Building a Snorricam

Although you may not have heard its name before, you’re probably familiar with the singular cinematic effect created by the snorricam.

The snorricam, also known as a chestcam or bodymount camera, is a camera rig that you attach to the body of an actor to create the effect of a background that moves dynamically around a subject that remains stationary. Its funny moniker comes from its inventors, two Icelandic photographers who worked under the name Snorri Bros., and it’s one of the most dramatic ways to capture a subject's perspective.

To learn how to build a snorricam of our very own, we contacted Justin Johnson and Erik Beck of The Indie Machines.

Justin and Erik managed to build an awesome DIY snorricam rig for less than $200 using a skateboard deck and a few basic supplies that you can pick at the hardware store and camera store.

Check it out:

Here’s a quick recap of how Justin and Erik built their snorricam…

Materials:

  1. + Skateboard deck

  2. + Manfrotto Articulating Light Arm

  3. + Light Arm camera platform

  4. + Manfrotto female pigeon plate (1-1/8")

  5. + Non-slip adhesive pads (1-1/2")

  6. + Various nuts and bolts including U-bolts

  7. + Nylon straps and buckles

  8. + Metal tie downs

  9. + Thin foam sheet

Steps:

  • 1. Measure and cut the skateboard deck in half.
  • 2. Measure 3-4 inches from the top of one of the deck's halves and cut the tip off. Save this piece for later!
  • 3. Trim and sand the cut edges of the skateboard deck. You don't want to get a splinter when you’re wearing it!
  • 4. Place the Manfrotto Articulating Arm in the female pigeon plate. Hold one of the skateboard halves to your chest, then place the arm on top of that to figure out how high you want to mount it on the deck. Mark this off with a marker, then drill out the holes. Erik found that 3-4 inches from the bottom of the board was the right level for his rig.
  • 5. Using small nuts and flush-mount bolts, attach the pigeon plate to the skateboard deck. You may also want to use the non-slip adhesive pads to add extra shock absorption between the arm and the chest board (skateboard half).
  • 6. Place the metal tie-down plates in the top left and right corners of the skateboard half you'll be mounting on your chest. Mark these holes with a marker, then drill them out. Now you can place the buckle part of the nylon strap under the tie-down plate to attach the straps to the front of the board. Bolt these down while making sure the buckles point out ever so slightly.
  • 7. On the chest board, mark and drill out holes for two U-bolts, approximately 1 to 2 inches from the bottom on the left and right.
  • 8. On the back board, mark and drill out holes for another metal tie-down, approximately 2 inches from the bottom and centered. Slip a bungee cord under the tie-down plate and bolt it into place.
  • 9. Retrieve the piece of wood you sawed off your board in step 2 and use it along with the back board to sandwich the nylon straps. Spread glue between these two pieces, then bolt them together.
  • 10. To make the rig more comfortable, cut some thin foam to fit the inside of the chest and back board. You'll want to use hot glue to make sure this stays in place. Make sure you cut out sections of the foam to expose the bolts in case you have to make changes later.

Testing and Use:

  • 1. Thread the nylon straps from the back board through the front buckles, then place it over your head to wear like a sandwich board.
  • 2. Attach the hooks from your bungee cord to the loops your U-bolts make in the front, then tighten down the nylon straps.
  • 3. Insert the camera arm into the pigeon plate. Add gaff tape to the articulating arm to create a snug fit between the female pigeon plate and the arm.

  • 4. If you’re starring in your own snorricam video, ask a friend help you with final framing while wearing the rig. They will be able to see and help you compose the shot.

PPro tip: When using the rig, be sure to hide it under clothing so you don't see it in your shot!

Congrats, you just learned how to set up and use a snorricam. Don't forget to thank the Snorri Bros. and The Indie Machines for helping you add a dynamic new perspective to your videos!

Category:
Do It Yourself
Gear
Difficulty:
Advanced

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Learn how to build and use a snorricam, a funnily named rig that uses a unique perspective to produce fantastic effects.

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