Introduction: Build a PVC Fig Rig

Picture of Build a PVC Fig Rig

A Fig Rig is a circular camera mount designed to simulate the look of a steadicam. Manfrotto sells them for about $400. Make an even better one for under $10.

Step 1: Look at a Real Fig Rig

Picture of Look at a Real Fig Rig

A Fig Rig works by spreading out the center of gravity across the rig. Instead of the camera capturing all your hand movement, your hands are away from the camera, but at the same level so you not only get smoother movement, but more control as well.

Step 2: PVC

Picture of PVC

So, how to make one? Go down to your local hardware store and buy some PVC, connectors, and some red hot blue glue. For the tripod connector, get a long 1/4" machine bolt and some washers and nuts that fit. PVC caps work really well, you just need to drill a couple holes. When using the PVC glue, be sure to do it outside or somewhere where there's a lot of air (it gives off a lot of fumes, you'll see).

Good luck! If you have any questions, I'd be happy to answer them.

Step 3: Extended Steps

Picture of Extended Steps

some more suggestions:

buy a 10' length of pvc and cut it later, cut all pieces before any glueing (the glue dries fast) and lay out pieces. to cut pvc, use a pvc cutter (pump handle tool).

check out our video podcast on filmmaking over at Take Zer0: Free Online Film School


Brother_Bear (author)2007-04-08

Since we don't get this kind of PVC tubing in Sweden il make mine out of wood

TimS6 (author)Brother_Bear2015-01-27

Vad anvander dom i Sverige?

BeFit (author)Brother_Bear2011-07-25

I live in Italy, so I know they are not easy to find, you should look at big electric suppliers stores, they sell rigid pvc tubes of various diameters, I think they use it to protect the wires, the only downside is that they don't have any T connections, only 90 degrees, end caps, and 180 degrees connections.
I made my fig rig from only one piece of 25mm pipe, about 1,6m long, I bent it with heat to a circular shape, with a reversed V on the base, to make directly the camera support with only one piece of pipe, and connected the ends with a 180 connection. It's a hybrid between a fig rig and a halo rig, it has a diameter of 0,5m, so a little bigger than a fig rig, but I'm not that much impressed with it stabilisation capabilities, it gives decent results only if I'm standing still, and it reduces only "rotational" shakiness.

shylock (author)Brother_Bear2008-11-13

No PVC tubing? How come?

Brother_Bear (author)shylock2008-11-13

Well we do have PVC tubing just not the plumbing kind you yanks have. and the kind we got is kinda flimsy and weight aslong as its not to much a good thing in a steadycammish project.

Catflavor (author)Brother_Bear2009-02-19

In Sweden you have PE-Xa (cross linked polyethylene) which is usually used for underfloor heating (nice and springy, but maybe too flexible for this project) If you want something which will keep the shape you bend it to, try PAL pipe (as above with an aluminium layer which makes it form-stable). You can get both of these from plumbing suppliers.

CementTruck (author)Brother_Bear2007-04-17

What about tweaking a Hula Hoop, or some flexible copper tubing?

Brother_Bear (author)CementTruck2007-04-23

I'm thinking that'll be to flimsy. I would rather make it from half hard rigid copper tubing instead and solder it together.

I've just made mine with a 24in hula hoop with a wood bar in the middle, its strong, sure i can bend it, but its not easy, the wood bar in the middle help a lot to give it strength. I tie-wrapped some gray copper tubing insulation to it and, i'm considering bicycle cork tape it'll be more comfortable. The only thing is the 24in rim is too big for my small Canon Elura 100 (it's like 4x3x2.5 inche).

laernmoer (author)Brother_Bear2007-05-15

I would think you could try using a bicycle rim, if you can find a used one in decent condition. Take out the spokes and mod it.

esotericsean (author)laernmoer2007-05-15

hey, that's a really good idea.

shakescar (author)2014-03-02

​so, riffing off of your project, and a couple others I have seen here... I built this... Phot was taken after building the main piece, what's not seen is the screw adapter for mounting the camera and the microphone clip up top. You can see the screw for it at 12:00 on the bike wheel.
For the cross piece, I used 3/4 inch PVC, and stuck a piece of dowel in each end and secured through the bike wheel with drywall screws and then ran 1/4 bolts through the pipe and dowel to keep the mount upright and serve as accessory attachments, if needed. Hope you guys like it.

irosas (author)2011-11-30

this looks great, but is there any way you could give me the measurements?

vigorotaku (author)irosas2012-11-27

Excellent Rig!

