Carbon Fiber Jibs, Cranes and Dollies

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  • carbon fiber, jib, camera crane, camera cranes, travel jib, jibs, lightweight crane, cranes, jibs, dolly, dollies, portable, track, rail, boom, time-lapse, motorized, car mount
  • jib, crane, carbon fiber, camera crane, camera cranes, travel jib, jibs, lightweight crane, travel, cranes, jibs, dolly, dollies, portable, track, rail, boom, time-lapse, motorized, car mount, jimmy jib
carbon fiber, jib, camera crane, camera cranes, travel jib, jibs, lightweight crane, travel, cranes, jibs, dolly, dollies, portable, track, rail, boom, time-lapse, motorized, car mount, jimmy jib

Is carbon fiber more expensive?

Everyone knows carbon fiber costs more than steel or aluminum. The cost per pound is more than 10 times higher than aluminum. So why are aircraft manufacturers replacing most aluminum with carbon fiber in all their new planes?

The answer is carbon fiber actually costs less when you consider the whole picture. The same is true for the Carbon XL 10 System. Because of the unique design, the carbon fiber system actually cost less than buying all the same functions from other vendors in aluminum!

Check it out for yourself. Choose an aluminum crane, jib, dolly system, powered time lapse, hot head, etc. from another vendor’s website. Add up the costs to match the Carbon XL features, lengths, and sizes. You will find that the total cost for these separate aluminum systems is as much as 50% higher than the carbon fiber system.

Then add up the total weight of all the components and the number of shipping cases. The advantage of the carbon fiber system is astounding.

Now imagine arriving at an airline counter with 4 cases of carbon fiber system weighing less than 100 pounds, or an aluminum system with 8 to 10 cases weighing 300 pounds or more. Add up those baggage charges in your mind. Start worrying about whether one rental vehicle will hold all the equipment when you arrive at the next airport. Try not to imagine what it will be like if you have to move all the cases by hand to make a flight connection in an international terminal. Is the last leg of the journey in a single engine aircraft? Hope not.

When you finally arrive, where will you get that extra 100 pounds of balance weights?

The light-weight carbon fiber system costs less to buy. It is much easier to travel with, in your car, or by plane, helicopter, VW bug taxi, or canoe. It costs much less for excess baggage charges. When you need to move it from the vehicle to the setup site, it is much easier to carry. You are less likely to strain yourself setting up the lightweight parts, or moving the assembly for a different shot angle. You need about half as much balance weight, and you are able to shoot where vehicles cannot go.

With the Carbon XL 10 System, carbon fiber costs less than aluminum in more ways than you can count.

Can I lease a Carbon XL system 10?

Yes, we do offer a lease-to-purchase program. If you need the equipment now, but you do not wish to use up your cash, you can lease our equipment for 3 to 5 years and buy it out for $1 at the end of the lease.

For example, a $15,000 system would have a monthly payment of about $500 per month for 36 months. At the end of the lease, you can buy the equipment for only $1 more. For established businesses with a good credit rating, there is no down payment, just the first month’s lease payment in advance.

If you are renting similar equipment at the rental houses, you may be paying out enough to lease one of our systems every month. If you rent your Carbon XL systems out to friends a few days each month, you may even cover your lease payments.

Download lease form.

What can you do with Aim and Shoot controls?

The new Carbon XL Aim and Shoot crane head control system is a big hit with many surprised camera operators. Instead of using a joystick for pan/tilt, you can steer the Aim and Shoot pan/tilt using a tripod control arm, just as you do with the camera mounted on a tripod in front of you.

Aim and Shoot camera control is a unique method for controlling camera pan and tilt when the camera is located remotely on the end of a crane arm. Move the tripod control arm down, and the camera tilts up, just as it would on a tripod. Sensors and motors duplicate your pan-tilt movements at the camera. You can use any tripod arm and attach it to our unique pan-tilt sensors.

Aim and Shoot camera control is much easier to learn and use than joystick control and it allows you to do everything with one hand, freeing your other hand to move the crane.

A frequent first time user reaction is:
"This is amazing! I have only been using the Aim and Shoot for one minute and I am already better at aiming the camera than I am with a joystick. It is so much more intuitive."

How difficult is it to switch from Crane to front jib operation?

How difficult is it to switch from Crane to front jib operation?

People are amazed to see the Carbon XL powered crane head convert into a front-operated jib in only 15 seconds. Start with a high Aim and Shoot crane pan over the top of the crowd, and then step out to the camera on the end of the boom and shoot a close-up interview with a perfectly balanced zero-gravity front-operated jib. No head change. No Fluid head to install. No rebalance. No wires to disconnect. No jib tilt drag needed. Just let go of the camera in any position and it stays put. Switch back to powered crane pan/tilt in 15 seconds.

