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c-stand etiquette?


Patrick Lavalley
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I agree with all of the C-stand suggestions, regarding leg placement, booming, and staging. I would also avoid the "drunken" C-stand technique. This is where you flip the stand upside down to open the legs. This is a sure way to hit someone walking by, damage the head, and, it looks unprofessional. If the legs are being stubborn, try grabbing another stand and work on the difficult one later.

Edited by Phil Bradshaw
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Another important safety point is to make sure that all knuckles and extensions on a c-stand are fully locked when not in-use. This may seem like an obvious rule, but I've seen this often on "no-budget" and student sets. In fact, I got a nice little nose fracture last year from someone else's negligence.

 

oops ! that must have been a nasty little accident . seamus ! from where i come from, i need to also personnaly make sure that the lady's legs are all bootied and laced up, lest she leaves lasting scars on the most expensive parquet flooring ! rajkumar

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Guest Evan Pierre
I agree with all of the C-stand suggestions, regarding leg placement, booming, and staging. I would also avoid the "drunken" C-stand technique. This is where you flip the stand upside down to open the legs. This is a sure way to hit someone walking by, damage the head, and, it looks unprofessional. If the legs are being stubborn, try grabbing another stand and work on the difficult one later.

 

I am a student, and whenever I set up a C-Stand I flip it so the pin/gobo head is jammed into my shoe and I pull open the legs from there. Is this incorrect? Am i using the drunken method?

 

What would you say is the proper way to open it?

 

Thanks

 

-Evan

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It depends a lot on what kind of stand it is and what kind of place you're in. I've never seen a C-stand so crappy that you could damage the head just by turning it upside down. But that would be a good idea to avoid if you're out in the mud. Resting it on your foot is a good idea if you need to protect the floor.

 

As to what kind of stand -- The spring loaded click into the notch type are usually easier to set up or fold up by grabbing them low with your right hand, picking them up to above waist level, then turning the legs with your left (or vice versa if left handed). But if you're in a place with a low ceiling, that can be a bad idea. The older screw knob in the bottom type can be a bear to do that way, and often are easier to flip over. The screw knob in the side type are usually easier to do right side up.

 

As for stands that are especially hard to set up, put them aside, and when you get some time, go at them with WD-40 and rags. If you can't make them work right, send them back.

 

Start with the big picture. Scope out the truck and the location. Then figure on getting the stands out of the way from the truck to the place where it makes sense to do the setting up, and then move them to where you're shooting. Often there'll be a corner of a driveway or some such place where you're out of the way and can swing the stands around without causing any grief.

 

 

 

-- J.S.

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I got mine nearly chewed off on my first day under a pro gaffer when I twisted a light without loosening the tie-down screw first, thus grinding the stud. Haven't done that again and now I tell noobs before they do it to my kit.

 

I make it a policy to try to make only new mistakes. :)

 

Also, because I have many lightweight light stands I hate it when someone just drops a bag on a leg from two feet up instead of placing it on carefully.

Edited by Steve London
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I've never been told not to, so I nearly always do the "drunken" c-stand opening. I usually do like Evan and put the head on my shoe.

 

It's fun how nit-picky people can become about these kinds of things. As long as it doesn't damage the gear or cause unnecessary safety risk to others, you should be fine.

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The problem with the drunken method is that there is a good chance of hitting something or someone while flipping it over. This method is required in certain circumstance but you look much cooler and save some time if you don't have to flip it.

 

For the non spring loaded kind all it usually takes to open the legs once you have loosened the knob is to give it a quick spin in the right direction.

 

For the spring loaded kind I find it easiest to pick up the stand with my right hand and then use my left hand to open the legs. If I need an extra hand for a stubborn stand I will use my knee.

 

This is all much easier to do than it is to explain.

 

Try not to confuse turtle stands with non spring loaded stands or the bottom will fall off when you loosen the knob.

 

~Jess

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High leg centered back of the arm and bag the leg there.

The high leg should normally be under the load with a sand bag on it there. This requires less weight for the same amount of stability as putting the leg/bag on the opposite side of the load does.

 

You put the sandbag on the high leg so that it does not touch the ground. If it is touching the ground it is not doing its job.

