Film and video equipment is not near as stable as people would like. When setting up a filmic situation you will be using a number of stands, especially c-stands, to position lights, lighting peripherals like gels and filters, the camera itself, and any other piece of video equipment that you need. Most stands are fairly light weight so that they can change locations, but not matter what they are not inherently stable on their own. Their bases are not always going to ensure that they stay up, so it has become standard practice to include several weighted objects to place in an effort to protect these pieces of video equipment from falling over and becoming damaged or ruining the film or video production. Enter the sandbag.
The sandbag, like it sounds, is a heavy bag full of sand that video producers and grips will always have on set. These sandbags are similar to the ones used in emergency weather situations except that they have a sealed rubber exterior and handles to help with easy movement. The main purpose of these sandbags is to place them on the base of light stands and c-stands so that you can make sure they do not tip over accidentally.
The placement of sandbags on stands is essential on any professional set as it is a basic safety precaution. After the gaffer has made sure that the lights are placed in accordance with the wishes of the director and director of photography sandbags will be placed on their base. The correct placement of a sandbag is so that its weight is distributed over the legs of the stand, but not at all touching the ground. If the sandbag is touching the ground then the ground will absorb some of the weight of that sandbag and rob it of its purpose.
Other Sandbag Uses
Sandbags can also be used in other areas, such as ways to help secure light video equipment between productions and to stabilize camera shots when a tripod is not being used. Often times a tripod or baby leg tripod will be too large and restrictive for the director of photography and camera operator so they will want to move freely by placing the video camera onto available surfaces. If a sandbag is placed down first and the camera is resting on that sandbag it will help ensure stability as well as freedom to tilt, angle, and move the video camera without problem.
Sandbags are an easy protection process for your video equipment on set. Without these the constant movement that occurs on a film or video production could leave the numbers of free stands open to be jarred or knocked, which can even pose safety risks for the cast and crew.