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Old December 23rd, 2007, 06:26 PM   #1
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C stand questions

I'm looking to support a mic on a boom pole for my one man shoots. I've seem reference to people attaching a boom to a C-stand. I get that part.

What I cannot determine from pictures of C stands is whether the feet collapse for storage and shipping. Pictures I've seen of the Matthews stands look like the feet are fixed. I'd like something that folds. Also not sure about spending $180 just for the stand.

Is there any reason I can't get an inexpensive light stand (I've seen 9 foot ones for $56) add a grip head to it and fashion something to hold the boom (such as a gunnel clamp from a boating store)?

I saw someone do this in a video down in the audio section; however, I'm not convinced that the light stand will accept a grip head. I'm unfamiliar with grip gear. I'd appreciate your help.

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Old December 23rd, 2007, 07:18 PM   #2
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All modern C-stands, no matter the brand collapse to a certain extent. The legs will always fold flat, nesting on top of one another (the 3 legs are slightly different sizes). Some stands are of the "turtle-base" type meaning you can use the legs as a turtle-base stand, and remove the riser. My favorite is the Matthews 40" C+ stand - it breaks apart into the turtle base and riser, so it's slightly more portable. Also, that particular stand uses a really simple one-pin release to collapse the legs.

Keep in mind that C-stands are not lightweight at all... but they are quite strong and can be used for a lot of purposes.

As for the inexpensive light stand, all proper stands have what's called a "baby" pin - 5/8" pin with a slight recess milled around the shaft for safety. That means that any "baby" accessory... like a small light, grip head, or numerous other accessories will properly mate with it. The only question is whether the stand will be stiff enough. I have some small lightweight kit stands made of aluminum that I would use for holding a boom during interviews, but just barely. With the boom extended about halfway, the stand definitely showed some sag. The important thing is that you need to counterbalance the boom arm or the stand itself if the riser is strong enough. Likely, the cheap stand won't have a very stiff riser, so you'll need to keep the boom short, and a bit of counterweight against it. If this is for a travel setup, the best investment you could make (aside from the stand and boom cradle) would be a Bogen Superclamp, also known as a Mafer clamp and a J-hook. Once you position your stand, attach the mafer to the colum just above the legs, and hang anything you can off it. Use your equipment bags and anything heavy to help keep the stand down and from tipping. This is a field-substitute for a sandbag - which you should always use with a stand. The last thing you want is to drop your mic on the talent!

The beautiful thing about "gripping" is that there is no right answer. A grip is essentially a field engineer... you have to solve problems quickly and safely. If you find a marine accessory that works perfectly for your boom, then that's awesome! Using basic grip equipment - stands, grip heads (knuckles), etc... you can solve quite a number of problems. The great thing about boating stores (west marine) is that boating equipment is waterproof and generally 12v. In a pinch, you can find a lot of great problem solvers in cities that don't have the kind of industry support larger cities do.

Back to the C-stand though. Add up what it'll cost you to make all the pieces you need - stand, grip head, boom cradle, etc... and see if it's about the same price as a regular c-stand with arm. The nice thing about getting the stand with an arm is that it comes with 2 knuckles, and a 40" arm. If you tape your audio boom to the c-stand arm with a ring of tape at either end... then you've got a strong support for your boom already, without any extra pieces.
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Old December 23rd, 2007, 07:44 PM   #3
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Thank you for your detailed reply. What I was comparing was:

Matthews C stand Kit, approx $180 for 40 inches (I originally thought that was 40 inches max, but now realize it extends to 9 feet) including the extension arm and grip head.

or a Bogen 8 foot basic stand for approx $70. I'd need to buy the grip head.

It appears that you're paying for the heft of the Matthews stand: 13 lbs versus 3 lbs for the Bogen. That wasn't clear initially until I went to the specs.

As much as I'd hate to spend that much on a stand I can appreciate the difference in having a sturdy base upon which to mount the boom pole.
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