Industry Highlight | Film and Television Rigging

film and tv entertainment rigging

Industry Highlight: Film & Television 

Lights, Camera—Rig?!

It’s easy to think of only industrial applications when we talk rigging, but rigging’s found everywhere—Especially behind the TV screen in the entertainment industry.

When making a feature film or TV show, it takes many people behind the scenes running the lights, camera, sets, costumes, makeup…and the rigging! In the film industry, rigging technicians are referred to as grips. Although it’s one of the lesser-known film-industry teams, they are an integral part of many different aspects within film-making.

Next time you’re enjoying a movie full of fun camera angles or high-speed Hollywood chase scenes—Know that a grip made that possible!

What Does the Grip Department Do?

The grip department is in charge of all rigging needs behind the scenes—Lifting, carrying, transporting, rigging, operating, building, and placing production equipment where it needs to be. This means they’re in charge of all equipment that helps to lift or hoist other equipment, often with a main focus on:

  • Camera rigs -- Used to stabilize camera movements or to achieve difficult angles
  • Lighting rigs -- Used to achieve specific lighting techniques or effects.

But it doesn’t stop there. Grips often play more roles then the actors on set, including the role of carpenter, electrician, mechanic, and of course, rigger. They’re the people who make showbiz function.

The grip team is often led by what is referred to as the “Key Grip”, the team lead, and the “Best Boy”, the second-in-command.

Rigging Equipment Used in Film

Grips have to be ready to be thrown into many different types of rigging jobs on set working with equipment like:

  • Tripods
  • Dollies
  • Tracks
  • Jibs
  • Cranes -- Want to see a camera crane in action? Check out this video.
  • Static Rigs
  • Camera Mounts
  • Light Mounts

Rigging Grips often work with specialized companies to tailor-make pieces of equipment to facilitate what’s needed for the specific production. Things like difficult camera maneuvers sometimes require specialized equipment, especially if the filming is taking place in a location with extreme terrain and/or severe weather conditions.

Check out this video by the RocketJump Film School that goes through some of the equipment used by Rigging Grips and how to use it!  Pigeon plate? Gobo head? Quarter apple? Yes, these are real terms and not random gibberish! Of course, it makes sense a fun job like this would mean lots of fun nicknames for the rigging equipment used.

One of the key types of equipment you’ll see featured in this video are different types of lifting clamps. Lifting clamps are used to latch onto plates, sheets, grinders, pipes and other materials for positioning, hoisting and transferring. This eliminates the need for creating a hitch or drilling into the material—A key element when working on sets that can’t be modified for rigging purposes.

Hercules SLR sells Crosby lifting clamps with a variety of working load capacities and jaw opening sizes. Crosby lifting clamps are produced using advanced manufacturing techniques and are able to withstand abusive field conditions. Each clamp is individually proof tested to two times the working load limit and you’ll always find the Crosby logo, working load limit (WLL), jaw opening, unique serial number, and proof load test date permanently stamped on the clamp bodies.

How Grips Facilitate Safety on Set

Like we always say here at Hercules SLR, rigging is all about safety. The end goal of any rigging task should always boil down to getting the job done while keeping the people, product, and environment unharmed. Since Grips are responsible for all of the rigging on set, they also become responsible for some of the most important safety precautions.

As the video above goes through each of the pieces of hardware and how to use them -- They are sure to mention what measures are necessary to keep the equipment safe and secure. Nobody wants expensive lights or other film equipment falling mid-shoot and smashing into a million pieces, and more importantly, nobody wants that to happen over an actor or crew member’s head!

Some of the mentioned safety measures include:

Cotter Pins: Cotter pins act as a locking mechanism and prevents parts from slipping off other parts.

Safety Cables: Safety Chains are an important part of many different applications of rigging and simply stops the fixture from falling if the hardware fails. The safety is attached to the hardware and looped around the beam or bar it is attached to. This way if the clamp fails, the fixture will only drop a short distance and be caught by the chain.

Safety Tip -- Always check the weight rating set on safety chains to ensure it can take the weight of the clamp and anything it’s holding -- Otherwise, it too will break in case of the hardware failing! 

Sandbags: Sandbags are a popular choice for counterweights in the film and theatre industry. In the video, you see them used to weight down a floor plate, but they are also used to secure scenery and props, balance hemp rigging, and a variety of other purposes. They come in a variety of sizes and weights!

