Overhead Video Recording: How to Shoot Top Down Video

Overhead Video Recording: How to Shoot Top Down Video

– If you’re looking to crate videos using a top-down perspective
like the angle that you see in a lot of cooking,
craft, or how-to videos, or you wanna get a top-down perspective of a diagram or a drawing
to explain something to your audience, then in
this video I’m gonna show you seven easy ways to do it. (electronic music) Hey it’s Justin Brown
here from Primal Video. We release a ton of content
to help you get better results with your videos faster. If you’re new here then
make sure you click that big subscribe
button and all the links to everything that we cover in this video, you can find linked in
the description below. So let’s jump in to it. A top down camera angle is
great for getting your viewers immersed in what you’re
doing on a tabletop like cooking, drawing, doing
crafts or even doing tech, app, or phone reviews or tutorials, and it’s not that hard to do either. So in this video we’re
gonna run through seven ways you can do it, depending on your budget, depending on how much room you’ve got, and also depending on what
gear you might already have. And make sure you stick around to the end ’cause I’ll run through two pieces of gear that can help you easily
get better results just using your smartphone. Whether as both a primary
or a secondary camera. The first solution I’ve
got for you is just using gear that you might already have. This is using a standard tripod. But really, at this point,
this definitely isn’t the best solution to be able
to get that top-down shot. But if you’ve only got the
tripod, and you’re not interested in spending any money,
you don’t have the ability to spend any money and
look at the other options that we’ve got in this video, then this might do the trick for you. So this is where you’ll
set up your standard tripod on the bench or on the table
that you’re gonna be recording, and you will tilt your camera
down so that it’s facing down to get that top-down angle. The biggest things to be aware of if you’re gonna be doing
your filming like this, is depending on the tripod you’ve got and depending on the camera
that you’re going to be using, it’s highly likely that your camera will actually pick up the
tripod legs in your shot. You’re also not going to have
a heap of room in the shot. So the area that you’re gonna be filming, it’s going to be very space limited. It’ll also depend on which
tripod you’re actually using because some of the
cheaper ones won’t actually let you tilt your camera
so that it’s looking down. Option number two is a
tripod with a flippable head. So an example of a tripod like this is the Slik Video Sprint II tripod
which sells for around the $90 US price point. Now these are small and
easy to travel with. This is actually my go-to travel tripod. This one travels everywhere with me. But one of the biggest
advantages with this tripod is that the head actually comes off. So the bit that you
connect your camera with, you can take it off and
mount it upside down under the tripod legs. Having the ability to mount your camera or your phone upside down
underneath the tripod legs is a pretty cool way to be
able to get that top-down look. But again, you’re still using a tripod. So there’s still gonna have your tripod sitting on your table or on your desk that you’re gonna be filming at, so it’s gonna take up a heap
of room which means that you’re not gonna have a lot of room there for your actual filming. So if you’re gonna need a
heap of room for cooking or for drawing then this
probably still won’t be the best option for you. And it’s still likely that
you’ll get the tripod legs in your shot depending on which camera or lenses you’ll be using. The third solution I’ve
got for you is to use a microphone stand. Now these are something
that you can pick up for around the $20 price point so it’s definitely not expensive. Now this’ll work really well
as a top-down camera angle if you’re going to be using
small or light cameras or phones, so something
like a point-and-shoot camera will work fine but
anything bigger than that, a mirrorless camera or a
DLSR, it’s probably gonna be too heavy for a microphone stand. So unlike the previous two solutions, you’ll actually set the
tripod element of this up on the ground, and then the
boom pole for the microphone will come forward and overhang where you’re going to be filming. So this means there’s no chance of getting the tripod element in shot, you’re just gonna be filming whatever’s on your bench or your tabletop. But the biggest limiting
factor here is going to be the amount of weight you can actually have on that microphone stand
and you may need to use counterweights or sandbags
on the tripod section to make it more sturdy so it
doesn’t fall over if it’s not. Solution number four is
a tabletop phone mount. Now you could probably use these with a point-and-shoot camera
as well, with an adapter, but these are designed specifically for working with smartphones. Now you can pick one up,
there’s an Arkon brand. This sells for around
$100, that’s designed specifically for this
purpose, for cooking videos, for demonstrations, for drawings, this is what this is designed for. The best part about this solution is that it’s not a permanent
solution meaning you can just lift it up onto the desk or counter when you’re gonna be filming, and then put it away when you’re done. And also because of the
way it’s been designed, it is unlikely that
you’ll actually be filming the mount or the stand in your shot. So that makes it really really useful and it makes it a professional solution for creating these videos. Solution number five is a
tripod crane or a tripod arm. So essentially this is very
