I’ve already sung the praises of the Newman Airhead and how it saves me time and effort for getting a decent handheld look in a nice, tidy package. However there are still those times when you need some handheld movement with a very heavy camera set-up and the Newman Airhead is actually a little limiting. For instance, I came across a couple of limitations fairly recently while shooting pets and young children. What do they both have in common besides never doing what they are supposed to do and putting the production into overtime? The answer is they are both too low to the ground! If you want to capture a handheld look at such a low vantage point you risk shooting over your subject because the Airhead sits too tall! To make matters worse, it’s very difficult to tilt up or down on the airhead. A sandbag gets you low but doesn’t give you the handheld feel.
This is where you have to go back to the messy bungee-cam system and spend huge time rigging it all up. I hate it, but I get my shot. Having the camera suspended from a cheese plate allows the camera to drop right to the ground. I have another shoot coming up with kids and it could have some handheld in it. I’m trying to figure out other ways to do this without using such an elaborate bungee rig. One idea I have is to use a skater dolly with a hot water bottle for support. Essentially, I’d be rigging a poor man’s low-mode Airhead. I’ll just have to see what I can up with, otherwise I’ll stick with the bungee cam rigged off a pee-wee dolly.
The photo above is a special cheese plate that bolts directly into the top of the Alexa camera body.