Recently, I had a chance to try out some new techniques while shooting. One of my clients, The Rack Athletic Performance Center, is a training facility cleverly disguised as a gym. The trainers there emphasize functional training, not working out. I produce short, less than a minute, easy to absorb videos that are an integral part of their marketing and social media outreach.
Pull Push Prowler
One of the pieces of training gear we focused on is the Prowler. This is an equilateral triangle made of steel with sled like skis at each apex. There are poles for weights as well as a place to tie a thick rope. The Prowler is an effective cardio workout device. That I can tell you from personal experience.
The plan is to show an athlete pulling the Prowler with a rope then pushing it back into the starting position. Two setups are needed to tell the story. The first one is a Point of View (POV) shot from the Prowler looking down the length of the rope. The shot will show the front of the Prowler as it’s being pulled down length of The Rack then pushed back again. Side view cutaway shots of the pulling and the pushing would add context revealing the Prowler with weights. Both setups offered a challenge that the Platypod Pro Max solved handily.
Platypod Pro Max
Almost centered in the Max version is a 3/8’s inch stud that is perfect for mounting a large ball head. In this case, a BH-55 from Really Right Stuff shown below. The camera’s L-Bracket clips into the clamp on top of the ball head. The Platypod Pro Max, ball head and Canon 1Dx body with a 20mm f/1.4 Sigma Art lens is the lead shot of this post.
This ball head gets a lot of use as shown by the wear marks in the clamp.
Shot 1: Point of View
I considered several ways to put the Platypod Pro Max camera rig on the Prowler. Following the KISS principal (Keep It Simple, Shooter) First, I had to determine how high the camera had to be to frame the athlete at the end of the pulling section while including the front of the Prowler. I set the camera to live view mode. I looked through the Hoodman Loupe held on the camera’s monitor with the HoodCrane attached to the accessory shoe as shown in the third photo of this series. I attached a MAFER clamp at the right height, added a 10 pound plate on top of clamp, then locked it in place with another MAFER clamp. I put another MAFER clamp on the other pole along with another plate. I used two, three inch Pony A-clamps to attach a scrap piece of half inch plywood between the two plates. This created a very stable platform for the camera rig.
Mounting the camera rig
The Platypod Pro Max with the RRS ball head holding the camera and lens is a stable, versatile setup. I clamped the rig to the plywood with two one inch Pony A-Clamps. I used the 1Dx’s built in level to make the camera parallel to the floor. Looking through the Hood Loupe I finished framing the shot with the athlete holding the rope at the front of the Prowler again.
I started the camera rolling, signaled the athlete to pull the Prowler. At the end of the pull, he drops down then pushes it back to the starting place. I reviewed the footage. It was exactly what I’d imagined so it was time for the second setup.
Shot 2: Side view
This shot is an extremely low angle one. Frankly the Platypod Pro Max made this a piece of cake to pull off. All I had to do was put it on the floor and frame the shot. With the Prowler in position along with 180 pounds of additional weight, I lay prone and set the shot using Live View. I focused using the Hood Loupe / Crane combo. With the Prowler moved out of frame, I started the camera. First, the Prowler was pulled through the frame with the rope. Once it was clear, it was pushed back through the frame. That was all it took. This was the best video shoot I’ve ever done. It was two setups and it was done in two takes, thanks to planning and the versatility of the Platypod Pro Max. Yes, I do like this tool!
The Push Pull Prowler video
Now, let’s go from behind the scenes to the video itself. The story starts, unfolds and ends in just 38 seconds.
If you’re interested in the Platypod Max, you can check out their Kickstarter page.