The Amazing Camera-on-a-Stick!

Posted on January 18th, by Micah Moore in behind the scenes, filmmaking tips, tutorials.

The monopod is one of the most versatile tools in our, uh, box. RIck calls it the “trydent” because it’s great for trying new ideas. You can raise it up and down to get a crane effect. When collapsed it adds weight to your camera and makes handheld shots more stable. It’s great for high and low angle shots. And it’s good for live events that are too crowded for a bulky tripod. We’ve used Rick’s trydent to hang a camera over the sides of buildings, and to hold it inches away from the tires of a moving car.

Hit the jump below to see our setup and favorite trydent techniques.

Monopods are pretty inexpensive. We recommend getting a good one (like the Manfrotto brand). You’ll also need a decent tilt head to mount your camera on the monopod. If you can afford a small monitor, then you won’t have to rely on guesswork to get your shot.  Of course this raises the total cost significantly.  We like to put the monitor right on our monopod by using a clamp and articulated arm.

Once you have a monopod that works with your budget, here’s some things to try!

The Epic Low Angle Shot

This is great for moving the camera inches about the ground. Notice that the camera is upside down, so you’ll need to flip the footage 180 degrees in post.

Use a wide angle lens for full epic effect.

The High Angle Shot

It’s easy to get 12 foot high angles with a monopod. You can slowly rotate the monopod to get a scanning security camera effect.

For The Pedestal Shot, smoothly raise or lower the monopod to mimic a jib arm effect. It’s not as stable and dramatic as our Kessler Crane, but it’s ready-to-use instantly.

The Overhead Shot

Perfect for getting those oldschool video game angles! You can also extend the camera over the edge of a building or balcony without risking your neck.

The Stabilizer

We love our Blackbird Stabilizers. But before we got our hands on them, we used a collapsed monopod to add a little weight and stability to our cameras. The trick is to keep the hips and shoulders level while moving around.

Car Shots

A while ago we used our trydent in the back of a convertible car during a music video. Here’s some of the ideas we tried.

Some of those shots require a convertible or pickup truck. But some shots can be done through the window of a regular car. Just be very careful with your own safety and your camera’s safety. Make sure everything is tightly fastened and remember – we aren’t liable!

These are a few of our ideas. You’ll probably invent some of your own!

If you want to know exactly what components we’re using, here you go!
Manfrotto 681B Monopod
Manfrotto 234RC Tilt Head
Manfrotto 035RL Super Clamp
Ikan 6″ Articulating Clamp
6′ microHDMI to HDMI
smallHD DP1X Monitor
(we also like the smallHD DP6 monitor)