Camera set up advice?
I work for a mobile phone retailer that offers video demonstrations on how to complete certain tasks on your smart phone (e.g how to set up wifi on your smartphone)
The current production process model we use is quite rudimentary and by no means the best way of producing the videos. I am looking for ways to refine the process to make things faster and more efficient.
We currently have a basic crane set up by using a glide track to link 2 fully extended tripods, the camera (Panasonic AG AC 160) is then pointed downwards. The phone is placed on a flat surface beneath the camera and we record resulting in a nice top down view.
However having viewed some videos recently I realised this set up is not great, and could be achieved in a much more straight forward way reducing the need for this 'crane' set up.
The model I want to use instead is something like what is seen in this video:
at 15 seconds.
Here you can see a basic webcam attached to a mini tripod, that has a HDMI output.
I am thinking of getting something similar that could be ingested straight into the edit with minimal fuss. I would use a greenscreen beneath the device to replace with a graphical background.
I am looking for suggestions on equipment that could be used to achieve what is shown in the above video or just general advice.
Directly above your setup, you may want a black surface to reduce any ghosting or glare onto the screen. Softlight boxes would be my choice to light this, again, being careful of throwing up reflections.
Use the green underneath only if you know you want to key in lots of other things. The potential problem with the green right under the device is, your hands coming into frame will throw shadows onto that and spoil the keys. I know some guys shooting demos of phones mount them to a heavy duty gobo arm in mid-air, and their "backdrop" is the floor several feet below, which enables some depth-of-field blurring. A hand can pretend to hold the device, but the gobo arm keeps it anchored in the frame.
Thanks for the insight into different set ups.
I certainly see what you mean regarding reflections, in fact this is one of the biggest problems of shooting screens in general. We tend to (again possibly not the best way of doing this) place a reflector directly above our set up, which helps slightly.
I do like your idea of having a metal arm holding the phone and using the floor as a backdrop, this is not something I had previously considered.
Really what I want to do is downscale the set up though. As in the video link I posted you can see basically a mini tripod and a webcam. I would want to implement something like this that I can hook up to a computer directly and capture the footage. I would want the camera to be professional quality, maybe a DSLR attached to a mini tripod. I don't know what others think of this?
If you can live without the greenscreen thing, I would suggest a "modest" setup would be one of those pop-up light tents that ebay sellers use for shooting small items like jewelry. Lights shine on the cube from the outside. You get a soft, even light inside, from all directions. It all fits on a table, leave the front open for your arm to get in there and work the screen. Add black paper to the "roof" on the inside of one of these to kill refections, and cut a hole in that black card for the lens of your little webcam or POV cam to poke thru.
Another way to go would be to adapt an old photog's copy stand or enlargement table: those are dirt cheap to get used these days. Throw away the enlarger head and us the table and associated lighting and mounting arms to mount the downward-facing camera, For years, I used something like this for my super-8 film animation stand.