Test Bench:SkyCrane SKeyeWALKER hand-held jib


$385

SkyCrane

2255 Heritage Drive

Costa Mesa, CA 92627

(949) 631-6065

www.skycrane.com

Looking more like something from Tool Time, than from Star Wars, the SKeyeWALKER Camera Jib, SkyCrane’s hand-held camera elevator, is fairly easy to use. With its straightforward design and simple setup, even inexperienced producers can operate the SKeyeWALKER.

The SKeyeWALKER Camera Jib provides a pretty stable platform for shooting from the ground to more than a meter over your head and every angle in between. Aimed at intermediate-to-advanced videographers looking for creative camera moves, the SKeyeWALKER can add the look of an expensive crane shot to your productions for a lot less of the money.


What it is

Looking like a cross between a post-apocalyptic weapon and a spare part from a Star Wars’ droid, the ingenious camera jib is nothing less than eye catching. The SKeyeWALKER is essentially a yard-long piece of rectangular aluminum, with two handles on one end and a camera arm mounted to a pulley, on the other. One of the handles is connected to the arm with a loop of cable so the handles rotate together, while the other handle has a bearing so it rotates freely.

To better illustrate how the SKeyeWALKER works, imagine a bicycle turned upside down. You can turn the pedal and the rear wheel turns because the chain connects the pedal crank to the wheel. Then if you mounted something at a particular spot on the wheel, you could move it simply by pedaling.

SKeyeWALKER works on this same principle, except you hold the pedal still to hold the wheel (where your camera sits) steady while the frame itself, moves. After you mount the camera on the arm, then you can move the jib up or down, holding the center handle still to hold the camera steady. Once you have your camera level or at whatever angle you want, then you can raise or lower the SKeyeWALKER jib to make a smooth transition to a different angle or perspective.


Some Examples

We took the SKeyeWALKER out amongst a gathering of children to see how it would work. We put our camera on the SKeyeWALKER and then set our shot up by getting the camera a little below face level with the kids and pointed slightly down. Once we were rolling, we smoothly brought up the SKeyeWALKER jib, keeping the camera at the same angle as when we started the shot.

Once we were over their heads, we tilted the camera forward by twisting the handle a bit. Then we ended on an overhead shot of the kids, after a dramatic sweeping rise from eye level to above the kids’ heads. This is where SKeyeWALKER really shines.

We attempted another test using the SKeyeWALKER to shoot a frontal shot of our company mascot, Dean, a Jack Russell Terrier, as he walked down the corridor. We mounted our camera on the camera bracket and then we used the jib to lower our shooting height. Not only were we able to capture a great closeup of Dean, but we didn’t have to crawl around on our bellies. It also made following Dean much easier.


Weight Matters

Although the jib itself is light, weighing only about 5 pounds, when you attach a camcorder, weight quickly becomes a factor. Keep in mind that when the jib is extended away from you, its weight and the weight of the camera multiplies. We first tried the Canon GL1, which weighs in at around 3 pounds, but it was a bit too heavy to control. We then switched to a lighter camcorder, the Panasonic PV-DV910 (1-3/4 pounds) and we were able to move more smoothly and with much more control.

When using the SKeyeWALKER, a smaller, lighter camcorder definitely works better. In addition, if you add an LCD display at the operator end of the jib, then you’ll have even more weight to contend with.

Weight plays another role in the balance of your camera. If your camera is front heavy (or back heavy), then you’re going to have to work harder at keeping the handle from twisting. The better balanced your camera is, the easier it will be to use the SKeyeWALKER.


In Conclusion

In order to wield the SKeyeWALKER camera jib as artfully as Obi-Wan did his light saber, you’ll need to spend some time practicing with it. You’ll also want to make sure your camcorder is light enough (under 3 pounds) for it to be really effective. But once you get the hang of it, the SKeyeWALKER can be a real asset, unleashing your creativity and giving you new camera angles and new techniques to add to your camera-move repertoire.

TECH SPECS

Recommended camera weight: Less than 3 lb.

Dimensions: 36" length 1"x2"

rectangular tubing

Weight: 5 lb. 1.1 oz.

STRENGTHS

  • Wide array of new shots, easily achieved.
  • Simplicity of design means very little
    to go wrong

    WEAKNESSES

  • Hard to wield with heavier Mini DVs
  • Difficult to balance.

    SUMMARY

  • An innovative product, which can add some very dramatic shots to your productions.
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