Creative Tripod Tricks
A lot of people think that a tripod is by far the most boring piece of equipment a filmmaker can use. But it actually is a super versatile and useful piece of gear. You can actually do so much with just a tripod. So let us show you 10 creative tricks to get the most out if your tripod shots.
Let’s start with some basics. A tripod shot is normally used for getting a steady shot that remains stationary. You can of course use a tilt or pan movement to reposition your framing but the camera itself stays stationary. One of the most common tricks with a tripod is pushing it forward or backwards on two legs while tilting the ballhead with the camera. But like we mentioned, that’s very basic. However, it gives you a creative and dynamic shot.
Another basic technique is using the tripod as a shoulder rig or even as a gimbal. Use the legs as stable surfaces on your shoulder and as handles. Super easy!
But let’s get creative now. We want to test the boundaries of our equipment after all. First let’s make a slider or dolly with our tripod. We can simply do this by placing a piece of cloth underneath our tripod legs and by pushing it forward or pulling it backward we create a dynamic movement. We can even attach a rope to on of the legs to create a bigger movement. If you want to be sure that your tripod doesn’t fall, attach a weight to the bottom of the ballhead, this will secure it.
The next one is actually a really clever trick to get more depth in your shots. You can attach a foreground object to your tripod with a stick or magic arm. This way you can pan or tilt the camera and with the object in front of your lens it will create more depth.
The next trick is also very simple, just extend two of the tripod legs and use it to swing the camera in an arch. This can be a cool shot for making transition. The next trick is mounting the camera sideways, if you then tilt the camera you also make a kind of arch. This is a common trick used to make a shot of someone who is laying down and stands up.
For the next trick we’re going to be a bit crafty. Let’s screw a quick release plate onto a wooden plank and mount it to a tripod. Then at one end we can screw another plate with a ballhead (and camera) attached to it. At the second end we’re going to attach a weight to counter balance the camera. And this way we create a custom made jib. And believe me, this actually works the same as a normal jib.
The same technique can be applied for people who aren’t crafty. You can simply use a chair and place your tripod on it with all legs closed. On the back of the legs you can place a counterweight and here you have a simplified jib. The next is a bit dangerous, so be careful and take caution! When you’re on a balcony or higher surface, try to lean of the border and push the tripod against the wall, pointing down. This creates a cool and stable top view, just let someone or something pass underneath. If you have two C-stands (or just two trees) with a stick or pole attach to both you can use that to hang your tripod upside down. Also a nice way to get a top shot which you can even rotate.
And those were some of the creative tricks that you can do with just a simple tripod. We were lucky to receive two new tripods from Manfrotto. The 635 and the 645, which have fast twisting lock, a secure locking system that can be locked with a single gesture. They have a 75mm ballhead but with an adapter they are compatible with other ballheads as well. They have spiked feet with rubber overshoes so ideal for every situation.