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Tuesday Tip: DIY Camera Mount

Happy Tuesday, crafters!

This post serves two purposes: a Tuesday Tip and a nifty update.

Since the birth of the Two Hearts Crochet blog, I’ve done a lot of thinking about uploading video tutorials for all of those visual learners out there like myself, but the road has not been easy.

For starters, I have a fantastic entry-level Nikon D-3100 DSLR camera. It takes great photographs and pretty good video, for what it is. I also have a pretty decent tripod with quite a bit of maneuverability. What more could a crafter need, right?

Wrong.

Turns out, it’s really difficult to get my camera and my tripod into just the right position so that I’m not:

  1. in the way of the camera and thus blocking the view of my craftiness, or
  2. crafting at an arm’s length around the tripod and unable to see what I’m doing.

I tried a bunch of different things, but nothing seemed to work quite right. Then I had it: what if I could suspend the camera at just the right angle from above? I needed something that could be disassembled and put away when not sitting on my desktop, but could still be sturdy enough to keep my camera upright and stationary.

The solution was this: a PVC base and arm upon which I could suspend my camera.

wpid-2015-07-07-08.43.02.jpg.jpeg

We learned early on that PVC glue/cement in certain fittings is necessary to support the camera’s weight. We also had to put a couple of washers onto the piece that fits to my camera because the bolt we purchased was a bit too long.

The result is a fantastic overhead camera mount. We placed PVC primer & cement in fittings for the back pieces (but only in the horizontal openings–not in the vertical opening) so that the upright arm can be removed, letting the whole thing lay flat and be stored.

If anything, I’d say that we gave a little too much height to the upright piece. The camera is fairly heavy and likes to lean forward a bit, but the horizontal arms lay nice and neat against the desk and help carry the weight.

With that in mind, I’m too short to see the screen when it sits on my desk. Thus came the question, how can I tell if I’m out of frame when I’m crafting down below the camera?

My solution: mark the frame like you would a stage.

To make sure I put the camera mount in the same place each time I used it, I placed a piece of transparent scotch tape on the desk just outside of where the frame sat on the desktop. That way, I can put the camera mount up any time within those two pieces of tape and know that it’s in the same place. This is important, because it means I don’t have to constantly measure where the center of my camera frame is.

Next, I needed to mark the center of the frame and the outside edges of each focal length I wanted to use. My camera came with a decent kit lens with a range of 18-55mm, so I selected 18mm, 35mm and 55mm as my ranges.

To ensure I was indeed marking the correct spots, I carefully stood on a chair to watch the screen and used a pen to help mark the center and outside perimeters of each frame. The center will always stay the same, so I placed a small “X” made of scotch tape on the desk for the center of the frame. Then I marked the outside edges of the frame for when I was at 18mm, again for 35mm, and again for 55mm.

The result looked something like this:

Picture2

Now I can crochet and not have to worry about where the edge of my frame is! I did a test video yesterday and the results were fantastic. You can’t see the tape on the gray desktop in the video, but I can when I’m filming, so I shouldn’t have to worry about being off-center or anything.

This means that I’m ready to start making video tutorials! I am really excited about the possibilities for this. I even expect there might be a princess video tutorial someday, too!

For visual learners like myself, this will make all the difference. After all, there’s only so much a picture can do!


DIY Camera Mount Instructions

If you’re looking to make your own PVC overhead camera mount, there are tons of different ways you can do it. But here’s the basics of what you’ll need:

  • Hack Saw
  • 6 pieces of PVC pipe cut to desire length (I used 3/4″)
    • 2 leg pieces (roughly 18″ long)
    • 2 back pieces (roughly 14″ long)
    • 1 vertical arm piece (roughly 18″ long, but you can decide what fits best for your camera)
    • 1 horizontal arm piece (roughly 6″ long)
    • 2 PVC cap fittings for the legs
    • 3 PVC elbow fittings
    • 2 PVC T fittings
  • 1 bolt that measures the same length and matches the thread of the bolt that is on your camera’s tripod adapter piece.
  • Drill/drill bit
  • PVC primer
  • PVC glue/cement

Place the cap fittings onto the ends of the leg pieces, then place an elbow fitting on the opposite end of each leg piece.

Insert the back pieces into one of the T fittings so that the remaining hole of the fitting is facing up. Then attach the leg pieces to the back pieces. If needed, make sure you add the PVC primer and cement. (Warning: this stuff smells very strongly! Make sure you do this in a well-ventilated area!)

Insert the vertical arm piece into the center T fitting and place an elbow piece at the opposite end. Then attach the remaining horizontal arm piece by inserting it into the elbow fitting.

To fit the camera onto the end of your mount, you will need to drill a hole in the center of the remaining T fitting. This is the hole you will put the bolt into, which will allow you to attach your camera to the fitting and the fitting to the mount. (Perhaps the easiest way to do this is to insert a marker into the T and draw a dot, then drill the hole.)

If you’re using a light-weight camera, you might be able to skip the primer/cement step. My camera is fairly heavy, so we needed to use the primer & cement to keep the vertical arm from swinging forward and smashing my camera into the desk (yikes!).

Questions? Comments? Let me know!

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