If you make a lot of product shots, especially with small items, I’ve found a wonderful DIY build for you. It’s a turntable you can make yourself, it requires no motor and it’s super-cheap. You’ll spend around $20 and a couple of minutes to make it, and get great results.
Motorized turntables for product photography are not that expensive (around $100). But if you can make your own for 5 times less money and in just a few minutes – why wouldn’t you? Jordan Carrasquillo of New Amsterdam Photo Video shows you how to build this great solution for 360 product videos and photos, along with some shooting and editing tips.
You will need
- Lazy Susan board
- Some construction paper (24” x 36” or 60 x 90 cm)
- Cloth tape measure (at least 51” or 130 cm long)
- Glue gun or sticky putty to hold smaller items in place
- Some clear tape
- A small stick/lens cap/needle/paper clip
Lazy Susan is ideal for the turntable because it’s stable and has very smooth movement. It has a rubber bottom, so it doesn’t move around. And considering it’s made from solid wood, it’s also heavy enough not to shake as you spin it. You will need a camera remote and a tripod, because you want to disable any camera movement.
How to make the turntable
The concept is very simple, and you’ll take minutes to put it all together.
First, attach the cloth tape measure to the outer rim of the turntable. This gives you accurate reference points, so you can always get the same spacing between the images as you turn the turntable. You can use sticky tape to attach the tape measure to the wood and add it to every 20 cm or so. Start from the end of the measurement tape and go all the way around the edge. Cut the tape so it begins with a zero, and mark the spot where the measurement begins.
Second, use the small stick, a pen cap or a paper clip to make a reference point for the markings. I think I’d probably stick a needle into an eraser, as those are things I definitely have lying around the house. Line the needle with the first marking and prepare to take shots.
Third, trace the turntable on a piece of white construction paper and cut out a circle. You will use it to cover the surface and make it white. Add a piece of sticky putty underneath to keep in from moving. You can use a piece of white construction table as a backdrop, too. In the video, you’ll see a piece of white foam core on the table, then the turntable on top of it, and white backdrop behind.
When this is all set, you’re ready for shooting! Set your camera on a tripod and set the lighting. Jordan uses three softboxes, one directly above and two on both sides of the turntable.
Place your item on the turntable. Make sure it’s centered, and to do this, I suggest finding the center of the turntable and adding a small marker with a pencil. If you’re shooting more items one after another, it’s probably the fastest way. Jordan’s method is less accurate – he likes to set the item where he thinks the center is, spin the turntable and move the item around until he finds the center. If you’re not a nerd like me, you can try this method as well.
And this is pretty much it when it comes to the build and the setup. If you want to make 360 videos, Jordan suggests taking a photo at every 0.5 cm, because it will make a smoother transition. If you need a series of photos for an interactive product photo gallery, you can take one photo at every 20cm.
For processing the photos and creating a 360 video, there is a variety of programs you can use: Adobe Bridge, Lightroom, Premiere and/or Quick Time. It totally depends on your preferences, but you will need a program for editing the images and for assembling them in a video. After you’ve learned how to build this DIY turntable, make sure to check out the video for editing tips. And if you need another cheap (and a bit unorthodox) DIY setup for product photography, check out this link.
[DIY Turntable for 360 Product Photography and 360 Video – No Motor Required | New Amsterdam Photo Video]