similar to using a mic stand but it’s a much more
robust sturdy solution. So this’ll work with
bigger cameras as well as your phones or point-and-shoots as well. So really what this is is a
tripod with a big extension arm that you connect your camera or your phone at the end of that arm,
meaning that you can set up the tripod element on the ground
and then swing the arm out over the area that you want to film on your bench or on your table. Now there’s a heap of these to choose from on places like Amazon
and they normally start around the $100 price point. There’s a lot for around 150, $160 mark, but obviously these go up to
really professional solutions of over $1000 as well. But the best part about this as a solution is that you have the
flexibility to get some height. So if you really wanna
lift your camera up high and out of the way, then you
can use one of these cranes or extension arms to do that, and you’ve also got the ability to mount more professional cameras
or heavier cameras on these rigs as well. Now you will need some
sort of counterweight or weights to hold the tripod still. And in some cases you will
need someone to stand there and hold the crane or the
arm for you on the tripod to make sure that it’s
not gonna move around and tip up while you’re filming. Solution number six is
a wall or ceiling mount for your camera. Now this is really a permanent solution. This is something you’re gonna be fixing your camera to the wall or to the ceiling. You can pick up an Arkon Camera Mount that you can mount on your
ceiling or on your walls for around the $38 price point,
so definitely not expensive. And this is a really great
solution if you’re looking to leave something permanently set up, or you’re happy to have
something screwed to your roof or to your wall to be able to do a heap of these types of videos. The biggest advantages
with a set-up like this is it gives you a huge
range of flexibility. Not only can you mount
small cameras and phones, you can also mount big
professional cameras on these as well, ’cause
they’ll take a lotta weight. You’ll also be able to mount
these quite a distance away from the area that you’ll be
working in while you’re filming so that you’ve got that
flexibility of being able to zoom in and change your shot or change the angle as you need to. And there’s no way there’ll be any cameras or tripod legs or anything in
your shot with this solution. And that leads us to solution number seven which is another, more permanent solution, and that’s to have an overhead bracket or a light stand with truss. So what this is is a bar
that’s gonna be set up to hang above the area that
you’re gonna be filming in. So it’s not physically
attached to the roof, it’s on stands, but you
can attach your camera or any lights to it to be
pointing down for your shooting. So if you wanna attach multiple cameras to get multiple angles,
or you wanna be able to attach lights or any
other gear up there as well, then this is a great solution. Now you can pick up
these kits starting out at around the $180 price
point but you will need additional clamps or mounts to be able to mount your cameras or any lights. So this’d be a really
good set-up for someone who wants multiple cameras but
also is looking for something that is really a permanent set-up. This isn’t something that I
would imagine you’d wanna be setting up and packing up
every time you wanna shoot. So if you’re gonna be
doing a heap of videos, then this may be the solution for you. Now for a lotta people,
smartphones are the best secondary and even primary
camera for shooting top-down videos like this. So here are two pieces
of gear and software that can help you get much better results when you’re using a smartphone
for top-down videos. The first one is a wide angle lens. Now if you’re using a
set-up where you don’t have a heap of space, and maybe
you’ve got your camera hanging below the tripod
in solution number two, or you’ve got your camera
tilted over on your tripod, and facing down using solution number one, in some cases like that a wide angle lens may give you a heap more area to work with when you’re actually doing your filming. As long as you’re not filming
the tripod legs in your shot. So really depending on your set-up, a wide angle lens may
give you a lot more room or capture space in your video
for your top-down videos. You can pick up a basic
wide angle clip on lens for your smartphone starting at around the six or seven dollar price point for the cheap generic ones,
or if you’re after something more professional or something
with higher quality glass, then you could look at the
Aukey lenses which sell for under the $30 price point. The second one is a piece of
software called Reflector 2. Now this is something
that’s gonna allow you to set up your phone
on one of these mounts and monitor it from your
computer or from your laptop wirelessly, so this is
really, really helpful so that you can see what’s going on and see what you’re actually recording without having to try and look underneath and look up at the camera to
see what you’re recording. You can monitor your phone
screen on your computer, Mac or PC, even if you’re
using iPhone or Android, you can remotely monitor your phone screen using Reflector 2. Now I did do a video on
this a little while back and I’ll link it up on the cards now if you’d like more information on that. So those are my seven solutions for creating top-down videos. Now if you are using your smartphone to create your videos,
whether it’s an iPhone or an Android device, we’ve put together a free PDF download taking you though the ultimate process to
create professional videos with your smartphone. Check out the link on screen now and I’ll see you in the next video.

