Category Archives: Tripods

Konova Launches the portable, travel friendly SunJib S700 – NAB 2016

NAB 2016 coverage continues with a look at the SunJib from Konova. This unique, portable jib system has a one touch, telescopic, single arm design and an automatic self leveling system for smooth booming shots. This keeps the subject horizontal which allows you to focus on the momentum of your panning moves. The SunJib is also compatible with Konova’s highly regarded slider system to create very unique, low angle sliding / boom shots. The included transport bag also makes it very travel friendly for all situations. Traditional jibs have always been a hassle for me to build and break down but the the Konova SunJib definitely hits that sweet spot of portability and professional grade camera moves.

We spoke with Peter from Konova for an in-depth demonstration. For more information on when the SunJib will be released, please visit Konovaphoto.com

Build a Heavy Duty Video Tripod for Under $385

High quality video tripods have proven time and again the importance of stability, composition, and movement and will bring more to your productions than any other type of camera support system. However, a professional tripod system can typically cost a thousand dollars or more which is a lot to ask for budget conscious shooters.

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I discovered that I could build a heavy duty video tripod for under $385 that consists of a fluid head, sticks (with dual rubber/spiked feet and spreader) and a bowl leveler for precise balance. Here’s how I did it…

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The Manfrotto MVH500AH Fluid Head is designed with a wide platform, a weight load of 11lb and professional quality fluid cartridges on both its pan and tilt axes. The fluid head is the brains of a decent tripod and having a heavy duty Manfrotto as my main point of contact is always reassuring.

PRICE: $148.49

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product information button runplayback Manfrotto MVH500AH Fluid Video Head with Flat Base

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The 8.5lb ProAm Heavy Duty Tripod Legs are typically built for jib cranes but work great with the Manfrotto fluid head and even a slider as they can hold up to 80 lbs. The legs extend up to 72″ tall and it has a mid level spreader for added stability. The adjustable rubber or spiked feet are perfect for all kinds of terrain and with the included carrying bag, this makes the ProAm an exceptional deal for the quality.

PRICE: $120.00

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product information button runplayback ProAm USA PROAMFT Pro Tripod Legs & Bag Kit

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A 100mm Riser is typically used as an intermediary for sliders and hi hats. I’ve discovered that they work perfectly with the ProAm tripod legs, effectively creating a wider platform for the Manfrotto fluid head as well as providing a more convenient way of leveling your shot without having to adjust the legs. The riser also features several 1/4-20 threaded holes for accessories.

PRICE: $74.10

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Aluminum Bowl head Half Ball Riser Adapter For 100mm Camera Video Head

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The Desmond 100mm Half Ball Bowl Adapter is small enough to fit inside of the riser and facilitates the quick leveling of the Manfrotto fluid head which connects to the top 3/8-16 threaded screw.

PRICE: $39.95

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Desmond 100mm Half Ball Bowl Adapter Leveler Video Tripod for Bogen / Manfrotto

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So there you have it. For a grand total of $385 you can build a high quality tripod that rivals brands that cost almost three or four times as much! If you have any questions or suggestions, hit me up in the comments below.

The 24 Hour Shootout Survival Kit

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Last week Arbor Day Pictures aka Nancy Mitchell, Hannah Mitchell and myself participated in YPSI24, a 24 hour shootout competition where we won second place amongst 40+ entries. It was an awesome experience to witness so many filmmakers of all levels express themselves using a variety of video techniques within experimental and narrative storytelling.

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However, with a 24 hour time limit and a 3 person crew including myself (2 of whom were acting on camera), it was vital that I assemble an equipment package that worked for our story. Too much gear and I’d risk a lot of unncessary setup and breakdown time. Too little gear and I’d lose the visual storytelling that was essential for characterization. We were super honored to win an award and it may not have happened without our 24 Hour Shootout Survival Kit. So here’s how we did it.

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THE STORY
A few weeks before the shoot, we bounced around some preliminary ideas, some that either proved too difficult or too time consuming. Finally, the night before YPSI24, Nancy assembled all of our initial ideas into a creepy story about supernatural revenge. Next, I fleshed out the summary into a rough, 5 page script which would be our blueprint for the day. We all agreed that the concept would remain loose in order to incorporate the YPSI24 “ingredients” that we would be given. Creating a script as a guide for our shotlist/schedule was definitely a critical part of our planning.

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THE SUPPORT
For Camera A support I went with the heavy duty yet light and portable 8.5lb ProAm Heavy Duty Tripod Legs which are typically built for jib cranes but work great with a Manfrotto fluid head and Konova K3 slider as they can hold up to 80 lbs. It even has a super convenient mid level spreader for added stability and adjustable rubber or spiked feet for all kinds of terrain. At $120 shipped, the ProAm Heavy Duty Tripod Legs are an exceptional deal for the quality.

