Picture of Super Awesome Digi-Cinema Camera Rigs!!
I'm a film teacher and photographer, and I've learned that most photo/video accessories are tremendously overpriced. This instructable will teach you to make a variety of camera rigs that can improve the technical quality of your images and digital video. Most or all digital cameras now have video capability, and these rigs are most useful for that application—shooting video on your point and shoot or dSLR. Included are instructions for a Cage/Fig Rig (AKA Mr. Shiny), a Lumber Dolly, and also some modifications on a sturdy and cheap, ready-made Shoulder Mount.

With these tools, you can document the most important things in the world—your inventions :)  ...and perhaps loved one's birthday parties and other required events, with extreme cinematic stye! Following is a little description of each rig built within this instructable.

Mr. Shiny is great for 2 reasons. First, you can handhold your camera more smoothly at many angles, allowing better and safer handling and smoother handheld shots. Second, if you have other accessories (like flashes, lights, microphones, etc) you can mount them all to it's frame.

The Lumber Dolly is a great little dolly. It can be used without a track, rolling on a smooth surface, or it can use lumber up to 6 inches wide. Here's a video of the dolly in use, with a tiny point and shoot camera.

The coolest thing with my design, is the SPRING MECHANISM. It grips itself to the board, and can be used with less than perfect, cheap lumber you find or buy for this use. One rail of the wheels is removable, and if you flip that rail over, you can have it ride the edge of a table or counter-top. Also if you just switch which side the mounting screw is on (effectively flipping the unit upside down), you can use this design on any smooth surface without a track.

The Shoulder Mount, is sort of a hack on a ready-made solution. The ROI on designing and building a DIY shoulder pad just wasn't worth it for me, but feel free to make your own of course! My modification is built on a self-gripping shoulder pad that is sturdy and cheap, and only $30 from Amazon (CowboyStudio Shoulder Support Pad). My modification makes it much more useful and customizable for the digital cinematographer. By customizing this design for your own cameras and applications, you'll have a cheap, extremely handy, and somewhat macho looking, piece of equipment.

Together, the professional versions of this equipment would cost over $1000, and you can build all of this for under $200!
The most expensive parts are actually the skateboard wheels and bearings, just so you know. I could have gotten a much better deal, but I was on a deadline when I built this...

Tools required:
1. Hack saw
2. Metal File
3. Needle Nose Pliers
4. Pliers or Crescent Wrench
5. Ruler + Sharpie
6. Hammer or Mallet
7. Dolly only: Jigsaw OR box-cutter + metal ruler.

Parts lists and sizes are included individually for each rig within this instructable, but here is a COMPLETE SHOPPING LIST for building all the rigs:

1) 3' Aluminum 1" square tube
1) 3' Aluminum 3/4" tube
1) 3’ Steel 1" square perforated tube
10) 1" Square End Caps (furniture tips)
2) 3/4" Round End Caps (furniture tips)
4) 5/16"-18 x 12”All thread
8) 5/16-18 x 2-1/2" hex bolts
4) 5/16"-18 Cap Nuts (acorn nuts)
10) 5/16-18 Lock Nuts
6) 5/16-18 Nuts
24) 5/16" washers (some are used on 1/4 inch rod, but it is fine)
8) 3/4 x .385 x 13/64 Nylon Spacers
2) 8-32 x 1-1/2 machine screws with nuts
4) 8-32 x 3/4" machine screws with nuts
1) 1/4-20 x 12” All thread
3) 1/4-20 Flange Nuts (you could use other nuts, such as 1 cap nut and 2 regular nuts)
1) 1/4-20 x 5/8" thumbscrew (or steal one from the CowboyStudio Shoulder Pad :)
1) 1/4-20 x 2-1/2" thumbscrew or bolt
4) 1/4 x 1-1/2" fender washer
4) 1/4-20 wingnuts
4) 3/16 x 2-1/2 J bolts with nuts
2) Extension Springs 1/4 x 1-916 x .032"
1) 1/2" Two-Hole Strap (for EMT conduit)
4) 1/4" Nylon clamps (5/16 works too)
1) 3-1/2" x 7-3/4" baseplate: 1/4" inch plywood or similar material (Jigsaw) OR 3/16 or 1/4 plexiglass (box cutter + metal ruler, but be careful!)
8) 54mm Skateboard Wheels
8) Skateboard Wheel Bearings
1) CowboyStudio Shoulder Support Pad
1) 3/8 to 1/4 tripod head adapter bushing. (Amazon link, or your camera store)

Eric Richardson made it!1 year ago

Great Video with good description. I really liked it.
Keep up the good work.!!!Keep it up man!!!




Nice 'ible.  

Here is a slightly suped up version of the roller.  I like to used rollerblade wheels because they are smoother/softer.

Nice Rigs! All of them -- I like the roller 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
great work indeed. having an old skiboard, now it s clear what that will be...weel done Rex.
That. Is. SICK.
Nice work, I will be making one of these very soon.
They are super cheap if you can get the rails for free and the Meade mount on Craigslist.
MattosaurusRex (author)  sensoryhouse3 years ago
Sweet dude! Your Ible says it's not finished yet, but it looks pretty sick as is! Can't wait to see finished version!
crishrx3 years ago
Congrats sir......... well done......
MattosaurusRex (author)  crishrx3 years ago
Thank you, and you too! That mini camera must have been quite the work of passion, very unique indeed :)
alinke3 years ago
nice job! video looks straight out of a tv commerical
colorex3 years ago
TIP: When rolling a camera like that, you get noise from the friction. So, get a separate audio recording source.
MattosaurusRex (author)  colorex3 years ago
Yup. Actually, if you can shoot separate system sound, or import sound in through an adapter, it's always best; most digital cameras' microphones are lousy for high quality audio recording.

The Zoom H4n is a very popular solution for dSLR shooters. It has XLR inputs, it has 4 built in mics, and it offers 4 track recording. It's a very cool little tool!
I thought you should know that : )