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Blank Slate: Tripods
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Blank Slate is a new 16-part instructional series from PBS Digital Studios with the production team Video Dads, made up of Emmy-nominated video producers Travis Gilmour and Slavik Boyechko.

Think you've got a steady hand? Best not to take a chance, use a tripod instead. Three is the magic number after all. Travis and Slavik from Video Dads share a simple list of elements that make their perfect tripod.

Ready to add a tripod to your gear list? Think about how you will be using the new piece of equipment to pick the best make and model.

Weight vs. cost: taking your tripod on a trek? Best to get a carbon fiber tripod. But be prepared to spend a pretty penny. Alternatively, aluminum tripods will be cheaper, but you may need a buddy to help you carry it along with your other gear.

Support: can your tripod hold the weight of your camera? How about the weight of your camera and its biggest lens? Double that weight to be extra safe. You don’t want your tripod to topple over with your camera attached. Shooting something epic on your phone? There are tripods for that too. Pick a size that is relative to your camera and additional shooting set up.

Movement: need the camera to swivel (link, tilt and pan? How many ways? Consider how many kinds of movement you need from your tripod and where you will be shooting for the most part. Unless you are hanging off the side of a mountain trying to shoot billy goats, you probably don’t need more than vertical and horizontal swivel. 

Tall & Small: You may want your tripod to be as tall as you are so you don’t have to fold over too much to film. Then again, you might want your tripod to fit on a table or in your luggage for traveling. Many tripods come with extendable legs that can be adjusted quite easily. Choose between clips or twists for extendable legs. Clips may feel more stable, but twisting legs can be easier and quicker to assemble if you need to catch a shot in a short amount of time. 

If you're interested in purchasing a tripod, PBS and all PBS member stations receive corporate discounts through B&H. Go to the B&H page in the Purchasing Portal on myPBS ( and click on the blue link to be directed to the B&H site. This tracking link will automatically register your PBS discount depending on the item. 

Be sure to check back next Tuesday for our post about filming with handheld cameras.