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Old September 21st, 2016, 10:19 AM   #1
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Shoot a creek straight down

I have been contracted to shoot footage of various waterways in the area for a museum exhibit. They're building some sort of 4' diameter "bowl" in the ground, and they will project on it from the ceiling. When you stand around this bowl and look into it, it'll look like you're looking into a window into a stream bed.

I need to be able to shoot an area of a stream that is 4' in diameter, straight down. Two of the 10 locations they want shot are three mile hikes, another handfull are half mile hikes. (When is say three miles, that's three miles there... three miles back.)

I was initially going to rig a camera to the arm of a C-stand and shoot straight down. I might not be able to get exactly 4' or exactly straight down, but I can probably get close enough. However, three miles is a long way to go with a C-stand.

Anybody have another idea on how I can do this? I have a GoPro, and I am not too proud for home depot engineering... but I have to be able to hike it in.
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Old September 21st, 2016, 12:41 PM   #2
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Re: Shoot a creek straight down

C-stands are too heavy, period. Unless you have turtle bases and *lots* of help.

It does seem like you need two stands and a crossbar to pull this off, and maybe a ladder in the stream to set your shot. It would be nice to have a wifi controllable camera & tablet to focus & roll. And at least one helper to schlepp gear with you! Waders if the streams are cold enough to be a problem. Certainly you'll need them if snow is on the ground.

I'd start off with aluminum light stands, like the heavier Lowel series (there are others). Add some empty milk bottles or stone bags to use like you would sand bags, but, you pick up water or rocks to fill them.

Some sort of telescoping pole crossbar, yeah, lowel makes aluminum poles too, you'd need 2 of them. A full-size magic arm to hold a camea platform securely yet flexibly. I could build the whole rig out of Lowel KS, Lowel Pole, Lowel Grip, a few gallon milk jugs, some string, and a full Manfrotto Magic Arm on a Super Clamp, I think it would weigh well less than 50 lbs, not including the ladder. A useful ladder is awkward but may be essential.

Hunters lug big game on frames similar to old-style backpack frames. You can strap anything to them.

There are some collapsible light-weight ladders that RVers use. They fold up to maybe 6"x6"x6'.

***edit***
It might be real nice to have a stand with a rocky mountain leg, to help level on uneven surfaces. It's a big step up in weight, 10lbs each instead of 5, even in aluminum:
https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produ...num_stand.html

And a foxhole shovel to help prep the ground...

Be safe out there!
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Old September 21st, 2016, 12:51 PM   #3
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Re: Shoot a creek straight down

Just thought of another approach - I once built a "hang-over" rig. It mostly consisted of a 2" aluminum tube with some heat-shrink on it, and a tilt-plate at the end for a head. Chuck it into a Lowel Grip, counterweight it, we put it on a "GC" short C-stand, but it could go on any stand with a 5/8" spud when properly counter-weighted.

There you're limited by the length of the tube. I think we sized it for about 4' overhang, but could be longer.

I do like the Lowel Grip. It's a versatile little device for connecting poles & stands.

We used the rig to look straight down into boat hatches & such.
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Old September 21st, 2016, 04:28 PM   #4
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Re: Shoot a creek straight down

I envision using a lightweight stand and arm, but instead of counterweights using two appropriate lengths of steel wire (like vinyl coated steel clothesline wire) and two large tent stakes to guy against the weight of the camera.

I have used vinyl coated steel clothesline wire before at considerable tension to hold up a gravity-powered moving target, and it should certainly provide enough strength to counter the weight of a small camera. Most of the weight of the system will be supported by the base of the stand on the creek bank.

You'll need enough wire length after you prepare the end loops to get a shallow angle away from the stand to get best stability (ie not down sharply to the ground, but out further so they stop the camera's desire to fall away and the stakes won't pull out).

You'll also need two turnbuckles for full tension and easy adjustment. Drive the stakes in at the maximum distance you can achieve with the turnbuckles loose, then tighten the turnbuckles.

Extra tent stakes for the stand legs would also be a very good idea.

When I used to set this system up by myself, I found it easier to drive the stakes in first with the guy wires attached to the top of the stand but with the stand laying on the ground toward the stakes. Then I lifted the stand into place and positioned the base at the correct distance for full tension and straight up vertical. In other words, doing the process backwards was much easier and safer if there was no one else to lend a hand.

