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Weekly Video Tip: Monopods

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By Stephen Schweickart

RISMEDIA, September 21, 2010—We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again. One of the basics of shooting a good video is to always use a tripod. You’ll be rewarded with steadier shots, smoother pans, and a more enjoyable experience.

Now having said that, we’ll have to admit there is one additional option that falls between shooting hand held or using a tripod. It’s called a monopod—and while it’s a far cry from a tripod, its worth considering under certain circumstances.

Think of a monopod as a one-legged tripod. It’s a collapsible pole with a mounting bracket on top for your video camera, and can offer certain advantages over a tripod.

One of them is weight. When compared to a tripod, monopods are usually fairly light weight and easy to transport. They can also be positioned for action much faster than a tripod, and are perfect for very rapid deployment and take down. They provide a welcome measure of support for your camera as well as limited stability for pans and tilts—but for best results, set aside some time for practicing.

Monopods can also be used as a boom or extension arm for your camera, allowing you to shoot over the top of a crowd, or from a higher vantage point. A word of caution though—the weight of the camera can play a major factor in the practicality and safety of such a technique, not to mention operator fatigue.

Monopods may also save you the expense of obtaining a video permit, especially in the nation’s major cities. Shooting with a tripod is often a tell tale sign that a professional video is being made. A monopod, on the other hand, may be a different story—especially if its base is not touching the ground, which is sometimes used as a legal criteria. That’s why you may see someone shooting with a monopod resting on the toe of their shoe instead of the ground.

And last but not least, monopods are usually cheaper than tripods, but remember, you usually get what you pay for!

Stephen Schweickart is the co-founder of VScreen. For more information on this topic, visit VScreen’s blogsite at http://www.vscreen.com/blog/.

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