DIY Shoulder rig

Behind the scenes:

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Sample footage:

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Athanse Media created a shoulder rig setup for DSLR videographers, mostly built of wood.

The base of the shoulder rig is made out of a one birch branch. Most parts for the follow focus are bought in an R/C-shop.

Pros and Cons of the rig

Pros
  • Very stable construction
  • Easy to pull focus without having to let go of the rig with any hand
  • Beautiful, a piece of art
Cons
  • Focus pulling made specially for my all around Tamron 17-50 lens
  • Does not fold
  • Hose clamp not so easy to assemble, will be replaced *

* UPDATE 2011/06/19

Have replaced the hose clamp for a fixed metal ring that slides in over the lens when zoomed in, then matches focus ring perfectly when pushed toward it. A big time saver!

Below are some still pictures of the parts used to make the focus pulling handle(old version). Also an updated picture of the rig.

  • Designed by: Erik and Jonathan Bergqvist

82 Comments

  1. Adam Kilbury
    Posted May 4, 2010 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    Really cool piece of equipment! Is there any sample footage with the rig?

  2. Greg B.
    Posted May 4, 2010 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    Veeeery nice :D I like the feel of wood way better than metal..

  3. Jonathan
    Posted May 4, 2010 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    Adam, I’ll be working with this rig in a near future, shooting some cool boat action! I’ll post some samples after that!

    Greg, yeah its very nice to handle! I haven’t had the time to shoot a whole day with the rig, but i guess time will tell if it’s necessary with some kind of shoulder pad.

  4. michael
    Posted May 4, 2010 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    clap clap … for the followfocus! very smart

  5. Posted May 4, 2010 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

    Great video.
    That focus handle seems much better than the expensive gear type.

  6. Posted May 4, 2010 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

    Hey,

    Congratulations for this nice rig !

  7. Posted May 4, 2010 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

    great idea on the left grip focus! I’d like to make one not out of wood but maybe carbon fiber rods but the technique here is creative. Hope you can make a better working lens clamp.

    -camgyver

    twitter.com/camgyver
    camgyver.com

  8. Posted May 5, 2010 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

    Admire your dedication and the assistance of your father!

  9. Posted May 5, 2010 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    This video of you and your father is superb. The rig is not only a great piece of engineering but the video is also a very heart warming story. Your father is a talented man.

  10. joel
    Posted May 5, 2010 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    Well done! Genius execution on that follow focus. Now how about a wooden jib and I think you might have a business making these!

  11. arek
    Posted May 5, 2010 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

    great work!
    I bet it was your fathers idea that followfocus ;)
    I did a camera rod support with my father and he has so good “old school” ideas and that handle looks just like one of them :)

    keep it up guys!

  12. Jonathan
    Posted May 5, 2010 at 10:23 pm | Permalink

    Hey guys, thought i should write this here aswell as on the vimeo page:

    Thats A LOT for all your comments! Me and my dad have been reading every comment we could find surrounding vimeo and all the embeds! Big thanks to cinema5d, feber.se and other sites for making it possible for so many people to see this video!

    Its really inspiring to see that so many people think this is a good idea! I wanted to build it cause i really need a shoulder-rig for an upcoming project and i can’t afford the ones on the market just now (my business is new and buying the actual camera, sound recording system, tripod head etc in the first place took quite a bit of my budget).

    Now with all the positive feedback we’ve gotten a lot of new ideas, maybe it would be fun to continue development of the product… Because even if i didn’t want to show the downside of the rig in the video, there is room for improvement.

    Maybe the major downside for me is that it doesn’t take 5 seconds to set it up when on a shoot, since the hose clamp takes a while to screw on. I’ve watched cinema5d.com/viewtopic.php?f=17&t=9600and my dream is to find a similar thing to mount on the focus ring, then it would be a super fast assembly!

    Now of course the main good thing with the rig is that you can change the focus with the left handle, so if we’re going to continue working with it, that is definitely a keeper.

    Several people have pointed out that with a lens with 180 degree focus ring this setup wouldn’t work. That’s also a point that should be improved IF(a big if) we try to make a prototype that is ready for production.

    Several new questions comes up IF we continue with the development.

    Is there room for one more developer of these kind of rigs?

    Do we have the contacts to take the rig to production?

