What Is a Fig Rig in Film? Unveiling the Camera Stabilizer

In the realm of filmmaking, a Fig Rig is a type of camera stabilizer that provides versatility and ease for handheld shots.

It’s named after its inventor, filmmaker Mike Figgis, resembling the shape of a steering wheel to offer filmmakers a practical solution for achieving smooth motion without the bulkiness of traditional rigs.

With its circular design, it allows operators to hold the camera steady with both hands while navigating through dynamic shooting environments.

The Fig Rig becomes an extension of the user’s body, enabling more intuitive control and reducing fatigue during long takes or quick movements – essential for capturing those perfect cinematic moments.

History Of Fig Rigs In Film

The fig rig is a relatively recent invention in the world of film, introduced to the market by esteemed director Mike Figgis.

Its creation was born out of necessity – Figgis needed a simple, handheld device that allowed for more flexibility and stability while shooting his 2000 film Timecode.

He collaborated with Manfrotto, a renowned manufacturer of camera and lighting support equipment, to bring this innovative tool to life.

Since its inception, the fig rig has become an invaluable asset for indie filmmakers and videographers alike.

It’s particularly favored for its lightweight design and the ability to provide smooth motion shots without the bulkiness or expense of traditional stabilizing equipment like Steadicams or dollies.

Notably, the use of fig rigs can be seen in various behind-the-scenes footage where quick setup times are crucial:

The versatility of fig rigs offers cinematographers an affordable means to achieve professional-looking shots.

They’re often used in conjunction with other accessories such as magic arms, clamps, and video monitors to further enhance their functionality.

Despite being a modern tool, fig rigs hark back to classic filmmaking techniques.

They remind us that innovation doesn’t always mean high-tech; sometimes it’s about reimagining simple concepts to better serve our creative needs.


The success of the fig rig demonstrates how solutions tailored for specific challenges can lead to widespread adoption within an industry.

Filmmakers continue to embrace the practicality and ease-of-use offered by fig rigs today.

These devices have carved out their niche in film production as a testament to low-budget ingenuity meeting cinematic craftsmanship.

Components Of A Fig Rig

Delving into the components of a fig rig, we’re essentially talking about a circular frame with various attachments that transform it into a filmmaker’s ally.

It’s vital to understand each part to utilize this tool effectively.

At its core, the fig rig features a wheel-like structure which provides stability for handheld shooting.

This design allows for smooth movement and less strain on the arms when capturing dynamic shots.

Along the ring, you’ll find numerous mounting points.

These are crucial as they let us attach:

  • Cameras or camcorders,
  • External microphones,
  • Lighting equipment,
  • Monitors.

The handle is another integral part of the fig rig.

Positioned at three and nine o’clock on the wheel, these grips offer precise control over camera movements.

Some fig rigs also come with accessory brackets or shoe mounts.

These additions expand its functionality by enabling filmmakers to add more gear without compromising on mobility or balance.

Understanding these components is key to maximizing your results on set.

With practice and creativity, a fig rig becomes an indispensable extension of our cinematic vision.


How To Use A Fig Rig In Film

A Fig Rig is a unique stabilizing device for filmmakers, resembling a steering wheel with a camera mounted in the center.

It’s designed to reduce shakiness and improve mobility during handheld shots.

To get started, securely attach your camera using the mount provided at the rig’s center.

Adjust it until you’re confident that the camera is stable and won’t move.

Operating a Fig Rig requires practice to master smooth movements.

Begin by holding the handles on either side of the wheel with both hands.

This stance allows for greater control and helps distribute the weight evenly, reducing arm fatigue.

Here are some techniques to employ when using a Fig Rig:

  • For panning shots, rotate your body instead of just using your arms.
  • When moving forward or backward, walk smoothly by rolling from heel to toe.
  • To achieve low-angle shots, bend at the knees rather than stooping over.

Experimenting with different angles and movements can lead to creative shot composition.

