Video Gear Under $50 | WORKFLOW

August 24, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

I've been shooting video much more over the past couple of years as my client's needs evolve. I'm still primarily a "stills" guy but being too rigid means passing up great paying assignments. I'm also constantly looking at ways to "up" my production value and adding cinematic movement to an otherwise static sequence is a good place to start. You can do this with Video Fluid Heads and Sliders but expect to pay premium prices even for the most basic ones. When you get into the motorized/programmable territory you can spend your mortgage payments just on the low-end setups.

The included video starts off with a "Ken Burns Effect" for comparison. You can pull off a few of the movements completely in software. In this instance I used a 4K file from a Fujifilm X-T2 on a 1080p me plenty of room to crop for composition. Nothing on the software market will replace those pieces of equipment above though.

Leigh Miller |

I opt for the inexpensive and simple way...the $30'ish Tabletop Dolly.

These aren't a new concept and you can find them in a variety of styles and configurations. I made this particular one from parts left over from three different units that I've broken with near-constant use. In fact I have a good friend who makes his from scratch as needed and the applications are only limited by your imagination. The only real requirement is a smooth surface to run it on.

Leigh Miller | You can mount just about any camera on them provided of course you pay attention to the centre of gravity/balance. The TOP image is about the largest camera setup I've ever mounted on one. The better made units will handle DSLR's but mirrorless, compact and action cameras work best. You may have to add a ball-head unit as I've done in this shot to help the lens clear the wheels for wide angle shots. It will also allow for more adjustments on the fly.

Leigh Miller | As you will likely be using these from "above", a camera with a flip, tilt and/or swivel will come in handy. In this image I have my Fujifilm X70 compact camera mounted on the dolly. The camera itself is sitting on a very cheap ball-head that I had from a worn out old tripod.

Some things you need to watch out for....

You can find these on Amazon pretty cheap but ensure that when it arrives that all of the wheels are 'round". I've gotten one or two with defects small enough to miss with the naked eye but show up pretty dramatically in post-production. Also get one with adjustable wheels so that you can go from a straight line to arcs, slow turns and circles.

Last, never leave these unattended with your expensive camera on it. I've had them roll away on a seemingly flat surface with the tiniest bit of encouragement from wind or vibrations.

Dolly - $30

Ball-Head (Light) - $20


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