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Daniel Schultz
Overhead Camera Mount
on Dec 15, 2016 at 7:52:46 pm

Hi,

I've been looking for a way to solidly mount a camera (DLSR, C100) overhead to get bird's eye angle that is popular on a lot of these Tasty-style videos recipe videos.
Example link:





I'm not afraid to cobble grip pieces together or use parts from home depot if need be. The main thing is I want it to be solid, and I'd like to be able to mount my fluid head on it. It doesn't really need to be portable since I'm using it in my home studio only. And raising the tripod all the way doesn't get the same angle.

Anyone have any ideas?

Thanks very much,

Dan S.


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Todd Terry
Re: Overhead Camera Mount
on Dec 15, 2016 at 8:03:30 pm

Should be easy enough to mount a beam of some kind (maybe just a 2x4 stud) at the right height across the area... either supported by large stands, or even homemade supports since it is semi-permanent in a home studio (i.e., pipes set in concrete buckets, etc.). Depending on the size of the room and the permanence needed it could even be attached to the walls or dropped down from the ceiling.

In this beam drill an appropriate hole (either 1/4" or 3/8" depending on your head) and use a bolt to mount your head horizontally.

There are scads of ways to do this, but this is one easy "Home Depot way"... shouldn't be too hard, especially with such lightweight cameras.

Let us know what you come up with.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Todd Terry
Re: Overhead Camera Mount
on Dec 15, 2016 at 8:06:15 pm

I should add that if this camera isn't dedicated solely to this shot and it is needed for other shots too (and you don't want to do a lot of mounting and re-mounting), you can always go the old cooking-school route of suspending an angled mirror above the shooting area instead, and shooting into that.

A front-surface mirror is ideal, but you can probably get away with a regular one. And obviously you will have to flip the image in post to correctly re-orient it, but it frees up the camera.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Daniel Schultz
Re: Overhead Camera Mount
on Dec 16, 2016 at 6:05:26 pm

Many Thanks, Todd!!!!

Any thoughts on ways to mount the mirror (do love that idea, so simple)?
Types of clamps, etc. Would you use c-stands? Any way I can get away with lightweight aluminum light stands (I own already, and don't have any c-stands). Maybe I need to bite the bullet and get a c-stand or two.


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Daniel Schultz
Re: Overhead Camera Mount
on Dec 16, 2016 at 6:25:43 pm

Oh...and I thought of one more question: Any other info leads about the mirror? Metal? Glass? Any particular type that would be easy for mounting? Thanks again!!!!


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Todd Terry
Re: Overhead Camera Mount
on Dec 16, 2016 at 6:43:02 pm

Google "front surface mirror" and you'll find a lot of resources and vendors.

Honestly, I wouldn't use stands... I'd just hang it from the ceiling or grid or whatever you have. That will be a lot more stable and keep valuable floor space clear. Buy or build a wooden frame for the mirror, one trip to Lowes or Home Depot to get some various hardware (hooks, wire, etc.), and you should be in business. A hooks-and-eyes arrangement can give you a sturdy semi-permanent setup that should be stable, yet easy enough to put up and take down on occasion.

If you want to go the stand route, I don't think this is a job for lightweight aluminum stands... C-stands (and sandbags) I think would be the bare minimum. Once you buy some real C-stands, you will curse your aluminum tripod-style stands. Don't get cheap or knock-off ones though, get "real" ones, such as those from Matthews.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Daniel Schultz
Re: Overhead Camera Mount
on Dec 22, 2016 at 2:06:11 am

Oh, and as a follow up, what do you think of this setup?


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Daniel Schultz
Re: Overhead Camera Mount
on Dec 22, 2016 at 2:00:07 am

Okay, Todd, one more question if I want to go the camera mounting route.
(And really appreciate your help!)

I just watched a behind-the-scenes CBS video about how they do the Tasty videos at Buzzed.







And I took a few screens of their studio. It looks like they use 2 c-stands, then a crossbar to mount the DSLR and Monitor.
I like the simplicity of the setup.

10886_screenshot20161218at6.57.35pm.png.zip

So, two questions: Do you what kind of overhead bar is that?
And what kind of clamp do the use to attach the overhead bar to the two c-stands?

Thanks again!!!

-Dan S


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Todd Terry
Re: Overhead Camera Mount
on Dec 22, 2016 at 3:45:55 am

Hi Dan...

That setup looks fine, very workable. I would have suggested something similar for just using a DSLR, but I didn't for a couple of reasons. One, you said you might use a C100, and while that is a small/light camera, it IS a fair bit bigger and heavier than a DSLR (and especially a bit top heavy)... AND you said you wanted to mount your fluid head on it. I thought the weight and "side heaviness" of that combo wouldn't work quite as well with that kind of setup.

