One of the key shots for a good DIY video is the overhead shot. So I thought I would show you how to make an overhead camera mount (cheap and easy). Not only does it help give your audience a great angle for seeing you work, but it makes it easy for you to film everything yourself. The overhead shot can be accomplished several ways. the most traditional begin with a boom arm and a counter weight. But it can be expensive , no to mention the fact that it can take up a LOT of space. Also if you’re a parent like me having a huge tripod sitting in the middle of the floor is certain to lead to little feet tripping over or knocking the thing down. This design is not only dirt cheap, but it also includes lighting to make it extra easy to shoot!
Apple Boxes and the Eddie Van Halen Argument
Trust me the two are related – just follow me for a moment. In the classic “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” Bill and Ted Present eh following argument:
Bill: Ted, while I agree that, in time, our band will be most triumphant, the truth is, Wyld Stallyns will never be a super-band until we get Eddie Van Halen on guitar.
Ted: Yes, Bill, but…. I do not believe we will get Eddie Van Halen before we have a triumphant video.
Bill: Ted, it’s pointless to have a triumphant video before we have decent instruments.
Ted: Well, how can we have decent instruments if we don’t really even know how to play?
Bill: That is why we need Eddie Van Halen!
Ted: And that is why we need a triumphant video!
Both: [think for a second] EXCELLENT! (guitar riff)
I think many beginning filmmakers fall prey to this argument. They think that they need decent instruments in order to learn how to play (or make video). But simple truth is that your learn how to play ( or make videos) on what ever crap instrument ( equipment) you can afford – then you can get a good instrument and then you’ll eventually get Eddie Van Halen.
Apple Boxes have been used on sets, since there were film sets. In the beginning they were a cheap and sturdy box ( that held apples) that were great for sticking things on around the set. Over a century later you walk onto any multi million dollar film set and ask the gaffer for an apple box – he’ll hand you one. They still use them today. If it’s outside of the frame (the visible part of the shot) it doesn’t matter. So whether you’re using a sleek expensive boom pole or a PVC pipe rig – you’re audience won’t be able to tell the difference. If huge productions aren’t above using an apple box don’t fall for the Eddie Van Halen argument and use what you can afford (like PVC pipe).
How to make and overhead camera mount (cheap and easy)
This mount is designed for an iPhone or iPad. I have made a larger version of this mount but the height depends on your needs.
To make the overhead camera mount you will need:
3/4 PVC pipe cut into the following lengths
4 length that are 14″ Long
4 lengths that are 12″ Long
2 lengths that are 10″ Long
2 lengths that re 9.5″ Long
2 lengths that are 2.5″ Long
8 elbow connectors
4 T connectors
The 12 and 14 inch lengths can be swapped to make the rig a little taller to have a wider shot if desired. To see how it all comes together watch the video below.