Cribbing: Cribbing is used only when clamping on a wooden surface as there is little way to tighten a clamp onto a wooden surface enough for it to be secure, without damaging the wood. Cribbing refers to two pieces of wood that you place on either side of the wooden surface so you may tighten the clamp as much as needed without worrying about damaging the structure itself. This may be seen as more of a cosmetic precaution in other industries, but within the film industry, it’s the only way they can tighten their clamps to a safe point while on the set of a historical home, school or hospital.

Rope Access

As you would imagine, filming doesn’t always take place in locations that are set up for rigging. Often times Grips are faced with figuring out how to rig in tricky locations that may seem impossible to reach. So how do they do it? Rope access!

Rope Access is an innovative access solution that enables a technician to use two ropes and a harness system to position themselves in nearly any work environment. This eliminates the need for scaffolding or other heavy access equipment in locations that simply can’t support it. Using the unique gear system, the grip can maneuver themselves with complete 360-degree mobility in difficult locations while completing the task at hand.

Confined space training may be necessary based on the environment they are working in, and is a great way to ensure the safety of your team while rigging in tight locations. Confined Space Entrant/Attendant
Training (CSEA) is just one of the many courses available at the Hercules Training Academy


Revolutionary Rigging | The Spydercrane

Revolutionary Rigging | The Spydercrane

What’s a spydercrane? Although this spyder is a little bit too big to squish with your shoe… No need to worry arachnophobes, the only thing the Spydercrane and the actual creepy-crawly have in common are it’s 4 long legs which give it a spider-like appearance.

This new crane is much like a boom lift, but its small base and spyder legs or ‘outriggers’ makes it much more versatile than the typical boom lift.

The spydercrane was originally manufactured by Furukawa UNIC Corporation in Japan, and is called the Mini Crawler Crane. Roger Bassetti and Warren Wagoner from Phoenix-based Smiley Lift Solutions saw the crane while on a business trip to Japan and immediately knew that they needed to bring the mini crane technology to the North American Market. So, the Spydercranes we see around the US and Canada come from Smiley Lift Solutions!

What Makes the Sydercrane Special?

Here you see the Sypercrane easily wheeling through a doorway in travel mode

The key feature of the Spydercrane is that they offer a compact design that allows for operation in confined areas. The smaller models are able to travel through a standard width door frame when compact into their ‘travel position’ and the largest of the models are able to travel through a standard double-door.

Travel-mode in the larger Spydercrane models also includes a quick disassemble system that allows the outriggers, boom, and frame to be removed reducing the overall weight of the crane for transporting or hoisting.

You may be starting to get that “it’s too good to be true” ring in the back of your mind thinking it must be an absolute pain to get a crane from all tucked up in travel mode to a useable piece of equipment. However, you can easily set up a typical Spydercrane from travel mode to fully deployed and ready for action in less than 5 minutes! Don’t believe it? Check out this video from GLG Canada showing in real-time just how easy the Sydercrane set-up is!

Many of the models of Sypdercrane come with some other cutting-edge features that make the Sydercrane even more unique. Some of these include:

It’s patented Overturn Protection System: This is comprised of an on-board computer system that continually measures the ground pressure of each of the outriggers through an incorporated “load cell”. During a lift, if the system detects an outrigger is losing ground pressure, an alarm will sound and the crane will start to slow done all functions. If two outriggers start to lose ground pressure, the crane will automatically stop all functions that would put the crane closer to an unsafe position. With the alarm sounding and the crane at a safe stopped position, the operator is able to maneuver the crane back into a safe lifting position.

Variable Geometry Outriggers: The outriggers are designed to allow for lifts in tight spaces. It allows for the outriggers to be locked in numerous positions on the swing, knee, and inner box joints. This means the mini crane can be set up around obstacles, on a catwalk, or in a machinery room with very limited space.

Remote Control and Pressure Sensitive Controls: Unlike most cranes, the Spydercrane offers pressure-sensitive controls that will speed or slow the crane’s functions based on the amount of pressure input by the operator. Most models of the Spydercrane are also equipped with a wireless remote control so the operator themselves can be in the best vantage point for the lift, rather than needing to be on board running controls.

Superior Materials and Construction: The Spydercrane is designed with a hexagonal keeled boom instead of the standard square boom, which adds strength and reduces sway. This is made up of steel that is rated at 140,000 -- 160,000 yield (psi), which is the highest tinsel-yield steel making it thinner and lighter but still stronger than most conventional crane materials.

