The Ultimate in Low-Budget Ghetto Rigging

In Notes From the Set by Rod SantianoLeave a Comment

I love grips. You tell them what you need to do and then they fancy up some contraption that may look like “the ultimate in low-budget ghetto rigging” (as my key grip, Tom, described it) but totally works and gets the shot. This piece of work, pictured above, was a great solution for one shot we had to get over a conference table setup on the floor below. The ledge was really thick so we couldn’t just bring the sticks right up to it and lean it over, nor did we have a jib or whatnot. So Tom came up with this thing. A ladder, two full apples, a rolling cart, sandbags and some ratchet straps that suspended our camera and Ronin over the edge. We controlled the camera with the remote and there you have it! It was awesome.

The rest of the shoot was wonderful as well. We got some great shots for an [name withheld for now] commercial. We shot most of it on a Red Epic Dragon with a couple of shots done with a GH4/Ronin rig and a Phantom 3 Professional drone. Here are some frame grabs from the dailies and some behind the scenes shots with some explanations:

The shot below was one of those miracle shots that ended up being perfect. While we were setting up for this shot, it seemed like it would work out well; but then a bit of a storm rolled in. Huge dust cloud, winds and rain. It completely changed the sky to a dull monotone screen of blank nothing. We gave it a chance and soon all of that went away and left us with this sky you see below. It was better than we had imagined.

We knew that we needed the sun to be in the shot so I used the Helios Sun Position Calculator to figure where and when we needed to roll the cameras. I love this app. It is so accurate — provided it is calibrated correctly. The screenshot below is from the “Virtual Sun” mode that I pretty much use exclusively because all the other modes are too complicated for my taste. I took this screenshot early on before I had calibrated it so the horizontal placement is off a bit. Well, after I calibrated it to the sun’s actual position in the sky, it told me that the sun would be exactly where I wanted it (behind the crane on the right) at 7:50pm. Sure enough, that’s where it was and we were rolling.

The shot below is a shot that transitions either to or from the construction shot above. I have a take where the sun is in a similar position as the construction site shot, but this one is prettier. Again, I used the Helios app to find the right spot to be and when to roll. Interestingly and obviously, 7:50pm was the time to roll camera. I think this shot was just after 8pm.

This is a shot where, again, we were blessed with a cool looking sky. I think I had a polarizer and a .6ND Grad filter on this shot to help maintain a balanced exposure.

This shot is just pretty. Since I had so much light coming in from that huge wall of windows, I didn’t need much to enhance this shot. I could have just went with it au natural, but I opted to make it better.

We already had an Arri M18 outside from the previous setup (the overhead shot using the ghetto-fab rig) so I decided to use it with a 4×4 frame of 250 diffusion. I only needed about a half stop of extra light on him to separate him more from the background and this light setup did exactly that.

For a little edge light on the main guy, we put up a Joker 800 with a wide lens and flagged most of the light off the guy in blue on the right (not pictured, but you can see Tom coming in with a C-stand to set that up).

There were other great shots from the shoot but this post would take forever to write. If you have any questions, please add a comment below. Until next time…

Leave a Comment