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product information button runplayback ProAm USA PROAMFT Pro Tripod Legs & Bag Kit

manfrotto
product information button runplayback Manfrotto MVH500AH Fluid Video Head with Flat Base

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product information button runplayback Konova Slider K3 100cm (39.4-Inch)

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THE LIGHTING
Lighting was very minimal as we were mostly daylight dependent. For the ending interior shots we used a pair of budget friendly ePhoto 600 CN600HS LED Lights with Kayo Maxtar V-Mount Li-Ion Batteries. The Kayo Maxtar is a new addition to my kit and one of the best V-Mount battery options out right now. Fully charged, the Kayo can power these lights for up to 6 hours straight. Very impressive!

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ePhoto 600 Led Dimmable CN600HS Video Photography Light

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Kayo Maxtar 177Wh(12000mAh/14.8V) V Mount Battery

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THE SOUND
To keep our sound kit as light and simple as possible, I went with the Zoom H1, Rode Micro Boompole, Rode VideoMic Pro, Aspen HQ-S Lav Mic, P&C Handgrip and an audio extension cable. Our rule was that whoever wasn’t on camera would be the Sound Recordist. With some easy to remember sound recording basics and having a kit this simple ensured that no one would have to be a pro to capture quality sound.

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product information button runplayback Zoom H1 Ultra-Portable Digital Audio Recorder

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product information button runplayback Rode Micro Boompole – 3-Section Boom Pole

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product information button runplayback Rode VideoMic Pro Compact Shotgun Microphone

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AspenMics Lavalier Microphones

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product information button runplayback Dot Line P&C Handgrip

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THE CAMERA A KIT
Having some early success with the latest Panasonic V-Log color profile, I decided to use my workhorse GH4 mounted with a Metabones Canon FD Speedbooster and classic Canon FD glass – 20mm, 28mm, 50mm and 35-105mm. This combination would create a vintage, lived-in look that I thought would be perfect for a horror film.

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I kitted out my GH4 shoulder rig with a Varavon Armor Cage, Aputure V-Screen field monitor, Fotga follow focus, Ikan Tilta V-Mount Plate and a Kayo Maxtar BP-GL175 Li-Ion Battery. With the Kayo, I was able to power the Aputure monitor and use it as a counterweight for the GH4. There’s also a convenient USB port located on the side which kept my iPhone charged at every location.


product information button runplayback Panasonic GH4 4K Video Recording

Metabones Canon FD Speedbooster GH4
Metabones Speedbooster Canon FD Lens to M43 Adapter

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Varavon Armor II GH4 & GH3 Cage

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Aputure VS-3 V-Screen 7″ IPS Field Monitor

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Fotga DP500IIS Follow Focus

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ikan Tilta TT-C12 HyperDeck Shuttle Mount with V-Mount Plate

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Kayo Maxtar 177Wh(12000mAh/14.8V) V Mount Battery

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THE CAMERA B KIT
Our story included many scenes of walking through the woods so I wanted to incorporate gimbal tracking shots without having to spend any time balancing or breaking down the Camera A Kit. For this situation I went with the Ikan Fly-X3 Gimbal paired with the Xiaomi Yi Action Camera aka the $80 Chinese GoPro. Since these walking shots would include both Hannah and Nancy in the shot, it would leave me as the Sound Recordist. The Ikan Fly-X3 doesn’t have a 1/4-20 thread so I rigged a Joby GorillaPod to the handle and fitted it with a Rode VideoMic, Zoom H1, an audio extension cable and a pair of lightweight Auvio Headphones. With the shotgun mic I was then able to capture realtime location sound while also performing stable gimbal shots while walking backwards through the woods. Trust me, it’s not as easy as it sounds.

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product information button runplayback Ikan Fly-X3 Plus 3-Axis Smartphone Gimbal Stabilizer Kit with GoPro HERO3/4 mount

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Xiaomi Yi Action Camera with Wi-Fi

Joby Action Clamp GorillaPod Arm
product information button runplayback Joby Action Clamp with GorillaPod Arm

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Auvio Black Ear-Cup Foldable Headphones

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Another interesting rig we built was an Indy Mogul style DIY 3rd person POV action camera backpack. Designed with cheap PVC pipe from Home Depot, we mounted an Oben Mini Ballhead and the Xiaomi Yi on the rig to create the over the shoulder look during the “search” scenes in the woods. With the Xiamoi’s Wi-Fi app, I would be able to monitor the shots while giving direction to Nancy. We wanted to present an unusual sense of vertigo during these scenes since her character would become more desperate as day turned to night.

