Build a Modular Overhead Camera Rig›May 23, 2018 ›Brett ›GoPro, Overhead, Photography, Canon, DIY, YouTube
Building My Modular Overhead Camera MountI was getting ready to do some unboxings, reviews and builds for YouTube, and I struggled to mount my camera and lights. So, I decided to do some research, and build myself an overhead camera rig that would work for my GoPro and my DSLR. I also wanted a modular design because some things I video will be small (Soldering Arduino), and other will take up a lot of room (Setting up a car track with my son). Here is what I ended up with.
Materials for My Camera RIGAfter looking at a lot of overhead rigs online, I decided that 20mm galvanised steel piping was the best. Reasons:
Modular: The pipes come in multiple lengths and can be extended.
Sturdy: The steel is heavy which is not great for portability, but is awesome for sturdiness and reduces camera movement.
Collapsible: Because the frame is not welded or bolted together, it can be dismantled and stored.
The Modular DesignIt was really important to me, that I could change the size of the over head rig. Sometimes I might want it just 600mm (24”) high, and other times I might want it 2 metres high (6’ 6”) and 3 meters (9’) wide. This is all possible using the steel pipe construction. The pipe is available in many stores and comes in lots of different lengths. And you can even join 2 lengths together. The steel pipe design also allows you to change your camera and lighting setup each time. You can mount a camera on a leg if you like. Pipe mounts are available for almost everything.
Camera MountThere were a few camera mounts I liked, but I went with the Joby Action Bike Mount. It is NOT made for DSLR, but that's because it is designed for the shock of being on a Bike, and this would destroy heavy cameras. In my scenario, there are no forces being applied, and it handles my Canon 80d with lens very easily. It has 2 mounts so I can actually use both cameras if I add a gooseneck to the GoPro. My favourite feature is that the outer portion flips up, and you can attach cameras without having to take it off the rig. Pictured below. It is really secure, and does not twist on the pole, even with the full DSLR weight out to the side.
My DIY Overhead Camera LightingI was going to shell out $600AUD for a couple of LED lights from the camera store, but just thought it was a little overkill for what I need. In time, I may buy the pro lights, but for now, I am really happy with my $110AUD (For Both) DIY LED light panels.There are 2 panels, each consisting of a 5m (16’) LED light strip mounted on a 6mm piece of MDF board. I mounted them with the sticky back that was already on the LED strip, and I stapled across the strip at the corners to stop it lifting. Make sure you don’t staple through the LED strip.
You can mount the light panels to your overhead camera rig any way you like. I just used cable ties because I am not moving it too often. You can use clamps, velcro, pole mounts... or anything else you can think of. Lights are not usually in the shot, so just go for functionality, not aesthetics.
Using The Overhead CameraI have 3 cameras that I will be using with this rig. A Canon 80d, a GoPro Hero 6 and a Canon G7x. All 3 of these cameras connect to my phone, so just place my phone in front of me, out of the shot, and I can see exactly what I am recording. The 2 canon cameras have a fold out screen so I can point this in my direction, and avoid connecting to my phone all together.
The DIY CostI am in Australia, so my prices are in AUD. Also, our country is generally more expensive than the US even after conversion.
The Steel Pipes and extra fittings: $120
Total for both Light Panels: $110
Camera Mount: $50
All up, $280 AUD. I am pretty happy with that.
Final NotesI am really happy with this overhead setup. My only future addition will be bracing for a large setup. Anything over 1600mm (5’) I would look at a simple brace on the side.
Tip: If you are going to store it sometimes, instead of long lengths of pipe, you can get shorter ones with joiners.
I can not wait to make my next overhead video. Let me know if you have any questions, or even any improvements I should make to it.