I set up a Rig with the Atomos Ninja-2 on the Nikon D4.

From my blog:
Once set up all I have to do is start Live View (in video mode) and start the Ninja-2 recording. When I cycle the Live View button on the D4, the Ninja-2 starts recording when Live View is on and stops when I shut it off. Each time the Ninja-2 creates a new file for the next take. I turn on the Focus Peaking to ensure perfect focus and it stays on the whole time (does not reset when Live View is cycled). Perfection!

Check out my rig

Dan at Vigorotaku

olympus201 (author)2011-11-29

If you are handy with wood, you could make one just like a picture frame with a cross bar. And maybe with a few hinges and bolts to make it fold up. Or even cut out a circle of plywood, and cut out the center piece. A few bits and pieces and maybe a bracket for the bolt to hold the camera.

dwosullivan (author)2011-07-04

Looks like a good way to use up some old aluminium bike rims....

pielroja (author)2008-07-10

I made mine with a direction wheel of an old car and a piece of wood

wacamoledip (author)2007-06-29

this is really cool i was about to go buy one for around 300 bucks but now im not!!

dancmarsh (author)2007-05-22

Here's an idea, why not go to a junkyard, get a decent looking steering wheel for next to nothing and use that. It would already have grips etc.

bethehammer (author)2007-04-14

Nice Job! Also, many of the consumer camcorders come with small remotes... mounting it to one of the grip areas would allow you to control the zoom feature, record, etc... Thanks for Sharing!

MattDurr (author)2007-02-06

Man the idea of the fig rig sounds great but wouldent you be sacrefising the use of zoom due to the fact that if you have both hands on the side bars you canot acess the zoom control.

esotericsean (author)MattDurr2007-02-06

very true, but most professional camera systems come with a remote control that can be attached to the rig. the original fig rig has an attachment that you can buy and connect to your camera to be able to control it (shown in the picture).

chr (author)2006-12-09

If you need to film something more smoothly than handheld, and don't have the time to make a rig. Try filming with a tripod attached. Fold the legs out, but dont extend them lengthwise. Find the center of gravity on the tripod with the camera connected, and hold the rig at this spot. Works great.

mensmaximus (author)2006-07-24

It's similar to leverage. A large movement at the circumference causes small movement near the centre. This rig still needs a camera counterweight and gimbal. It could also use a 'cross' attachment at the bottom for floor shots.

dannytheman (author)mensmaximus2006-11-21

I agree with mensmaximus. However can someone suggest how that can be created.

Twist (author)2006-10-16

I built one of these recently. Awesome!

Twist (author)2006-08-14

Could I get a parts list? This would be great for my next movie.

TheDugger (author)2006-07-31

The PVC rig looks functional, and unattractive. Have you thought of building one by bending PVC. I ran into this site that shows how to bend PVC using heat and sand.

esotericsean (author)TheDugger2006-08-04

wow, that looks great! we're building a camera dolly right now and that would be a lot cheaper than pre-angled aluminum pipe. thanks :)

fungus amungus (author)2006-07-22

"A Fig Rig works by spreading out the center of gravity across the rig" You can spread out the center of gravity now?

i'm sure you get the idea. instead of placing your hands on the camera (at the camera's center of gravity), your hands are spread out, keeping the center of gravity in the center.

enero (author)2006-07-21

Sounds good, how about some more detailed pictures (or at least one full picture) and measurements?

esotericsean (author)enero2006-07-21

took another picture and made a little video :)

saites2001 (author)esotericsean2006-07-22

Your video doesn't seem to be working.

esotericsean (author)saites20012006-07-23

yeah? seems to work okay for me.

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