It’s possible to shoot video with just a camera, but often, that’s not the best option. If you want to film from a unique angle or effectively steady your shots during filming, one of the best ways to do so is by using a camera rig. Camera rigs help filmmakers to capture motion and an array of angles in their work. With so many different types of camera rigs to choose from, it’s certainly worth experimenting and trying some out in your filming. This article will introduce you to the many types of camera rigs you can use in your filming.
What Is a Camera Rig?
Before we get into the specific types of camera rigs, it’s important to understand what a camera rig is. A camera rig is a piece of filming equipment to which you can attach your camera, and it aids in the filming process. Depending on the type of camera rig you use, the rigs can have a variety of functions, including supporting your camera in a stationary location for long periods of time, stabilizing your shots, and allowing you to capture motion or unique angles. Filmmakers often use camera rigs to capture shots that would be impossible to capture otherwise—for example, a shot taken from high overhead or a shot that doesn’t capture the walking movement of the camera operator.
Types of Camera Rigs
The camera rig category isn’t limited to a single type of rig, but rather refers to a variety of rigs that can be used in various situations. Below, we’ll teach you about some common camera rigs, how they work, and what they are used for.
If you’re familiar with any kind of camera rig, it’s probably the tripod. Tripods have three legs, and the camera sits on the top of the rig. Tripods are great tools for taking stationary shots since they hold the camera steady; you don’t need to worry about holding it yourself. They can also accommodate a little bit of camera movement when necessary—most can pan from left to right or tilt up and down.
A handheld rig is held in the hands of the camera operator during filming. This type of rig gives the operator a bit more control and a better grip on the camera. The added weight of the rig also makes it easier for the operator to stabilize shots, in contrast to shooting with the camera alone. Shooting with a handheld rig still results in slightly shaky shots, but this makes a handheld rig perfect for shooting a fight or action scene.
Shoulder rigs rest upon the filmmaker’s shoulders, which support the rig and camera. When a shoulder rig is used, the camera is raised up to the shoulder height of whoever is filming. Shoulder rigs are ideal for filming scenes that involve motion, as a camera operator can easily move with the rig while keeping the camera more or less in the same position.
Mounted overhead, the overhead camera rig is perfect for filming from an overhead, or bird’s eye, perspective. An overhead shot can be used in a number of ways, including shooting a character from above or to make them appear small or helpless. Overhead shots aren’t frequently used in film, so when you use one strategically in your filming, your audience will sit up and pay attention.
Similar to an overhead rig, a POV rig, or point-of-view rig, can be used to capture footage from a character’s perspective. If you want to record footage from the point of view of a car, bike, or another moving object, you can attach a POV rig to its front. POV rigs often come in the form of a camera attached to a special helmet or a camera that can be secured in some other way to the subject’s body.
Often used in professional filming, a dolly is a wheeled camera rig that can smoothly move back and forth during filming. Because of its ability to move smoothly, a dolly shot can be used either to seamlessly capture motion or to zoom in on a subject during a shot. Depending on what kind of dolly you purchase, they will vary in price—a platform dolly, on which you can place other rigs, will be less expensive, while more expensive dollies have attached camera stands.
If a dolly seems like too much of an investment for you, a slider rig is a good alternative. Instead of wheels, slider rigs have a long, fixed track with an attached head on which you can mount your camera. Slider rigs capture the same basic shots as dollies by allowing the camera to slide along the track during filming.
A film crane is pretty much what it sounds like—a crane to which your camera is attached that allows you to take smooth, moving footage. The most common type of crane shot is one in which the crane moves the camera from downwards to upwards, or vice versa, to display the entirety of a landscape, scene, or subject. A camera jib can also be used to capture a crane shot. Shots taken with cranes or jibs are ideal for establishing shots.
Used by beginners and experts alike, camera stabilizers are one of the most popular types of camera rigs. One of the most common types of stabilizers is the Steadicam, a rig that attaches to camera operator by way of vest and serves to steady the camera as the operator moves with it. Steadicams are usually quite the investment, so if you’re a novice filmmaker you may want to start with a different type of camera stabilizer. There are many out there that utilize gimbal technology, and even the cheaper options out there will effectively stabilize your shots.
A Snorricam is a type of rig mounted on an actor’s body, capturing their motion as they move. Using a Snorricam creates a dizzying effect in your shot, as the subject appears not to move as their surroundings move in a blur behind them. If this effect is what you’re going for, the Snorricam is the perfect rig to use.
With that, we conclude our time discussing the different types of camera rigs. Has this inspired you to experiment with camera rigs in your filmmaking? If so, visit Glide Gear’s store to find a variety of professional video camera rigs. Test them out, and discover how using a rig can help you to improve your filmmaking.