Making a Jib Arm at Home

A jib arm is basically a mini crane that is used on film sets to create crane like shots. It won't be the same as using a 50 foot Techno crane, but it still gives a very dramatic and dynamic look. Jib arms are great to use, but can be expensive to own and rent. If you're a low budget filmmaker, then these are the shots you want but can't afford. Fortunately, you can build your own jib arm. 

Using a Professional Jib Arm vs. Making Your Own

The jib arm that you make at home will be adequate, but it definitely won't be able to compete with the high end jib arms like a Jimmy Jib for one crucial and high tech reason. Professional jibs employ what is known as a remote head. The camera is mounted at the far end of the jib on the remote head. Wires lead back to the other end, where the jib operator can control the pan and tilt of the camera. This allows the camera to move and compensate for the jib movements, which creates a more dynamic shot.

What You'll Need

So here's how you can make your own jib arm for a very cheap price. You will need an eight to ten foot aluminum pipe. (The weight of the camera plays a huge role in the length of the pipe because a heavier camera will bend it. If you have a big camera consider another metal). You'll also need three nuts and bolts (the nuts should be the same size as the camera mount for the tripod) and weights, plus a system for stabilizing the jib arm onto a base. This could involve adapting castors to fit on your tripod or by modifying a saw horse to be the jib arm's base. You will also need a four step ladder to rest the arm on when counter balancing.

Step 1: Drill Holes and Mount Pipe

Drill one hole near the end of the pipe. Then, drill two more holes about eight inches apart from each other on the other end. Mount the pipe to the base with most of the pipe extended out to the side that has one hole. Rest that on the step ladder.

Step 2: Mount Camera and Add Weights

Securely mount the camera to the extended end with the bolt. Then, add counter weights to the other side and keep them in place with the two other nuts and bolts. Add weights until the arm feels balanced. You now have a jib arm.