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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Camera Platform for PBS Special

An unusual job came along this week. Some clients of mine, who are incredible musicians and performers, are preparing to record a live concert to be broadcast on PBS later this year. There's a lot that goes into production of such an event.

My job was to build a large platform that would hold the 'jib' camera. That's the camera that has a 30' boom arm on it to get those sweeping-long-angle shots. The platform would be 9' x 9' and need to support 1000 lbs. It would need to be extremely stable so that as the operator moved it would not bounce around. It would also need to span 3 rows of theater seats and be level even though the floor is sloped.

Whew! What an order, eh?

The basic plan was to build two 4.5' x 9' platforms that bolted together in the middle. I would make it using 2x6 lumber with 16" spacing covered with 3/4" plywood. The legs would be bolted as well to make it easier to take apart and move.

I started by building the basic platforms. I added some braces across the middle where I knew the plywood seams would be. Because of the large size, a single piece of plywood would not span the entire frame.

I built legs for each corner as well as two at either end of the middle joint where the two platforms were bolted together with 1/2" carriage bolts. These center legs would hold the majority of the weight.

This morning I painted it black and moved it to the venue. At this point, all the legs were the same length. However, once it was set up in the auditorium I had a couple of guys lift up the low edge and hold it level, while I 'sistered' each leg with another 2x6, making them the right length to level the top.

I added an extra brace under the middle to reduce the 'wiggle', but now it's ready for action.

If you're in the area, I hope you'll check out Annie Moses Band on July 9th at Lipscomb University's Collin's Auditorium (more info on their website). If you miss that, you can catch them on PBS this winter.

All brought to you by a special camera platform made with love...


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