Try circling around subjects or moving through tight spaces where traditional stabilization equipment might not fit.


Remember that even with a Fig Rig, post-production stabilization can enhance your footage further.

However, this tool significantly lessens the need for such corrections by capturing steadier images on the go.

Advantages Of Using A Fig Rig

Stabilization stands out as a key benefit when using a fig rig.

The circular frame provides filmmakers with a way to smoothly capture moving shots without the shake typically associated with handheld filming.

This tool is especially useful for dynamic scenes where the camera needs to be as agile as the subjects it’s tracking.

A fig rig also offers versatility in shooting angles and positions.

Its design allows for quick transitions from high to low shots, enabling cinematographers to follow the action seamlessly and creatively.

Using this apparatus can significantly reduce fatigue during long shoots.

The weight of the camera is distributed more evenly across both hands, which diminishes strain on the wrists and arms compared to traditional handheld methods.

Another advantage lies in its simplicity and ease of use.

Unlike gimbals or steadicams that require calibration and practice, fig rigs are intuitive devices that filmmakers can utilize effectively with minimal training.

Here’s what sets a fig rig apart from other stabilization equipment:

  • Greater freedom of movement for dynamic shots,
  • Instant readiness – no complex setup required,
  • Less physically demanding than traditional handheld techniques,
  • Enhances creativity by allowing rapid changes in perspective.

These benefits make it clear why many directors and videographers include the fig rig in their arsenal of tools for capturing smooth, organic footage on set.

Considerations When Using A Fig Rig

When integrating a Fig Rig into your production workflow, it’s crucial to assess the shooting environment.

These camera stabilizers are ideal for dynamic shots where the operator needs to move with the subject.

However, their size and shape can be cumbersome in tight spaces.

Understanding the physical demands of using a Fig Rig is equally important.

Long takes or extensive handheld work can lead to fatigue, which may affect shot stability.

It’s advisable to plan breaks or have an additional operator on standby when working on longer scenes.

Here are several key points to keep in mind:

  • Balance and camera weight – Ensure your camera setup isn’t too heavy for the rig.
  • Accessory compatibility – Check if additional equipment like microphones or lights can be mounted without disrupting balance.

Selecting the right camera lens goes hand in hand with using a Fig Rig.

Wide-angle lenses tend to enhance the stabilizing effect while minimizing noticeable shake that telephoto lenses might exaggerate.

Lastly, consider post-production stabilization options as a complement, not a substitute for good technique.

While software can correct minor jitters, relying solely on post-processing could compromise image quality.

Keep these aspects in check and you’ll leverage all that a Fig Rig has to offer—smoother footage with an organic feel that audiences love.

What Is A Fig Rig In Film? Unveiling The Camera Stabilizer – Wrap Up

Wrapping up our discussion on the fig rig in film, we’ve covered its benefits and how it stands as a valuable tool for filmmakers.

It’s clear that this piece of equipment is more than just a stabilizer – it’s a versatile asset that can elevate the quality of handheld filming.

Understanding the practical applications of a fig rig helps us appreciate the craftsmanship behind smooth cinematic sequences.

Filmmakers often rely on tools like these to bring out their creative vision without compromising on stability or freedom of movement.

Here are some reasons why a fig rig remains popular among professionals and enthusiasts alike:

  • Enhanced mobility without sacrificing shot stability,
  • The ability to add various accessories, expanding its functionality,
  • A design that facilitates quick and intuitive handling.

Our journey has highlighted that while technology advances, some tools retain their relevance due to their simplicity and effectiveness.

The fig rig exemplifies this perfectly, maintaining its position in a filmmaker’s arsenal despite an ever-evolving industry landscape.

We hope you now have a comprehensive understanding of what a fig rig is and why it’s considered an indispensable tool by many in film production.

Whether you’re shooting an indie project or working on larger sets, considering the inclusion of such equipment could prove beneficial for your filmmaking endeavors.