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product information button runplayback Oben BD-0 Mini Ball Head

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THE CAMERA C KIT
For a 24 Hour Shootout, it would be tempting to use the DJI Phantom 3 Professional as a shortcut for production value but we didn’t want to go that route. Our initial thought was that an aerial would take up valuable time that we could put towards characterization. Also, because of the hazardous weather conditions on the shoot day, flying a drone would prove too risky. However, nature was on our side when we had a small 10 minute window of clear weather. It was a tricky manuever as I had to fly through a 10 foot clearing in the trees towards a height that revealed just enough of the forest without showing any residential homes or highways. I fitted the Phantom 3 with a Polar Pro Polarizer Filter to prevent glare off the water and was able to get the shot in just two takes. However, flying the drone back to home point was nerve racking as I clipped a few small branches due to the wind and unstable GPS lock. Luckily I had Nancy and Hannah as my spotters on each side of the clearing to prevent the Phantom from going down into the water. The shot was definitely worth it as it created a vast sense of exploration for the Alice character, establishing the forest as a kind of supernatural playground.

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product information button runplayback DJI Phantom 3 Professional Quadcopter with 4K Camera and 3-Axis Gimbal

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Polar Pro DJI Phantom 3 Professional Filter 6-Pack

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THE POST PRODUCTION
We finished our last shot at about 11:30pm and after ingesting all the footage in Adobe Premiere, post production began at 12 midnight. By this time, I was exhausted but not completely tapped out. I knew that once I got past the hump of assembly I would go into creative mode, driven by pure adrenaline. With the help of a large iced coffee I finished assembly by 2:00am and edited straight until 9:00am. The GH4 V-Log setting was especially helpful in color correction for each clip. After dropping in the Panasonic Varicam 35 LUT, I simply adjusted exposure within Lumetri Color and did my best to match the Xiaomi Yi and Phantom 3 footage.

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As the sun started to rise and the 10:00am delivery deadline looming, I did a few last touches and exported the file onto a flash drive. Since the YSPI24 rendevouz was a half hour away, I wasn’t able to do a final preview. At this point, I was completely delirious and just grateful that we completed our film.

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THE EXPERIENCE
YPSI24 was an insanely inspiring good time. From the cordial and energizing meetup with our fellow filmmakers to the hack-a-thon like shooting experience to the final screening at the 500 seat venue, YPSI24 reminded me of why I got into video in the first place. It wasn’t to win awards or make commercials. It was to tell a story using a language that didn’t require an army of people pontificating about the laws of Cinema. It’s a relief to know that the DIY spirit that’s shaped both my personal and professional life has never left me. Hashtag #setlife is not enough. Old traditions and new technologies are not enough. It’s the communal experience of being vulnerable with people that I care about which matters most. Check out our 2015 YPSI24 short “Always Alice” below and remember to always stay inspired!


Always Alice (2015 YPSI24)

Benro Launches the Aero 4 Travel Tripod and BV4/BV6 Aluminum Tripod Kit – NAB 2015

With cameras getting lighter and more powerful each year, there has been a need for more portable, travel friendly tripods that can perform a variety of functions in any situation. The new Benro Aero 4 is a super compact video tripod that uses reverse folding legs which make it small enough to fit inside of a backpack, rolling case or carry on. Another cool feature is that it can easily be converted to a monopod by combining the removable leg and center column. The Benro BV series tripods are twin leg video tripod kits built out of aluminum alloy and great for bare or fully rigged cameras. At this year’s NAB Show we spoke with Brian at Benro for more details. And for more information about these Benro products and accessories, visit their company website at benro.com

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product information button runplayback Benro Aero 4 Video Travel Angel Tripod Kit

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product information button runplayback Benro BV4 Twin Leg Aluminum Tripod Kit

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product information button runplayback Benro BV6 Twin Leg Aluminum Tripod Kit

Konova Master Pan Parallax Slider – NAB 2015

NAB 2015 coverage continues with a look at the Master Pan slider from Konova. This unique slider system has a bar that allows the tripod head to automatically pan as the base moves down the slider track for smooth parallax shots. This keeps the subject entered perfectly which allows you to focus on the momentum and speed of the slider moves. This is critical for interview shots when you want to emphasize a point that’s being made. Also featured is the motorized version of the Master Pan that allows you to create loop motion, stop motion and timelapse slider shots.

We spoke with Peter from Konova for an in-depth demonstration.

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Konova Master Pan Parallax Slider

Gitzo Systematic + Traveler Tripods – PhotoPlus Expo 2014

Our PhotoPlus Expo 2014 coverage continues with a preview of Gitzo’s Systematic and Traveler Tripods. Gitzo’s Systematic Tripods are popular with professional filmmakers due to their modular, lightweight design and superior strength. The Gitzo Traveler is extremely compact by having the center column sit inside of the tripod legs which fold to a full 180 degrees, making it perfect for shooters on the go.

We spoke to Gitzo’s Product Manager, Alessandro Ledesma for more insight.


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product information button runplaybackGitzo Series 4 6X Systematic 4-Section Tripod


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product information button runplaybackGitzo Series 4 6X Systematic 4-Section Tripod