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-   -   How to get a moderately high shot? (https://www.dvinfo.net/forum/techniques-independent-production/64811-how-get-moderately-high-shot.html)

Travis Cossel April 10th, 2006 09:13 PM

How to get a moderately high shot?
I don't know where else to post this, so please move it if there's a better place.

For a pair of television commercials I need to get an overhead shot of a guy sitting on a park bench and and an overhead shot of the guy standing in a parking lot.

My original plan was to just use a ladder and figure out a way to extend the camera out from it. However, a ladder is only going to get my camera 8 or so feet off the ground. Do you guys have any other ideas for getting a higher shot (maybe 20-25 feet)?

I've considered lifts and jibs, but the jib rental quotes I've gotten are around $1,000, and I can't fit that into the budget.

Thanks for ANY ideas.

Marcus Marchesseault April 11th, 2006 12:38 AM

Step ladders are made up to at least 12 feet. If you have a pickup truck with a pipe rack, you could rent one of these. 12 feet seems a great deal taller than 8 feet. You also could build a temporary super-tall tripod out of lumber, but you would not be able to work the camera once it is raised into place.

Depending where you are, a smaller lift rental that is used by maintenance workers should be in your budget.

In between these budgets is a rental scaffold. I would go this way if $1000 is too much for the budget, but I wouldn't go up 25' on anything but very level ground in fairly low wind areas.

For scouting your locations, try a 12' ladder and you might find it is tall enough if you use a fairly wide lens. In any of these scenarios, be careful as a fall from even 12' can be deadly.

Sam Druckerman April 11th, 2006 01:53 AM

If your low on funds, but you have some time and a few friends to help you get the shot... maybe heavy duty balloons.

Now, don't laugh. This was done way back in the day..... before there were cranes.

I haven't figured out the details, yet.... But, I am planing to do some high overhead shot's using large balloons.

I'm thinking the bigger the "bracket" that attaches to the camera the better.

A fig rig might be the ticket to attach the cabling and balloons to the camera.

The wheel (fig rig) would help stabilize the whole thing....

And even better, build a much larger bracket out of (cheap $) 1" to 2" pvc pipe. Attaching the frame to the fig rig shouldn't be to difficult.

A six foot square pvc frame would be cheap, easy to build and because of the size, very stable. For safe assembly you could drill holes in all the pvc joints and use nut's and bolts, to bolt it together at the shoot.

You'll need a long chord to the monitor ....

And two 'Y' cables (or nylon rope) to the camera "bracket/support (fig rig/and or pvc)" from the ground being controlled by two friends standing on opposite sides, (far away enough from your subject to be out of the shot) to control camera height and tilt.

You need to attach the balloons to the "bracket" in a similar fashion, with two 'Y' cables (or nylon rope) but very short in length. The balloon just needs to be a few feet above the camera.

Might work great. Especially if there is no, or very little wind that day.

I think it's clear you would have to be extra careful setting this rig up....

And even though I think it's reasonably safe, I wouldn't try it with out sufficient insurance (smile).

K. Forman April 11th, 2006 06:45 AM

There is something out there, called a skypod. It is sort of like a monopod, only much taller. As for the balloons... good idea, but no way to focus, or adjust the camera, or even keep it in position. You could also get by with a jib or crane.

Travis Cossel April 11th, 2006 12:39 PM

Thanks for the ideas. I'll look into get a larger ladder maybe. I had thought of scaffolding already, but I'm not sure where to get that at. Maybe a rental place also. I might also just have to settle for a lower shot. I don't think a portable lift would work for the park shot, because I'd have to drive it out into the park, which probalby wouldn't go over well with the city. d:-)

The balloons probably wouldn't work for me for a number of reasons, but mostly because I expect at least a moderate breeze (especially for the parking garage shot - it's about 6 stories up and completely unprotected).

Joshua Provost April 11th, 2006 01:16 PM


Can you fit a standard tripod as tall as possible, with a low-cost crane like the KesslerCrane (12' for around $500) in your budget? I just got the 8' KesslerCrane, and man it's a nice piece of gear for the money. Would be useful tool to have around.


Sam Shore April 11th, 2006 02:36 PM

I've gone up a couple of times in cherry pickers. Recently with a tree trimming service. For free. I worked the angle of giving a credit in the film.

Paul Jefferies April 11th, 2006 02:44 PM

This may seem an obvious answer, but how about using a bridge or a high building? Most office buildings have large parking lots around them, and many have grassy lawned areas on which you could place your park bench...

Travis Cossel April 11th, 2006 03:12 PM

I was looking at cranes at B&H. Didn't seem like I'd get much higher than using a ladder, and a lot more expensive. Good idea, though.

I considered lifts as well, but one of the shots is over a park bench in the middle of a park, and I doubt I'd be allowed to drive a lift of any kind in there. I haven't tossed this idea totally yet, though. I'm looking at other locations where I might be able to use that.

Good ideas. The problem is that I need both shots to be consistent in height and I can't think of any bridges or buildings where I could get the park shot. Not to mention I need the shot to be directly overhead, which would be hard (if not impossible) to get by shooting from building window. Thanks for the ideas, though.

Keith Loh April 11th, 2006 03:16 PM

Travis, how about climbing on top of a truck and then setting up a tripod on there? Moving trucks usually have lots of surface area on top and I'm sure can handle the weight of a person and equipment. You can drive it into position.

Plus, you can use it to move all your crap.

EDIT: ah you can't drive anything there.

Travis Cossel April 11th, 2006 03:29 PM

lol, I was just going to post that . . .

Yeah, I can't plan on driving anything there. I'm starting to think either the crane or a taller ladder are going to be my best options. The ladder would probably be easier to rig and setup and would cost a lot less. The crane might give me a better result. Ahhh, decisions . . .

Greg Boston April 11th, 2006 04:02 PM


Originally Posted by Travis Cossel
lol, I was just going to post that . . .

Yeah, I can't plan on driving anything there. I'm starting to think either the crane or a taller ladder are going to be my best options. The ladder would probably be easier to rig and setup and would cost a lot less. The crane might give me a better result. Ahhh, decisions . . .

A couple of points to ponder.

1. Step ladders are available in 24ft height. I used one to install a ceiling fan in my brother's house several years ago.

2. Check out Dan Selakovich's book entitled "Killer Camera Rigs that you can build". I bought a copy at NAB last year after watching Dan demonstrate some of his ingenious 'contraptions'

3. The device Keith alluded to may be the one I saw at NAB last year and have video of the model demonstrating it. Another ingenious rig that was being used with a DVX100A for the demo. I almost bought one on the spot!

Hope this helps,


K. Forman April 11th, 2006 04:47 PM

Greg- If you were referring to me and my Skypod suggestion, I haven't actually seen one in person. I did find a whole bunch of "Help Wanted" ads, for people to operate them, with a link back to the company. I thought it was pretty neat, the way they work.

Travis Cossel April 11th, 2006 04:57 PM

Thanks guys. I didn't realize you could get a 24ft. step ladder. Holy climbing, Batman!

Jimmy McKenzie April 11th, 2006 07:01 PM

Build a crane.
The ladder is ok, but offers no dramatic camera movement. Just a high pov.

I just built a 14 footer for less than 100 bucks. Plunked it on a heavy duty light stand and it is perfect. Heavy duty caster minus the wheel with 4 sided heavy duty stop sign material and you don't even need a guy wire.

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