I was making a video for work where I needed to walk around a lot and looked for a way to avoid the bouncy look of someone holding a camera I saw in so many videos. (We’ll see if it panned out). I found a cheap DIY steadicam solution I wanted to built for myself and ended up building it last Friday night and using it Saturday morning for work.
Here’s the idea I used: http://littlegreatideas.com/stabilizer/diy/. He used to sell them for $40 but it looks like his supplier upped their prices so it’s all DIY (do it yourself) now.
I followed the step-by-step instructions from this video. I think they just followed the link above and made a video, since he doesn’t have a step-by-step video.
I had a laptop out in the garage while I built it and just did one step at a time. It took me about two hours to build – not too bad. That’s also how long it took me to find the parts around town. The 1-1/2 wide 1/4″ washers weren’t at Home Depot, the first place I went, they’re a specialty item. They did have them at Lowes (who has a pretty good mobile website, I found them while standing in Home Depot on my phone), .
The ones I bought were Zinc-plated, though, so they were harder to bend – the process described in the video didn’t work for me, but bending them by tightening them against the weight at the bottom of the rig did, so I did that, took the washer off and put it at the top, then did it again for the washer I would keep there. I also added a rubber ring that I had from a plumbing kit to not scratch the bottom of the camera.
The weight I used was 2.5 lbs. – I have a pretty light camera, so it works. If I had a heavier camera I would have wanted a heavier one.
Drilling the holes took the longest. I used vegetable oil to hold the shavings and keep the drill bit from catching on fire or whatever it was going to do. I bought a vice, which I didn’t have, for about $20, so that added to the total price. Without it it would have been $40. So, all told, $60. The steel was cheap, so were the caps – the bolts and screws were the expensive thing. If you’re looking for a deal I’d price the bolts and nuts before you head to your nearest store, which I did. I found the weight at Walmart for about two bucks. All in all, I paid more than the $14 advertised, but I get the feeling that tutorial/site been up for a while and prices of the materials have changed since then. I’ll try to get $40 of use out of it.
I’ll try again with the aluminum frame mentioned on the written description in the extras – I was excited to try the kinds of shots Raimi got in the Evil Dead 2 but it’ll have to keep. The aluminum bent and broke when I was bending it, I cut the aluminum slightly but I think I bent it the wrong way.
The top screw goes right into the camera – I’d like to make a rig with an actual tripod top eventually, maybe like the frugal floater (strange name for a clever DIY merlin-style steadicam).
I need more practice with it, but the weight at the bottom automatically adjusted for some of my walking bounces. This is a rough estimate of how it looks – most of the fault is likely mine because of lack of practice. The camera belongs to work – it is a Canon Vixia HF series.