January 13, 2018

Need to Get Some Overhead Shots? Here's a DIY Rig That Is Simple and Adjustable

Overhead rigs can be kind of complicated to set up, but this one only requires a couple of things you probably have in your studio.

One of my favorite shots is the overhead. It's stylish and fun and offers a unique point of view if you want to add a little flair to your cinematography. However, putting together a rig that lets you get these types of shots can be a bit of a pain, especially since most of the time you're trying to find tools around your house or studio that can somehow fit together to accommodate your camera. But if you've got a C-stand, a spigot, and a tripod head lying around you can very quickly put one of these rigs together, and filmmaker Peter McKinnon shows you how to do it in the tutorial below.

Many of you most likely have all of the things you need to put this overhead rig together, but I know plenty of no-budget filmmakers who don't have C-stands or spigots lying around their house. The good news is that they're not going cost you much. A good C-stand will run you about $130-$200 and a spigot is only about $6-$10, and assuming that you already own a tripod head (if you don't, those vary in price but aren't too expensive), you can have all the elements you need at a really low cost.

Assembly is super easy. Put a grip head at the end of the C-stand arm, put the spigot in the grip head, put the tripod head in the spigot, and put your camera on the tripod head. Boom! You're done! Just make sure you put a counterweight, like a sandbag, on the other end of your C-stand arm if you need to, because otherwise, your rig is going to tip over.

I like this rig because 1.) it's super simple to put together, 2.) it's simple to take down, and 3.) you can move the C-stand arm and grip head around if you want to adjust your shot. The one thing I kind of don't like about it is that camera movement is limited to jib motions, whereas with other rigs, namely non-DIY ones built specifically for overhead shots, you can also do slider motions. But this setup will work just fine for the vast majority of the overhead shots you'll most likely be capturing.

What are some other really cheap and easy DIY overhead rigs? Let us know down in the comments.     

Your Comment

4 Comments

I ran into this issue last month. I didn't want to drop ~$100 on a C-stand, so I used bent tube from a medical walker and a shelf and made a swing-out camera arm.
Fun fact: The camera bracket and knurled 1/4-20 knob were from an old Kodak flash unit.
Check it out here:
https://meta.ifixit.com/Answers/View/10608/iFixit+Teardown+Camera+Setup

January 14, 2018 at 1:46AM, Edited January 14, 1:46AM

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salvagedcircuitry
Engineer
81

Only January and already this clip is the clear winner of the Complete Waste of Time Video of the Year Award.

January 14, 2018 at 9:21AM

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Karel Bata
Director / DP / Stereographer
481

Seriously. It's cool if you like windbags talking for 5min until actually telling you what the heck they are there to discuss. If you are a total greenhorn and have never seen a c-stand before, go ahead and use this half-ass wobbly rig. If you really want to step it up, at least stabilize the other end of the arm so it doesn't bounce all over the place.

January 14, 2018 at 1:53PM

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scott stoneback
DP, cameraman
83

Never heart of a jib? A small jib is the obvious tool for top shots?

January 14, 2018 at 11:53AM

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