The Horse Collar

Here is a low-tech application of some of the principles of inertial stabilization. A "J" shaped piece of plywood (1) about the operatorís neck can hold the camera right in front of the face and can be counter-balanced by batteries (2) on the bottom left side of the board opposite the camera behind the operator. The center of gravity (CG) should be at the support points, the operatorís shoulders (3). Make the plywood larger than you think and cut away what you don't need after you place the battery hole. Mark the plywood where your shoulders touch the plywood and then balance the camera about this point with the position of the battery. Cut a hole for the battery that is a snug fit. Thin aluminum works well for a battery "bucket". If the rig will be used with different cameras or with and without a light (4), you might make a long battery trough that will allow the battery to move back and forth for weight and CG adjustment over the shoulder. Remember that you have an extension behind you when shooting around people and don't hit them when you turn your body.

This rig works very well in small boats and bouncing vehicles when the operator is securely seated. The operator's body acts as a million-dollar feedback stabilization system IF the weight is supported by his shoulders and guided by his arms. Guiding it closer to the support points, the shoulders, works best. In the picture I am holding it for focus and zoom control. It also works well for long shooting times, tele shots and gives the ability to move to a new position easily. If you don't have a periscope or tilting viewfinder on your camera, you can raise to camera to eye height with a block of wood. A threaded 1/4"20 or 3/8"-16 stud with two nuts will make a bolt to fit enough threads in the bottom of the camera and not "bottom". Washers help make bolt length adjustments too.

Isolating the walking motions of the operator from the camera is more difficult. The camera has to be better isolated from the operator's body. Practice helps a lot, small steps and wearing low profile shoes helps, such as moccasins. Moccasins are not good for the feet with an extra load on them. Try arch supports.

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