Introduction: No-cost, 5-minute Steady-Cam Rig Using a Tripod and Household Materials

Picture of No-cost, 5-minute Steady-Cam Rig Using a Tripod and Household Materials

Recently I watched this impressive video:
http://vimeo.com/63357898

I´m not really into taking videos or making movies, but all those professional or DIY solutions to build a steady-cam thingy or camera gimbal which I stumbled upon in the last years were always fascinating.

So after watching above mentioned video, I thought, "Hey, now that you finally own some device that is capable of recording HD-video, let´s see if you can build something "alike" within a few minutes and only with materials you can find in your household...".

So in the next steps you can see what I came up with.

Regarding the minimal effort and time invested, it works quite well, just check out the video links below:

This is a handheld Iphone video:
http://vimeo.com/63606315

And this is a video using this improvised rig:
http://vimeo.com/63610000

Worth a try, I think, so advance to step one...

Step 1: What You Need:

Picture of What You Need:

What you need:

video recording device (in this case an Iphone)
(optional) fixture to mount that device to a tripod (in this case "the glif", google it if you like)
tripod
(optional) pliers (or screwdriver, depends on your tripod model)
(optional) a pipe or stick that fits your tripod fixture (I used the stick of a broom /mop)
duct tape
a hammer (or some other weight that fits)
(optional, but will improve the effect) glass bottle or jar which fits over the handle of your tripod (and still in your hand)

Step 2: How To:

Picture of How To:

(Optional) Take apart your tripod (don´t worry, it´s reversible)...
If you don´t want to do this, go to step 3.

Unscrew the cap of the center pole and take off the head of the tripod (if possible, if not, advance to step 3). Make sure you dont loose the parts if you want to put it back together again.

Find some stick or pipe that matches the fixture of the head of the tripod. The stick of a broom worked fine for me.

Screw the head of the tripod onto the stick or pipe.

If you can´t or don´t want to take your tripod apart, or don´t find a matching piece of pipe or a stick around, there´s still a solution, just head to step 3.

But this option is a lot lighter and easier to handle.

Step 3: Leveling:

Picture of Leveling:

Attach balanceweight (aka hammer) to either the stick or one of the extended legs of the tripod. Either by intuition or by trial-and-error if you´re not running low on duct tape as I was.

Usually the handle of a tripod is a little offset from its center of gravity. So now you can balance it by offsetting the balanceweight the same distance (better a little more, since you can compensate this later by tilting the head of the tripod a little, other way around won´t work as the tilt is on the opposite side of the handle).

Step 4: Leveling:

Adjust the head of the tripod to a horizontal alignment when the handle rests loosely in your hand. Don´t hold it tight, the balancingweight will do its job.
If you want the camera to face up, pull the weight back and tighten the screws, to face down vice versa.

If you can not properly align the view of the camera horizontally by using the (tilt-)screws of the tripod head, you maybe have to reattach the weight a little further from the center of gravity. (Hope you spared some duct-tape :)  )

Step 5: Let´s Try It Out:

Picture of Let´s Try It Out:

Almost done, but...

Optionally look for a glass container, a wide-neck bottle or a jar which fits over the handle of your tripod and still in your hands. This will add another low-friction hinge to smoothe unintentional horizontal movements.

Step 6: Results: Handheld Cam Vs. "MacGyvered"-Rig

Done, have fun with your no-cost, 5-10-minute effort steady-cam "rig"!

I tried this out a few times, the before-after-experience (handheld vs. this build) was astounding.
Far from perfect though, but this minor effort (no expences and only minutes to realize), really made a huge difference.

I made some vids to test the effect:

This is a handheld Iphone video:
http://vimeo.com/63606315

And this is a video using this improvised rig:
http://vimeo.com/63610000

Hope this will work, still couldn´t  figure out how to embed vids properly, since this was done in minutes and until now I never had the need to share moving pictures. ;)
Pay attention to the normal shaking and reduced shaking of the camera, not to our messy kitchen, please. ;)

If you like it, please vote in the "Jury Rig It! Contest" :)

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Bio: I like to make / fix / improve "things"...
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