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There are many different types of Camera supports

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There are many types of supports for the camera, these are the examples to be discussed on this page. 1. Camera Booms, 2. shoulder mounts,3. Tripods,4. mono pods, 5. clamps with attachments for the tripod, 6. bean bags 7. remote control camera mounts, 8. Rails and tracks, 9. Wheels 10. Stedi-cam supports, 11. wheelchairs - Im sure I have left a few types of support out of the picture, so If you notice an omission please hit the feedback and tell me, I will include the additions.

The use of the tripod, is a personal effort you will have to become use to the way your unit works and practice with it.
remember for most shoots you will go from one good picture to another in short smooth moves.

I have said this I other places in this manual - "Think of your video as a still photograph - make a pretty picture and let the action happen inside the frame

The Tripod is the most important accessory to the camera the videographer uses. The use of a Tripod will help you produce the consistently level and square pictures. Your movements - pans and tilts will be smooth and your pictures will not shake.

You will find 100's of different designs, makes and models of tripods on the market. Tripods are of two basic types, Photo and Video. For video there are inexpensive designs which are made of aluminum and plastic, these will work, you may have to use some oil or lubricant on the friction head to make them move freely. The HEAD is where the camera attaches to the tripod. The next level of tripod has a Fluid head all of the good tripods will have one, the prices start in the range of $100 for these tripods. You will find all sizes, the larger the tripod the more stable it is. But you may want to hike or do a lot of location shooting, then get a tripod, which is light but not shaky. Try it out in the store, and see if you like it.

The first thing you will investigate when considering a tripod is the the way the head moves then see if there is a quick release so you can remove the camera quickly and easily. Next is the legs, and the locks on the legs - if they are light an will flex - you dont want it. Check and see if the locks which hold the legs when they are extended can be tighten' when they get loose (and they will). Now the over all size will be important to you. A large tripod is normally steadier than a little one. You want to put the camera on the tripod and play with it a bit. How easy is it for you to change locations?

HEAD DESIGN - Two types - fixed and claw-ball mount - You only find the claw-ball on more expensive tripods. The Claw-ball allows for a fast leveling of the camera. With this system you simply set up the tripod and make sure it is stable, Then you loosen the ball and twist it till its level using the bubble level built into the head. You then attach the camera.

Even for home video of the family, tripods are important. Without one your pictures will be shaky and jumpy with one they will look good.

You should invest in a good 'video tripod', because these tripod are designed for the movements of the camera. They have lock/drags which you can set for your own particular touch. My personal tripod is a Bolgen. The small ones are as reliable as the larger ones. If you are going to be a one-person camera crew, the lightweight tripod will be the best choice. You will find the day can be long when you have to pick up and move a lot of heavy equipment.

All of the tripods will have head locks on them, this is really good for you to know. If you will get in the habit of pretending the camera is a film camera, and you make a nice picture, then have the action happen in that well composed picture, your video will look good. Watch movies and see all of the scenes where the camera does not move and there is no zooming.

These unmoving scenes are the reason any tripod will work for you, even a photo tripod.

Regardless of the tripod you use, leveling the tripod is an all important skill. There are three different methods to make the tripod level.
1. Some tripods are equipped with a bubble level, if you have this, leveling the tripod will be easy.
2. Purchase a small carpenters level and use it the following way
..a. extend the legs and roughly set up the tripod
..b. extend the central post on the tripod
..c. place the level in line with one leg and adjust that leg until generally level
..d. go to each leg in turn leveling each one
..e. now check all three legs again.
This technique takes a little time, but it is worth it, it is the way I have to level my own tripod.

The third way to level the tripod is by eye. This is a difficult way to have to do it, however you may have to fall back on this technique many times. 1. keep this in mind - the true horizon is the only horizontal line you can depend upon
2. Using your view finder find a vertical line - for example - a corner of a building, or a room, a telephone pole, a window or door frame.
3. adjust your tripod with this object lined up with the edge of the picture in your viewfinder
4. Now pan you tripod the opposite direction and repeat this process
This should give you a level and square picture however it will not be perfect

The only time you should have the camera tilted is when you want to create tension in your viewer's mind. The tilted picture is used to make the viewer feel something is wrong, horror, war and fighting scenes use this technique.

When using the tripod make all of your movements short, and go from one good picture to another. Short pans look better than long ones. The same is true of Tilts.

pan = side to side
tilt = up and down

Shoulder Mounts, the older VHS and current professional models, are large enough to rest on your shoulder, but the newer cameras are all very small and must have a add on shoulder mount.
The shoulder mount adds stability to your camera. there area many variations on the shoulder or body mount. You can look in the back of almost any video trade magazine and you will see 6 to a dozen different designs. Which one is best? All of them, whichever one works for you.

Monopods these are single sticks, which will have a camera, mount on top of them. You could make a simple one of a one-inch wood dowel, a hole drilled in the top, and a threaded bolt(which will screw into your camera) glued into the hole. Now that is really all they are. You will find them on the market with extendable legs and nice secure mounts, they are not expensive.
The do have drawback for the videographer, because they are difficult to keep still and to keep the picture square and level. The monopod is much more an attachment for the still photographer who can and will crop the final picture to the frame he wants. They are however useful and will provide an extra measure of stability, they are worth practicing with and including in your kit, for special applications.

