We in new media have enjoyed access to smaller, lighter, less costly equipment as the years have gone by. I remember when my father got our first VHS video camera. It shot at 320 x 240, 30 fps, weighed 17 pounds, sat on your shoulder, and cost a thousand bucks. Today, I carry a small Canon SD130IS and a Nikon DSLR which can crank out HD videos all on its own. The Canon weighs so little that I forget I have it with me half the time.
The downside of gear this small and light is that it’s extremely unstable. Human hands are not known for stability, and gear that light doesn’t weigh enough (and therefore have enough inertia) to self-stabilize. What to do? Well, some folks have come up with very innovative products to do things like stabilize video or enable hand-held distance pictures. Two such products are Manfrotto’s Fig Rig, and PixPal’s camera extender. The Fig Rig will set you back about $300, and a camera extender another $30.
This, then, is how to do it all on $7.
First, go to the hardware store and pick up a 5 foot length of PVC, two 90 degree elbows, one 45 degree elbow, one T junction, 2 female-female pipe connectors, 2 1/4″ x 3″ carriage bolts, and 2 wingnuts, 1/4″. You’ll also need a drill with 1/4″ bit and a saw. The pipe can be any width that feels comfortable, but make absolutely sure you buy connecting pieces to fit that width, and buy them all at the same store, since some piping systems are – yes – proprietary.
Note: the 2 connectors are NOT shown here.
Start by drilling a hole in the bottom of the T junction. You may want to use a kitchen knife to pare off any bits of plastic left over.
You’ll also want to drill a hole in the elbow. Aim the drill for the center of where the pipe will be.
Saw the pipe into 5 equal sections.
Assemble the pieces as shown below:
Now attach your camera(s) using the carriage bolt and wingnut. Do NOT overtighten or you’ll wreck your camera. Tighten until the camera doesn’t easily rotate, but not so tight that it won’t budge.
You’re ready to go. Use the video stabilizer to walk around and shoot video, and the camera extender to take pictures of yourself at a distance.
The best part of all this is that this all breaks down into small segments and transports easily in a suitcase or backpack.
And that’s the new media DIY project for the day. And the cost for this project, assuming you already own a drill and saw?
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