Crane Essentials - Elements of a Crane System

Adding the right tools for the job obviously makes sense.   You made some tough decisions when you chose your camera and your lens, You also made those same types of decisions when you got your vehicle and when you purchased hardware and software to produce the final products. Like everything else making the right decision with your jib system will produce not only excellent dramatic video results, but also a sense of pride, enjoyment and confidence.  When choosing the components for your jib system the following important should be addressed:

  • Target the products that gets the shots you want to get
  • Support your decision with proper primary accessories (Tripod)
  • Add the appropriate features for your work (Dolly and Pan Tilt Systems)
  • Remote controls for controlling and monitoring your shot
  • Make the work easyeffective and efficient as possible
  • Purchase proper affordable components that will meet your requirements
  • Have as much flexibility in using the gear as possible

Over the next few paragraphs we will cover some of the decisions you will need to make and some of the reasons to make those decisions.

CC501 3 stage aluminum tripod and fluid head with 501 release plate, carry bag, pan tilt handle

A stable platform is really the base of the whole operation. With stability your camera crane will perform well providing years or dramatic swings, breathtaking crane and tilt shots and awesome floating panning shots.   We think its important to have a base that exceeds the weight of the camera crane system (with counterweights and cameras). This way when you move the jib or tilt the camera, the platform stays stable and movable gear moves where you expect it to.  A solid tripod is the most important investment in the Cinematographers toolbox and can easily have a 20 year life span.


CobraCrane 2 dual arm camera jib for Professional ENG, Black Magic Cinema Camera, Red Cameras

Camera cranes lift, swing and support apparatus that tilts, pans and rolls your camera remotely.   Smooth, shake-free, dramatic camera motion is the biggest single difference you can make to your video at the most affordable investment.   A camera crane is the most cost effective way to smoothly put your camera in motion captivating your viewers while altering their perspective all the while capturing more compelling content.   Virtually all commercials, films, television, sports, concerts are filmed with motion capable cameras.   This chapter will help us understand whats important to us with regard to camera cranes.  Most camera cranes can easily last 10 years or more.


Pan tilt system, motion control for dslrs

Moving the crane system or simply moving the camera, this chapter deals with the considerations you will encounter when choosing the right tools for your shooting requirements. We cover dollies and camera motion systems.  A good dolly will last 10 years or more.  Motorized Pan tilt roll equipment is a moving target, as the electronics, batteries and lightweight composites make more and more capabilities available.



Lanc controller, camera controller provides remote control of your crane mounted camera 

While the camera is at the end of the jib, controlling it and monitoring while shooting must be done via remote monitoring and camera controls. Longer cables or wireless components will connect your camera to the monitors and to the controls.  This area will cover those considerations and some of the costs and sources for those items.  We are all aware of the life span of a monitor,, or at least the monitor technology or the connector to your device.   Expect to change these products whenever you update your camera or capturing gear. 



Padded carry bag will protect, store and easily transport your system

It's your job.  Do it right.  Enjoy what you do.  We figure you gotta get the job done, so might as well get the most out of it and enjoy the work.  This chapter covers a variety of accessories to help make the work easier, more effective and more efficient.  This kind of stuff can last forever if you don't loose it.   So take care of this stuff.  Oil the bearings, clean the bags, do let anything rust.  It can last a long time, so get good stuff you will be happy with, such as the carry bags and trollies, and all the stuff that make the job great.



Dana Smith, General mgr. SteadyTracker LLC