100 thoughts to “Overhead Video Recording: How to Shoot Top Down Video”

  1. I have managed to attaching my camera above where I want to film, using my iPhone. But I am having trouble with focus. It is slightly blurry. How can I fix this.

  2. My desk is set up against the window, just like yours. I like to use a GoPro suction mount. It works well with a GoPro (duh) but it's also strong enough for something like a Sony RX 100.

  3. What about a straightforward solution like this Vanguard tripod the allows the center column to flip horizontally? https://amzn.to/2CWYpa4
    Or this one from K&F Concept: https://amzn.to/2CYc1BV

  4. I just use my selfie stick and mount it on my tripod I just had to be sure to lock my tripod in place as I let the selfie stick out with my camera. It works 🤷🏽‍♀️

  5. This is an awesome video and exactly what I wanted. Now I have a question to ask. What type of lighting should I use while I'm shooting top down videos using my smartphone? Please suggest.

  6. Hi Justin, I'm going to be shooting some top down craft tutorials so only my hands will be visible, what do you think about inserting the audio after the video is shot? I did buy a separate mic for my videos. Is there kind of a disconnect from what I'm doing with my hands and it's obvious I added audio later, or is that something you recommend? Thanks for helping us "newbies" because there's a lot to learn!

  7. Thank you for this video!!!! I should have recorded myself trying to record a food video! I said it HAS to be an easier way! Thank you for helping us.

  8. What is the best average settings for keeping recordings of art stable, anti-out of focus and in good hd? Any tips welcome, I'm camera-stupid 😅

  9. Great video! I use the boom mic stand with a canon 80d. And sigma art lense and it’s super heavy but works fantastic without weights. I film overhead shots daily

  10. Me I put a tripod above the books then I use a packaging tape so it will not move and use weights and above the tripod so it will not flip and I use a digicam to film my videos

  11. how to do a live stream on youtube when it comes to drawing? I dont' want to show my face. I don't want to be YouTube famous.

  12. If you are recording on your phone i would recommend a universal phone mount, as a new youtuber i recorded my first YouTube video with a universal phone mount they retail for about 13 dollars on Amazon and work great.

  13. Can you please do a video on overhead lighting and how to avoid the glare on your work from an overhead lamp (ring-light etc.)

  14. That was really great info. I just started my Art/Painting channel so this is so helpful!! Thanks so much Justin!!

  15. Thank you so much for the information it's right on time. I think I'm going to use solution #4. I need something for outside for my gardening channel using a smart phone now but will be getting a camera. Is there something I can use for both inside and outside??

  16. Smart phone? Suction cup, string, tape, balls of steel. String the suction cup to the ceiling and tap it down. There, now your phone is dangling for it's life. Works, but I wouldn't recommend it unless you're using an older phone.

  17. This was actually really useful. You covered every question I wanted to ask in terms of budget and more. Thank Q.

  18. This video is big great help, im thinking doing Board game videos with my smartphone. The overhead Arkon looks like great option with the Boy By-M1 mic!

  19. This video has been very helpful. I have put together one of those pvc pipe over head mount rigs. The question I have is you mentioned at the end of this video about a reflector 2, can that be used with a iPad? Must I have a computer? Thank you Evelyn.

  20. I’m sooooo happy I found your channel! I’m just starting to make YouTube video’s because I do nails and I’ve brought soooo many things to record from my IPhone 7plus but nothing seems to work! 😢
    I was actually looking at #4 on Amazon. Do you think that’s still a good option to record doing nail on my nail table for my video’s? It’s the Akron Kitchen Desk table stand on Amazon for like $75.
    Please tell me it is before I purchase it. Thank you and I subscribed to your channel! I love it! Very informative! 😍😍

  21. I know this video presentation is a year old, but I needs help in doing and setting up my overhead videos. Everyone that are doing videos on this subject fail to discuss the lens to use, on the phone, table, or camera. I don’t want to put hundreds to thousands of dollars into the wrong lens. I have decided to began with a DSL Cannon camera. The SR 3 seem to be a good entry leave. So could help, and maybe there are other who need directions as to this. In closing I would like to thank you for taking your time in this matter.
    PS I was a professional teacher and presenter for 30 years plus, I would like to say your presentations are excellent and very professional.

  22. Wait if you have a DSLR and you want to use the microphone stand can’t you just put a counterweight on the other end.

  23. Hello, Justin. IN this video you mentioned Reflector 2. However, in the UK the app does not appear on the App Store. Can you recommend another, similar app please? Many thanks 🙂

  24. شكرا لك.أتمنى.ان تقوم.بترجمة لمتابعينك العرب لتعم الإفادة

  25. Thank you for sharing this. We use a camera crane with a 10ft arm and counter weight. We first mounted a DSLR on this but this was a bit heavy and we had to wait every time for the arm to stop shaking a bit. That was anoying but we did not had the budget for stronger material. We then replaced the DSLR by a Sony camcorder which in fact does a great job there. The camcorder has a great video stabilization, a lightning fast auto focus and can compensate any shakings from the arm. Furthermore its much lighter than the DSLR so we also could mount a small LED light next to the Sony to give some extra top light. The Sony does not have the same great video quality than our DSLRs but it is good enough to be used for now. Another great option are the extreme long recording times available (in Europe, DSLRs don't record for longer than 10 or 30 minutes due to import tax reasons) – the cam corder takes over 14h in one run. And it can be operated remotely via smartphone and a wifi connection. That makes much less climbing 😉

  26. If you have a Mic stand or something like a book shelf above your subject a Gorilla Pod might just do the trick. I use the smallest model and it works with my point and shoot.

  27. OMG!!! THANK YOU SOOOOO MUCH YOU CHANGED MY LIFE!!! I received my microphone stand and it was under $20 which is awesome! I also purchased a microphone Stand Smartphone Boom Mount for less than $15 … OMG… $35 for LIFE CHANGING HAPPINESS… totally worth it!!! YAY FOR ME!!!! Hey, now I can start making tutorials on a regular basis!!! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!! TFS Be Blessed.

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