Let's chat about monopods. First off let's break down the word itself. Mono means one and pod means foot. One foot. This concludes our lesson. Just kidding! Sometimes monopods are called unipods, but that's probably only in some exclusive Bauhaus video club. Just kidding, yet again. I'll stop with the jokes, I promise.
Monopods are handy in lot of situations where bringing a tripod would be too cumbersome or heavy. Since they are generally smaller and lighter you can also quickly change where the camera is positioned. In fact, it's not uncommon for wedding videographers to use monopods instead of tripods. The smaller footprint and lighter weight helps them maneuver around crowds and quickly get into the right postion. Additionally some locations have restrictions on tripods but will allow monopods, just something to keep in mind when you make your shooting plans. Take a look at the video we made below for more monopod info-
In addition to helping smooth out your shots in general, you can also use a monopod to get creative clips normally too difficult with a camera and tripod. For example in our intro shot we used the monopod as a sort of crane to get a more dynamic shot. Later on we explain how you can use a monopod to make quick pan shots by just pivoting the camera on it's vertical axis. By combining a couple of quick pan shots you can later on edit it into a swipe cut. Experiment with this technique, it can be a lot of fun.
We're also fans of what we call the vertical slide shot. If you unclamp the locks on the various sections of a monopod you can use the length of it as a guide for up and down camera movement. It's great for reveal shots. Think of it kind of like a periscope on a submarine.
Monopods are lightweight enough that you can get creative with placing them on your actors to get an interesting quasi-POV or overhead shot, like we did in the scene where Derek hands me a folder to review. In that shot my shoulder was acting as a resting point for the monopod, while Sam and Derek kept the camera positioned correctly.
This is a monopod. (Image courtesy of Shutterstock)
What if you don't have a monopod or you're going someplace where they don't allow them? Try the washer string monopod. All you need is a metal washer, a bolt that will fit the threaded socket on the bottom of your camera, and some string. You can keep the whole thing in your pocket and break it out whenever you want some help steading your shot.
Well that's about it for monopods, may your shots be stable and your compositions excellent!