Hello Charmcine-ers! We decided it would be enlightening to show you a couple options on how to rig your camera for table top shoots. This is a common question we receive, how to best shoot overhead. We'll look at rigging for both compact and larger cinema cameras.
First, we’ll cover our recent Valentine’s Day Promo shoot inspired by the movie American Beauty. You’ll get to see what happens here in the shop when you mix creativity with a couple hours of free time.
Second, well cover a very popular rig setup for our clients using compact DSLRs.
Valentine's Day Shoot
Camera: RED Epic-W, 20SB tripod head
Lens: Cooke S4 40mm
Grip/Electric: Kino Flo Diva 200, Dana Dolly, 4’ speed rail, apple boxes, sandbags, 250 diffusion, white bounce, duvetyne
Setup: Laying the duvetyne down on the floor, we stacked full apples NY style, sandwiched between a half apple and pancake to setup the dolly track. Our setup was fairly minimalistic. Since we wanted to replicate an overhead with the Epic-W we set the camera on the dolly facing in between the rails since that allowed maximum tilt. The dana dolly served our purposes for easy rigging of the camera on one side, while providing diffusion overhead on the other side. We lit the setup overhead using a Diva 200 (plus grid and flosier). For more diffusion, we added 250 on the track to soften the reflecting highlights on the gear we shot. Using a white bounce for a little extra fill, we were ready to shoot! Easy, one light setup that took 10 minutes to setup. In fact, plucking the rose petals took about 30mins since they came from fresh stems.
Compact DSLR rig
Grip: 2 C-Stands, Sandbags, 1x Speedrail , 3x maffer clamps, female baby spud receiver to 1/4-20 thread
We've been asked about this setup multiple times by clients wanting to hang a Canon 5D or similar camera for both video and stills. This is also a fairly easy setup! C-Stands arms are not necessary. Use the C-Stand knuckle to grip the mafer clamp on each stand. Face the mafer clamps on the same side, open them to receive the speed rail from end to end. Make sure every grip accessory is tight. With the third mafer clamp, clamp in the center for the camera. On this mafer spud you'll add the 5/8" receiver with 1/4-20 thread.
When mounting the DSLR, use the 1/4-20 thread and screw it into the DSLR first before mounting the female baby receiver. It's just an easier method and it reduces risk of the camera falling during mounting. It is recommend to add a safety cable if possible to avoid your camera falling.
Either of these setups can be great options for suspending your camera depending on your specific needs.