How to Build a Vertical Camera Rig- Shooting a Mockumentary
This is a guest blog post by, Jacob Laureanti, 1st Assistant Cameraman and ICG Local 600 in Los Angeles. He shares his story about shooting a 20 episode mockumentary distributed on TikTok and Instagram. The first challenge was how to build a vertical camera rig.
"H.A.U.N.T. is a 20 episode short series mockumentary that premiered on July 10. In an alternate reality Los Angeles, CA has a new bureaucratic program called the Housing Administration for Unbodied and Non-living Tenants (H.A.U.N.T.). The deceased have recently obtained legal rights and protections to stay in their dwelling. As one of the first Living Tenants in this program Liv, played by Liz Gunnell, is being followed by a film crew to see how this new progressive housing program will turn out. The crew capturers all her interactions with new ghost roommate, Carl. At the core, this is a story about two roommates, one just happens to be dead. With each episode around 60-90 seconds H.A.U.N.T. a fun glimpse of what it would be like to have a ghost roommate.
When I got the call for this job I was told it would be distributed on TikTok with a 9x16 aspect ratio. During the first meeting with the director, Shannon Mclnally, it was clear we wanted a run and gun handheld feel. I had no idea how I was going to mount a camera vertically and be able to operate for 4 days straight on my shoulder. The next day, I got Zacuto’s Newsletter featuring the first look at the Zacuto Rotator. I knew right then this was the perfect tool!
We paired the Zacuto Rotator with the Sony FX6 and Angénieux EZ-2 FF 15-40mm zoom lens. The first worry I had was that the camera would be too front heavy due to the lens being about 3lbs heavier than the camera body. The Rotator was easy to slide back and forth on the Recoil Shoulder Rig to find the perfect balance. The Kameleon Pro EVF also has its own rotator that mounts the EVF 90 degrees to have the image vertical.
There were a few times I needed to zoom past 40mm. My 1st AC, Ricardo Rubio, was able to quickly rotate the camera rig from vertical to 16x9. He then pulled up 9x16 frame lines. This allowed us to cheat the look of a longer lens. It was super easy to switch and no additional parts were needed. This would not be possible without the Zacuto Rotator. "