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Rich Harrington: We've got the jib built. We've got it balanced, and now it's time to operate. And, I have no idea how you do this. I've always been impressed with good jib operation. Jim, give folks a couple of practical pointers, once it's built correctly, on how you get those shots that just look so great, and keep getting you rehired. Jim Ball: Okay, well first of all, practice, practice, practice, right? Practicing on your own, if you, especially if you own some gear, or you can get your hands on it, is always preferable to trying to learn on the job.
Preparation, that's part of preparation that makes, a), shoots go more smoothly, and b), you'll have more fun. All the, if all the work goes into the prep, like practicing and knowing how to build things fast, it'll make everything better on the day of the shoot. Rich Harrington: So, you don't get to the extreme of like we see in the military movies, where you get blindfolded and you spread the pieces out and you put it together in the dark. Jim Ball: That's not a bad idea, I might, I might not be as extreme as somebody that needs to put something together to save his life, or his buddy's life. Rich Harrington: Right. Jim Ball: But, for me anything that can be learned through routine, Is just going to be so much better in this sense.
It allows you then to focus on the creative and storytelling aspects and the people aspects of your shoot. This stuff is second nature. So, there's nothing worse than having to concentrate on your tools so much so that you can't even concentrate on what you've been hired to do. Rich Harrington: Alright well show us a few moves, up and down and how you adjust the tripod head to really pull this off. I see that it's attached with a ball head, same sort of one you put on a normal tripod. I mean in fact, this could move from here to here if it needed. But just show people how you operate. Jim Ball: Okay. Well, in this particular case of this jib arm, it's a manually operated jib arm, so you're not somewhere else with electronic controls.
So because of that you're trying to reduce the amount of human touch in these move. You want, you want them to feel as smooth as possible. So one of the ways to do that is to take out this pan and tilt factor as much as you can. I know it's, it's, it seems kind of strange that you'd put this head on here and then not use, use that, that feature. But the thing is, if you can use the jib arm for the move, and not have to introduce these other human movements, it just is a better move.
So if you can do your framing and place the base where it wants to be to minimize human elements. And so, just ups, and I may have to do a bit of a correction. And with practice, you can correct a little bit. But one of the worst things you want to do is to show someone that a person is operating this, this thing, you know. Rich Harrington: So, ideally, the camera just appears to be floating? Jim Ball: Ideally. You want people to focus on what's happening before the camera, not the guy behind the camera. If that happens, you're kind of not doing your job.
Rich Harrington: Alright, well, Jim, this is some great practical advice. And, you know, with the DSLRs, we've actually attached a cam ranger. We'll explore this in a later episode, but if you had the camera all the way up, we could actually remotely trigger or adjust the camera, which works well. Do you often keep a ladder around as well, in case you have to make adjustments? Jim Ball: Right, one of the disadvantages of a manually operated jib arm is that, you know, it puts your body in some situations that might not be ideal. Rich Harrington: You don't want to be standing there on set all day trying to do this overhead. Jim Ball: And if you're not comfortable, it adds the very thing I just talked about, which is that human element that takes people out of the story.
So the idea is, to find a sweet spot in the range where you're the most comfortable. And then build out your operating ranges with a ladder, a stool, sometimes some boxes that I need to, that I'll step on during the take. And also, your monitor, whatever you're seeing the shot with, sometimes I'll use a monitor off to the side, sometimes I use something on the camera. That needs to be also set up for the sweet spot in your move so you can see what you're doing throughout most of the shot. But, there's always going to be that situation where you, you know, it won't be optimal.
But sometimes they'll set up two monitors, one for the top of the range and the bottom of the range. So, again I'll build boxes, so, I can always put my body in the most comfortable position. Like, if this was a longer concert or a longer performance, I might have to do this for An extended period of time, in which case I want to be comfortable, cause if my knees start buckling and my hands start shaking, it's unusable. Rich Harrington: Right. Jim Ball: It's unusable stuff. Rich Harrington: Excellent. Well, Jim, very practical advice and thank you so much for walking us through how to use a jib. There's lots of brands out there, this is not necessarily a piece of equipment you have to buy.
Right, a lot of grip houses will rent these, or you know, you could, or your DP that you work with might have one. Is that correct? Jim Ball: Yeah, I mean the disadvantages of the manually operated jib arm actually can be offset by the advantages, which is the low cost. So it can add a huge amount of production value to your, your low budget project. So it's entirely affordable, within relatively speaking. But, however, a lot of grip lighting and grip houses and camera rental houses will very often have several versions of this, some lighter than this, and more portable, and some bigger.
So, a lot of times, if you, you just decide what the throw needs to be, if it's just a small throw, like five or six or eight feet there are relatively inexpensive models, both to purchase and to rent. And then the bigger ones require a bit more skill, but they're available too, and they will get you up to 30 feet, 40 feet, I mean, the sky's not the limit, but you can, you've got a lot of choices. Rich Harrington: Very cool, very cool. Well, Jim, this looks awesome, and I also just want to point out one last thing, that if you needed something to work like a slider or a dolly, you could actually do some similar type moves with this, right? Swinging the camera, moving it in and out? Jim Ball: Yes, it has, you know, the possibilities of, of ranges and camera angles are, are, are very versatile with this.
You obviously can't pick it up and move it, but the other thing you can do is put this on a dolly. And so that horizontal movement that you don't, that you're limited to with a base like this, you can extend that. So the possibilities are, are great. Rich Harrington: All right, excellent. Well be sure to check out using a jib for your next production. I really think you'll like the types of shots and creativity it adds.
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