24 July 2012

Tony’s Home Brew Studio.

Maximizing your studio space with column stanchions and super clamps.

The Studio Set Up from Anthony Zeh on Vimeo.

Many people have little studios in a bedroom, as I do. The problem I kept having was lack of space. My room is 12x11, more like 10x9 when you figure your tripods and light stands can’t get in close to a wall. Not very big for a studio, but doable. I really wanted more space, but knocking down walls was not an option. So I set out to look at the problems and how to solve them. The biggest problem was tripods and light stands can only get in about a foot from the wall and 2 feet in from a corner. If I could get lighting equipment and cameras up to the wall, I could gain back about 2 feet in useful space. Also I hate tripping over the legs of tripods and light stands which is a problem in a small space.  These were the problems I set out to solve.

Studio room filled with light stands and tripods
I have only 8’ ceilings so I decided to find a way to work with that. I figured I could hang something, but the mobility of equipment would become an issue. Then I thought of something I had seen as a contractor, which were supports for creating barriers for remodeling. They were expandable stands that went from floor to ceiling.   With this I could add a Super Clamp and I could solve both of my issues. I could get my lights close to the walls and even in the corners. And no more legs to trip over. This allowed more options and lots of possibilities.

Studio space with support stanchions and super clamps
For a small cost I added about 46 square ft of usable space to my studio in a room that is about 136 sq ft. That’s tremendous. Depending on how many you use, just one stand set up will run you about $50. I got 6 for my space to offer the most versatility. Most people could work with just 3.  I bought these less inexpensive Super clamps for $20 ea. The Monfrotto ones are very nice, but at about $35 each, I opted for the $20 version. They are still solid units. The safety catch on them are not that great, but I have not had any issues. 

For the Stands I used the ones below from Haul-Master. I wouldn't hang anymore than about 15 Lbs of equipment on these, but they are stable. They will extend up to 114" or 9.5 ft. Best deal for the Support BarDepending on your strobe or lighting heads you may have to get longer studs for you Super Clamps or use a Umbrella holder to make the room for your light head.  If you use these Haul master Supports, do not put too much pressure. You may damage your ceiling or break the handle on the support. Just make in nice and snug between the floor and the ceiling. No need to push up your ceiling. The ratings on the supports are mixed, but My feeling are they are stable for the use of light stands, just don't put your strength into tightening as you can break something.

For my crossbar I have a monfortto I bought years ago but for a decent inexpensive one I found a 10' one similar to what I use, see below. For my white vinyl seemless I bought the following and and used Gaffers tape to attach it to a ABS 2"tube from Home depot. It is not attached to the cardboard tube it comes on and the tube is not great for support.

Camera Setup is a cross arm with a lap top stand. Any ball head or pan head with a 3/8" screw will fit. **Note: I did have to modify one of the Super Clamps to make this work.

 I drilled out the center hole on the clamp with a 5/16" drill bit and tapped the hole with a 3/8" tap. These can be bought at Home Depot for about $10.

05 July 2012

Scorpion Plate : A New DSLR Rig

Scorpion Plate : A New DSLR Rig

I am always looking for improvements and alternatives to equipment out on the market which can provide as good or better results than industry standards. The Scorpion plate is a full adjustable DSLR rig which can give you many options to your video filming needs. I like being able  to change configurations on the fly and I like I can use it in a host of applications for my video/film work.

Scorpion Rig
The system is based upon a plate with a number of threaded holes on all sides to allow a variety of attachment points which you can add the popular  magic articulating arms.  With the plate you just add a Monfrotto 577 quick release or the Calumet compatible equivalent, if you are looking for more savings. The unit can use the shoulder brace for more stability  and you can easily make it compatible to slide from one rig to a tripod using Monfrotto video  heads.

Scorpion Plate - PhotoZblog from Anthony Zeh on Vimeo.

If you like this design you can always go with a similar design by Cinevate which has a system which is nice, but too costly for me. For just over the cost of the base plate of their Simplis release plate, I built this whole system.  One of their nice adjustable arms runs about $110 compared to an articulaing arm at about $25.
3 Arm Shoulder Rig

Fig Rig

Parts of the Scorpion rig

Pistol Grip

Upright Rig

Currently this is just a concept , so not available in stores or online. If this is a product people would be interested in, please drop a response.