Last edited by Jay Massengill; September 21st, 2016 at 05:03 PM.
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Old September 21st, 2016, 04:47 PM   #5
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Re: Shoot a creek straight down

I would use a jib and lock it off. Carry a small web bag with you to fill with rocks on site to use as counter weights. http://glideshot.com/product-category/jibs/ Six miles hike round trip isn't bad if you trim down all your gear to the essentials. You might be able to find a volunteer to help carry some of your gear. Also pull up topographical and google earth maps of the site. Many times there are shortcuts from nearby roads.
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Old September 21st, 2016, 05:33 PM   #6
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Re: Shoot a creek straight down

There are under $200 carbon fiber cranes on EBay, sold under various brands, mine is a "Came" brand, works, folds to 30", weighs 4lb and extends 6ft. Use counterweights as suggested above, still need a good tripod or stand. I've adapted a bike stand, more solid and stable than most tripods and because bicyclists are misers under $50, stick "video crane" in front of "stand" expect to pay 4-5 times as much - I digress - stand packs down to 30", but needs a flat base and too heavy to backpack far - have carried the arrangement 10km by bicycle.
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Old September 21st, 2016, 05:34 PM   #7
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Re: Shoot a creek straight down

Looking at the suggestions, I guess it's important to think about how wide the streams are...
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Old September 21st, 2016, 07:28 PM   #8
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Re: Shoot a creek straight down

The jib idea sounds the best to me. Something that you can put in the water if need be. Was going to recommend getting a bunch of 1.5 inch PVC pipe, couplings, tee and elbow fittings and take a hack saw with you to build a frame you could put in the water. With a GoPro, you'd need to be how high above the surface?? 2-3 feet maybe? So, the legs would need to be at least 5 feet for a 2 foot deep stream, then a cross member that is wide enough to keep out of the shot. This starts to add up to 30 feet or more of pipe. So yeah, that jib idea is looking like the winner.

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Old September 21st, 2016, 09:22 PM   #9
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Re: Shoot a creek straight down

Was actually thinking of two light stands and a length of 2" PVC between them. Then put a long 1/4-20 through the center of the PVC. Sure the PVC would need to be 6 or 8 feet long, but I could cut it into 2' or 3' lengths and backpack it in with PVC unions, and assemble it on-site. I have actually done this before when I had no grip gear and needed to shoot straight down on a canvas. (Not the cutting and reassembling, but the use of PVC in this manner.)

With a 28mm lens on my 5D or with the wide end of my 18-105 on the FS5, I really only need to be 3' or so above the surface. Much more reasonable than I'd expected.

Am considering some kind of light stand with grip arm, and just muscle it tight. I need a single 3 minute long shot.
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Old September 21st, 2016, 09:44 PM   #10
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Re: Shoot a creek straight down

I'm sure you've thought about this, but I'd prototype it in my backyard (if I had one) so you don't hike in 3 miles just to realize you need some other piece to make it work (and lessen the chance of your camera going in the water). With a 4K camera you could crop out your scaffold structure and still have a nice looking HD video. 14mm Canon L lens would possibly come in handy as a workaround if not able to do 4K. I'd take the GoPro along anyways, never know.

Dang, now you got me wanting to do this! Lots of streams around the mountains in Japan. I think a guy named Dan Chung made a video about some homemade rig that let him get low shots down into a stream. But I wouldn't want to have to pack that thing up any forest trails. Off to research jibs now. Dang!

About hip waders.... been awhile but as I recall, those are not lightweight. Maybe since it's just a creek, get some of those jogging pants that have a zipper to remove the lower half and then just pack an extra pair of running shoes.

Mark

Last edited by Mark Watson; September 21st, 2016 at 09:47 PM. Reason: added info
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Old September 22nd, 2016, 04:11 AM   #11
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Re: Shoot a creek straight down

Hip waders are no good for a 6 mile hike. As a trout fisherman 1 mile is about tops for me. They are heavy and just not comfortable. If the water temp is above 60 F just get wet.
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Last edited by Mark Williams; September 22nd, 2016 at 05:39 AM.
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Old September 22nd, 2016, 06:52 AM   #12
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Re: Shoot a creek straight down

Just find a bridge over a creek.
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Old September 22nd, 2016, 08:03 AM   #13
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Re: Shoot a creek straight down

This is the perfect project for a camera drone. Many of them are including backpacks now. The Autel XStar Premium has a great camera on it using a Sony Exmor sensor and great optics.

If you don't want to take your Part 107 test and get commercially licensed, you might look around for someone in your area who is.

-gb-
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Old September 22nd, 2016, 09:05 AM   #14
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Re: Shoot a creek straight down

Studying for the 107 now. They want the shot to be 3 minutes long (!) and rock steady. I don't think they will really use 3 minutes, but that's what they're asking for. Not sure how long I can stay stable. I can shoot 4k and deliver 2k, so there's a fair amount of room for stabilization, but staying in one place that long without moving is problematic for me.
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Old September 22nd, 2016, 08:54 PM   #15
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Re: Shoot a creek straight down

Shot location 1/10 today. Worked well. 9 to go. I hope it rains!

photo:
https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/...922_144851.jpg
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