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Over The Shoulder Rig

Published : 13th November 2003


Hey all!

I'm looking for any suggestions on making a "bungee" rig for suspending a DSR500 over my shoulder. Any thoughts are appreciated.

Roderick Stevens
Az. D.P.
www.cinema-vista.com



Roderick Stevens wrote :

>I'm looking for any suggestions on making a "bungee" rig for >suspending a DSR500 over my shoulder. Any thoughts are appreciated.

BandPro sells a Swedish made unit, but its like $2000 or so: 800-835-5360

Steve Slocomb
shooter
Montana, USA



16x9 also sells something. I think they are www.16x9inc.com

Mitch Gross
NYC DP



Are you referring to something like the EasyRig?

While it does a good job redistributing the weight of the camera from your shoulder and placing more of it on your hips and back, the camera mass remains the same and the is not necessarily any easier to manoeuvre, esp. if you're use to quick pans or camera movement while operating handheld.

Jessica Gallant
Los Angeles based Director of Photography
West Coast Systems Administrator, Cinematography Mailing List
http://www.cinematography.net



Jessica Gallant writes :

> Are you referring to something like the EasyRig?

Yes, I just went and looked at that and it's exactly what I had in mind. For this next project there are a couple of shots that would be ideal for Steadicam, but there's just no budget (SURPRISE!!!!!) for it. I was looking for something in between handheld and Steadicam - something to simply smooth out the walking camera a bit.

I'm only guessing that something like the Easy Rig is what I'm looking for - any experience that concurs?

Roderick Stevens
Az. D.P.



>I was looking for something in between handheld and Steadicam - >something to simply smooth out the walking camera a bit.

Unless someone is a really bad handheld operator, I don't think the EasyRig is going to make much difference in the look of the footage. All it did for me was make it easier to handhold a 50 pound HiDef camera rig for longer periods of time.

I personally think you might be better off with one of these options :

1/. Using a western dolly w/short jib arm
2/. Placing the camera on your hip and going with a slightly wider lens that you would normally use
3/. Standing on an off-road skateboard and having someone push you (kind of a micro-western dolly)
4/. Using a wheelchair

Once again, that's just me and my opinion.

Jessica Gallant
Los Angeles based Director of Photography
West Coast Systems Administrator, Cinematography Mailing List



Roderick Stevens wrote :

>out the walking camera a bit. I'm only guessing that something like the >Easy Rig is what I'm looking for - any experience that concurs?

I bet 16:9 is now the new rep, not Band-Pro. FWIW, when Band-Pro had it they told me they would send it up here for me to play with for while, maybe 16:9 would do the same for you.

Steve Slocomb
shooter
Montana



Jessica gallant writes :

>1/.Using a western dolly w/short jib arm. . .

A couple of grip equipment mfg. custom make a wheel chair like device that you can stand up in and still be wheeled around like a wheel chair.

The EasyRig or other over the shoulder type rig can then be attached to the dolly wheelchair. . .or you can simply make your own bungy type rig. This system works very well and relieves the operator of all the weight of the camera.

Some clever folks have devised quick release mechanisms to allow the camera operator to step off the dolly and continue on foot, e.g., up a stairway.

Brian Heller
IA 600 DP



Is it possible to rig the bungee cam on say a doorway dolly instead of your body?

A Speedrail bungee rig could then easily be rigged off the dolly with a little pipe and a piece of cheese plate.

Otherwise, I'm sure you could rig something up that looks like the 19x9 rig with maybe an old steadicam harness and a bunch of composite tubing as aluminium pipe would probably be weight prohibitive. I have a feeling though that a bungee rig over your shoulder would be very difficult to control especially with a big camera like a DSR-500.

Erik Messerschmidt
Los Angeles



Erik Messerschmidt said :

>Is it possible to rig the bungee cam on say a doorway dolly instead of >your body? A Speedrail bungee rig could then easily be rigged off the >dolly with a little pipe and a piece of cheese plate.

Actually, the main shot that the Director and I have discussed will be outside on the shoulder of a mountain road, so I'm not sure any wheels will be the way to go.

Maybe Jessica's right and I ought to just stick with hand-held.

Roderick



Jessica Gallant wrote :

>Unless someone is a really bad handheld operator, I don't think the >EasyRig is going to make much difference ...

Unlike the pictures of the EasyRig might lead you to believe, there is little or no elasticity in the cord of the EasyRig and no springs. There is just some sort of ratchet to support the camera weight at whatever length you pull the string - something like a car seatbelt.

