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Author Topic: Rig for shooting straight down, about 9' tall, with c. 3' clearance, hold DSLR.  (Read 1523 times)
KirbyKrieger
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« on: November 03, 2013, 02:42:25 PM »
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I have a project that involves shooting straight down in a studio setting.  I need to get the camera about 9' off the ground, with about 3 - 4' of horizontal clearance from any support poles, etc.  Doesn't matter to me whether it is cantilevered or suspended.

I tried using a pole attached to two heavy-duty lighting stands.  A lot of wobble in the system.  Might work.  Should be steadier.

I'm thinking of mounting some black pipe to a wall and putting a Manfrotto clamp on that.  Is there a better pole-to-camera mount than the Manfrotto 035RL Super Clamp with Standard Stud and a head?

Anyone rigged up something similar on a miniscule budget?
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allegretto
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« Reply #1 on: November 04, 2013, 11:22:02 AM »
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drywall ceiling or tile?
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KirbyKrieger
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« Reply #2 on: November 04, 2013, 12:02:42 PM »
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Reinforced concrete (they don't make 'em like they used to  Wink ).  I can drill into it, but I can't drill through it.  Prob. about 4" thick.

Thanks.
« Last Edit: November 04, 2013, 12:04:44 PM by KirbyKrieger » Logged

Ellis Vener
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« Reply #3 on: November 04, 2013, 12:06:19 PM »
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Acoustic tile  supported by a hanging grid attached to the real ceiling?  You'll need a tripod with legs that spread flat to try this but it does work:

Carefully remove  a tile in the ceiling and make sure there are not wire or duct work that are above that tile. If there are pick another nearby tile/

Reverse the center column  on the tripod or if the bottom end your tripod's center column is already threaded, attach your tripod head to the bottom of the column. fold the tripod legs close tot he column and poke it up through the opening where the tile was. Spread the legs to the flat position and extend the legs  enough so that the tripod is resting safely on the grid.  if hte building contractor did his job well you wont have to worrry about the weight of the 'pod and camera/lens  being  safety issue - I've done this with a heavy aluminum 3 series Gitzo with an Arca-Swiss B1 Monoball holding up a big Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III body  with a 16-24mm f/2.8L II lens and PocketWizard ControlTL MiniTT1  attached  just don't try to get the ceiling to support yourself as well.  

Getting camera pointing at the right spot can be tricky. This is one of those tasks that either working tethered - if the cable, computer and computer operator aren't in the picture - works great or for more flexibility get a CamRanger (http://www.camranger.com ) to wireless focus, adjust camera settings and trigger the camera. Pointign the camera in the right direction will require you physically adjusting the position and zoom setting but after that the CamRanger can handle just about everything else.

Attached is a photo I did for an ad campaign using this technique.

This was a very small room so I did something something similar for the lighting - mounting the lights on the ceiling  grid using Lowel CM-20 "scissors" clamps. The lights are three Canon Speedlites, each [pointed at a different area in the room and each set to a different beam angle. They were triggered by the PocketWizard ControlTL system. There is a fourth Speedlight, with a green gel on it behind the foot of the table.

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Ellis Vener
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Ellis Vener
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« Reply #4 on: November 04, 2013, 12:11:19 PM »
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Clearly my above solution doesn't work for you but If you can but bolts into the concrete ceiling I'd consider doing  that and hanging your own grid from them.

Or taking your initial idea "...mounting some black pipe to a wall and putting a Manfrotto clamp on that"  and also supporting the pipe from hangers you put in the ceiling.

Don't fight gravity - it will always win - use it.
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Ellis Vener
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Rand47
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« Reply #5 on: November 04, 2013, 07:11:03 PM »
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Large diameter PVC pipe.  Make a rig that looks like child's swing set.  In the cross top tube you can drill and tap for camera mount.  It can be built outside the room, brought in and assembled/glued together inside.  Test shots to get framing correct.  Should be plenty rigid.  Cut up w/ hacksaw to remove from room when finished.   

Rand
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Ellis Vener
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« Reply #6 on: November 04, 2013, 07:52:51 PM »
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Interesting idea Rand, but what if the footprint of the rig isn't large enough t be outside of the picture area and Retouching the legs out isn't a viable option?
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Ellis Vener
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BartvanderWolf
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« Reply #7 on: November 05, 2013, 04:31:17 AM »
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I have a project that involves shooting straight down in a studio setting.  I need to get the camera about 9' off the ground, with about 3 - 4' of horizontal clearance from any support poles, etc.  Doesn't matter to me whether it is cantilevered or suspended.

