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Practical DV camera practice cage

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#1 David George Ellis

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Posted 25 November 2006 - 12:34 PM

Whuddup Y'all

After losing my original cage, I want to start over from scratch and make one that will serve me in practice as well as in practical situations. I have a prototype mock up and want to get some additional suggestions.

Here's what I've figured out so far:

-Assuming that the specific weight of steel is @.283 lbs/inch cubed, or 7850kg/meter cubed, a plate;

Length 13.5" or @34.3cm
Width 6.5" or @16.5cm
Height .625" (5/8") or @1.6cm

will equal @15.5lbs or @7kg. Subtract for holes punched into it will come to @13lbs or @6kg per plate after milling and tapping.

-Mounting solutions for cameras designed with 1/4-20" and 3/8-16" along with the locking pin you normally find with them.

-Slotted holes for 3/8" quick-disconnect camera mounts.

-Holes for the camera mounting dovetail plate to the bottom weight plate as well as the top/low mode plate.

What I'm having an issue with is the interior height b/t the plates. My original had a height of 7" or @17.8cm. It wasn't enough to fit certain cameras w/AKS and I had to mount it high up on the top/low mode plate which made for a boomtastic adventure. I was able to remedy that by stacking the plates together. It then sucked to hear the Director moan when the image was upside-down in low mode, which is something I wouldn't have been able to avoid regardless of the setup I had.

So what I'm curious to know is what the interior height should be. I believe that the DV low mode cage offered by Tiffen has variable lengths of 7.5" - 14.5" or @19cm - 37cm. I was wondering if I should have rods in different lengths to facilitate different height needs as well.

If any of you beautiful people have an idea that you would like to share, that'd be much appreciated. I've seen some really slick designs out there, but I feel there are some details that haven't been addressed fully and I want to take advantage of the opportunity to make something for everything.

Thanks Bredren,

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#2 Janice Arthur

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Posted 11 December 2006 - 10:47 AM


I made a practice cage to accomodate all kinds of the smaller format cameras.

1) the top half telescopes up and down to accomodate height. (done with simple set screws to hold the top section.

2) the rods that hold the cage can be moved to 6 positions on the plates to allow for width and lenses and accessories. (the four rods or even three can be anywhere on the plates.)

3) the two (top and bottom) plates are really 4 plates (5lbs) each with the operator being able to select the amount based on the camera he/she is using.

4) all the holes and choices on the cage are the same as the cage Mike O'shea makes.
(really a wonderful amount of holes.)

5) length and height all the general sizes that everyone's cage is. (roughly 12" by 8" by (variable height))

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#3 Erwin Landau

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Posted 11 December 2006 - 05:36 PM

I newer really cared for cages...

When I did my very first job, I was expecting a full size Beta cam or similar, after the producer told me the model number, which turned out to be an early Sony DV-Cam (I had to look it up on the internet) that was 10 lbs light and ran on 3 Sony full size Camcorder batteries... I was screwed. My 3A Gold spring arm would newer go that light... It was Friday 11 am and the shoot was the next day. The camera would not have fit in any of the cages that was offered to me by friends...

I went to Industrial Metal Supply and checked there scrap bin. I found a regular steel plate (11 "x 4" x 1.5") that was slightly under 16 lbs and payed $15.- for it.

Across the street was a little CNC machine shop with a guy that wasn't doing much, so I told him what I needed (a couple of holes and the hole pattern) and that I needed it today. An hour later I came to pick it up and as we were talking and he was about to hand me the bill which I could clearly see the amount: $50.- He asked me for what I was needing this plate. Naive as I was I told him that I had a shoot tomorrow morning and that he was saving my butt... at that moment he pulled the bill away and said it will cost me $150.-... 6 holes and he hadn't even broken the edges as I had asked him to... bastard. The nice thing was, after all that machining, the plate was exactly on the dot 15lbs.

Later I did a couple of addition...
- As the steel started to rust I covered the whole plate with female Velcro, worked great to mount the transmitter or other consumer oddities.

- With time the mounting of a 15lbs plate to a 6 or 7 lbs camera with one tinny screw got very tidies and more then a couple of times, I almost stripped the threads or crushed the camera...
I needed a better way to mount the camera and I found the solution in this:

Bogen/Manfrotto 3273 Sliding Plate Adapter (http://www.samys.com...il.php?item=647)

The adapter mounts nicely to the plate and now you have an additional sliding plate for balancing the camera and it makes for a very fast change over to the tripod (especially if it's a Manfrotto tripod). You pull the Manfrotto but the weight plate stays on your rig and you don't have to rebalance when you go back to the steadi.

As for lowmode...
I just flip the camera upside down and it stays very nicely and tight connected without any vibration, or at least additional vibration, it's still only a plastic body. (less then 3 minutes).

It's also interesting how many ops have borrowed mine over more "sophisticated" alternatives. (it's been all over LA, Oregon, Nevada, Arizona and Washington State).

Just my 2 cent rant,

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