Speciality Equipment: Taking Your Video from Good to Great

By, Chris Pagoria • Account Executive

So you get your video project estimate and it includes everything you need for your project: a few HD cameras, professional audio equipment such as LAV mics or boom mics, camera stabilization gear like tripods and then their is the line for:

• Additional Speciality Camera Equipment.  

So what exactly is Additional Speciality Camera Equipment?

At Motion Source we sometimes refer to this gear as cinematic enhancement equipment. This equipment can include sliders, jibs, camera gimbal, dolly, shoulder rigs, product turntables, motorized equipment and more. In this blog post we will go piece by piece detailing what each item is and why you should work with a video production vendor that utilizes this type of equipment.

1. The Slider

The camera slider is a unique tool that allows for elegance in filmmaking. A tripod can tilt up and down and pan side to side but a camera slider allows for smooth horizontal movement. Great corporate video is about taking sometimes stale context and making it beautiful. The camera slider is just one of many tools we use to give corporate videos a more cinematic look, making videos you want to watch. You can view the video sample below which is an event video that utilizes a slider. The slider was used not only to capture b-roll (a traditional use) but also used while capturing presentation footage which brings a dynamic look to the video. 

2. The Jib

Just as the slider gives you smooth horizontal movement the jib breaks the vertical plane giving filmmakers a tool to move the camera up and down on a single axis. The jib is a condensed version of a camera crane. Most corporate videos do not need a full camera crane so the jib is a compact solution that allows us to bring a crane-like piece of equipment into any room, office, manufacturing facility...really almost anywhere. In the video sample below at the 00:32 second mark you will see back to back jib shots, which give the more cinematic look. 

3. Camera Gimbals

Made famous from brands such as Steadicam and Glidecam a camera gimbal gives the camera operator the ability to move throughout a space with smooth shots no matter where he goes. Think about the 2014 mega-hit Birdman. The 119 minute long movie was shot on a variety of devices from dollys to camera cranes but the Steadicam was a huge factor in their ability to make the movie look like one long continuos shot. Filmmakers are able to move throughout a room twisting, turning, going back and forth, breaking the 180 rule over and over again. But Steadicams and Glidecams are not just for Hollywood Blockbusters they can be used in corporate videos as well. At Motion Source we use a camera gimbal to get shots in tight spaces such as weaving through an office space or going through a doorway. In the video sample below we were able to follow our main characters through a downtown setting both walking and running while still achieving "the smooth shot." 

4. Dolly

A dolly is like a large camera slider. It gives us the ability to create horizontal movement but on a much larger scale. Most sliders give the sliding action for a few feet but with a dolly you can slide from one room to another. We can even adjust our dolly track to slide around a corner! The size of the dolly system allows us to incorporate different pieces of equipment while sliding; such as a camera crane to create a jib action vertically while moving horizontally. In the video sample below we shot a promo piece for The History Channel for their television show The Profit. In the video below you can see two shots we implemented the dolly for use in. Both shots show horizontal movement towards the subject; in this case a "push-in" to the star of the show Marcus Lemonis sitting on a throne of money. 

5. Shoulder Rig

video production chicago

Want versatility? The shoulder rig is your tool of choice. The camera shoulder rig allows a camera operator to go anywhere and everywhere. Perfect for event coverage shooting, the camera shoulder rig allows for easy maneuverability. You can also use the shoulder rig in videos that you want to create a POV look without the pristine smooth move of a camera gimbal. 

6. Product Turntable

Our product turntable is definitely a specialty item that can take your video from amateur to pro! With a turntable you can get a 180-360 degree shot of your product with an infinite white background. In the past we have spun pizzas, ice cream, pool pumps, chairs and even people! See the Product Video below which we created for Freedman Seating showing one of their bus seats on our product turntable in the Motion Source Studio. 

7. Motorized Equipment 

Motorized Equipment is all about precision. When a particular shot has a lot of moving parts but is in a controlled environment we like to use motorized equipment to precisely target the motion we are trying to capture. 

Motorized equipment also allows for video capture that would not be easily achievable by man power alone.  For example a motorized time-lapse takes time-lapse footage to the next level! Think about time-lapse footage you have seen, maybe a sun rising over the horizon. It's nice and gives a unique look but with a camera locked down for time-lapse accuracy it is very one dimensional. Using motorized equipment you can capture that same time-lapse action of a sun rising but now with a moveable camera point. The video sample below is a shot reel we put together to feature both traditional static timelapse shots and motorized timelapse shots with horizontal movement. 

Demo Reel

You can see all different types of shots from slides to jibs to spins in the Motion Source 2015 Demo Reel, see below.