Introduction: PVC Camera Shoulder Rig - Filmmaking

There are all kinds of PVC shoulder rig tutorials on the web, but this design is created specifically for a DSLR camera!
Made from 1/2 Inch PVC, here is a simple totally customizable 'spider-brace' style shoulder rig!

Though this design was created for use with a DSLR camera, ANY camera will work and this rig will give you stable and smooth camera shots with camera's as small as a iphone or flip all the way up!

Keep in mind, this is just my design, mostly for a guide for you to go out and make something even better!
Let's get started!


Step 1: Here's What You'll Need:

1/2 Inch PVC/ Connections

5 90°angle
6 45°angle
2 T joint
3 6 ½-7 Straight
2 5 ½ Straight
2 2 ½ Straight
9 1 ½ Straight

PVC Conduit Electric box – Side access panel
lower and back fittings.

PVC primer/glue

PVC Cutters

For the Camera base you'll need:
1 2inch ¼-20 thread thumbscrew
2 Nuts
1 spring

Some optional things would be:
Black tape/paint
Bike hand grips
Pipe insulation

Step 2: Camera Base - Conduit PVC Box


On the conduit PVC box I used spray adhesive and placed a foam pad on the top to allow the camera to mount more securely to the base and keep it from moving. I used a 2 inch thumbscrew ¼-20 thread, 2 nuts and a spring. The conduit box has a rear and lower fitting with the access panel on the side!

The bolt assembly is setup like this: the two nuts tighten together to keep the top of the bolt at a proper distance from the top of the mount.  Keeping the bolt from pushing too far out of the top.  The spring is only there to keep the bolt from dropping out of the top hole when nothing is mounted.

Step 3: The Handle Assembly

Take the 6 ½ -7“ straight, and two 45° angles and connect them with your 1 ½ “ straight.
Assemble both handles the same, connecting them to a T joint with a 1 ½” connector on one side and the 2 ½ ” on the other.

The 2 ½” connection will go on the opposite side of where your shoulder rest will be, to compensate for the camera being slightly off center.

Step 4: Assembling the Should Rest

Now you'll take the 6 ½ -7” straight into a T joint, then into a 5 ½” straight. Connect a 45° into a 1 ½” connection, into a 90° degree. Repeat that setup on the other side.

Step 5: Complete Assembly

Now, with the rest of your components, connect the 2 ½” straight to the conduit, into a 90° and that into the other 90° and there you go! That’s the setup I went with, but here’s an alternate setup if you want a wider base for your camera. And all you’ll need to do is pivot the base and remove the two 90° angles, and that will create a rig with a wide base.

This is an example of just how customizable PVC designs can be. So get creative and try out some different designs yourself!

Step 6: Fine Tuning

Ok! Now that everything’s dry fitted, and we have a basic setup put on the rig and start making the fine adjustments. I found it easier to have a mirror near by to make sure it’s sitting on the shoulder correctly and things look and feel correct.

Now, for my design, I want to add some shoulder padding, so before I glue anything in place, I want to cut some pipe insulation, creating the 90° angles. Then, hot glue and tape it to hold the form until the glue is secure. And that’s the optional shoulder padding.

Once everything is setup the way you like it, just mark all of your PVC connections, (I like to use 2 lines to assure perfect alignment) and glue it together!

And be sure to number the pieces also!
Trust me, it’s very easy to lose track of what pieces go where and PVC glue cures quickly! You can see in one of the photos, where I forgot to mark my PVC and I glued it together and set it up for the wrong shoulder. So I had to make another one.

Step 7: Some Customization


I setup my rig so the connections to the base are removable with a screw. This option was to allow for me to break my rig down and pack it for travel.

If you don’t already have one, grab a PVC cutter, SO much better than a saw!


Step 8: Final Assembly and a Quick Note About the Conduit Box

Now there are a few different PVC conduit box styles to choose from. But what you’re looking for is the side access, rear and lower connection.

You can decide which one works best for your design, but I wanted to at least point out some of the differences.

Step 9: The Full Shoulder Rig

Here are some random photos of my rig at different stages! 

And there’s  your PVC shoulder rig!
I ended up covering mine with athletic tape and added bike hand grips. Optional, yet worth it!

