Super-cool solution for so many problems....
I'm really digging this! Let's face it, there are certain things that are just ultra-cool to play around with, and this is definitely one of them. I had a couple of these guages sitting around for use on those forward/backward puppet moves that you just can't guage with the framegrabber, and somehow just having them sitting around on the table seems to forge a connection back through time to those glory days of stopmo, when O'Bie or Uncle Ray would have an armada of them sitting like some kind of bizarre otherworldly devices around their puppets. Sometimes they forgot to remove one and you can even spot it for a frame or 2 on the DVD using the frame by frame advance... guage-spotting is a favorite game among us "enthusiasts" (I hesitate to say obsessed fanatics). But I wasn't getting much use out of them, aside from the time I'd spend just messing with them idly. Then suddenly I realized that they have another possible use... you can link 2 or more together, and not only that, you can also screw them down securely to the table. Once I realized this, the rest came together rapidly.
Here are a few detail pics.
The base, screwed to the table using an inverted tie-down screw:
A swivel clamp:
This shows how they link together. I just hung the puppet hand on as a demonstration. In its place imagine a bird puppet, or maybe just objects that need to be coming down from the top of your set... like hanging lamps or tree branches. And of course, in an actual on-set application, I would use longer rods.
The heart and soul of the whole system is the swivel clamp... it's completely adjustable and re-positionable. When you loosen it, both pieces of rod can be slid through easily, and when you tighten it they're clamped firmly. This makes for an incredibly versatile system if you buy several and put the parts together the right way.
It's been brought to my attention that this link was no longer working properly. I've fixed it, but I suspect Enco changes their layout from time to time, rendering permanent links futile. So if it doesn't take you to the item, enter Model #618-8812 in the search window. The actual name of the product is "ECONOMY SURFACE GAGE WITH 9"&12"SPINDLES"
Click on the picture to go to the item descprition/buying info at Enco. They have 3 economy models, but stay away from the small one... the base is too small and the holes in it are too close to the edge. It lacks stability even when screwed down. So stick with the medium or large models. Currenly the prices on them are $14.49 and $25.49. I don't own any of the large ones, so I can't say for sure, but it looks like they use the same base and clamp hardware, so you could use either... but here's the beauty of it. There's no need to get the large one, because you can simply swap out the rods with the appropriate sized drill rod and have whatever length you want! So you can just buy the guages for the base and clamp hardware and substitute your own rods. I think the main upright rod is 5/16" diameter. The diameter for the horizontals is variable... there are actually 2 holes in the swivel clamp for different sized rod. They come with a very thin pointed rod that machinists use as an indicator/pointer, and that Ray and Willis used to point at their puppets, but there is another hole that looks like it will take a 3/16" rod.
You could get a lot accomplished with just one or two of these, but for more elaborate setups you could go with 4 to build a complete jungle-gym type structure over the set that will give you maximum stability. But wait, you say... that's all fine and dandy, but there aren't enough clamps to attatch the extra pairs together! Well, you're absolutely right, but here's the solution. Buy 4 of these little beauties: right-angle clamp
, They also have swivel clamps
at $15.00 apiece, but at that price, you might as well pick up another suface guage! The burette clamps or thermometer clamps at Lab Depot Inc.
might prove useful for holding small objects, like maybe a gobo or gel filter for your lights. Alternately, (and cheaper) you can just get creative with wires to attatch things.
I recently discovered that American Science & Surplus
carries lab clamps at a great price. They're a discount surplus supplier, and I don't know if they'll always have these available, or if the price might fluctuate from time to time, but right now, they have thermometer clamps (called spring clamps
) for $3.95, basically the same as the $7.95 clamp at Lab Depot, though probably not as good quality.
Here's a nice way to use the mini rigging to hold lighting gels and even small lighting units:
The clamp I used was a Thermometer Clamp
from Lab Depot:
As you can see in the first picture, the gel frame has a hole in one side. I just punched a hole through the get filter itself that lines up with it, and put the thumb screw right through it. I had to use some metal shears to cut off the ends of the thermometer clamp so they didn't scratch up the gel's surface, and so the clamp would close all the way tightly. There's a wingnut at the base of the clamp that you can use to rotate the gel frame
any way you want and then tighten it to hold it there. The spotlight in the picture is a 12 volt Minispot from eParty Unlimited
. They also have a nice little Par 36 Pinspot
for a good price.
You can get gel frames for $4.99 at Musician's Friend
, and I bought the master location pack of lighting gels from Setshop
for $54.00, which comes with a great selection of gels and scrims.
Another good online supplier for rigging and grip supplies, as well as all kinds of lighting products, is Filmtools Cinemasupplies
. Some really useful stuff to stock up on would include sticky wax, for holding small things in place temporarily, dulling spray to get rid of unwanted shine on surfaces, and my favorite new toy, black wrap, which is essentially thick flat black aluminum foil used to block out unwanted light. One sheet of it came with my gel pack, and as soon as I played with it a little bit and found how great it is, I ordered a roll. You can clip it on the gel holder and shape it how you want to put shadows right where you need them.
Well, now my lighting effects are getting a lot more impressive, and not only that, but just having this stuff on your set just makes the place look totally cool! Your friends will want to come over all the time and mess around with it! You might need to put up a "CLOSED SET" sign!