So I agree with Jessica that the EasyRig will not make your footage look much smoother. In my experience, the only exception is when you can avoid walking with it and balance it skimming the surface of a desk or table with a wide angle lense. Then it keeps you from the "outstretched arms trembling with strain - will the director never say cut" syndrome!

I love working with the EasyRig but I am very careful to brief the director I'm working with beforehand that this is NOT a Steadicam substitute but a way of improving handheld somewhat while greatly diminishing operator fatigue. This in itself helps a lot. I also like it in that it is very fast to put on and take off.

When working with the camera over the shoulder in the EasyRig, there is very little clearance between the base of the camera and my shoulder. If you did have an elastic suspension, the camera would be hitting your shoulder unless you adapted the rig to lift the camera higher than I have been able to and then you would probably start hitting doorways. something that should be talked about in CML - Videos are very tall cameras and I think the 570 is about the same height.

I have the remnants of a rig like what you are thinking of in my garage which I abandoned after using the EasyRig and getting an idea of the difficulties involved.

Bruce Douglas
DP - Sao Paulo, Brazil



> ...a "bungee" rig for suspending a DSR500 over my shoulder.

http://www.marztech.com/

I've used it with an XL1. It helped; better (smoother) than handheld.

Adam Wilt
Camera Guy /
Menlo Park CA USA



>Actually, the main shot that the Director and I have discussed will be >outside on the shoulder of a mountain road, so I'm not sure any wheels >will be the way to go.

What about a Sam Raimi board-cam? How wide is the shoulder of the mountain road?

Jessica Gallant
Los Angeles based Director of Photography
West Coast Systems Administrator, Cinematography Mailing List



Brian Heller wrote :

>a couple of grip equipment mfg. cos make a wheel chair like device that >you can stand up in and still be wheeled around like a wheel chair.

I have used one of these -- kinda looks like the wheel chair that Hannibal Lecter got wheeled around in "Silence of the Lambs".

Ours was also fitted with bazooka risers, brought the lens up to about 7". A fantastic rig for narrow-narrow hallways, easy to handle and very smooth.

Cheers

Kim Sargenius
Student Shooter
Sydney



Hi,

> Steadicam, but there's just no budget

Maybe look for a Glidecam owner. I have worked with a DSR-500 on a Glidecam V-20, the advantage being that the owner had a $5000 loan to pay off rather than a $100,000 loan to pay off, resulting in greater financial flexibility all round.

The Glidecam V series is nowhere near as flexible as a Steadicam - it'll pretty much hold the level it does at rest, and if you try to boom up or down more than six or eight inches either way you're effectively carrying the sled, and fast rotation is a bear because it will not dynamic balance; don't ask for perfect decelerate to a complete lock off because the gimbals are crappy - but what you don't get you don't pay for, to paraphrase an old saying.

Phil Rhodes
Video camera/edit
London



Roderick Stevens write :

>I'm looking for any suggestions on making a "bungee" rig for >suspending a DSR500 over my shoulder. Any thoughts are appreciated.

There is a rig that can be made inexpensively that utilizes heavy surgical tubing to suspend the camera. I've used it to hand hold a shot where I needed to smooth it out a bit. Imagine a super crank up stand with a cantilevered steel pipe off the top. Some of the more sophisticated rigs have a locking jib type of arm. The business end has a climbing rope which can be adjusted for height with one of those locking pulleys used with climbing gear and then surgical tubing down to the camera. The opposite end of the pipe is tied off to the stand.

You can't travel far but it is convenient for smaller moves when handheld.

Of course, there are more sophisticated and expensive rigs which finesse this basic design. Hope this helps.

Jim Sofranko
NY/DP



I've actually got a dolly I designed and built for a ride film called the Rick Shaw Dolly.

It is available for them that wants it if anyone wants to come look at it here in the LA area. It uses either a hanging gimbals rig (which I have) or a simple bungy rig (which I can put together if someone wants it) or could also be used handheld.

Operator sits in the chair which runs on a pair of heavy duty industrial bicycle wheels on a solid axle which goes under the seat...grip runs behind (or in front if you are leading your talent and moving backwards) pushing (or pulling) a pair of long pickaxe handles which are adjustable for different grip heights There is a third wheel in the back, but it runs best when that is held off the ground.

It is available for rental, but it mostly gets in the way behind the house...and the hill I live on is a bit too steep to turn it into a soapbox racer.

If anyone wants to come and see what sort of cool shots they might be able to get with it, email me and we'll set something up...only guarantee is that there will be good coffee at my house.