Spydercrane Models

090 Series

This series is made for job sites requiring a small crane with a boom length of 18 -- 28.4 ft and a maximum lifting capacity of 1,990 lbs. There are three models in this series, the URW094, URW095, and URW095S, which are all generally used in confined spaces where the typical crane would never fit.

090 series cranes can be configured around obstacles, can be set-up on uneven ground, or operated in confined spaces like hallways and up against walls.

200 Series

This series of the Spydercrane is deemed the most versatile and is therefore popular among many industries, On of the most popular uses of this crane is as a glazing tool to set glass and other materials. Three models are available within this series that range in boom length from 24.9 ft -- 28.4 ft and maximum lifting capacity of 5,800 lbs and 6,450 lbs. The geometric footprint of this model of the Spydercrane makes it suitable for use in hallways, balconies, or around obstacles.

All of the models within this series are equipped with the wireless radio remote control mentioned above, which frees the operator from being tethered to the crane.

300 Series

The 300 series Spyderceane is the perfect lifting solution for modern construction sites, as it’s a bit bigger than other models with an increased boom length of 47’10” and a maximum lifting capacity of 5,800 lbs and 6,680 lbs depending on the model.

Though it’s a larger ‘spyder’ when in use, it is only 52 inches wide when in travel mode, which will allow you to move it into any space through a standard double-door -- And it’s zero-emission power options allow for use in indoor construction projects with low ventilation.

500 Series

The 500 series Spydercrane is perfect for steel erection as it offers a lifting capacity of up to 8,920 lbs and a boom length of 8.0 ft. The 500 series Spydercrane is revolutionizing how buildings are built with its heavy-lifting capacity and ability to perform in confined spaces.

This crane is also able to move through a standard double-door when in travel mode and can be used in job sites with low ventilation thanks to its zero-emission power options. And to top it all off, it comes mounted on a dual rubber track with a quick disassemble system that allows the outriggers, boom, and frame to be removed reducing the overall weight of the crane for transporting or hoisting.

700 Series

You may have sensed a theme and can guess that the 700 series Spydercrane is the largest Spydercrane currently available in the North American market. While it is described as a “beast” it still keeps the key feature of the Spydercrane in being compactable down to 5.48′ wide. The 700 Series Spydercrane can really do it all with a lifting capacity of over 6 tons.

Coming jam-packed with all of the features mentioned before throughout smaller series of the crane, the URW706 model has the ability to rotate 360 degrees in places, making it a dream to maneuver through confined spaces. You can find this tarantula level super Spyder crane being used in almost any industrial industry!

No matter how unique and revolutionary your crane is, it’s always important to ensure you’re keeping up with mandatory maintenance and inspections.

Hercules SLR offers crane certifications & LEEA-certified inspections, repairs, predictive & preventive maintenance and crane parts & accessories like wire rope slings, hoists & whatever else you need to lift.

When you spend a long day lifting, hoisting and pulling, your body probably has some aches & pains. Did you know your crane is no different? Just like a weightlifter must take care of their body, watch what they eat and even ensure the palms of their hands are prepared to lift, your crane needs a similar level of care. (And, we know what happens when this level of care is overlooked).

Click here to discover what type of cranes Hercules SLR services, the equipment & products we service, sell & inspect and why looking after your crane benefits you in the long-run.


Women with Skill: Kelly Baird-Pestell talks Rigging Industry & Teamwork

kelly baird pestell rigging industry
Kelly Baird-Pestell is our Territory Sales Manager from Sudbury, Ontario and she’s worked in and around the rigging industry for most of her career—just because she’s behind-the-scenes, doesn’t mean her hands don’t get dirty.

Read on to learn more about her career path in the rigging industry, and her role at Hercules SLR. 

Tell us about your educational/professional background:

I completed a Business Administration diploma at community college and right from school, went to work in the mining industry. I worked as a mine clerk right out of college for 2 years, and then went to work for another company as their Service/Maintenance Planner, and this role included a lot – I was in-charge of contracts, ordering equipment parts and scheduling jobs for multiple businesses and mine sites in town as we had several contracts. I had a hand in most of went on at the mine. 

I had my third child, went back to work for a short time and decided it was time for a change. I saw a position with Hercules SLR as a Service Supervisor, and this proved to be the best move I could’ve made. Since then, I’ve been Operations Manager and now, as Territory Sales Manager I feel like I have a solid understanding of all aspects of the business.