 

~Jess

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The problem with the drunken method is that there is a good chance of hitting something or someone while flipping it over. This method is required in certain circumstance but you look much cooler and save some time if you don't have to flip it.

 

Not to be argumentative, but I have just never knocked into something while doing it. Even in tight corners. I suppose a small amount of coordination is required, but if you can't do that, you probably can't boom out a light either. An awareness for what's happening around you is required. I don't really see how it saves time either as it takes all of half a second to do. As for looking cool....I'll leave that alone. :-)

 

With so many things to be fussy and anal-retentive about, it's a wonder anything gets done. I'm all for doing things safely and efficiently, but some people really take things a bit too seriously. I suppose that's how they make themselves feel important, by constantly nit-picking the actions of their subordinates.

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I am personally not very anal about the drunken method unless I see someone causing problems by doing it. If you are aware of your surroundings it is not that big of a deal, but since there is really no reason to do it that way why not do it an easier way?

 

Another advantage to opening the stand without flipping it is that it is easier to do while walking. The time saved may not be huge, but I see no reason to do it the slower way.

 

~Jess

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re: drunken method for spring stands - Consider simply resting the stand's shaft on your shoulder with the feet before you and using both hands to open it. No spinning necessary. And it looks a lot cooler.

 

re: cable under stand - Never run a cable under a stand - never. Always keep at least a couple loops near the base so when someone trips, the loop is pulled, not the stand. Same goes for the power end of the cable. Use more loops if the stand has a chance of being moved significantly. Add a stinger if you are running out of loops at either end. Orient the loop so it pays to the stand from the top of the loop to accommodate stand raising/movement.

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re: drunken method for spring stands - Consider simply resting the stand's shaft on your shoulder with the feet before you and using both hands to open it. No spinning necessary. And it looks a lot cooler.

 

re: cable under stand - Never run a cable under a stand - never. Always keep at least a couple loops near the base so when someone trips, the loop is pulled, not the stand. Same goes for the power end of the cable. Use more loops if the stand has a chance of being moved significantly. Add a stinger if you are running out of loops at either end. Orient the loop so it pays to the stand from the top of the loop to accommodate stand raising/movement.

 

The reason that I argued against the "drunken" method in the first place was that by doing what Michael has explained above, almost any C-stand will open without being obtrusive in any way. On set, you want to be fast, efficient, and safe. Without over-analyzing, opening a C-stand vertically greatly reduces your diameter for potential property or personal damage.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I agree with the opening method on the shoulder. Shoulders are also a good way to carry two c-stands with legs forward, the weight disapears and you only need to grip/balance with your hands. Whipping around metal like the "drunken method" is asking for trouble. Once you hit something using the drunken method, that'll be the last time you'll want to do that (not from experience, btw, just foresight).

 

Cable under a stand always looks extremely dangerous to me, and I fix it whenever I see it.

 

Righty-tighty. Long leg forward. Already said.

 

Sandbag placement on c-stands seems arbitrary to me - I always mix it up for flavour. With long leg under the weight, most of the work is done, the bag is just adding mass. I like red bags vs black ones for visibility, and then maybe place it on the side that people pass by so they can see it and/or can't loop their foot under the leg. If balance really becomes a problem (ie wind), you need a larger stand than the c-stand, with a larger base and bag the supports as far out as possible.

 

If you don't need to use the entire length of each riser stage, don't do it, the stands are stronger with the metal overlapping inside.

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If you don't need to use the entire length of each riser stage, don't do it, the stands are stronger with the metal overlapping inside.

 

I'll add one to that. Unless it's windy and the strength is needed, use the top riser first then the middle, etc. I hate looking like an idiot when I'm asked to stem up a tiny bit only to find it's been put up on the bottom (fattest) riser and I have to lower it the whole way down just to put it back up a bit higher and reset everything.

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Sandbag placement on c-stands seems arbitrary to me - I always mix it up for flavour. With long leg under the weight, most of the work is done, the bag is just adding mass.

The reason for putting the bag on the tall leg is so that it does not touch the ground. If the bag is touching the ground it is not doing its job. If it will fit on another leg without touching the ground then there is no problem. Bags can be put on shorter legs by wraping the bag around the stand.

