Rig Materials

One of the most important tools for camera rigging is a shallow, strong, easy-to-adjust, and light weight leveling head. Here are some ideas:

Arri 16 Hi Hat/Ball from Arri 16 head

Bembo Ball Head

125 mm Ball Tripod Casting with Head Adapter

Arri 16 Tripod top / Head Adapter

Bogan Leveling head

Bembo Ball Head Again

150 mm tripod top 2" Speed Rail Wall flange

150 mm Tripod Top / Ball from Arri 35 Head

Homemade spirical bearing mount

The Slit Spherical Bearing needs a lathe and taps to make. These bearings can be found on surplus market. If the outside race is hard steel, use a Remington Carbide Grit Hack Saw Blade. A little lubricant helps. Remove the inside burr. Try strips of belt sander belt.

If you are mounting a large fluid head and heavy camera, none of the above heads are strong enough. You need a two-way screw leveling head and lots of support for the head if the vehicle moves.

Here is a leveling head that will support a large camera on a Mitchell size hole.

Speed Rail (tm) are aluminum handrail fittings and not as strong as scaffold clamps, but many are very useful and used properly are safe. The Modified Cross is most useful. Wall and Floor Flanges are very useful for attaching to wood. Drill the flanges with holes for dry-wall screws. Attach a few to larger plates for clamping on to things. Avoid the Split Cross, it is not very strong and can come apart under load. Adjustable Crosses are useful. Tees are not very strong unless half a Straight Coupler is welded on to make the cross section stronger.

Kee Klamps are forged steel, are heavier and some are stronger than Speed Rail (tm).

Scaffold Clamps are strong, will go on existing structures and are expensive.

Aluma Beam and Strong Backs are large aluminum beams made for concrete forms and are useful for building floors, walls, bridges, and other structures. They come up to 24 feet long and have a nailing strip to screw down decks or walls to. They are rentable.

Structural plywood is stronger than construction, but not finished, 1 and 1-1/8" is very strong for platforms on parallels, in pickup beds, and cut into wide planks.

3/4 Construction Plywood, is finished, has voids that can show up when you don't want them to and is most available.

Marine Plywood, has more plys, no voids, very good glue, is expensive, but maybe one sheet for building rigs worth the money. Label it so people don't use it for other things. If you round edges and paint it, it looks quite "professional".

Laminate 1/4" or use "bender board" to make curved shapes.

Sand off sharp edges to avoid splinters and paint for looks and weathering.

3/4" plywood is usually stronger than "one by" (3/4") pine, but weak in long thin lengths.

Dry wall screws do less damage and are easier to remove. Have a large selection of screws.

Ideal shapes: Tube / pipe is much stiffer than solid rod or square shapes.

I beam, tubing/pipe and channel is stronger than plate.

Wire cable does not stretch and is much stronger than rope, but is more difficult to join.

Most chain is very strong and will accept bolts and caribiners.

Parachute cord is rated at over 500 lbs. and is useful in tight places.

Nylon and poly-propolene rope and strap is strong and easy to work with, but will melt at a much lower temperature than hemp or cotton.

Sash cord is easy to work with and is moderately strong.

"Band-It" and hose clamps are useful for odd shapes and spaces, but the clamp if twisted the looses a lot of strength.

Cable (wire rope) is very tricky, Kelly clamps are fairly straight forward, but the squeeze connector have to be very carefully selected and used. Don't trust cable around people unless you know very well what you are doing. Don't dream of flying people or objects overhead. Get a studio effects man to do it Cable is springy and ends can snap back and hurt people. Chain and rope can also be dangerous, but does not have the coiled springy shape,

Cable is good for braces on long pipe like a sailboat mast, make sure that the angle is not too flat. The strain is infinite until displaced.

© Copyright 1999-2004 Ron Dexter. All Rights Reserved.