Comments

author
Nicolas-SugarN (author)2015-06-29

hello, I 'm French so we do not have the same metric inch / mm

you talk about 1/2 inch pipes ... would not it be 1 1/2 inch ?

thank you for your reply

author
knoptop (author)Nicolas-SugarN2015-06-29

The pipes are referred to as "1/2 inch", I'm not sure why but that's how they are listed. 1/2 inch Schedule 40

author
BillH4 (author)2015-02-27

How easy is it to convert it for a camcorder?

author
CurtosNoirDesign (author)2014-05-10

This was an excellent guide. Thank you and I will be making one of these in my spare time

author
sonicrz (author)2013-12-09

So cool send you a pic when complete

author
RaminPahlevani (author)2013-03-07

thanks very usfull.

author
azurelupine (author)2013-01-09

I want to build one for film use, I'll be adding a shutter release cable mount on the right hand grip as a thumb-button and a mount for a laser-aiming point (I'll be using this for extreme-distance telephoto work). The laser will only be used to "set up" the field of view of the intended picture and is turned off before snapping the shot (unless I'm using a recticled lens ;p) As for mounting problems, a bit of leather with a rubber top (think slice of inner-tube) should suffice.

author
antlefty (author)2012-10-18

I appreciate the build, and the concept, but if you are using a DLSR with anything more than just the DSLR it may be too heavy.

Another problem, like everyone else is running into the actual camera attachment. Mine either does not want to stay secure or it moves and slides. I guess I will try leather next or a heavy rubber.

author
vigorotaku (author)antlefty2012-11-27

Nice Rig setup! Thanks for the instructable.

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
here

Dan at Vigorotaku

author
segalmedia (author)2012-07-20

I see all the comments regarding camera slipping. I tried all the suggestions with not much success. Any other ideas as to clever ways to keep the camera stable?

author
knoptop (author)segalmedia2012-07-20

Adding some foam padding, or foam drawer liner between the camera and the base should stop any camera slipping. The other issue may be the tightening nut on the bolt, you may need to exchange it for a wingnut and add it to the outside so you can tighten it after the bolt has been snugged up.

author
kdurkin (author)2011-11-18

hi,

I am having a problem getting the camera itself attached. it wants to swivel around, how can i secure it better? any info greatly appreciated.

author
mbravo3 (author)kdurkin2012-07-14

I used an old leather coaster. It was thin enough for the thread but just thick enough to hold securely in place.

author
OpenSourceBrain (author)kdurkin2012-07-10

Maybe buy a cheap tripod head and use that.

author
knoptop (author)kdurkin2012-01-13

Glueing some 'no-slip' foam drawer liner onto the platform could help this problem.

author
mbravo3 (author)2012-06-30

This is awesome. I also added 2 1/8 jacks. They are linked to each other that way I can add a sony mic if needed.

mic.jpg
author
Tomcat94 (author)2012-02-29

This is pretty neat! I wonder if you could somehow invert this design and adjust it in order to have a third person "over the shoulder" perspective similar to Resident Evil for home made movies or something.

re4-2.jpg
author
prps (author)2012-01-13

Thanks for all your great vids. Here's a pic of what I made with your instructions. I did use a "T" conduit box so I could have an input for a mic and instead of foam padding, I used an old ankle weight, that I put grommets in and ziptied to the rear.

338291_3117624062561_1323277360_33322222_938508450_o.jpg
author
hloveless10 (author)prps2012-02-28

i need to know how you used the "T" conduit box, how did you mount the camera?

author
knoptop (author)prps2012-01-13

Nice job!!

author
djshort83 (author)2011-09-29

Tip:
You can fill the shoulder rest tubes with lead shot to act as a counter weight

author
Mascimo (author)2011-07-11

did you paint it with regular spraypaint?

author
knoptop (author)Mascimo2011-07-12

Paint for plastic. But the black athletic tape was cheaper and I liked the results better.

author
maxievr (author)2011-06-24

Man! You're awesome! Do you have a Youtube channel with more video's like this?

author
knoptop (author)maxievr2011-06-24

youtube.com/knoptop

author
ehernández3 (author)2011-05-19

really good, the best I've seen

author
zazenergy (author)2011-02-25

Very cool, great video and instructions! Thank you.

author
NatNoBrains (author)2011-02-24

Nice, this should be featured!

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Bio: QUICK FX! Fast, Fun, Filmmaking Tips and Tutorials, DIY Builds, Props, DSLR Stuff and MORE! Go Make Something! www.twitter.com/knoptop
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