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Learn more>Tutorials> Sandbags on the film set

Sandbags on the film set

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 is in range between 5 and 20 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, especially outdoors, you must use sandbags.

Using sandbags

There are many nonstandard uses for sandbags like blocking door, counterweight for human on line, camera saddle, 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 highest leg before you connect any equipment to the stand, this way all the weight of the sandbag is transferred to the leg.

Tripods

Anchoring tripods is a 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 wrap column with detachable strip.

Counterweight on boom / tripod 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.

Camera support / Camera saddle

If you need to make a fast shot without setting up the tripod, put camera on a sandbag. It will compensate unwanted vibrations and hand shaking. If you can’t get your tripod low enough, you can put some sandbags on the ground.

A useful tip

Sometimes sand can spill from the sandbag, a good practice is to put the sand to the zipper plastic bag and wrap it by duct tape.

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 advises 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.

2.Fabric

Durability depends on fabric used. In cheap products there is polystyrene fabric that has best prirce but it will damege shortly. Good quality products use Nylon fabric made from plyamides, eg "Cordudra®" from Invista.

3.Handle

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.

4. Detachable handle &Solid snap-hook

It’s one of basic feature that should be in sandbag. 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.

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 its 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 detachable handle.

In good quality sandbags there is steel plate sewed in the middle part that makes sandbag more stable and it's not so flimsy.

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.

7. Delivery and service

Many cheap sandbags are sending from China so shipping can take even 4 weeks. In practice there is no possibility to return product or complaint product.

8. Look

Don’t forget to look professional. Your clients can misjudge your abilities just because equipment you use doesn't work or look good.

Steel Shot Bags

Steel shot bags are development of sandbags. Insted of sand they are filled with stainless steel balls with 4 to 12 mm dimater. Keeping the same weight, we reduce half the size compared to Sandbag.

Steel shot bags are ready made so you do not need to fill them on your own.  Disadvantage is you have to pay much more for shipping.

What is cool:

- no sand, no mess
- long life 
- smaller dimensions


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