    A possible benifit of other rigs for professionals is the rod-system. Maybe not so much for attaching a follow focus here, but more because of the use of a mattbox with filters. Is it possible to have an option with some attachments so you CAN mount rods on this rig, still keeping the focus system working?



    Is it possible to hold down the production cost of these types of rigs? Like I said, the reason in the first place for making this rig was I simply couldn’t afford the options on the market.

    Is it better to do a prototype and try to sell it to an already existing company? Are they even interested?

    Yeah, as you see you’ve inspired us greatly and for that we, my father and I are so very greatful!

    Arek, its a secret who came up with what. ;) Thanx!


    Joel, the next project will maybe be a slider.. But i think it wont be too much of a DIY, more like buying good horizontal sliders and making them camera-mountable.


    Jamie, glad you enjoyed it! Thanx for the kind words!

  13. Posted May 5, 2010 at 11:25 pm | Permalink

    Whatever you do, you should patent your idea ASAP! The follow focus idea needs to be yours and yours alone.

    Love the idea and I’ve been using the tight neck strap method to video w my 7d and 17-55. Are you considering zoom with the right handle?! That would be great, but yes, definitely need to find a different hose clamp.. maybe buy a larger clamp, cut it in the middle… glue on an earth magnet and then you can easily attach the clamp on the lens… (might need a hinge like the sigma tripod mount has..)

    Keep us posted with what you do!

  14. Aldo Mijares
    Posted May 6, 2010 at 2:58 am | Permalink

    Great tool!!
    Amazing!!
    Really good wood shop job.
    I love it!
    <3

  15. Anthony P.
    Posted May 6, 2010 at 5:38 am | Permalink

    Great work! Very creative.
    Please make more videos using your camera. You can really shoot!

  16. Posted May 6, 2010 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    I am so pleased this idea has taken off. Like others have said, you should really try and patent the twist follow focus idea before someone else does.

    I love the relaxed atmoshpere you have in Sweden, the UK is like a formula 1 race all the time. I was in Stockholm last year and had a great time. I would like to live in Sweden but I can’t afford the Swedish prices!

  17. Posted May 6, 2010 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    Beautiful, I love both the rig and your video. You’re a great team!

  18. Tim Croft
    Posted May 6, 2010 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

    have you thought about using the other handle in a similar way to zoom?

  19. oslo
    Posted May 6, 2010 at 9:20 pm | Permalink

    Nicely made! :)

  20. Posted May 7, 2010 at 6:33 am | Permalink

    i’m just curious, what song that u use? such a cool song.

  21. Sebastian
    Posted May 7, 2010 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

    Wow. Your Dad is awesome. I aspire to have his skills and a shop as decked out as his as well! Beautiful rig.

  22. david
    Posted May 7, 2010 at 9:52 pm | Permalink

    Phenomenal! Your dad is amazing; most woodworkers don’t have an engine lathe in the shop too! What machine did he use at 54-58 seconds? The machine put a flat spot on the branch-I have never seen such a machine, and so I always have used a table saw.

  23. Posted May 9, 2010 at 4:54 am | Permalink

    Awesome job. Tell your dad he did a great job.

  24. Posted May 9, 2010 at 6:45 am | Permalink

    Simply Amazing! You’ve definitely inspired me to try something similar.

    Got a sneaky feeling RedRock and Cinevate will steal the focus idea first chance they get (unless you patent, which you should!)

    Also, the footage made me slightly homesick ;)

    Cheers!

  25. Robert
    Posted May 9, 2010 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

    Hi!

    I wish to buy a rig like this. I also have the 17-50 Tamron, so a 1:1 copy would suit me fine.

    What’s the price, with shipping to Hungary?

  26. Posted May 10, 2010 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    Love the rig and the video. It would be great fun to show up for a client shoot with a rig like that! Congrats to both of you.
    I will share this video with my photo students.

  27. Robert
    Posted May 10, 2010 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    I looked at your videos several times… I wish I had a father like yours.

    Oh, and my wife loves your dog!

  28. Posted May 11, 2010 at 5:37 am | Permalink

    Your father is an amazing man. His generation were the best! Very resourceful and never waste anything!

    An amazing piece of work and the resulting footage of your dog was nicely done.

    You should do a video of your dad and his family history, to keep for future generations.

    BTW, I have a T2i and Tamron 17-50 lens….I wish I had 1/10th the talent of your dad.

