Build a camera boom at less than a grand

The folks at The Geek Group built a camera crane for less than $1000. In the video embedded after the break a presenter takes you through the different parts that make up the boom and how it is operated. This feels like something from a Junkyard Wars challenge as most of the parts are scavenged or from an industrial surplus store. Don’t let that sour your opinion, what they’ve ended up with is amazingly functional.

The base of the unit is a rolling tripod used for television cameras from around the 1960’s. The aluminum boom attaches to the base with a few large bearings and features a fine tuning balance system. The camera mount is motorized and can be moved using a joystick or set to scan automatically. It’s nice to see more examples of custom camera mounts. Obviously this isn’t a build for everyone, but as cameras and camera equipment become more readily available it makes high quality video production available for the masses, not just the networks.

Camera crane walkthrough.

Camera crane shot demo.

[Thanks Will]

25 thoughts on “Build a camera boom at less than a grand

  1. OMG, that guy is full of shit. I work on film sets, cranes only cost 2k for something 12ft. Great you saved $1000 and end up with something half assed where you can’t find parts. WOW. congrats. I’ve seen better made out of lumber that cost $125 that give you the same control and distance.

    Plus, why make it out of a huge heavy metal pipe for a camera that only cost $500 and weights 8 ounce? Clearly this guy doesn’t know how to shot for a good deal.

    Congratz on wasting $1000 and building something completely worthless.

    1. Hey idiot as a member of the group we often use equipment we have in the lab. The pipe just so happened to be somthing laying around. Also, the stand was donated by one of our sponsors. Seriously let’s not act like a five year old trying to explain why their toy is better than yours.

  2. The top wire to keep it level is a good idea, but it could be improved. If he uses a wire on the top and bottom he can mechanically control the up and down movement, no need for a joystick and it goes as fast as you want. You could also apply this method to the horizontal direction. Now you just have to worry about zoom and focus. Control the crane with pedals and you’re set.

  3. @Andrew: In the spirit of free speech, I respect your opinion. I don’t get how building something that is completely functional is worse than buying one already made. For the build experience and fun that goes into thinking it up, I’m sure these guys can say it was well worth it. Worthless, not quite. Over exaggerated maybe…but definitely not worthless.

  4. Dan’s crane looks a lot better than the one this article links to. There is absolutely no reason for it to be that huge and over-engineered for the tiny cameras they are running on it. They could have done the whole thing cheaper and easier with lighter materials and less complicated mechanics.

  5. @DAN

    AWESOME! I love it, it honestly looks professional. I bet when you show up on a set people are impressed, and when you mention you builted it, they are floored.

    @Heatgap/Ho0d0o

    I understand where you are coming from. I too have built stuff myself that is far more expensive then going out and buying one. But I don’t brag about it; Especially when there are guys like these who really take DIY to the next level.
    http://homebuiltstabilizers.com/greyjibsncranes.htm

    @mman454
    I understand they had the pipe laying around, possiblily. But they didn’t have the pestisol head laying around. Again its about improving upon the norm, and i still say they went backwards.

  6. I do not have plans right now but it is easy to figure out The tube is a flag pole that telescopes out I had to make a yoke at the pivot point ( due to the poles telescopes into it) The rest I made using 1/4″ aluminum plate cut on a table saw (carbide blade)

    I am in the process of perfecting hydraulic head as seen on my web site

    http://www.cdvideo.ca/wordpress/fluid-jib-head/

    this will make it easier to control the camera movements pan and tilt

    DaNc

  7. Hey everybody, just wanted to give my 2-cent, I’ve worked with professional cranes for about 2 years, in a rental house, specifically SuperTechno http://www.supertechno.com/ and Panther’s Swissjib model http://www.panther.us/cms/en_fe_swissjib.html , both with matching dollies.
    I must say that the biggest issue I see with the Geek Group crane is the bulk of the thing, it seems way to complicated and big for the job, the camera weighs maybe 500 g or so, it just seems like the head and boom is overkill for that, though the scan function could actually be useful for a passive crane, to give the producers something to look at.

    I think Dan is on the right track though, it looks simple, and easy to move between locations.
    The head bears a striking resemblance to professional solutions, which is very impressive, is it your own design as well, and how do you control it?

    I love the way indie filmmakers are pushing the big guys like ARRI, Aaton and the like to really improve their products, in price and quality as well as functions, it’s great!

    oh BTW supertechno has some tech-specs on their site, if you want some inspiration

    That is all…

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