Camera support: Hostess tray

I want to get a shot that requires a hostess tray, but I don’t want to spend $1,400 for one. We can use it for several projects and we could probably rent it out locally so I’d rather not rent one.

I could probably build something that would work, but I want to use it on my MGB. After waiting over two years for it to be restored, I certainly don’t want to build a mount that will damage the car!

Does anyone know where I can get plans for a DIY hostess tray?

Can you be a little more specific on what you want to shoot on your MGB? I can set-up my Nikon D70 on just about anything. I have various mounts for various tripods…never saw the use for a hostess. So what do you need it for that you can’t build yourself?

I want to mount an Arriflex 16S, Éclair NPR, JCV GY-DV500U, or Panasonic AG-DVX100A on a hostess tray and point the camera at the driver as he motors along a twisty road. I also want a through-the-windscreen shot, but I can do that by using another mount (much easier to make, or else a tripod on the rear shelf).

Johnny If you have someone with some welding skills I don’t think it would be difficult at all.
Let me try to describe what I thought up
L (X2) shaped bracket to hook over top of door. Wrap in gaffer’s tape or foam to protect car. Two horizontal tubes welded to brackets (square tube) Flat plate between the two horiz tubes for equipment.
At the outer end to diagonal tubes angled back down to the botton of the door. At the bottom an upside down L shaped bracket welded. The deal is the bracket needs to have the short side of the L slip into the gap between the door and the rocker. (cover in tape or foam) The long part of the L needs to be curved to conform to the rocker panel.
Run a racheting tie down stap from the outer edge of the horizontal flat plate, to the inside of the jack tube under the car. Tighten the stap to secure. You may need two staps one at each outer corner.
The through the windshield shot is a piece of cake on a B. Take a piece of 1/4 flat steel stock, and clip it into the clips for the top. Fasten a steel plate to the top of the flat stock protruding forward into the “back seat” area Remove the battery box cover. Two legs from the bottm of the flat plate to the area around the battery box. Straps from the flat plate to the angle brackets that make up the battery boxes.
Gotta tell you when I read the thread tittle, I thought of the cigerate girls in old time night clubs. :smack:

That’s pretty much how I remember the one I used once, many years ago. Yesterday I found a notebook full of (now ten years old) equipment catalogues. Egripment has a hostess tray. I didn’t see a detailed photo of it… until I realised the photo on the page with the photos of other equipment was the hostess tray taken down to its individual components! :smack: I don’t remember a price on it. If there was one, it’s a decade out of date. The notebook is at the studio now so I can’t check.

I’ve seen some photos online, but they’re smallish. As I recall from the one shoot, and from what I can see in the photos, they have ‘suction cups’ like the old Barrecrafters ski racks to protect the car. They’re adjustable to fit many cars. The ratchet strap(s) went from the back of the tray to the bottom of the car (secured under the rocker). I only know one guy who welds, but I don’t want to go to that shop. I do know people who know people who weld though.

I’ll have to re-read your description and draw pictures when I wake up (long night last night), and compare it to the batch-o-parts in the catalogue. Between your description, the small photo, and the parts pics, I might be able to come up with something. With so many indie filmmakers in the world though, I wonder why I haven’t been able to find plans online?

Maybe not stable enough for all applications, but have you investigated gadgets such as the ERGOREST MultiTripod?

The Éclair weighs about 20 pounds. The DV cameras are full-sized broadcast units. Not as heavy as the Éclair, but still no lightweights. It might hold a Bolex with a crystal motor, but I wouldn’t bet a camera on it.

What I’m looking for is something like this: Carmount (click on ‘more photos’ at the bottom of the picture to see the hostess tray.)

Thanks for the suggestion though. :slight_smile:

Maybe you could ask these guys for advice. They mount several internal and external cameras on their cars, so they have lots of experience.

Johnny, check out some of the lower cost mounts at
Footage shot with a PD150/170, DVX 100, XL-2 could intercut fairly well with your DV500. Especially if you’re cutting from an interior scene to the car shot. 24/30p or a post film look will work with 16mm footage as well.

Yikes! :eek: The hostess tray they have is almost 2½ the price of a Matthews! The Gripper 490 is under $300 though. I know how strong those suction cups are, but I don’t know if I trust them because I’ve never actually used one. I’ll have to investigate it further.

I was trying to avoid contact with the door with what I thought up. Thinking a little further, I think a 3rd strap will be needed from the inner edge of the tray down to the seat track (IIRC there is a gap between the floor and parts of the seat track which would allow a strap to run under)

With the suction cup devices I’d definitely employ extra belay with straps/ropes for extra safety and peace of mind.

There would definitely be an ‘Oh, shit!’ strap!

Unless I can find a used hostess tray on eBay, we’ll probably just make one. ‘Official’ plans would be the best, but between Rick’s suggestions and what we can figure out from the couple of photos I have I think we can make one that will reliably support the cameras.

I used to work for a company that made very large plasma displays between '85 and '98 - very large being on the order of 60" diagonal. We frequently used a pair of suction cups similar to the one on the Gripper to handle the glass substrates during various manufacturing and inspection processes. We used them on fully-assembled panels, too. The substrates and panels held might be in any orientation. A fully assembled 60" panel weighed nearly 100 pounds; we sold them to another division of the company for about fifty-thousand bucks. Never had a failure. Rock solid reliable product - as long as you use and maintain them according to the manufacturer’s instructions.