Mark Weingartner
Woodland Hills end of LA



Mark Weingartner writes :

>If anyone wants to come and see what sort of cool shots they might be >able to get with it, email me and we'll set something up...only guarantee >is that there will be good coffee at my house.

I have seen the "ride film" that Mark made this "rikshaw" dolly for -- actually I've seen it many times. The shots are way more than cool, as is the dolly and other rigs Mark made for the film.

There's also a "making of" film that is really a lot of fun to see.

Brian Heller
IA 600 DP



For a useful compromise between handheld and steadicam, try a shoulder brace that has two handgrips, set fairly low so you can brace your elbows against your body.

And keep your focal lengths as short as possible.

I built a two-handled brace for my mini-DV rig out of pvc pipe and bicycle handgrips, and it works pretty well. The main limitation is that it requires a remote zoom control on one of the handgrips. With a VX2000 there's no way to feather a zoom that way.

The other problem is that handheld mini-DV cameras are front-heavy. I need to create a counterbalance (extra batteries? Sandbag?) behind the shoulder so it'll balance on its own.

Years ago I built a vaguely similar rig for an Arri 16-BL. I used two pack batteries as counterweights, and apart from the sheer weight of the rig ( I was younger, then! ) it handled very sweetly. Shot a 1-hr tv doc shoulder held with this rig and it worked like gangbusters – “verrrry” smooth & steady.

Can probably post a photo of it if anyone wants to see it.

Dan Drasin
Producer/DP
Marin County, CA



Bonjour...

The easy rig does allow some relatively smooth "crane up" type shots from knee height to shoulder height, but not the other way around. However, where it really seems to pay off is in a "teenagers eye view", where you would have to hold the camera at bust level, sorta between the hip and the shoulder. Some operators really like the way it removes the weight from their shoulder, and others don't really see the benefits.

You get increased mobility in some situations and reduced mobility in others (eg: extreme tilt up/down). If you have a sore back, the harness works rather well as it forces you to work with your knees more that the lower back, but that also imposes limitations on how you can move. It all depends on each operators body and shape, in regards to the shot that needs to be done.

Some of my clients use it very regularly, and others have tried it and didn't like it. Before buying, try renting it for a couple of days on a shoot to test it out. Your first fitting should take about one hour to figure out optimally.

My two cents worth

Danys BRUYERE
Dir. Operations
Groupe TSF / Paris



You might also want to attach a LCD/ Transvideo to the camera to free yourself from the eyepiece, wether you’re shooting film or video. I've used the rig several times and it takes a lot of the weight of your shoulders. Its no steadicam though , and watch out for the increased height in tight locations.

Calle Borresen (fnf)
DoP Oslo Norway



Roderick,

What is the shot on the side of the road, and why can't you simply put track down? I'm just curious - there have been a lot of suggestions (and good ones) but it'd be nice to know what the shot is so that the armchair quarterbacks among us can figure out for ourselves where you might go with this.

Ted Hayash
Los Angeles



Roderick Stevens wrote :

>I'm looking for any suggestions on making a "bungee" rig for >suspending a DSR500 over my shoulder. Any thoughts are appreciated.

How about the EZ Rig? Works great.

Dave Insley
Cinematography



Ted asked :

>What is the shot on the side of the road, and why can't you simply put >track down?

The shot involves following the hero as he walks around his car, revolving 360 around him as he rotates trying to find a cell phone signal and then pulling as much as 200' back from him to reveal his isolation (the pull back is to be sped up in post).

Roderick Stevens
Az. D.P.



Roderick,

Dunno if your shot is a big pan, big tilt, moving or not, but the no-budget rig I've used in the past is portable, cheap and works fairly well.

Mount two Junior Extension Arms or triple headers onto a small Junior Stand. Mount the first extension on the stand as normal, and the second one onto the first extension/triple header. Basically, you make a big "L" which gives you enough room to stand under the rig with an overhead arm that can support the camera. Rig your bungees to the handle, the rails or build a small box that fits under the camera, with eye hooks at the corners to mount the bungees.

Of course, bag the hell out of the junior stand, don't leave the camera there dangling unattended, and adjust tension on the bungees as needed for the shot. If you have outstanding balance and someone safety's you, you can use this rig on a doorway dolly.

The nice thing about this rig is that it is portable, can quickly be cobbled together from stuff you probably already have on the truck, and the bungees do actually dampen the fine vibrations when you rig this sucker on something like a boat, a moving city bus or a subway car.

Hope it helps... Be safe.

Christopher Lockett
Cinematographer (low budget grip/electric background)
Los Angeles