 

I'll add one to that. Unless it's windy and the strength is needed, use the top riser first then the middle, etc

Leaving an extra riser at the bottom also makes paning a lot simpler.

 

~Jess

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The reason for putting the bag on the tall leg is so that it does not touch the ground. If the bag is touching the ground it is not doing its job. If it will fit on another leg without touching the ground then there is no problem. Bags can be put on shorter legs by wraping the bag around the stand.

 

 

Leaving an extra riser at the bottom also makes paning a lot simpler.

 

~Jess

 

 

Don't get me wrong, I understand bagging technique, there's just so many opinions. I go back and forth with the long leg vs real counterbalance. I may start wrapping the bag around the column from above the long leg and put the weight towards the back.

 

There's enough in this thread for a book :P Much of this also applies to light stands.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I haven't used the latest of every brand out there. Here's a couple opinions:

 

Matthews: I have eight sliding-leg stands. Their new grip heads are absolutely the best. Set and lock with little to know settling into a final tightness. They have a new design for their sliding legs stands that's very slick. After loosening the wing-nut, I can open/close them with a flick of the wrist.

 

Modern: I have two Gary Coleman (20") stands. Grip heads not as good as Matthews but still a strong, firm grip after they settle into their loads. I don't care for their stainless steel design and slip-on feet. The welds get rusty fairly fast and the feet aren't cemented on. However, the bright yellow foot is a great safety marker on a dark set.

 

Norms: I have some older stands and grip heads so can't comment. I've retired all the boom arms & heads but still use the stands with Matthews hardware on top.

 

Michael

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I haven't used the latest of every brand out there. Here's a couple opinions:

 

Matthews: I have eight sliding-leg stands. Their new grip heads are absolutely the best. Set and lock with little to know settling into a final tightness. They have a new design for their sliding legs stands that's very slick. After loosening the wing-nut, I can open/close them with a flick of the wrist.

 

Modern: I have two Gary Coleman (20") stands. Grip heads not as good as Matthews but still a strong, firm grip after they settle into their loads. I don't care for their stainless steel design and slip-on feet. The welds get rusty fairly fast and the feet aren't cemented on. However, the bright yellow foot is a great safety marker on a dark set.

 

Norms: I have some older stands and grip heads so can't comment. I've retired all the boom arms & heads but still use the stands with Matthews hardware on top.

 

Michael

 

Thanks. It looks like I'll be sticking with Matthews then. I actually have a few of them. They are the only ones I have ever used, so therefore I was wondering if there was any better design out there. I am glad I made the right choice.

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Thanks. It looks like I'll be sticking with Matthews then. I actually have a few of them. They are the only ones I have ever used, so therefore I was wondering if there was any better design out there. I am glad I made the right choice.

 

If you're looking for the "best" C-Stand, my personal vote would go to American Grip's C-Stand. They have a bit thicker tubes and the grip head handles are by far the easiest to spin/tighten/untighten I've come across. Personally, I've found that the MSE line has suffered a tad in the QC since moving all it's manufacturing offshore (china I believe).

 

I'm not coming at this from a "buy american" perspective...just think American Grip's stuff is really great. Its all I'll buy now as they last a lot longer under extreme conditions. Check it out if you get a chance.

 

BTW- I'd place Modern at just as good as MSE and cheaper.

Edited by Paul Nordin
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If you're looking for the "best" C-Stand, my personal vote would go to American Grip's C-Stand. They have a bit thicker tubes and the grip head handles are by far the easiest to spin/tighten/untighten I've come across. Personally, I've found that the MSE line has suffered a tad in the QC since moving all it's manufacturing offshore (china I believe).

 

I'm not coming at this from a "buy american" perspective...just think American Grip's stuff is really great. Its all I'll buy now as they last a lot longer under extreme conditions. Check it out if you get a chance.

 

BTW- I'd place Modern at just as good as MSE and cheaper.

 

 

Thanks. I will look into them. I just started to see their online catalogue (American Grip) and they are indeed a bit pricier. So with the Matthews stuff, what kind of QC problems have you encountered?

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