As prices for video cameras have dropped over the past few years, the number of people making more professional, more cinematic and more inspiring films has risen sharply. Sometimes it seems as if the only thing holding an aspiring filmmaker from greatness is the cost or availability of equipment.
Filmmaker Zander Hartung ran into this problem working on a documentary about professional freefall videographer, Phil Roberson. “I couldn’t afford to rent a gyro-stabilizing camera mount to capture aerial shots looking vertically down from a Cessna 206,” Hartung says.
“I built a homemade camera mount for our Panasonic HVX200a out of 2x4s and metal supports. We were able to roll up the side door and fasten the mount directly to the edge of the door. This way, the camera would be outside the aircraft, looking directly down at the ground. It worked perfectly. I spent about $150 on the DIY camera mount whereas renting one would have cost me around $6,000.”
While Hartung’s piece of equipment is very specialized, the philosophy behind his DIY is simple: I can do that and I can do it cheaper.
One of the most useful tools in the cinematic arsenal is the shoulder rig. How many travel videos do we see where the filmmaker is wandering through the streets of some beautiful location, only to have their footage marred by the nauseating effects of camera shake? Shoulder rigs are great for run-and-gun productions to help limit that awful camera shake.
Here’s a great DIY video of how to make a high quality shoulder rig out of a few items at Home Depot and IKEA.