Tuesday, May 28, 2013

What Makes the Best Camera Cranes?

Camera Boom
Beautiful overhead and fly-over shots can take a film or commercial from looking amateur to truly professional. A jib camera crane, or camera boom as it is often referred to, gives cinematographers the ability to capture scenes in ways that just aren’t possible with a tripod or even a dolly.

As with many things in life, there are plenty of options when it comes to a video crane. But what is it you should be looking for in order to get the best camera crane for your production?

Features of a Solid Camera Boom

Counter-weighting – Getting the balance correct so that weight isn’t extreme on either end is crucial for video crane operation. The better your ability to adjust and control the counter-weighing, the easier and safer operation will be. VariZoom camera cranes offer numerous options for perfecting the balance and allow you to fine tune things with their sliding weight feature.

Camera Crane
No Tools Required
Smooth movement – Just as with the head of your tripod, the flow of the camera crane will determine whether you get a nice smooth shot or a jerky unusable one. Proper balance will affect this, but the crane’s base is the most important factor. Make sure the base allows for a wide degree of panning and tilting and that it has a solid build.

jib crane
Dovetail Joint Assembly
Construction – As consumers we’ve come full circle. The emphasis use to be quantity over quality, but that’s begun to change. Solid construction is especially important for film because any delays on set can cost far more than what you’d save by getting a cheaper video crane.

Another vital aspect of a quality camera crane is how easy it is to build and break down. Time is money on a shoot, so the quicker the camera crane can be assembled the better. The VariZoom SnapCrane uses a unique dovetail joint assembly system that requires no tools.

Stability – Safe operation for your cameras and crew is a top priority. The stability of the camera crane is one of the first things to consider. What kind of base is it on? Will it become unstable in the slightest wind?

The camera boom should be fitted precisely for its stand and the stand should be sturdy enough to support the boom when it’s fully loaded and weighted. Added measures like cable tensioning systems will reinforce the stability.

Motion control heads – Having the ability to add a remote controlled motion head is ideal for getting exactly what you want onscreen when the camera is out of reach.

Height/Length – The advantage of using a jib camera crane is its ability to get shots that are out of reach with other rigs. However, going as big as possible isn’t always ideal if you are in a tighter location. The best camera cranes give you options and the ability to easily adjust the length and height. VariZoom offers a 9’ camera crane, 12’ camera crane and 16’ camera crane to meet any filming requirement. SnapCranes can also be set to compact modes or expanded with up to two extensions.

Repair and Replacement – A video crane with proper care will last a lifetime. Over time, it is possible that you may damage your crane and may need to replace a part or repair your crane. The last thing you want is to have a completely inoperable camera boom because you can’t get the part you need.

Before purchasing a jib camera crane, ask about warranties and the availability of replacement parts. It’s also worth your time to read some reviews to see how reliable the system is and whether or not repairs are easy to complete on your own.

A video crane is a serious investment in your production. It’s more important that the boom be reliable and secure rather than inexpensive. Camera operators will tell you that any mishaps or missed shots on set will cost you far more in the long run. So, now that you know what to look for it’s time to start shooting those overheads and action shots.

About the Author: VariZoom manufactures jib cranes, camera stabilizers, and other professional film accessories including the acclaimed SnapCrane camera crane. VariZoom products are well built and easy to assemble and use. Most importantly, they last. Their product selection can be viewed at www.VariZoom.com.

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