As hobbies go, making videos can be expensive — a good reason for going DIY whenever possible. Here are some of our favourite projects for assembling video rig.
Note: These projects were mainly created for video use, but many of them can work for still photographers, too!
Stabilise Your Camera
Stabilising your camera is essential, but often expensive. There are plenty of DIY stabilisers that can save you spending up big when you're trying to get those smooth shots. Whether it's this simple chest mount, a fancier shoulder rig with microphone, or a cheap but effective shoulder mount, you can do a lot with a little.
Build Tools For Great Shots
If stabilised movement isn't enough, there are lots of accessories you can build for your camera to get great shots without draining your bank account. For time lapse or just smooth panning, you can make a pan mount out of a kitchen timer. For smooth tracking shots, build a tabletop dolly out of PVC pipe or skateboard wheels. The best cheap camera dolly I've seen was made from furniture sliders and a tripod. It requires almost no effort and the results are better than any of the more complicated DIY options I've come across. It's a win on all accounts.
Set Up A Studio
While you can take your production rig with you, there will be some things that are better shot in a contained environment. For that reason, you might want to build a home studio. One staple of the home video studio is the green screen, and you can easily build your own on the cheap. I did this several years ago and it was very simple. The key is good lighting, however, and lights can be expensive. Good lights are generally worth the investment, but if you don't have the cash you can certainly make do with less. Even your tablet can make a decent softbox light when needed.
Upgrade Your HDSLR
One of the great revolutions in videography came about thanks to the DSLR. Most DSLR cameras can now record high- quality HD video that rivals what you'd get with a professional camera. There are compromises: most HDSLRs are of features you'd expect from a dedicated video camera because they're not dedicated video cameras. That problem has been solved for some cameras thanks to a bit of custom firmware called Magic Lantern. It will provide many of the missing software features you'd want from a video-capable device. For instructions on how it works, what you can do with it, and how to set it up, check out our guide.
Get Good Sound
Good sound is one of the biggest challenges with video. Most people will watch a crappy picture if they can understand the audio, but the moment the sound goes out of sync or is incomprehensible you've got something unwatchable. While there aren't many DIY sound projects, there are cheap recorders you can upgrade. We like the Zoom series, and there's a great four-input upgrade for the Zoom H2.
Have a great weekend!