Hello, in this short guide I will explain, how to use sandbags (also called dirt or sand) properly and why it’s so important.
Sandbag is a basic tool necessary in every film plan and photo set. Standard weight of sandbags oscillate between 5 and 15 kg.
As You know, the most important thing at every work is safety of your crew and your expensive equipment. So if you use c-stands or booms you must use sandbags. Some time ago there was a loud issue when TV presenter was talking about sandbags (the needs to build embankment) and at this moment stand fell down on this presenter (because of no sandbag on c-stand)…isn’t it ironic? Just watch the video below:
How to use sandbags properly
There are many nonstandard uses for sandbags like blocking door, sitting on it etc… It’s hard to describe all of them, here are a few most common ones:
C- Stand On c-stand always point the highest leg in the direction of the load. Place the sandbag on the the highest leg before you connect any equipment to the stand, this way all the weight of the sandbag is transferred to the leg.
Anchoring tripods is a little bit more complicated because of their construction. Legs of tripods are not parallel to the ground, so if we put sandbag on the leg it will slip. In this situation we can put sandbag between the legs of tripod or use a sandbag with removable strip, just like in the photo below:
Counterweight on boom / tripod arm
Here once again the solution with removable strip is more useful. We have got more possibilities to grip sandbag to the boom / arm. We can connect sandbag to the hook / loop, but what is awesome we can wrap the stripe around the arm / boom. What’s more we can connect few sandbags in the set.
If you can’t get your tripod low enough you can put some sandbags on the ground. That’s it.
One more thing... every film set is different, so you'd better be prepared.
A usefull tip
Sometimes sand can spill from the sandbag, a good practise is to put the sand to the zipper plastic bag and after that put it to the sandbag. However the pockets of Udengo sandbags are protected by velcro and zipper so the sand will not spill! Stitches of sandbag are strengthened with tape so it also protects the sand from spilling.
What to focus on, when buying sandbags
Before you choose one you want to buy, wonder how would you like use it. If “the one” that you choose, is the best for you? Here is a few a advices what you need to focus choosing sandbags.
1. Quality and price.
Prices starts from about 2 € and finish somewhere around 50 € per piece. Before we started to produce sandbags, we tested many of them. The cheapest was destroyed after a few yanks. So buying the cheapest sandbags is not a good idea – it’s apparent thrift.
2. Technical details.
Handle sewed to top layer. Gentle yank will rip it of, believe me. Only 5-7Kg of sand will interact with great force on stitches when lifting and putting down weight on the ground. It's good when handle is sewed to bottom layers so there is much smaller impact on the material.
Does it have steel plate? In good quality sandbags there is steel plate sewed in the middle part that makes sandbag more stable and it's not so flimsy.
3. Detchable handle
It’s one of basic feature that should be in sandbag. As I write before it, gives more application on our set. Of course you can find many more application to this feature not describe in this guide.
4. Solid snap-hook
When you grip sandbag to any equipment or when you connect a few sandbags into set, it’s really important to have a heavy-duty snap-hook, otherwise it’s distort. In Udengo we tested a few snap-hooks before we starting a production of our Sandbags, snap-hook that we choose stands a 40kg load, at this moment we decide that’s enought and we finish our test. 5. Sandbag design
When you use sandbag mainly on tripods you have to point out on sandbag construction. Gripping standard sandbags to tripods is hard because of construction of it’s leg (not parallel to the ground). It this case we can buy a dedicated donut sandbag, but... It’s pretty expensive and can be used only for tripods. You can also tie a standards sandbag, but it’s also not as good idea as use sandbag with removable handle.
6. Comfortable zipper handle
On a film set grips use gloves to protect their hands from dirt, scratches etc. In a good quality sandbag zipper should have a comfortable handle to use it with gloves. In sewing room that we produce our sandbags are also stitched a uniform for Polish Army, so we ask them to use the same zipper handle, as in uniform, to use it comfortable in gloves. Standard zipper handle is to short, and not comfortable to use even with bare hand.
7. Delivery and service
Many cheap sandbags are sending from China so shipping can take even 4 weeks. It also means that any complaint takes a lot of time, in practice there is no possibility to return product or complaint product. In Udengo we gives a full 12 - months warranty, after we sold a hundreds of sandbags we still do not have any returns or complaints.
Don’t forget to look professional. Your clients can misjudge your abilities just because equipment you use doesn't work or look good.
At the end, eye-catching video, explaining why using sandbags are so important: