My last post was about faking handheld. Unfortunately, you can’t always get away with that. Sometimes you have to get in the trenches and shoulder up for awhile. The good thing is you have a lot of helpers these days with things like Easy-Rigs, counter balance weight rigs and even gel-filled camera pads to help with shoulder fatigue and muscle bruising. Also, the fact that cameras are only getting smaller and more lightweight definitely helps the comfort of lengthy operating time. But the truth is, although the size of the camera’s are shrinking, the desire to make them a more “do-all” system that is always ready is now the norm. High speed apertures once only found in prime lenses have now made their way into short zooms that are almost always found on a handheld setup, along with a loaded rig with every electronic accessory, power redundancy and wireless capability you can find. This not only gets you back to the size of what we remember from shouldering a Platinum package, but now all the weight is concentrated in clumps and not evenly distributed. The typical handheld TV-show camera package has these item strapped to your shoulder:
…and it looks something like this:
Simply put, it’s a lot of stuff stuck in odd spots with arms, bongo ties and velcro, and it’s heavy as shit!
Even with the help from some of the tools I listed above, it’s still a grind to hold something that heavy and cumbersome steady for any length of time. Sure, cameras come with a rubber contouring pad and/or fancy cushioned suspension systems, but I think I found a simple product that helps me the most–The Holzer Pad!
Yes, my former 1st AC Tom Holzer took his DIY skills to helping operators with metal and leather. I have been lucky to see this pad grow from its original utility purpose (one-piecing complete Panafex systems with legs and sticks–like fuckin’ He-Man!) to what we see today. My bragging rights are that I gave some notes along the way that stuck!
So, the best thing about the pad is that it has a metal core that takes the impact zone and spreads it out very well–so that there are no sharp spots. The bottom layer is normal impact foam for your comfort and shoulder grip. The top layer is treated leather for two great reasons: the first one is that leather gives just the right amount of friction to hold a camera in place, but not make it hard to re-adjust when needed and secondly, it just looks cool! The last touch to the pad are the straps to hold it in place on your shoulder.
The pad is shaped well to the places you need for all models and designs of cameras. It fits well around your neck and covers a good amount of area on your upper chest and back as well- – you know, for those shots that you have to lean in and hold for a little too long… I love not having any pain or tender spots on my shoulder after a long day. And of course, the main reason I love it is it make me look like Squad Leader.
If you want to grab one for yourself go to Tommy’s site at Holzer Pad