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All About Magic Arms: Conventional and Unconventional Uses

Tanner Shinnick

Discover some traditional and non-traditional uses for magic arms, as well as a few options on the market today and the benefits of each.

Magic arms are versatile and robust filmmaking tools. In this article, we’re going to look at some of the best options out there today. We’ll even explore some traditional, and not so traditional, usage scenarios. This way, on your next shoot you can be prepared with the best magic arm possible. 

The first magic arm I ever bought wasn’t good. It couldn’t hold anything. It would constantly drop and would poorly mount onto my camera. This negative experience quickly painted magic arms in a negative light in my head. As a result, I assumed that they were all bad, no matter the price point. For a while, I didn’t even use them because of that experience. However, I was wrong. 


Traditional Uses 

Magic arms are tools that are capable of vast possibilities. Some of the most common usages are for holding a variety of camera accessories. This includes wireless video feed systems, external monitors, LED lights, and basically anything else that can mount onto it. Their articulating arms allow you to position these accessories anywhere on your camera rig that seems fit. Through their strong construction, they can hold and secure what you need for as long as needed.


Non-Traditional Uses

Because magic arms typically feature an ultra-versatile ¼ twenty-thread mount, they can secure almost anything with that mount. One of my favorite non-traditional usages that I’ve seen is to use the magic arm to mount a small, wide-angle B-camera, conveniently rigged onto your A-camera to grab an additional shot and angle.

For example, let’s say you’re filming a feature or short on a super short schedule with a limited budget. Then, you have a scene that required a two-camera coverage. Your A-cam would grab your main angle and be the main focus of the scene. Then, a small B-cam could be mounted directly onto your main camera with a wider angle lens to grab an additional shot. Basically, a two-for-one special.

Now that we’ve captured the essence of what we can use magic arms for, let’s take a look at a few options on the market today and the benefits of each. 


SmallRig Magic Arm

The SmallRig Magic Arm
The impressive SmallRig magic arm. Image via SmallRig.

SmallRig is an accessory manufacturer that consistently impresses me. Their magic arm lives up to that standard. 

Pros: Good price point, well-built.

Cons: Short, less established name.


Wooden Camera Ultra Arm

Wooden Camera Ultra Arm
The versatile Wooden Camera Ultra Arm. Image via Wooden Camera.

I’ve personally been using this Wooden Camera Ultra Arm for the last couple of years. It’s come with me on literally every shoot I’m on. It’s strong. It’s versatile. Also, it’s semi-customizable. With Wooden Camera’s unique construction, you can really build out this arm as long or as short as you’d like. 

Pros: Strong, semi-customizable, versatile, reputable name.

Cons: Price, does like to come loose from time to time. 


Noga Cine Arm

The Noga Cine Arm
The robust Noga Cine Arm. Image via 16×9 Inc.

The Noga Cine Arm is simple, basic, and robust. Personally, this is my favorite magic arm to use. It just works. And, it works really well. Rarely do I feel as if I need to reset or remount the arm. I’ve tossed so many accessories on these arms over the years. Everything from Teradeks to external monitors have found a place mounted onto this arm. 

Pros: Strong, versatile, reputable, simple design.

Cons: Price, non-customizable.


Conclusion

Overall, magic arms are powerful filmmaking tools that can vastly improve your camera builds. With so many options out there today, it’s important to find the tool that will work best for your needs and budget.

So, if you’re looking to improve your camera rig, utilize more mounting options, or securely attach a B-cam, magic arms are tools that can help you achieve just that. These versatile tools provide filmmakers with so many options to mount their accessories. With these exceptional magic arm options and varieties on the market today, you’re bound to find the perfect one for your next production.


Cover image via 26ShadesOfGreen.

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