Hello Dolly…build your own crane.

I received an email yesterday signaling a filmmaker was requesting some coverage (peer review) on one of his projects. His name is Matt Pulliam. I was surprised because it wasn’t the usual :30 commercial format I usually review. I checked out his 02:20 short film and was impressed. It was a nice change of pace from the faster paced stuff I usually review, but the main reason why I dug it, was because it was darn good. Before you watch his video, be advised it warrants a PG13 rating that 10 years ago probably would have been ‘R’. Qualifying that, I think you will enjoy his work.

One of the shots I liked most was of him leaving his home embarking on his ‘photo safari’. The shot included the use of a crane. The pleasant thing about his video was he didn’t overuse the crane. It was used for a single shot in a very appropriate and effective manner n to be used agiain. Honestly, it was one of the things that made me click on his video twice. I wanted to see it again. (In a pay-per-click world that is very important).

Matt shared that he, “…purchased the book “Killer Camera Rigs That You Can Build” by Dan Selakovich for $37.21 back in Feb of ’04…” and, “…spent about 1-2 weeks building 6 of the 11 rigs in the book. I built a crane, a jib arm, a tripod, a spreader for the tripod, and two steadicams.”  “They are great for small indie projects and add a lot of production value for relatively little cost…”. I asked Matt what kind of tools and skills were required to build your own support gear.“The tools were standard carpentry tools – I did purchase a few tools suggested by Dan in his book.  It takes some handyman skills to get it done, like drilling and cutting metal.”

I had heard of other freelance producers building cranes (equipment) from scratch before, and have been meaning to write on the topic, so his video provided the perfect opportunity.

The ‘crane clip’, occurs at :29 and lasts around 4 seconds until approx. :33. For an editor who regularly works within the ‘clip-a-second’ :30 format, this four seconds lasted a wonderful eternity. Yes there have been multitudes of other crane shots in countless features, shorts and commercials that have probably been executed more masterfully than this, but Matt’s set, action, exposure and movement on this was just plain, pleasingly aesthetic.

Matt’s Video submission to the Nikon Competition

To read my review of Matt’s video you may click here.

Here is the link to the site where Matt purchased his plans.

Here are links to videos demonstrating different pieces of equipment you can build from plans included in the book Matt purchased from the site.

The Dark Passage (Back Seat) Dolly:

The Shock Corridor Stabilizer:

The Big Combo Crane:

The Killer’s Kiss Crane:

Car Mount Interior/Exterior:

There are undoubtedly other places on the web where plans can be downloaded and/or video tutorials (YouTube) offering similar information that can be watched for free, and no, I am not endorsing this How To site over any others. Most importantly is the point that this information is out there people and these tools can help you emulate the bigger budget production companies when you enter arenas (like the Doritos Crash The Superbowl contest) that require you to compete with them.

Get to work and build yourselves some of these tools if you haven’t already.

NOTE: I strongly urge you all to support one of your own and vote for Matt Pulliam’s video. Again, it is titled: “My Dreams, My Day; Lucidly Told Through The Photographic Eye And A Nikon D90” and can be found at http://www.nikonfestival.com/blog/2009/12/15/my-dreams-my-day-lucidly-told-through-the-photographic-eye-and-a-nikon-d90/ The Nikon Festival public voting period is open now until Jan. 13, 2010 and anyone can vote once without having to register with the site.  You only have to register if you’d like to leave a comment.

In my next blog I will be interviewing Matt on his use of the Nikon D90 for his video. You will not want to miss this informative and candid offering from one of your peers. If you want to do a little pre-blog homework, here is a very thorough review of the D90, a very powerful and relatively inexpensive camera, that provides for wonderful 35mm-esque cinematography.



3 responses to “Hello Dolly…build your own crane.

  1. Great post… Totally caught myself learning on my day off! Matt’s video was very well-done, too…

    • Hey Brett,
      Yeah, I think it is very cool for matt to give the interview. Wait till you check out the 2nd part of this interview. Did you you know that George Lucas is using the new Nikon DSLR’s to shoot a substantial quantity of footage for his new feature film coming out next year? (Red Tails – about a squadron of all black fighter pilots). Cool stuff and Matt is going to give us his take on the equipment.
      The VCK

  2. Pingback: Film Trek – The Next Generation . . . . . . . . . . . . . Out with the old, in with the new. « Video Contest King

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