  29. Marcus
    Posted May 11, 2010 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    Dude, that is one great piece of work! Love the idea of twist2focus. Your father is a genius. Good luck with filming!
    Greetings from Holland.

  30. Don F
    Posted May 11, 2010 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

    I enjoyed watching your video and wanted to complement you on a great idea. I also wish to say that you are lucky to have such a talented father he is truly an accomplished craftsman , he reminds me of my own who was always eager to help me with my projects. Hopefully you can spend much time with him and learn from his great wealth of knowledge. The fine details slip by without being noticed such as the bevel on the front of the piece and how he was able to find such a perfect use for that twisted tree branch he had collected and saved for just the right opportunity. I think he did an excellent job and I bet his work shop turns out many nice pieces of his handy work. Just a thought on the clamp – eyelet – and if you would rather not drill your lens – get yourself a clear dust cover , they screw right on and come in every size and are not very expensive.
    Best wishes from an old wood worker in Tehachapi California.
    Don F.

  31. Jim DeLuca
    Posted May 11, 2010 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

    Hey man, great job. I just build my own handheld rig based on your design. I only own a power drill and a hacksaw so it isn’t pretty!

    I decided not to have a twist handle for the zoom, because I felt that if both handles twisted, it might through off the adjustment for one, when you are adjusting the other.

    Also I made my rig so it goes over both shoulders so the camera is more centered, so your not always looking to your right, and once I add some weights to the ends, it’ll be more stable.

    Just something to think about when you build your next one.

    Amazing job.

  32. Posted May 12, 2010 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

    Wow!!! i saw you video and i’ve think:
    this is incredible!!
    this boy had my same idea!!
    i’m working on a similar project, but in alloy and carbon!
    my focus movement will be actived by a cogweel on the left hand grip

    nice work Jonathan!

    salute from italy!

    Giovanni

  33. JH
    Posted May 14, 2010 at 2:45 am | Permalink

    Lots of kudos for your father!!

    He really did a great job!!

    Please congratulate him in my name!! I loved his work!

  34. Imran
    Posted May 15, 2010 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    Dude
    You and your father are great people. I really really loved your initiative. I was also thinking about making this kind of rig but didn’t have the exact idea how to do it.

    Great great job :)
    Congrats

    Regards

  35. Posted May 16, 2010 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    Very nice!
    Can i buy 1 from you?

    blessings

  36. pgpete
    Posted May 16, 2010 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    Well Done guys! – nice work.

    pgpete – Australia.

  37. Posted May 16, 2010 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

    Really good thing… and the guy is so simpatic :) ))

  38. Posted May 16, 2010 at 8:25 pm | Permalink

    Jonathan… YOU ARE SO SIMPATIC :) ))

  39. ebi goura
    Posted May 21, 2010 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    at least you can say thanks to your father at the end of the video. Son of…a good craftman

  40. John Lamerand
    Posted May 26, 2010 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    Very inspiring coverage on vimeo – came through link on wired.com. It makes me want to go out and get some tools… I keep buying Make magazine, but nothing has inspired me like watching this content!

  41. Posted May 26, 2010 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

    hello

    I have small question.

    Firstly I want to say that the idea of folow focus is real good.

    My question concerns the hose clamp, I wanted to know how you fix that little metal plate underneath that can hold the ball link.

    Thank you for your reply.

  42. yeyger
    Posted May 30, 2010 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    cool video and cool shoulder rig. can it go from minimum to infinity?

  43. Posted June 7, 2010 at 4:39 am | Permalink

    They make quick release hose clamps that would work well with your set up. Great job! It’s great your dad built that with you!

  44. Posted June 7, 2010 at 4:41 am | Permalink

    Seems like you could also add zoom to the other handle.

  45. Joseph
    Posted June 14, 2010 at 5:25 am | Permalink

    Hey, awesome rig!
    Truly inspiring in fact next weekend I going down to my grandfathers wood shop to build my own for my T2i, although I not going to do the follow focus as my 50mm lens focus ring is to small for it. Your idea is helping a poor college student with a way to get a nice affordable shoulder mount.

  46. Posted June 14, 2010 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

    Very nice
    Is it possible to get it?
    Is it for sale?

  47. Ryan
    Posted June 20, 2010 at 1:32 am | Permalink

    Could you elaborate on what is attached to the hose clamp? I can’t seem to find anything like it nor can i think of a way to fashion a lens attachment that will work.

    any help guys?

