensive and don't work as well as this simple solution.

Other Options for Track

We'll be getting into all sorts of track options in individual chapters, but here are just a couple of ideas. Next time you're at a large home center, look around. I think you'll discover tons of things you can use for track! But in the meantime, grab some PVC.

Long lengths of L-shaped aluminum are a good option for dolly track where you might need a lot of strength (going overhead between two ladders, for instance).

Another option for dolly track is 3/4" (19 mm) electrical conduit. It comes in 10" lengths, but is difficult to string together so you don't get a bump in your camera move. I'd use it for shots of 10" (3 meters) or less.

Tools List for the Dark Passage Dolly

A drill. Get one with variable speed ability (don't worry, most drills have this). If you're going to be building other projects that involve drilling into metal, do not buy a cordless drill. They just don't have enough muscle for metal. For this project, though, a cordless drill is fine.

Combination square. Get one, get one, get one!

1/2" (14 mm) drill bit.

Locking pliers. Get two pairs if you're not going to be using a socket wrench as well.

A socket wrench set. Not absolutely necessary, but damned handy.

An assortment of clamps. Not absolutely necessary on this project, but always handy, and very much needed on other projects in this book and for filmmaking in general.

A big framing square. For this and other projects!

Let's Build It

(1) First, we need to figure out where to put our brackets for the wheels. The plywood I'm using for this dolly measures 3' x 2' (0.60 x 1 meter), plenty big enough to hold a tripod or small boom arm.

0" to 5" (0-127 mm) from the edge seems about right. Use the framing square to make sure the placement of the bracket is square with the deck, and right on the edge of the board. If we were using a smaller piece of wood for the platform, we might want to go in only a couple of inches (50 mm). Truly, anywhere from right on the narrow edge of the dolly deck to about 5" in is just fine on a dolly this big.

As you can see here, I'm placing the bracket flush to the edge. Important: Make sure all the brackets are lined up the same, or they won't fit into the track properly!

Once the bracket is in place, mark the center of the hole in the bracket. This is where we'll being drilling into our deck to attach the bracket. Do this in each corner with the remaining three brackets. In this photo, I'm using a bracket with two holes on a much smaller platform, but the principle is the same. I just want to give you the idea that you don't have to use the exact brackets in the materials list. They just need to be thick enough to hold your weight!

Here I'm using a piece of aluminum that runs the full length of the board as a straight edge against my framing square so I know where to place the bracket on the other end. It might be a good idea to draw a pencil line down the length of the straight edge and line both brackets against that line.

(2) Let's do some drilling. Clamp the board to the table and load that big 1/2" (14 mm) bit into the drill. Be careful to drill the hole right on that perfect mark you made! Do this to the remaining three corners.

(3) You're going to need that 1/2" (14 mm) bolt, two washers, and a lock nut (the one with the little nylon ring inside). This is pretty straightforward. Put a washer on the bolt and stick the thing up through the hole. (The head of the bolt should be on the top side of the dolly.) Thread the bracket hole over the bolt, then a washer on top of that, then tighten the whole shebang down with the lock nut.

Before you tighten that nut all the way down, grab your combo square (you did remember to get one, didn't you?) and line it up with one edge against the plywood, and the other against the edge of the bracket. Is the bracket square against the straight edge? If not, and it probably won't be, just muscle it over until it looks like the following: Now tighten the heck out of it. Finish up the other three corners.

Hey, we're almost done. Pretty easy so far, huh?

ATTACH THE WHEELS

(4) Grab your 5/16"x 3" (8 mm x 76 mm) bolt, two jam nuts, two washers, one lock nut, and two skate wheels with the bearings.

Put a washer on the bolt and run it through the hole in the bracket and put a washer on the other side (see, like in the picture).

(5) Screw on one of those narrow nuts and tighten the whole mess down. Hey, look at that! You just made an axle! (Make sure you put the bolt at the top of the too-big bracket hole–toward the deck-to keep it from sliding. Also, it looks like there are two washers. Nope. Just a reflection.)

(6) Put on one of your wheels and thread another nut on the other side. Not too tight, you still want the wheel to spin without being wobbly.

Hey Dan! I can't fit the wheel on the axle! What gives?

You bought the wheels with the bearings already in them, didn't you? No worries. There's a little plastic axle in there. Take a screwdriver and pop out one of the bearings, remove the plastic bit, and pop the bearing back into the wheel hub. Now you're good to go.

(7) Slide the second wheel on and screw on that lock nut. Again, not too tight. Sweet!

Repeat the steps on the other three brackets and you're done.

If the hardware store didn't have the right length bolt (like you see in the picture) and you bought some longer ones, that's OK. It's best though, to use a hacksaw to chop off that extra length.