But... but just a DSLR body and a reasonably small/light lens (which that is), a setup like that is pretty good. The "pipe" that is the horizontal bar is what they call "Speedrail," which is essentially just, well, pipe. It's used in all sorts of rigging. The hardware that is holding the camera (as well as the little monitor) is known as a "Mafer clamp." As for the hardware that is holding the speedrail to the stands, I'm not sure what that exact hardware is... probably some kind of grip gear (that no doubt has a specific name and nickname that I don't know) which is used to attach a horizontal to a baby pin.

You might want to just browse through the entire catalog of stuff from Matthews... you'll learn about all kinds of different hardware and grip pieces, seeing what's out there might give you some different ideas that you haven't thought about yet, and might come up with an even better way. It's at http://www.msegrip.com/ and go to "products" and then "catalog downlowd."

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Daniel Schultz
Re: Overhead Camera Mount
on Dec 23, 2016 at 7:51:10 pm

Really appreciate all the help and info—thanks Todd!

So, yes, I originally thought of trying to mount the whole shebang with fluid head, etc.
But then when I saw that setup (and know how freaking successful those videos are), I started leaning towards the leaner, more elegant rig. I only have prime lenses for my DSLR (Nikon D810), but I should be able to just raise or lower the c-stands to get the right framing.

I did some looking around at Matthews, and saw some speed rail options, and I think I might have found the clamp that they used at Tasty. Does this look like it?
http://products.msegrip.com/collections/showcase/products/backdrop-ears
It's called a backdrop ear.

And would you recommend a thickness for the speedrail? Looks like they come in 1", 1.25" and 1.5".

Thanks again!!


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Todd Terry
Re: Overhead Camera Mount
on Dec 23, 2016 at 8:27:03 pm

Yep, Dan, that's the part they were using exactly.

As for Speedrail... honestly I wouldn't buy it, because it's so darn expensive. I'd just head to Home Depot and buy large-diameter electrical conduit of the appropriate size. It's so darn cheap, I use it all the time for different things. In fact, the lighting grid in our studio isn't a true "pipe grid" because it isn't made of actual pipe... it's made conduit. Unless you plan on hanging an anvil or an engine block off it, conduit is just fine.

If you want to go even cheaper at Home Depot, skip the backdrop ears and the Mafer clamps all together. Head back to lumber and get a 2x2 (if you can find one that straight and doesn't bend or corkscrew... lumber is such a crapshoot these days). In each end drill a 5/8" hole from top to bottom (a drill press would be helpful, but if not just get them as perfectly vertical as you can). With those holes your wood strut will snugly drop right over the baby pins on the top of your C-stands. At the midway mark (or wherever you want the camera) drill a horizontal hole) probably quarter-inch) so you can use a bolt to attach your camera. With a setup like that I usually use an extra-long bolt so I can use a washer and a wing nut to make tightening it up to the camera easy.

But then again, I sometimes go through "cheap phases" where I'm all about making inexpensive DIY mounts and such. Other times, I'm not in the mood to build anything and would just rather buy the gear to do it the "right" way.

But either way, I wouldn't buy real Speedrail... I'd buy conduit.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Daniel Schultz
Re: Overhead Camera Mount
on Dec 24, 2016 at 3:07:03 pm

super helpful!!!
I was wondering that exact thing about the speedrail.
I love your idea of DIYing it!!
Gonna give it a whirl!!
Thanks again!!!


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Daniel Schultz
Re: Overhead Camera Mount
on Jan 6, 2017 at 12:35:04 am

Hey Todd.

Can I trouble you for a bit more advice about c-stands?
I was getting ready to buy, but I'm not sure which type to get.

I thought the 40" riser made the most sense overall. Would you say?
And I thought the boom would come in handy.
What about Turtle based vs one piece?
And "Rocky Mountain" double sliding leg?
Any other options/thoughts?

And what do you suggest for sandbags?

Thanks again, Todd!!


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Daniel Schultz
Re: Overhead Camera Mount
on Jan 6, 2017 at 1:04:17 am

okay... I just talked to a very helpful person at Matthews and I think I'm all set. Just realized though that I'm not sure the best way to hook the camera to the Mafer clamp. Do I need a special screw (1/4-20?).

Thanks again!!


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Todd Terry
Re: Overhead Camera Mount
on Jan 6, 2017 at 3:41:58 am

Hey Dad...

Glad Matthews is fixing you up. They are good people.

Yes, you'll need a way to attach your camera to your Mafer clamp. Depend on what you buy, the clamp will probably come with a "baby pin" inserted into it, which is a straight stud 5/8" in diameter. What you'll want to do it to take out that pin and replace with with a baby pin that terminates in a 1/4" threaded nub.

