DIY Camera Crane/Jib Project

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

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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 amazon.com. 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.

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DIY Camera Crane / Jib $20 - KrotoCrane

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