Here's what the bottom should look like when you're done.

Here's a small version with a fluid head bolted to the middle. I use this one a lot. We'll get more into that in later chapters.

When you place the finished rig on the track, make sure it fits in the groove in-between the two wheels.

Here's the dolly up off the ground using electrical conduit for track, ready to dolly though a window. There are tons of shots you can do with a small light dolly!

There you have it. Now go check out the chapter on dolly track later in this section! Because of the unique wheel design (well, not so unique nowadays!), it opens up a whole new world of what you can use for track. If you'd gone with the Hollywood regular skate wheel design, your track options would be extremely limited. You're welcome.

The Killers Dolly

You'll want to build this dolly if you want a really bomb-proof dolly. The wheel attachments are permanent, so you can't move them from one dolly deck to another as you can with the Dark Passage dolly. Once you've built this one, it's here to stay. You'll also want to make this one if you plan on using it with a small camera crane (a jib) with a camera weighing over 8 pounds. I know, 8 pounds doesn't sound like a lot, but with a jib, the heavier the camera, the more counterweight you'll need, so it can get heavy pretty fast. It's also a good idea to build this one if you'll be making a camera pedestal to go on your dolly (we'll be covering camera pedestals later, in the dolly section). And lastly, you'll want to make this one if a camera operator and assistant (focus puller) will be riding on the dolly.

I'll also be showing you how to add a handle to your dolly as well as how to mount a tripod on your dolly without a spreader. Both of these concepts will work for this dolly as well as the Dark Passage dolly so feel free to trick out your Dark Passage too!

Important: Make sure you read the appendix, Working with Metal, before starting this project!

Materials List for the Killers Dolly

Hey, wait a minute! Here's something to think about first. Is your camera over 8 pounds? And will you be using a jib or camera pedestal on this dolly? If the answer is yes, you'll need to build the deck out of two 3/4" (19 mm) sheets of plywood glued together. If your answer is no, you can get away with using only one sheet of 3/4" (19 mm) plywood for your dolly deck. The big advantage is that a lighter dolly is easier to haul around. Either dolly deck will do if all you are putting on there is an operator, a tripod, and a camera.

(2) sheets of 3/4" (19 mm) thick plywood. Mine measure 26" x 40" (0.66 x 1 meter). You can make it bigger or smaller if you want. The reason mine is only 26" wide, is that someday I might want to dolly through a doorway.

A big bottle of wood glue for gluing the two sheets of plywood together.

(10) 1/4" x 2" (7 mm x 50 mm) carriage bolts with a 1/4" (7 mm) nut for each.

(2) lengths of angle aluminum or steel. I'm using 1/8" (3 mm) thick aluminum 1" (25 mm) wide on each side. This is the smallest you want to get. You can certainly get stuff that is 2" or 3" on each side. I've even taken a hacksaw to an old bed frame and used that steel angle for a dolly. The point is, there are tons of different types of angle out there you can use. It needs to be as long as your dolly. In my case, the dolly is 40" long, so my angle is also 40" long.

(8) in-line skate wheels. It doesn't matter what size, just as long as they're on sale! (Make sure they have the bearings, or pick some up in a separate pack. Each wheel takes two bearings, so that's 16 in all. You'll also need some if you're building the Shock Corridor stabilizer). Also, because of the design of the dolly you can use the larger Razor(r) scooter-type wheels. Either will work just fine. Note: If you want to use more than four sets of wheels, you'll need two wheels for each set for each side of the dolly, and expand the number of everything that follows to build each wheel set. This will be clear once you read through the instructions.

(4) 5/16" (8 mm) bolt x 3" (76 mm) long. This goes through the wheel bearing, so make sure it's a snug fit (all the skate bearings are 5/16"). I've never found a bearing that didn't have a 5/16" hole, so you should be pretty safe with any wheels you buy.

(8) 5/16" (8 mm) nuts. Try to find nuts that are thinner than average. They're called jam nuts.

(4) 5/16" (8 mm) lock nuts. Lock nuts have this little nylon ring that holds it tight to the bolt–important!

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Killer Camera Rigs That You Can Build by Dan Selakovich Copyright © 2010 by Dan Selakovich. Excerpted by permission of Focal Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Introduction; The Dark Passage Dolly; The Shock Corridor Camera Stabilizer; The Big Combo Crane; The Third Man Tripod; The Steel Trap Spreader; They Drive By Night Car Mount; The Killers Kiss Crane; The Sweet Smell of Success Pooper-Scooper Cam; The Touch of Evil Cam; The Harder They Fall Sand Bags; The Big Carnival Crane; Painting Your Rigs

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