Like this one...
https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1245793-REG/innovative_dimmers_80350...

There are many others, probably some cheaper, that was just the first one I ran across.

For more flexibility you could also put a little ball head in there to make positioning the camera easier...
https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/687361-REG/Oben_BD_0_BD_0_TABLE_TOP_...

As for your other questions...

The tall 40" riser sounds like it would be the most useful one for you.

As for the boom, you won't need the grip arm/head for this application, but you might want to buy one if you think it will come in handy for other uses.

Turtle base vs. one piece... well to be honest, I didn't know there were any C-stands that were not turtle bases. Turtle base is the norm.

You don't need a Rocky Mountain leg for this usage. You'll use that when shooting on uneven surfaces, outdoors on location, negotiating stairs and steps, etc. If you are ever going to be in these situations, then yes the adjustable leg can help and you might want to buy that. If you are always going to be in that same setup on a flat stage floor, then you don't.

Sandbags... I think most of our sandbags came from FilmTools. Sandbags are heavy to ship, obviously, so most of our were purchased empty. We fill them up here and sew them shut. Sandbag canvas is super heavy-duty though, so we took some of them to an upholstery shop to sew them up.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Daniel Schultz
Re: Overhead Camera Mount
on Jan 11, 2017 at 5:21:19 pm

Hi Todd.

Okay I got my stands and Mafer clamps, and then when I set everything up, I felt like the Canon c100 would be easier to use than the Nikon DSLR D810. Do you think it's okay to use the c100? It's just the camera and the 24-105 lens as shown:



Worried about stressing out the female/camera side of the 1/4-20 in that perpendicular angle.

(I have a ninja on a separate Mafer clamp)

Thanks again!!!

-Dan


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Todd Terry
Re: Overhead Camera Mount
on Jan 11, 2017 at 5:38:06 pm

Yeah, with a DSLR I think that would be fine, but the C100 is a different animal.

I think technically it should work, but I too would be a little concerned about all that weight on just the little 1/4" receiver on the camera. If you were using the 3/8" receiver, I'd feel a little bit better about it, but not a great deal. I use a Zacuto base plate with my similarly-sized C300 and have no qualms about pointing it straight down on a tripod head... but I'm attaching to the plate with both the 1/4" and 3/8" receivers simultaneously.

You could attach the camera using both mounting holes to a plate, what they call a "cheese plate" as it has bunches of holes in it, and then attach the cheese plate to the Mafer clamp... or even two Mafter clamps on the same rail. My other concern is sometimes you'll find baby pins made of brass, and those are kinda soft and I'd almost be worried about the threaded part of the pin shearing off, especially the quarter-inch version. If yours is made of steel, stainless or otherwise, it's probably fine.

Honestly what I would do myself is not a very elegant solution, but it's dirt cheap and would work about as well or better than anything else. I'd put a hook or screw eye in the ceiling right above the camera, and run a safety line or cord down from the ceiling to the camera handle, just to take some of the weight and stress off of it. With a setup like that, I wouldn't worry about the camera one bit.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Daniel Schultz
Re: Overhead Camera Mount
on Jan 12, 2017 at 3:52:46 am

Phew! Glad I asked you.
So, I actually do have the bronze pins. Do you think the D810 (full frame DSLR) is okay with the Bronze?
I'm going to try to avoid putting holes in my ceiling ☺

The pin you suggested from B&H is on backorder, and I was hoping to shoot this weekend.

How about this one from Adorama that seems to be in stock?

https://www.adorama.com/fv1qmbp.html


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Todd Terry
Re: Overhead Camera Mount
on Jan 12, 2017 at 5:54:38 am

Couldn't make a guess about the D810, not really familiar with that camera (I'm totally a Canon guy, for both stills and video). But I'm going to assume it's a modestly-sized DSLR, so I'm sure it's a safer bet than the C100.

That one from Adorama looks to be a steel pin... but I'll freely admit that I purely base that on the color in the picture.

I only would be a little concerned because I did once have the threaded part on brass pin exactly like that break off... but it did have a fair bit of stress on it, I think probably more than you are putting on it. Mine was used to attach a grip head to the speed ring of a fairly large soft box. Brass is very soft, though... compared to steel.

Unlike the C300 which has both 1/4" and 3/8" receivers on the bottom, the C100 only has one receiver... but it can be either 1/4" or 3/8"... it just depends on which plate you install on the bottom, your camera should have come with both. I think I'd put the 3/8" plate on, I think it would be a little more reliable combo in that position.

If you swap that to the 3/8" plate, you can use a 3/8" to baby pin like this...

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/644304-REG/Arri_570113_Baby_Pin_5_8_...

