C-Stands

In film production, a C-stand is a piece of equipment used by the grip department to accomplish various rigging and light modification tasks.

The name comes from the official term "Century stand", which in turn comes from the earliest days of filmmaking, when the Sun was the only major source of lighting; reflectors were used to keep the light on actors. The most popular size of reflector was the 100-inch "Century"; a progenitor of today's C-stand was used to hold it up.

The Century stand is near-ubiquitous on motion picture sets because of its modular nature and versatility. Its primary purpose is to position various flags, color gels, bounce cards, and silks in front of light sources to block, direct, or modify the nature of the light. However, it can also be used to mount small lights and rig anything that can be made to fit on the stand.

The stand is constructed entirely of metal and consists of a tripod base, a "gobo" arm, and a "gobo" head. The legs of the stand are designed to be nested, so many stands can be stacked together in a small space. The stand itself is extensible by a number of risers which allow the stand's height to vary from 40 inches to about 10 feet. The arm attached to the stand is extensible as well, and at the end of the arm lies a head which has holes to accommodate various sizes of pins. The arm and head are easily detachable from the stand, allowing them to be combined with the other stands and clamps available to the grip department. All the parts of the stand are loosened and tightened via applied torque.

One leading manufacturer of C-stands is Matthews Studio Equipment; their 1974 design introduced the adjustable parts of the C-stand, greatly increasing the stand's usefulness. Other manufacturers in the United States include: American Grip, Avenger, Modern Studio Equipment, and Norms Grip.

A variant of the chrome C-stand is only 20 inches at its shortest height; it is nicknamed a "Gary Coleman" or a "Billy Barty" stand and a "shotgun" in the UK (a reference to the stand having been "sawn off"). Also known as a "grip stand."

The Cage is currently equipped with both standard 40" C-Stands and 20" Grip Stands.