A new portable jib is available to aspiring consumer videographers. It lets them achieve really cool jib camera moves, but under hand-held portable control, and for a much more affordable price.
CoolJib is made by CoolContraptions, and is available in two models: the standard aluminum version and a lighter weight, more durable, carbon fiber model. The CoolJib system is built as a kit complete with easy to assemble parts: poles with grips, camera plate, monitor plate, pulley system, and Velcro strips for fastening all cables. Your camcorder is attached to the camera plate while an optional monitor is connected to the monitor plate. Assembly time is typically under 10 minutes.
For all you videographers who use Sony camcorders (and some Canon camcorders), CoolContraptions also offers the CoolZoom- a tiny remote control zooming device. With CoolZoom attached right above your lower hand that holds the CoolJib, your thumb and fingers can easily control the zooming functions. CoolZoom LEDs indicate the cameras operational mode- whether its recording or in pause. The zoom rate can be adjustable, with increased pressure on the CoolZoom joystick, or at a fixed slow “creep” speed- my personal favorite.
This remote control zooming is very practical because with the camera jibbed out; reaching the zoom control is awkward. The CoolZoom cable plugs into your Sony camcorders’ remote control jack. Sony pioneered the use of the LANC remote control protocol in its consumer camcorders, and continues to offer it today through the dual function AV/R port, where R stands for Remote Control.
HDMI HD Monitor Option
All camcorders have rotating LCD monitors, and when your camcorder is jibbed out, you have to adjust the LCD monitor so it’s always viewable from your position. This can get awkward because you might not be able to get a clear view of the LCD monitor with all the jib moves. A more practical solution is to use an optional external HD monitor with HDMI input.
External battery powered HDMI monitors are made by several companies, like Ikan and Marshall Electronics. They start around $500 and go up, depending on their size and resolution. The 5-in size is an ideal compromise between size and weight, although a 7-in monitor will fit on the CoolJib monitor bracket. The Ikan V5600 is a good choice at 5.6-in and 1024 x 600 resolution. The video from your HD camcorder is connected to the HD monitor through an optional HDMI video cable.
Using CoolJib with DSLR Cameras
DSLRs today can also shoot HD video, but some models are heavy - more than three pounds, which make them top heavy and hard to control with CoolJib. A better solution is the newest generation of lightweight interchangeable lens cameras. I tested out the CoolJib using the Sony NEX-7 camera with its kit zoom lens. But because of the camera’s design, it was necessary to add an optional moveable baseplate ($50) by Manfrotto. This balances out the NEX-7’s center of gravity perfectly for easier movement.
My Field Tests
I attached my heavy 2.8 lb Sony 3D TD10 camcorder to the CoolJib/CoolZoom combo, with an external Ikan V5600 HD monitor. Then I jumped into the worst case scenario, shooting a parade with lots of annoying bystanders, who often block your view. But CoolJib circumvented this problem allowing me unobstructed views of the marchers, even with bystanders right in front of me! The external HD monitor gave me a clear view of everything being recorded, and the CoolZoom was very useful in remote controlling my zoom shots. An optional fishing pole holder, worn around my neck, provided a useful resting point and fulcrum for the CoolJib- taking much of the stress off my arms and hands.
Overall, the combination of CoolJib with the optional CoolZoom let me get dramatic shots in challenging shooting environments. I even reversed the HD monitor and the CoolJib position, allowing me to shoot dramatic low POV “doggie-cam” style shots. In other shooting situations, the CoolJib/CoolZoom combo let me extend the camera into areas I normally couldn’t reach.
My only complaint is the Ikan external monitor I used needed new AA batteries about every hour! But current models use camcorder style rechargeable batteries, which can last up to two hours. Since CoolJib is hand-held, your arms may need a rest after using it for a while, depending on the weight of your camcorder.
Tony Gomez is a veteran producer, editor, videographer, digital photographer, and reviewer of consumer and professional digital imaging and video products, with over 30 years experience.
a hand-held portable jib system giving videographers exciting new camera moves. Optional CoolZoom offers remote zooming on Sony and some Canon camcorders.
CoolJib must be hand-held which might tire out your arms after long shooting sessions.
There’s nothing like it in the affordable consumer space to achieve dramatic jib-style camera moves.