There are so many different ways to mount a camera for overhead shots. But it always surprises me both how many people don’t know how they can do it, and whenever a video shows another method. We’ve posted about plenty of DIY options in the past for building fancy rigs, but this one utilises gear you probably already have.
Peter McKinnon’s recent video taking apart his Canon 1DX Mark II required an overhead shot. He wanted to be able to show the camera what he could see while he was doing it. So, he came up with this solution. All you need is a light stand, a boom arm, and a ball head.
His solution came about because he didn’t want to start dealing with power tools. And it works very effectively, and is very configurable. If you want to see a magic trick, then start at the beginning, but the meat of the video begins at about 2:15.
The light stand Peter uses is a C Stand. His reason for this is simple. They’re pretty rock solid. They have wide legs that can support a lot of weight when it’s balanced properly. They’re also easy to connect other things to, like a grip head and arm. These are normally used for attaching things like flags, reflectors or holding a light for a beauty dish or softbox.
Peter attaches another grip head to the end of the arm, containing a spigot with a 1/4-20 thread. He then screws the ball head from his Joby Gorillapod onto the spigot and he’s basically all set. Now just attach the camera to the ball head plate, and slot it in.
Of course, you’ll need a counterweight on the short end to balance things out, but overall, it’s an elegant minimal solution. Especially given that many photographers and filmmakers will either already have these items, or something pretty close to it.
If you try this with a lightweight light stand, you may want to weigh down the base a little, too.
What solution do you use for an overhead camera?