What made you decide to go into the rigging industry after achieving your diploma? 

The Sudbury mining industry was booming at this time, so it made sense to follow the opportunity – I grew up with family who worked in the mining industry, so it was also something I was familiar with. (Did you know Mining is one of the main industries Hercules SLR serves?!)

I made a goal to get a job with a large mine that’s in Sudbury right out of school, and I did! Some people joke and say I have a horseshoe hanging over my head, (laughs) but I think it has more to do with knowing what I want and having the drive to go after it. I was a single mother that was able to spot an opportunity, decide what I wanted, and achieve it. I walked out of college with a diploma, and right into a job! 

I loved it. Even though I didn’t come from a technical background, I can learn anything I put my mind to. I jumped in headfirst, and even though the environment was tough, I was able to grow a thick skin quickly (important in this industry!), and learn how to hold my ground. 

I also love that the rigging industry impacts the whole community. Especially since mining is so prevalent in Sudbury, the rigging industry impacts our entire community – It’s nice to know work makes a difference.

Why did you decide to work for Hercules SLR?

The biggest reason I joined the Hercules SLR team is the opportunity for growth. Sometimes, you’re thrown into things that take time to grasp and there’s so much going on that really, you’re forced to learn. 

We have some awesome training opportunities at Hercules SLR, like Covey Leadership Training, Rigging Fundamental training and meetings with suppliers about new products – this hands-on experience is just one of the reasons I wanted to work to Hercules SLR.  

I love working for a Canadian company, contributing to an end-result and actually having my voice heard. Even though we’re a national-wide company, it really has that small-company-feel. At Hercules SLR, I really feel like our executives listen to what we say, and will actually try our suggestions to see if they work. 

Where have you traveled during your time at Hercules SLR?

I haven’t travelled very much during my time at Hercules SLR – I’ve been to Hamilton, Ontario! However, I’d love to visit our head office on the East Coast. Eventually, I want to visit Hercules SLR’s East and West Coast branches and learn more first-hand about how different regions work, and what they focus on. 

rigging industry


What’s something you’re most proud to have accomplished in your career at Hercules SLR?

Honestly, I’m most proud of our team in Sudbury. Our region experienced a lot of change over a 6-month period, and during this challenging time we were able to come out stronger than ever. Our team not only brought in new customers, but we were even able to bring back customers we had lost. 

Advice on leading a team:

To be brutally honest, there was an Operations Manager here once who gave me some great, simple, advice – “Have work-life balance,” Which is something I used to struggle with. Now, I don’t live to work, I work to live. I enjoy my family, job and life in general.

To do this, I try to take a step back, get organized, not put too much pressure on myself and remind myself I can only do so much. I find if I’m stressed, I can’t work to my full-potential. So now, I try to put myself first– for me, this means eating healthy, going to the gym and spending time with my family, so I can do my job better. 

Being able to put myself first makes it easier to focus on the different priorities that arise each day. This company doesn’t run with only one person. Hercules SLR needs every team member it has to rise to top and be the leader in the rigging industry. I’m so grateful to be a part of it!

What do you love  most about your job and the rigging industry? 

I love the variety! Everyday looks different. I love helping our clients fix their problems  Nobody calls us because their crane is working! We’re constantly the solution for our clients, and I love being part of the solution, not the problem.

And, as I mentioned, I also love our Sudbury crew Adriana, Rick, David, Netasha, Frank and I make a great team!

Learn more about life at Hercules SLR: 






Hercules SLR is part of the Hercules Group of Companies which offers a unique portfolio of businesses nationally with locations from coast to coast. Our companies provide an extensive coverage of products and services that support the success of a wide range of business sectors across Canada including the energy, oil & gas, manufacturing, construction, aerospace, infrastructure, utilities, oil and gas, mining and marine industries.

Hercules Group of Companies is comprised of: Hercules SLRHercules Machining & Millwright ServicesSpartan Industrial MarineStellar Industrial Sales and Wire Rope Atlantic.

Hercules Training Academy: Securing, Lifting & Rigging


Hercules Training Academy: First Course Complete

The Hercules Training Academy is open for training—last week Hercules was thrilled to have eight employees hailing from across Canada participate in our first ever training program. Employees from CSR, sales and management gathered at Hercules’ new, purpose-built specialized Training Academy in Dartmouth, NS to learn the ins and outs (quite literally)—of securing, lifting and rigging in our first specialized training course.

