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Making a Video Camera Boom

When shooting videos of my diy or cnc projects, it was difficult to get closeup shots using my normal camera mounted on a tripod. I needed some equipment that can bring my camera up close to what I was doing. Very often I needed to shoot a scene from behind me so that what I could see would be what the video audience would see.

I didn’t have the luxury of owning a fancy camera with zoom lens, so the next thing I could do was to extend my camera right into the middle of the action. The use of a boom for lighting or microphone seemed to be what I needed. What I needed to do was to mount a camera at the end of a boom instead of lights or microphone.

Although the arrangement was a bit flimsy, I took extra precautions to let any vibration settle down before actually taking a shot or video. It worked nicely, avoiding camera shake and gave better results than hand holding the camera.

I had a piece of base taken from a floor stand fan which I had cannibalized previously. It was quite sturdy, being weighed down by a specially shaped container of water at the bottom. The motor and fan had already been removed and dismantled for some other purposes and what was left was the base and a vertical column of steel pipe. Being heavy was a plus point here because that would provide good stability.

I copied the concept design from a popular portable light boom stand which was mounted on a tripod. I didn’t need to carry it about, so I did not need a foldable tripod. The existing heavy base worked even better than a tripod. What I particularly liked was the concept of a smaller diameter tube fitting into larger diameter tube for space saving. It looks neat. The original design used molded plastic and threaded inserts for their clamps. I replaced these by using wood pieces reinforced by steel wires. At weak points, I reinforced the joints by epoxy resin and nuts/bolts. The round extension tubes were taken from thin walled steel tubes used for curtain rails.

I used my movable gantry cnc machine to cut out the slots in the trunnion and holes in the other pieces of clamping pieces. During the testing of the clamps, I found that some of the wooden pieces tend to fracture. I overcame this tendency by putting up wire reinforcements across the wood grains, and sometimes by the use of thin bolts and nuts.

The base did not come with any wheels, so it was sometimes difficult to move around. Since I had some castor wheels available, I fixed four of them at the base. The actual fitting of the wheels needed some figuring out in order to fit, because some parts were actually hollow and contained water. The plastic molded parts were quite thin – about 3 mm, and were curved, sloping and were not flat. By cutting some pieces of plywood at a gradient and shaped to fit in to the curved corners, I was able to position the wheel supports at the four ends of the base, and secure them by screws. With the castor wheels in place, the video boom was able to be moved around rather easily.

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