Hi Kirby,

Is that for recording a flat surface or a 3D scene? A flat surface can be easily shot at an angle and, with sufficient resolution (e.g. by the use of stitching), geometrically squared afterwards. Otherwise you could build a type of scaffolding construction. You could look at renting some trussing system, as used in sound and lighting setups.

Cheers,
Bart
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KirbyKrieger
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« Reply #8 on: November 18, 2013, 09:22:48 AM »
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Don't fight gravity - it will always win - use it.

Ellis indeed.  Thanks for your hint re: using the suspended ceiling grid.  I will do this if I ever need to.

Kirby.
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KirbyKrieger
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« Reply #9 on: November 18, 2013, 09:26:37 AM »
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Trussing systems seem perfect, and not too expensive.  Many thanks for the link I didn't know they existed.  Do you know if the inexpensive ones (less than $200) hold a FF camera still enough for tethered recording?

I'm interested in a mobile solution.  For this project I am about to mount black pipe to the ceiling (with TapCon screws).

Kirby.
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BartvanderWolf
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« Reply #10 on: November 18, 2013, 09:43:12 AM »
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Trussing systems seem perfect, and not too expensive.  Many thanks for the link I didn't know they existed.  Do you know if the inexpensive ones (less than $200) hold a FF camera still enough for tethered recording?

Hi Kirby,

Trussing is by definition stable, but it of course depends on size and how it's fixed in place. Triangles are ridged. I think price is mostly influenced by material used and finishing quality, and accessories/components for constructing elaborate setups. Maybe you can get some additional suggestions from a stage building organization.

Cheers,
Bart
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KirbyKrieger
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« Reply #11 on: November 18, 2013, 10:32:05 AM »
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Thank you Bart! 
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jjj
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« Reply #12 on: November 18, 2013, 01:00:41 PM »
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Trussing systems seem perfect, and not too expensive.  Many thanks for the link I didn't know they existed.  Do you know if the inexpensive ones (less than $200) hold a FF camera still enough for tethered recording?
That reminds me of a shoot I did in Central Park where a similar system was used to hoist me up in the air to get the best angle of the bandstand and the large number of dancers gather in front. This meant I could see the faces of everyone in the crowd and the performers on stage. The truss itself was very stable but I swung a bit as I was dangling.

Ellis  - Nice suggestion for shooting from ceilings - I shall bear that in mind in case the need ever arises.
« Last Edit: November 18, 2013, 01:05:09 PM by jjj » Logged

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Rand47
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« Reply #13 on: November 20, 2013, 12:09:15 PM »
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Interesting idea Rand, but what if the footprint of the rig isn't large enough t be outside of the picture area and Retouching the legs out isn't a viable option?

Hi Ellis,

That is a potential problem, of course, but one of the great things about PVC and a hack-saw is that you can modify as needed.  If the "swing set" configuration doesn't work, a single tube "beam" (larger diameter) with a down-tube at each end "t-ed" at the bottom to make wide feet would almost certainly work.  

I have to say, though, that the times I've used this solution, whatever pieces of the rig that were unavoidably in the image file were quite easily fixed in Photoshop.  On one occasion I moved the rig about 3.5" laterally (just over the diameter of the PVC I was using) and made another exposure.  Used that frame to composite-fill-in the primary frames areas where the rig tube was visible.  The rig showing, if it does, is always at some extreme periphery of the image and often very small and easy to patch.  In reality my PVC solution is just a cheaper, more customizable, version of the trussing systems commercially available.  

EDIT:  It might also be worth noting, in case someone wants to try this method, that a nice large rubber mallet works great to tap the PVC pieces / fittings together securely w/o gluing them.  When finished, just pound them back apart and save the pieces for further use.  Works well most of the time.

Rand
« Last Edit: November 20, 2013, 12:18:38 PM by Rand47 » Logged
Ellis Vener
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« Reply #14 on: November 20, 2013, 01:00:46 PM »
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Thanks Rand.
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Ellis Vener
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Creating photographs for advertising, corporate and industrial clients since 1984.
heinrichvoelkel
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« Reply #15 on: November 20, 2013, 01:33:57 PM »
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How about two highwind up movie tripods and putting a metal bar between them? A super clamp will do if the metal bar is almost free of flex?

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