Training Academy Facilities

What makes Hercules’ Training Academy ‘specialized’? Our equipment, for one. Our new custom crane is built into the warehouse floor and can lift up to 10 tonnes—pieces of concrete were actually torn up in order to fix the crane to the floor. This gives our employees experience working with larger, more realistic loads that one may commonly see on a job site.


In addition to the large crane, we have two smaller, portable cranes—these can be used for activities outdoors or on the warehouse floor, and allow trainee’s to practice securing, lifting and rigging in various settings.

In addition to the rigging equipment available at the Training Academy, there are two new classroom spaces. Trainees spend a time in the classroom learning various details, features and differences between equipment like hoists, buckles and slings. Then, they take their knowledge to a practical setting.

This combination of practical and classroom experience is invaluable for our clients and customers.

“I’ve learned so much on the course that will help my understand my customers’ needs much better. I know what’s a workable solution, and how to interpret the needs of the clients’ project,” says Keyne, a CSR from Hamilton, Ontario.

One activity included Hercules’ employees hoisting and lifting objects up and through holes outdoors, which mimicked the challenges of rigging objects into the top of a larger structure, like a boat. Another required employees to secure, lift and rig irregular shaped objects into a shipping container. This showed our employees some of the challenges workers face onsite—things like balancing a large objects’ centre of gravity, evenly distributing a heavy load and properly securing misshapen objects.

Dwayne Fader, Business Development Manager (and former rigging technician!) at Hercules explained some of the common misconceptions and complications workers face with rigging a heavy load. “There is so much more math involved than you think—I’ve never used it more than when I worked in rigging. You have to make sure things are even, balanced and fit correctly—all more challenging than it seems.”

Commitment to Learning

Hercules truly believes that experience is the best teacher, which is why we developed the Training Academy. When we teach our employees how to work with the products we sell, and get a ‘taste’ of what the job is actually like, they gain a whole new insight towards issues our customers and clients face daily—and are able to offer practical solutions and advice. Simply put—our employees don’t just ‘talk the talk’, but can ‘walk the walk’, too.

TJ, a Sales Manager from  Langley, BC says “The Training Academy session was fantastic. I’ve learned more useful skills than I expected, and it’s been fun! The hands-on activities really helped me understand what I was learning. It made me realize what’s great in theory, and then what you actually need to do to make that theory workable.”

Hercules’ employees gained a lot from their time at the Training Academy, and many are excited to do again.

“If there’s a Rigging 2—I want to be on it! I learned stuff I never knew I needed to know, and it’s been FUN.”  says Quincy, an Inspector from Hamilton, Ontario. “Who ever thought I’d use ‘work’ and ‘fun’ in the same sentence? But I have—and it was!”

Hercules offers practical, hands-on learning programs designed to exceed minimum safety requirements. These courses can be customized to fit the specific needs of your workplace, and can be provide training on-site or at a Hercules facility.

We’ve always been committed to providing specialized training—see the table below to discover our available training courses. 

Current Courses Offered:
Power Operated Work PlatformsChain Saw Safety

Confined Space Entrant & Attendant (CSEA)

Fall Protection

Fundamentals of Rigging with Practical

Forklift Safety (Narrow Aisle or Counterbalance)

Lock Out Tag Out

Red Cross Emergency First AidRed Cross Standard First Aid

Fall Rescue Systems

WHMIS 2015 with GHS

Fundamentals of Overhead Cranes

Fundamentals of Rigging

Offshore Rigger Banksman

Overhead Crane Operator

There really is no substitute for experience. All in all, Hercules’ employees had a similar takeaway. Marc, a Manager from Quebec, explains “This week has been amazing. I learned so much about the industry, and now I can understand the jobs as our clients do. I’ve actually already taken some material home for Rigging 2, and I’ve completed the math exercise! It’s great.”

More questions about training at Hercules? E-mail us at


Hercules SLR is part of the Hercules Group of Companies which offers a unique portfolio of businesses nationally with locations from coast to coast. Our companies provide an extensive coverage of products and services that support the success of a wide range of business sectors across Canada including the energy, oil & gas, manufacturing, construction, aerospace, infrastructure, utilities, oil and gas, mining and marine industries.

Hercules Group of Companies is comprised of: Hercules SLRHercules Machining & Millwright ServicesSpartan Industrial MarineStellar Industrial Sales and Wire Rope Atlantic.