In the media industry you will come across a lot of different equipment. Some you may be familiar with and others may be new to you. One piece of equipment you may run into is the Century Stand, “C-Stand” for short. Depending on what your position is on set, you may be responsible for setting up or staging a C-Stand.
A C-Stand is a heavy-duty light stand with a 5/8 baby pin on the top. It is used for grip and lighting equipment.
C-Stands may look self explanatory, when in reality they have crucial ways of being set up and if done wrong, things can end badly resulting in broken equipment or someone being injured on set.
When first encountered, a C-stand will most likely be folded and broken down from transport, like the image below.
In order to have the C-Stand fully erect you will need the three legs fully opened. Grab the largest leg, and swing it out.
A lot of C-Stands will vary on how easily they will open depending on their age and brand.
There are three different sized legs, the small leg, the medium leg and the large leg. With these legs there comes the rule of keeping the weight over the biggest leg.
In order to easily follow this rule, always rotate the biggest leg underneath the right hand side of the knuckle, (since that’s where you are always going to place the weight anyway) and ALWAYS place a sand bag on that leg once locked in position.
We place sand bags on the biggest leg because if it's on one of the smaller legs the sand bag might rest partially on the ground and decrease the weight on the stand’s center of gravity, making it easier to knock over.
Locking should be obvious when swinging the legs out. If not fully locked, legs could unintentionally re-fold and collapse, so be sure the legs are locked before moving forward.
Most C-Stands will come equipped with a “Knuckle” and a metal arm. The knuckles are normally called "Gobo Heads" or "Grip Heads" and the metal arms are referred to as “Gobo Arms” or “Grip Arms”. They are used to extend and attached various types of lighting and grip equipment such as flags, bounce, lights, silks, frames etc. When mounting anything on a Gobo arm, you MUST follow the strict “Right Hand Rule”.
The right hand rule implies that all equipment placed on the Gobo arm must always have the weight over the right hand side of the knuckle (Remember righty tighty, lefty loosey). This will ensure that the attached equipment will stay secure and not drop due to faulty tightening. This is crucial to the safety of everyone on set, if done incorrectly and placed on the left side, the weight of the attached equipment could cause the knuckle to loosen and the equipment will ultimately drop and possibly injure someone.
Want more information?
RocketJump Film School’s “How to Set up a C-Stand”.
No Film School’s blog "The Art of Shaping Light”