In a nutshell, what is a Jib?

A jib, also sometimes called a crane, is a boom device with a camera on one end, and a counterweight and camera controls on the other. This allows the camera end of the arm to move through an extended arc, either vertically, horizontally, or a combination of the two.

It is used to get ‘floaty’ style camera shots, high shots or shots which need to pan a great distance without the expense and safety issues of putting a camera operator on a crane for a crane shot or laying track for a camera dolly.

A great way to capture high-angle shots looking down at your subject, this equipment has been used in Hollywood films for a very long time so is certainly nothing new.

What specialist equipment, expertise or processes are involved?

Firstly, you need a jib. Some camera operators specialise in this type of camera work. Creating a jib shot used to be very expensive and something you only really saw in high budget films, however, with camera equipment getting smaller and smaller you don’t need such big jibs to support the cameras.

You can get jibs that support smaller cameras such as DSLR fairly cheaply, at around £300. As a general guideline, however, the higher the jib the more expensive it will be. Additionally, if a larger camera is needed, it will need a bigger job for support, which can also push up the price. However, on the plus side, there is no post-production processes needed for this as it is an in-camera effect.

Why should I consider using jib shots in my video production?

Jib shots have worked very well in narrative films for years because the camera movement is very cinematic. Filming from a high vantage point can be effective in provoking emotion from the viewer, as it makes your subject look weak and helpless.

Additionally, since becoming more affordable, jibs are often used to film live music and videos. Smooth surrounding and tracking shots are often used to great effect here. Jibs are also being used increasingly frequently in corporate videos as well especially in product videos, so that the product or speaker can be seen from various different angles and vantage points.

When wouldn’t jib shots be ideal for my video production?

Jibs take up a lot of space so if you filming in a small area they are not ideal. They can also take a lot of time to set up, so this is something to consider if time is of the essence. It can also time to get the movement perfect to capture the shots you want, whilst they can also be costly to buy/rent.

Summary

Jibs can be used very effectively in a variety of different video formats. If you’re thinking of buying or hiring a jib, you need to first consider whether you have the time, space and money to do so. It could be worth considering whether there is a simpler way to create the shots you require.