A DIY 9Shooter: Shooting Stills & Video Simultaneously & Audio Too!

45surf 9 shooter The post below shows a simple way to capture video while taking still pictures. Sure, there is some added weight and yea, video will not get a dedicated person and will just “follow along”, yet, this is a neat way to achieve video with just one person shooting, This is also a great instructional tool for yourself to see how you interact with your model, what things work and what makes them shrink.

There are two versions for this mod – a dueler which mounts a DSLR with a video camera and a 9Shooter that also has sound attached. From now on it is all Elliot McGucken.

So you want to shoot stills and video simultaneously? Go for it! Rig yourself up a 45surf(R) 9shooter(TM) bracket system!

How do you build a 45surf 9shooter bracket system?

It’s kinda simple, and the images are self explanatory, but that’s what makes it cool, elegant, and fun, as Leonardo da Vinci once said: Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.

Print this list out along with a picture of the 9shooter so the Home Depot peeps know what you’re talking about, hop in your car, and head on over to Home Depot and buy:

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1) Two 3 inch L brackets. (heck buy 4 or more–they cost a couple bucks and can be used in various configurations as seen in the photos)

2) Spray paint and primer of your preferred colors.

3) 1/4″-20 thread screws and thumb nuts — get nine of each as these always get lost and are cheap! The thumb screws should be 3/8″ long to mount the cameras and 3/8″ or 1/2″ long for the bracket hinge, depending on how many washers you use. Remember, you will need to rotate the lower camera relative to the upper one now and then, but the middle hinge–(thumb-screw/washers/bracket/thumb-nut)–should still be tight enough to hold the relative position of the brackets you choose. experiment with different washer placements/nuts/screw lengths to see what works for you!

4) A few metal washers of various sizes to experiment with on the hinge mechanism which connects the two brackets.

5) A few 1″ to 1.5″ neoprene rubber washers to put between the metal bracket and your camera. these are somewhat optional, but they prevent your camera from getting scuffed up.

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Well, you’re now out about twenty bucks and a few hours waiting for paint to dry, but how much will your productivity increase–especially for the jobs which could benefit from shooting both stills and video simultaneously?

Here is an (unedited) sample video from a session, along with the set of images that were taken on that session. (click the image for the full set, please be advised that some of the videos and photographs may be considered not safe for work)


As the canon HFS 200 (which I use, and other newer canons) has the new amazing dynamic image stabilization, the 9shooter bracket system makes even more sense, as any shake has been replaced by smooth transitions! I have shot about ten shoots with the HFS 200, and have yet to edit and upload the video, but it rocks!

While the video produced with this system may be inferior to a video taken by a dedicated videographer, it is often better than having no video recording at all.

Here are some ideas of possible uses for the 45surf 9shooter system:

1) Shooting swimsuit models! (or any models for that matter) the model’s time is valuable and hard drives and SD cards are cheap! let the video track your every shot throughout a 2 hour shoot, and you will have lots of cool video! more than enough for a two minute or ten minute video!

2) Shooting weddings — Imagine shooting a two hour wedding, and then being able to offer your clients a ten minute wedding video set to Beethoven, tracking the entire wedding from all the best angles. Yes I know many people say that for weddings you want to shoot a lot of portrait shots, so go ahead and rotate the camera! Sure the video will be sideways, but you can discard a lot footage out of a two hour shoot and still have an awesome ten minute video which would add a lot of value, or hey–use some sideways video to make people laugh. Or crop portrait shots in post from the landscapes — if you shoot with the 5d they will still be huge. And I am working on a portrait-orientation mount.

3) Shooting sports/ action/ track meets/surfers! I also use the 9 shooter with a monopod with the 9 shooter oriented in the S configuration to shoot surfers. using a canon 7d with a zoom and an HFS200 zoomed in full on the distant surfer, one can shoot continuous stills of the surfer, and the HFS200 naturally tracks them! in fact, in this case, the canon 7d acts as a natural spotting scope for the canon HFS100 / HFS 200 which don’t have optical viewfinders. so it’s actually easier to shoot video! just think of your canon 7d & zoom as a $2,000 spotting scope. for your $1,000 HFS 200. :) Will upload the footage soon!

4) Photojournalism: If you are covering an event, why not leave the video running the whole time you are shooting stills?

5) Documentaries: These days the DSLRs shoot video too, so one could go into an interview armed with the power to shoot both stills and two sources of video simultaneously, benefiting from the better audio controls of the canon HFS 10/HFS 200. And too, the HN40 audio system and other mics could be mounted on the nine shooter.

6) Travel: If you’re traveling around Paris for a few hours, why not concentrate on getting both awesome video and photography? Now and then you can stop photographing and focus on the videoing only, and vice versa, as the occasion warrants.

7) Real Estate Photography: Imagine if you became the photographer in your community known for shooting both video and photography of all the homes! Real Estate Agents would love you! And with just a bit more time, you could increase revenues.

8) Paparazzi: Imagine how much better TMZ/Perez Hilton/E! would be if all their photographers/videographers had nine shooters! (I actually never go by these sites, but know some people who do, out here in LA)

9) Audio! A camera shutter makes a lot of noise, so why not mount a remote mic close to the action–perhaps on the bride or groom at a wedding or on the speaker at a lecture–with the radio receiver mounted on your 9shooter and plugged into your camera or audio recorder.

10) Everything! So often in the visual arts the moment happens once and is gone forever. Now you have a better way of immortalizing it in both stills and videos. Mount lights, monitors, mics, flashes, receivers, recorders, and more! The 9shooter keeps your flash bracket free, and/or too, it could be mounted atop your camera.

About the author: Dr. Elliot McGucken is the photographer behind 45surf and teaches the Arts Entrepreneurship & Technology 101 class.