Boom Camera Supports- are large and heavy machines which require more than one person to operate effectively. They hold the camera at one end of an adjustable boom, the camera mount is controllable and the camera can be tilted and panned. Additionally the boom can be raised, lowered, and extended while the camera is being used. A boom will enable some interesting shots.

BeanBags - This is something you can make for yourself. A beanbag support will be useful if you want to put your camera on the table, or on the ground and want it stable. Get a small pillowcase, and partially fill it with - beans - rice - Styrofoam beads. Before you sew it shut try the camera on it and make sure there are not too many or too few beans, you want the bag to mold to the camera. Pick a pillowcase which is small yet large enough to set your camera on. push the beans around the camera to support it. You will look through the viewfinder and frame your picture, then record with out touching the camera.
This little cheap support is really handy and you will capture shots/scenes that no one else will. Here is a tool you can experiment with, with this and a little duct tape you will be able to secure a camera in some pretty strange places.

Specialty mounts - few really adaptable mounts exist on the market, for the field videographer. However a little inventiveness will allow you to make one from parts you can find in the hardware store. Things like spring-clamps, C-clamps, Tubing, plates and bolts can be put together for workable secure mounts.

Remote control camera mounts - These mounts are used in many commercial applications and are used for security cameras. These mounts may be controlled by an operator, or set to sweep pan an area, or may have motion sensors which will point the camera. These are useful where a camera operator cannot be used.

Tracks and Rails - This was developed as a film tool, to allow the camera to move and have no shake. A set of tracks are laid on the ground, a special wheeled cart is set on the track, this cart would hold the camera man and the focus puller (on film cameras the focus-puller is a person who keeps the camera in focus, the cameraman himself is responsible for the framing of the picture.). Today there are lightweight adaptations of this principal on the market for the video camera.

Wheels - Frames are made which are supported by wheels, the tripod sets on the frame, and this allows the camera operator to move the camera smoothly. This is called TRUCKING the camera itself moves to the left or right - in or away from the scene. Your local hardware or lumberyard will have a selection of wheel which you can apply to a platform. Just a hint use large wheels which have swivels, and if they are air filled so much the better. Pay attention to locks for the wheels - when you get the camera where you want it you may want it to stay there.
You dont have to be fancy a simple four foot by four foot square of plywood with wheels on all four corners will work. Put some sort of rail or handles on the platform so a person can push or pull it. These supports can help you create some nice smooth shots if you will pay attention to the surface - clean up the path - and practice pushing/pulling the platform. The person supplying the movement will really be the one who makes it smooth, talk about the shot and practice practice practice.

Stedi-Cam - This is one of the most re-invented devices on the market, you will find professional models which are elaborate harness's that have arms and springs to stabilize the camera. With the professional models you can run with the camera, and it will compensate and give you a good picture.
A WHEELCHAIR is one of the simplest and easiest ways to produce a smooth trucking or dollying shot. The chair has large wheels and is very manuverable. You should sweep the path the chair is going to follow, so you will now encounter anything to make a bump or shake to the camera You will find many variation of hand held Stedi-cams, all of them will work for you if you will take the time to practice. I cannot comment on all of them really because I haven't used them. Yet will all equipment, how much you practice and gain experience, will determine how successful you are with it.
The purpose for them is to help you capture a shot where the camera is moving, i.e. up a stairs - through a crowd.

Professional Studio - Camera support -- these units are massive yet have wheels which allow them to move across the floor smoothly. The Center shaft is hydraulic and will move up and down with little effort. A prompter is usually mounted on the front of the camera. Studio arms are used to focus and zoom the camera. These supports are very smooth and steady, they weigh a lot and support a lot of equipment. Note if this properly maintained it is a dream, but one which has been neglected or is old and worn out is a nightmare. Older Television stations sometimes have neglected these supports, and consequently the range of movements are restricted, and jerky.

I have written this section to inform and impress upon you how important it is to have a steady shot. You realize now that there are many types of camera mounts, and that profession camera operators rely upon them.

This will take you to Habbycam, this young mans company offers what appears to be a nice shoulder mount, and an intersting hand held boom for light weight cameras. I have not tested or used either of the products. But by looks and by reading his FAQ page, I can see he has thought out how they work and I believe they would be a good addition to any camera operators kit.

Vinten camera supports are of the highest quality, and respected in the professional world, I strongly recommend even the beginner get a high quality tripod, your images will be much better.

Jimmy Jib, offers a varity of camera supports and long jib arms

VariZoom, has lens controls and studio arms for the lightweight camera. These are something you really need if you are doing long shoots from the tripod.
ez fx, offers jib arms with excellent controls

VideoSmith, has shoulder and hand held support accessorys

PORTA-JIB, has many offerings including a flex-track system for smooth variable path dollying

HOODMAN, has inexpensive hoods for your fold out LCD