"This is a show-stopping feature! It takes me 20 minutes to remove my hot head, install a fluid head, and re-balance everything. You just switched both directions in less than 30 seconds!" "This will change my whole shooting approach!"

What is a Zero Gravity head?

A Zero Gravity Head is a freely moving camera mount that balances the camera on vertical and horizontal pivots aligned with the center of gravity of the camera. When properly adjusted, the camera will pan and tilt to any position, and remain in place when released. Zero Gravity heads are an extra cost option, or not available at all with most crane/jib systems.

Fluid heads have the horizontal tilt pivot located beneath the camera center of gravity, so built in springs prevent the camera from flopping over under its own weight. These springs must be carefully adjusted and tilt lock or drag is still required at some angles. Close up shots are more difficult, because the camera moves forward and back as the fluid head tilts.

Shooting with a fluid head at the end of a jib is different than shooting with a zero gravity head. With a fluid head, you cannot pan or tilt without simultaneously moving the jib arm in reaction to the fluid head drag force. The camera operator must try to control the jib arm with his other hand, and even with his body and head, or add a lot of drag, or lock the jib arm down. Adding drag to the jib arm pivot will frequently cause bounce back and drift if you let go of the camera at the end of a move. You also can only use one hand on the camera, because the other must control the jib reaction.

With a zero-gravity head, many of these control problems go away. You can also save the extra weight required to balance the fluid head on a jib arm. If a zero-gravity head is properly balanced, you can pan and tilt the camera, and release it without kick back at the end of your move. Less effort is required and you can move the jib, and pan-tilt the camera, with only one hand. Lower inertia and no drag permit you move and stop the camera rapidly, and with less effort.

It is misconception that a heavy head and fluid drag is the only way to move the camera smoothly. A camera mounted to rotate around its center of gravity works as well or better. (The geared head can also achieve this in tilt, but it is slow.)

Ironically, still photographers have been using zero-gravity heads to stabilize their extreme telephoto lenses for years.

A zero-gravity head is standard on the Carbon XL 10 System.

What is All Angle Balance?

All Angle Balance is the ability to balance a crane or jib at high tilt angles, horizontally, and at low tilt angles without drag or any adjustment. Can all cranes and jibs do this? No, very few jib/cranes can balance at all angles. Even if most cranes and jibs are balanced horizontally, the crane will be unbalanced at other angles, and it must have a drag brake to maintain tilt position. The problem is caused by the geometry used to build most jib/crane arms.

If a crane or jib has a parallelogram linkage on the camera end, with the camera on a cantilevered platform, the crane will not balance at all angles without a parallelogram weight platform on the balance weight end as well.

Think about it. When the crane swings upward, the parallelogram arm leverage distance shortens with tilt angle at both ends. The problem is that the camera extends out from the parallelogram linkage, and this distance does not change with tilt angle. By the time the tilt is up to 60 degrees, the balance error is about 5%, depending on the crane geometry. It is easier to visualize the imbalance when the crane is straight up; then the camera offset still unbalances the crane.

For many cranes, the only solution is to add tilt drag or to hold the crane in position manually; then you become the added balance weight. Otherwise, the crane will fall with significant velocity when released if it has no drag brake applied. (Hence the call, "Be sure to lock the crane")

Some cranes have a cantilevered parallelogram weight basket on the rear. Will they balance at all angles? The answer is yes and no.

The second part of the solution for All Angle Balance is that the balance weights must be concentrated at distance from the parallelogram pivot that is proportional to the camera offset on the front platform. The proportion required is the ratio of the crane front arm length to the crane rear arm length. The required offset varies with the arm length ratios, but conveniently, the balance weight offset is not change with camera weight.

Here is how you can tell if a crane has all angle balance capability. If you see a jib/crane with only one beam extending to the balance weight end, it cannot achieve All Angle Balance. If the crane has a rear weight basket, it might achieve all angle balance if the weights are concentrated at the right distance from the pivot.

Carbon XL 10 Systems achieves All Angle Balance with a pivoting rear weight bar on a parallelogram link. The bar mount adjusts through the weight offset range required for all possible front/rear arm length ratios.

You do not have to understand the explanation above. Just adjust the Carbon XL weight mount pivot until the crane balances at all angles. For the same front/rear arm lengths, the weight bar pivot position will always be the same.

How long does it take to assemble a Carbon XL crane?

The Carbon XL system a can be assembled in many configurations, so the assembly time depends on the combination you choose for a shot.

The worst case is the full-length crane with remote camera operation, monitoring and control. For two experienced operators, the assembly time is about 45 minutes from opening the cases to shooting the first shot. The extremely light weight of all the components and balance weights make the job easier.

You will see videos of jibs assembled more rapidly, but they are usually much shorter, have the tripod and weights already prepared, and do not have remote controls, wiring, guy wire installation, and video monitoring.