  48. Nick
    Posted June 26, 2010 at 8:28 am | Permalink

    Thanks for sharing how your rig was made, especially the focus handle. I think I should try to make one for myself.

    Nice Volvo, btw.

  49. Posted July 16, 2010 at 9:53 pm | Permalink

    NICE!!! the follow focus is brilliant!! your shots of making it were excellent as well. I just bought several items today and was going to build my own rig ..now i you have given me a super idea of the follow focus..thanks so much and i hope to see more of your films…jim

  50. Posted July 19, 2010 at 11:21 pm | Permalink

    nice to have a craftsman building and a great idea on the pull focus..people will steal that idea and patent it.. now lets see some films from that camera.

  51. Posted July 24, 2010 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    I shoot helmet mounted 35mm film and have been recently tasked with documenting a military team in training. Obviously rolling film for the entire project would be cost prohibitive so I’m beginning to work with a 5D and 7D, very exciting. Researching stabilizers and focus pulling systems, I stumbled across your video and your dad’s elegant design, how refreshing! I want one now!! Thanks for sharing this great information.

  52. sebastien
    Posted August 5, 2010 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    Hello Johnathan, very beautiful work!!! You tempted me to build myself my own accessories of camera. I just wanted to know if your ring with screw was of origin or if you had made it yourself ? Thank you.

    Good continuation…

  53. Posted August 18, 2010 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

    You and your dad should start making those and selling them, I would love to buy one since its not easy to get a hold of all the wood working tools. :P I would just want it as a piece of art as well!!

  54. Jonathan
    Posted August 25, 2010 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    Mohammed Algarni, it’s not for sale I’m afraid.

    Sebastien, It’s called a hose clamp and should be available to buy in a “DIY-store”.

    Ryan, its a piece of metal that is glued to the hose clamp, simple as that! =) The hose clamp itself has got the “screw fastening” from start to keep it in place.

  55. Mathias Stabell
    Posted October 10, 2010 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

    Meget bra! Ser ut som om jeg skal en tur innom RC-sjappa og innom bestefar og dreibenken hans! :) Har dessverre ikke tilgang til metalldreibenk, så jeg får prøve å finne på noe annet finurlig der.

    Jeg lurer også på om jeg skal prøve å lage noen vekter og et litt annet system bak hodet. Meget bra! Kanskje det kunne vært en fordel med en annen feste anordning på objektivet?

    -Mathias

  56. Posted November 9, 2010 at 10:23 am | Permalink

    What a beautiful piece of art!!!
    The best shoulder rig hands down.
    Is it possible to order one?
    Regards,
    Manuel

  57. Posted December 29, 2010 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    Hi, I have become a fan of you & your dad after seeing tat wonder ful piece.. I would like to try this with my Canon 7d.. can you pls pls pls send me the drawing of the same…

    Deepu
    India

  58. Posted January 11, 2011 at 11:10 pm | Permalink

    great idea, nice execution. and thanks for sharing

    cheers

  59. bryan
    Posted January 21, 2011 at 1:25 am | Permalink

    Respect to your dad, he is a genius a real inspiration… very nice work, congrats to both of you on this effort!

  60. Dan from down under
    Posted February 20, 2011 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    Mate, your dad is just the best. Hope your project turns out great, we’ll be watching for you. To Erik, YOUR A BLOODY GENIUS!!! Don’t ever stop, mate. Good on you.

  61. Posted February 22, 2011 at 7:49 am | Permalink

    Härliga kommentarer du fått här, och visst har vi väl en “kan-fixa-allt-pappa”? Han är GENIAL! Kramar / Syrran

    Great comments you’ve got here, and we sure have a “can-fix-anything-dad”, don’t we??? ;) He is BRILLIANT! Love you! /Sis

  62. Posted March 2, 2011 at 1:52 am | Permalink

    i want to buy one of those :D
    i love it :p

  63. Posted April 25, 2011 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

    Wow, that is cool! I have to admit I was impressed with the video results. The followfocus has me in the garage as we speak! Thanks for the great vid!

  64. Dylan
    Posted June 3, 2011 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

    DUDE that is SICCCCCCC!!!!! You should patent that method of doing follow focus, seriously, it is so stinking brilliant!!!!!!

