Check Out This Dope Tripod Hack for Capturing Smooth Cinematic Footage

‘God Is Dead’ When Friedrich Nietzsche first used this phrase, he wasn’t speaking in the literal sense but that our continuing understanding of our world had done away with mystery. To a much lesser extent that’s exactly how I felt when I first saw this fantastic trick by Brandon Li.

Clever, little ideas like these can add a whole new dimension to your footage, and better still, you don’t have to buy new equipment to do it. With this Tripod ‘Hack’ you can achieve very smooth, extremely professional looking handheld footage simply by holding and using the tripod you already own in a new way.

Do yourself a favor and check out what Brandon is doing and why in the link below.

Sometimes I feel like the majority of the new pieces of film gear that hit the market everyday are really just bloat. We aren’t wanting for choice when it comes to gimbals or steadicams. They’re always making them smaller, better (somehow), and cheaper – and all we want to do is shoot fantastic, stable footage.

Lugging extra pieces of gear around can be a real pain too, so it’s great to see someone repurposing something-everyone-has in a whole new way.

Let’s breakdown Brandon’s trick:

  • Attach the Camera to the Tripod
  • Tilt the Camera All The Way Up, and Center It Over A Tripod Leg
  • Extend the Center Column (for balance)
  • Pick The Tripod Up With Your Hands
  • Hold the Tripod from the Center Leg, and Let the Other Two Legs Float Over Your Shoulders

It seems almost too simple, but this method works well to produce professional looking handheld shots through the use of the tripod to counterbalance the weight of the camera.

High-end cinema cameras are big, heavy, and were traditionally designed with ergonomics in mind. Their size and weight make them a lot easier to move around smoothly compared to a small mirrorless or DSLR camera.

But make no mistake, this hack isn’t a magical solution – you have to train yourself how to walk with this balanced rig. The camera’s weight is balanced but you’ll still need to counteract your steps with your arms, and walk in purposeful steps to keep camera shake to a minimum. The overall look that is achieved is almost identical to a full cinema rig – maybe a little better.

While standing still, you can rest the 2 tripod legs on your shoulders and hold the center leg against your waist which will give you 3 points of contact for added stability for panning and tilting.

You can even hold still in this configuration for long duration shots; however, you could also just set the tripod down and use it in the traditional fashion.

Any piece of filmmaking equipment is just a tool, and how you use that tool makes all the difference. There is no wrong way to do anything, but maybe what we perceive as the right way is really upside-down and backwards.

On the big screen, even the simplest technique can sometimes look like a complete illusion. We cheat as much as we can with new tools like steadicams and gimbals, but nothing can compare to good o’fashioned ingenuity.

If you strive to learn more, be more, and challenge the fundamentals of how-it-is-done, try out this amazing little trick that can not only help you get some great shots, but also help you pack a little lighter and get the most out of your shoot day.

[source: Brandon Li]

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