Archive for the ‘video equipment’ Category

DIY Camera Crane/Jib Project 1: Dogs Ever Vigilant

Friday, July 5th, 2013 by Jeff Gray, KET


Third in our collection of do-it-yourself camera support projects, we bring you my attempt at building a KrotoCrane camera jib, an easy-to-build camera support tool designed by Chad Bredhall. This one, made mostly of PVC pipe and electrical conduit tubing, is relatively inexpensive and can be made with easily-found parts, some which might be found at a school shop or garage. It should make a great project for student video producers, but as always, be careful cutting, drilling, and assembling the parts. There should be adult teacher supervision of younger students. It cost me about $50 to build, including some free electrical conduit we had on-hand in the KET shop, an old weight (4.5lb), and an inexpensive camera quick-release plate found at I did purchase some extra PVC parts. Your costs will vary depending on where you find the parts and what you have already on-hand that can be used. Our parts cost also doesn’t include the tripod; I used an older Manfrotto/Bogen 3030 with a 3063 head we had.

Here’s a video of some quick first moves made with the new jib and an Apple iPhone 5 camera. I noticed that I didn’t show the extreme vertical limits of the device, which can be made higher by extending the mounting tripod’s legs. I also noticed that the shot beginning and ending with the flower pot is overexposed when the camera rises over the deck’s plants. I left it that way to illustrate a challenge of shooting with an iPhone camera: if left to auto-adjust exposure, the (current) iPhone 5′s camera will adjust the iris accordingly, but in playback of the recorded video there are often noticeable light-glitches showing jumpy iris adjustment. Until the camera improves or an app comes along that fixes it, we need to lock the camera’s auto-focus and auto-exposure when shooting across variable lighting to avoid the problem. In the iPhone’s included camera app, locking both AF and AE is done with a long-press on viewing the chosen area you want to lock them to. There’s some trial and error required, but that’s part of the adventure, right?

Once I found the parts at a local hardware chain store and our Alex Cummings helped by cutting the conduit pipe and drilling the holes in our shop, it took me about and hour and a half to assemble the thing, maybe two hours. Maybe longer, I have to admit.  It turned out pretty well though, considering that many of my efforts turn out like Homer Simpson projects.

Here’s a set of repeating views of the unit. The last slide is Chad Bredhall’s KrotoCrane instruction video that you can click to watch in the viewer. Slides should be swipeable on portable devices.

DIY Camera Crane / Jib $20 - KrotoCrane

DIY Camera Slider Project

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013 by Jeff Gray, KET

Continuing our test-builds of do-it-yourself photography/video production tools, here’s a camera slider that schools and home users should have a good time building for little money. Using it is fun, it’s very portable, and it adds many possibilities for interesting camera moves for video production projects. Students will notice that the moves are used regularly in films and tv shows. Slideshow pics are swipeable in portable devices.


Based on the Filmriot crew’s DIY Camera Slider design, our unit was inexpensive (around $20.00, including some used parts) and it helped to produce some nice test video right off the bat. Mods I added were: substitution of a raised metal electrical switch plate; addition of an inexpensive quick-release camera mount I found online; and felt strips to line the tubes for smoother sliding. If I can build this (think Homer Simpson BBQ project) I know you can.

Here’s the first quick video test. Could do better with practice and care, but the dogs, Precious and Bunny, were perfect with no direction at all.

Camera Slider Test Video
Camera Slider Test Video

Shot with iPhone 5; edited in Lumify app (to try); WiFi transfered to iPad w/PhotoSync app (on both); edited in iMovie app to add titles, stills, and music; exported to YouTube over WiFi; inserted into WordPress blog w/Royal Slider plugin.

See the earlier camera stabilizer project.

Coming soon: a camera crane/jib project for more super-silky-fun moves!

If you’ve made something useful for video production and would like to share it please leave a response, below!

A Camera Stabilizer from Plumbing Parts: DIY Gear Resources

Friday, June 29th, 2012 by Jeff Gray, KET

Some of us have been interested lately in making some Do-It-Yourself camera gear: stabilizers, cranes and jibs, dollies, etc. There are a lot of plans and how-to videos online. One stabilizer that seemed easy to try and inexpensive to make was the “$14 Camera Stabilizer,” by Johnny Chung Lee. So I got the parts from a local hardware supply store and a couple of hours later I had a camera stabilizer to play with, pictured above being used by our Cynthia Warner as a camcorder support.

The actual project cost for me was about $25 with a new drill bit. I hadn’t made anything like that in a long time and I have Homer Simpson skills, but it went together easily and the stabilzer works pretty well. For today’s light cameras that are hard to keep steady this type of stabilizer basically provides a counterweight for you to lift against, resulting in smoother camera movement.  As you can see in my test using a tripod adapter for recording with an iPad, below, practicing smooth body movements gets smoother shots (best ones were moving around the tree and along the windows). Johnny Lee also says that that’s the big factor in success; his $14 Camera Stabilizer site has some good-looking test videos that show good results.

It seems as though the iPad camera may not do to well processing fast pans either, along with its flickering auto-iris exposure adjustments, so one might want to also move slowly when panning to get better results. Some iPad camera apps have exposure and focus locking to try as well. Another problem in using iPads for video is that bright sunlight can almost totally obscure the screen. We’ll try to make a sun shield to see if that will help.

Here’s a test video using the DIY stabilizer with an iPad tripod adapter:

Here are some other good sites for DIY camera gear and fun project tutorials, demos, and more :

We’ll be making a handmade camera crane-jib next. Teachers, check out these sites for some clever, fun, and useful projects you can do with your students (note: preview before sharing, as there may be some inappropriate language, content).


600 Cooper Drive, Lexington, KY 40502 (859) 258-7000 (800) 432-0951