Some of the most used tools on a Hollywood set are C-Stands and Apple Boxes. Then there are these little babies, Baby Plates. What is a Baby Plate you ask? It’s a 5/8 stud, about 3″ tall, welded onto a 3.5″ x 6″ metal plate. It has many uses. Allow me to share a few of those that I’ve used on the set.
One of the most common uses for a Baby Plate is a very low light stand:It has a very solid feel and is very stable for most strobe heads. As you can see in the picture, this Baby Plate has 8 holes in its base. Some will have 4. The purpose for those holes is to be able to mount it in various ways. This brings up another very cool use for a Baby Plate:You can mount a Baby Plate onto your garage rafter or ceiling pending on how your studio is set up. The reason I love this setup is because if you’re using a hair light or background light to create separation on your talent, you know how I love to create depth in my lighting. The Baby Plate mounted on the ceiling opens up your studio floor space eliminating the use of a light stand that could clutter up your floor. Now let me emphasize something very important here. Anytime you’re going to mount or hang something that is going to be above your talent, you must secure it safely! Notice that I’m using an aircraft cable with a locking d-link mounted onto the Baby Plate. Should the strobe head come loose, it will be secured with the aircraft cable. When I’m shooting, I always practice Safe Sets! Always! It’s a great recipe for success. Here’s another way to mount a Baby Plate:Securely fastened to a wall, again not screwed into drywall. Find a stud (I know what you’re thinking), or if the area where you need to mount the Baby Plate is between studs, make sure you use the appropriate drywall screw fastener for the weight of the strobe head and the Baby Plate. Here is another type of Baby Plate for mounting on a wall:It’s a L-Bracket, these are great when you want to get your strobe head out a bit from the wall because of the reflector or umbrella you might have mounted onto the strobe head. It enables you to adjust the light more than just the standard Baby Plate. Think Safety! This technique is also great for getting those light stands off the valuable studio floor.
Now let’s think outside the box a little bit. Here’s a creative way to use a Baby Plate:I went to Home Depot and purchased a pre-cut pine round 1″ x 17.75″ piece of wood, mounted the Baby Plate to it then secured it onto a short C-Stand:Can you see where I’m going with this? Put some fabric and an old looking phone on it, and it becomes a nice table to dress your set with.Now that’s cool! There are so many wonderful ways to use Baby Plates. Be creative! Where do you get a Baby Plate you may ask? B&H has a great selection, here’s the link: <http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/search?N=10003612&InitialSearch=yes&sts=pi>
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Mike is best known for his work on countless popular shows that are household names: CSI, CSI: Miami, CSI: NY, JAG, Boston Legal, Pretty Little Liars to name a few. His current projects are NCIS and NCIS: Los Angeles.
Mike is a Trainer for KelbyOne, and Los Angeles Center of Photography. Mike is also a member of the International Cinematographers Guild.
You can view Mike’s work at 4stills.com, and follow him on Facebook at 4Stills.