  65. Lena
    Posted June 13, 2011 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    Hey, is it possible to get an instruction on this? my dad and i would also like to build a wooden shoulder rig like this. but my dad needs more details on the different pieces.

    would be really great if you and your dad could pass it along.

  66. Posted July 26, 2011 at 11:08 pm | Permalink

    I love the wooden rig; was wondering if the focus puller seemed intuitive like when focusing normally; I find that a focus puller gear always seems backwards to me (rotating towards the front of the camera with a focus gear seems like it should focus further away rather than the reverse…) I really have a hard time focus pulling and yet I have no problem focusing a camera on the fly..

    Love the article, seeing your dad doing the woodwork, and the beauitful dog ;-)

  67. Posted August 24, 2011 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

    Hi Vin! Thanx!

    Well, since i have different brands on my lenses (sigma canon tamron) i always have to adapt to different ways of thinking when focusing. It takes some time getting used to every time you switch but eventually you get along fine. :)

  68. Posted September 8, 2011 at 12:46 am | Permalink

    The rig looks great John!

    What are you using to attach the rig handle to the focus ring? What kind of part is that?

  69. Niklas
    Posted September 13, 2011 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    Fan, tänk om min farsa var sådär händig…

  70. Marcus
    Posted September 15, 2011 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

    hej! grym rigg! finns det möjligen någon ritning eller beskrivning till hur man bygger sig en egen?

  71. admin
    Posted October 9, 2011 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    Hej! =) Tack! Det finns tyvärr ingen ritning eller mer ingående beskrivning till hur man gör den än vad som ses i filmen.

  72. Mikey
    Posted November 8, 2011 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

    Hey, what is the carbon fibre stick for?

  73. Mikey
    Posted November 8, 2011 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    Hey,
    I have some more questi0ons if you can answer, What is the new metal ring, did you make it? On the old design; the hose clamp one, did you attach the tab to which it attaches to the link or did you find a clamp like that?

  74. Raúl
    Posted January 13, 2012 at 4:10 am | Permalink

    Ahhh… Tools, tools, tools! What an AWESOME job,man. That’s more than a rig; it’s a piece of ART! The focus puller is a GREAT idea. Congrats!

  75. Posted May 31, 2012 at 12:40 am | Permalink

    Hi,
    Your work is amazing. We need a videographer to create a 2.5 min video for kickstarter.com to raise funds for our new company. We have a loose script and storyboard. We can only offer tiny stipen. Would you know of anyone to help us? We live in NY.

  76. Reg
    Posted June 1, 2012 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    That’s awesome! so different!

  77. Posted February 21, 2013 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

    Hi! Very nice rig! I am also doing My own, but not this advanced. How did you mount the camera to the rig? Did you buy a screw?
    Thanks for reply soon.

  78. admin
    Posted February 22, 2013 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    Yes we bought a long screw and glued on a rubber bottom where the camera is mounted. The screw goes up through the middle of the thin rubber. Please post your version when you are done!

  79. William
    Posted May 19, 2013 at 12:35 am | Permalink

    You have inspired me to make my own, I just have a couple of questions. What are the general dimensions? I have no experience with comercial shoulder rigs, so no way to judge. Also Could you provide us with more details on your updated focusing ring?

  80. Benjamin
    Posted June 13, 2013 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    Hi Jonathan,

    I not yet have any experience with focusing on dsrl’s,
    but this idea seems the best to me. And I looked around a lot.

    I do have a 18-300 alround lens. Did you maybe meanwhile got some experience if your design works also for such lenses?

    Does someone tried to use the other hand for the zoom?

    I really like to build such a rig!

  81. Amir D.
    Posted December 17, 2013 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

    Wow. Nicely done. Congrats to you, and of course to your skillful dad who made this masterpiece… Watching him work was like watching a violin maker producing his latest creation. As one of the other guys stated: I truly hope you patented your zoom invention! That’s simply ingenious!! Greetings from Bosnia-Hezegovina

  82. Nyunt Shwe
    Posted March 17, 2014 at 1:21 am | Permalink

    I’ve seen and liked your wooden rig very much. I tried to build it myself, but, as a non-Japanese in Tokyo, it’s very difficult to find necessary materials here. I just use plain rig without follow focus with my 7D.
    Thanks for the inspiration! Thanks to your genius father, too!!

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