It’s truly amazing to see the wealth of innovation that is coming to the aid of the mobile video producer these days. When it used to require a truckload of equipment and numerous bodies, today’s video crew of one or two can pack in everything they need to the remotest of locations and come away with footage previously thought impossible.
Where a nice dolly shot once required a wheeled cart and track, someone eventually thought, “Hmmm. What if we put some sort of sliding rails on a tripod?” And the very compact, extremely effective, slider dolly was born. In the same way the slider dolly brought innovation, compactness and mobility to horizontal movement, the folks at indiSYSTEM are bringing it to the vertical realm with their AIRjib and AIRjibXL jib arms.
Built For Action
Oftentimes compromises must be made to camera supports when bringing innovation to market – particularly in the areas of size, weight and price. All three can be reduced and usually at the expense of strength and quality. Specialized materials, such as carbon fiber or titanium, may be used to maintain these attributes but at the cost of affordability. Indeed, indiSYSTEM has managed to achieve compact size and portable weight, as well as retain strength and quality, while keeping the price very affordable.
Constructed almost entirely of aluminum, the AIRjib and AIRjibXL are sturdy, lightweight and easy to setup, and they look good to boot. The round tubing and counterweight locking bar components retain their natural silvery aluminum appearance, while the rest is painted flat black.
The base of the unit contains two 1/4-inch and one 3/8-inch threaded holes for versatility in mounting options. Your tripod’s quick release mounting plate attaches nicely to the base for easy mounting. Near home, you’ll want to use a larger tripod for maximum stability. If you’re backpacking into some remote location, however, you’ll likely opt for the lightest tripod possible. In this case, be sure to stabilize it properly and be careful of uneven terrain. By the way, the AIRjib is great for backpacking – it weighs six pounds and folds down to 26-inches.
Rising above the base are two aluminum plates to which the jib arms attaches. Each plate has a 1/4-inch threaded hole to accommodate the included ball head mount and arm assembly. The assembly consists of a six-inch aluminum rod threaded onto a small ball head mount, creating the perfect perch for a remote monitor.
The jib arms consist of two lengths of square aluminum tubing, slotted along one side and two lengths of round tubing. The round tubing slides back and forth inside the square pieces to adjust the length of the boom arm. Once the desired length is set, locking knobs, extending through the slot and into the round pieces, are tightened, locking the pieces into position.
Another pair of upright aluminum plates attaches to the ends of the round tubing to elevate and secure the camera-mounting platform. The included quick release plate latches to the base of your camera and locks it in place on the bubble-level-equipped platform.
At the opposite end of the jib is the counterweight attachment point. A length of round tubing, inserted into the back of the upper arm, is locked into place. At the far end of the tubing is an L-shaped aluminum plate with three slots cut into it – each just the right size to accommodate the neck of a typical plastic bottle. A locking bar swings out of the way to allow the use of two bottles as big as two-liters for easily variable counterweights. Alternatively, steel drink containers and traditional weights may work just as well.
Up, Up and Away
Using the AIRjib is a joy and its small size and weight makes transportation a breeze. If you’re a videographer-hiker or traveling with your video gear, you’re packing a lightweight tripod and small camera already. Adding the AIRjib will barely be noticeable but the increased awesomeness of your work will be.
Like the plastic bottle counterweights, the AIRjib comes in more than one flavor: the AIRjib and AIRjibXL. The AIRjibXL is a bit larger, allowing it to achieve a maximum height of more than 10 feet while only weighing an additional three pounds and requiring another 10-inches of carrying space. Please note that care must be taken when handling the camera end of the jib. As the arm is lowered, the two arms can become flush and your fingers could get pinched.
The motion the AIRjib allows is dependent on the user’s technique, and many old rules apply, anything that can smooth out your application of movement can help the final video. Also to note here, lateral movement is only as good that the pan capability on your tripod.
Setup of either model takes mere minutes. Attach the tripod quick release plate to base and jib to well-stabilized tripod. Release the boom arm locking knobs, adjust length, and lock in place. Attach quick release plate to camera, then camera to platform. Slide counterweight assembly into rear of upper jib arm and lock into place. Attach plastic bottles or traditional weights to properly counterbalance camera. Setup the optional remote monitor if desired. Shoot awesome video.
Weight: AIRjib – 6lbs.; AIRjibXL – 9lbs.
Capacity: AIRjib – 8lbs.; AIRjibXL – 9lbs.
2L Bottle Carrier: Max counter weight 4 liters (8.8lbs.) – both models
Dimensions: AIRjib – 26″x 8″x 3″ (collapsed); 44″x 8″x 3″ (fully extended)
AIRjibXL – 36″x 8″x 3″ (collapsed); 62″x 8″x 3″(fully extended)
Maximum Camera Height: AIRjib – 7′ 2″; AIRjibXL – 10′ 1″ – (based on standard tripod height of 40″)
Camera Quick Release Plate: Included – both models
Ball Head Mount Assembly: Included – both models
- Very compact
- Sturdy build
- Easy setup
- 7′ to 10′ camera elevation
- No carrying case
Contributing Editor Mark Holder is a video producer and trainer.