I'll admit though that pin has very long threads on it... it might bottom out before it fully seats in the camera. Instead I'd go with this dual pin that has both 1/4" and 3/8" threads, I have a couple of them, I think. Plus it's a third the price...

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1046027-REG/tether_tools_rs465_rock_...

It's a special order though, 7-10 days for delivery.

Also, you can always take the top handle (and hey, even the side grip) off the camera to save a little forward weight. Not much, but every little bit will probably help.

And hey... what's a little hole in the ceiling. You're making art, man.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Daniel Schultz
Re: Overhead Camera Mount
on Jan 12, 2017 at 5:57:40 pm

Okay, just taked to Matthews again and here's what they recommended.

To attach camera to clamp, use this with a hex which fits the mafer better:

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/search?Ntt=209632&N=0&InitialSearch=yes&sts=...

And then this to connect camera to pin:
https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/search?Ntt=861833&N=0&InitialSearch=yes&sts=...

Then I have 3/8 going into the camera.

I'm going to bet you recommend still running a line to the ceiling, right?

Todd, if I wanted to do the cheapest (solid) cheese plate option, do you have a recommendation for which parts to cobble together? Still trying to avoid, if possible, the hole in the ceiling.

Really (really) appreciate your help!!!

Thanks, Dan


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Todd Terry
Re: Overhead Camera Mount
on Jan 12, 2017 at 6:20:03 pm

I think those pieces recommended by Matthews would work. My only negative thoughts would be that it is cobbling several pieces together that keep getting your camera farther and farther from the pipe. Should work, though.

And yeah, I'd still attach it to the ceiling. But that's me. Easy of course in a studio space, I understand though that if doing a temporary set-up in a room in a home that is used for other things, there's a different set of considerations.

As for buying a cheeseplate... I really don't know, other than to just see what is out there... maybe from Filmtools or whomever. If I was going that route I'd honestly just make my own. I'd buy a piece of aluminum stock (probably from Aircraft Spruce, my favorite source for all that kind of stuff), cut it to the exact size needed and drill and tap just the holes I needed exactly where I needed them. That might be easy beans for you... if not and that is outside the scope of your comfort zone (or tools that you have), a machine shop could make it easily.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Daniel Schultz
Re: Overhead Camera Mount
on Jan 13, 2017 at 5:03:19 pm

Okay, I think I'm getting close! (Who knew it would be so complicated?)

Just got my FilmTools package with bolts, steel pins, and cheese plate.
I'm thinking that this is stronger. Everything is terminating with 3/8 " threads (into the camera and into the cheese plate).
I can even grab some 1/4" bolts from Home Depot to screw both the 3/8 and 1/4 into the camera plate (It does have both). I might need to adjust one of the holes in the plate a bit, but it's almost there.

With the cheese plate snug against the camera, and the surface-to-surface contact there, it does feel less precarious than just a 3/8 " thread sticking out of the camera. and the thread on pin going into the cheese plate does feel more substantial than the thread in the camera. I don't know if the laws of physics corroborate my hunch?

So...with this, do you think I can squeak by without the dreaded hook in ceiling (be honest—I trust your experience/opinion and I'd rather have a hole in our ceiling than a camera crashing down on the talent).

Here are the pix:


and


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Daniel Schultz
Re: Overhead Camera Mount
on Jan 13, 2017 at 5:07:13 pm
Last Edited By Daniel Schultz on Jan 13, 2017 at 5:11:41 pm

BTW, I meant to adjust (slightly re-drill) one of the holes in the cheese plate, not camera plate.
But you probably knew I meant that!

Also, another thought to add some strength. Put a bolt on top of the 3/8 going into the cheese plate.

And thanks again, Todd!!!!
I owe ya big time!!


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Daniel Schultz
Re: Overhead Camera Mount
on Feb 2, 2017 at 3:09:19 pm

Hi Todd. The rig is working great. And I thought you might like that I caved and did both the cheese plate and the eye hook in the ceiling. Def glad I did both!

Here are a few vids we did. More to come!

https://www.facebook.com/WeAreTeachers/videos/10154988656513708/

https://www.facebook.com/WeAreTeachers/videos/10154977881528708/

Thanks again for all your help!
(Free free to share any notes/suggestions)

-Dan


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Todd Terry
Re: Overhead Camera Mount
on Feb 2, 2017 at 8:07:29 pm

Heya Dan...

Didn't mean to ignore your previous two posts... I just didn't see them or know they were there. Must have missed the notifications on them.

Congrats!... looks like you got a setup that seems to work like a charm... definitely seems to be getting exactly the shot and angle that you were working toward.

Nothing is as easy as it seems like it should be, huh? Post a shot of the finished rig some time when you get a chance.

Great work!

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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