Build an Overhead Video Smartphone Holder on the Cheap

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You've probably seen quite a few videos shot from an overhead perspective featuring a pair of hands assembling and cooking a delicious dish, or performing a complex task.

Here's an example we made using the setup from this module:



The overhead perspective can help task comprehension in ways a low-level, or straight-on, shot can't.  In this post, we'll cover how to create a flexible horizontal smartphone holder that will allow you to create high-quality overhead videos for $22 (or less if you already own a smartphone tripod mount!!).

Parts

We'll be modifying an adjustable desktop microphone holder to become the base of the smartphone camera rig.  The bolt specifications are the diameter in inches, the thread pitch, and the length.  These types of bolts and nuts are extremely common and you should be able to find them in any hardware store.

The parts list is as follows:


 Steps...The nuts and the bolts of it.


  1. Mount the microphone stand to a table or desk using the hardware supplied in the kit.
  2. Remove the microphone bolt that came with the kit by loosening the clamp.
  3. Replace the microphone bolt with the 1/4"-20 bolt.  Tighten the clamp, but don't over-tighten it.  You'll need to adjust the clamp as needed for final positioning.
  4. Thread on the 1/4"-20 nut leaving about a quarter-inch of thread exposed at the end of the bolt.  The nut is used to tighten the tripod mount on the bolt.  You'll need to do some minor adjusting of the nut to get the tripod mount remain horizontal.
  5. Thread on the smartphone tripod mount so it is secure and horizontal with the clamp facing up so the smartphone rests on the clamp.  Tighten the nut against the tripod mount to hold it in place.
  6. Insert the smartphone into the clamp so that the camera is unobstructed.  If you've done everything correctly, you should be able to raise, lower, and extend the overhead smartphone mount while the smartphone remains mostly horizontal.  Some minor adjustments are usually required.  Once you have established your shooting position, lock down all the clamps.
That's it!  You're done!  The added bonus of using the adjustable microphone stand means you have a lot of positioning flexibility for your videos.


We have two kits available for use in our loaner pool! Contact us at extloan@umn.edu to check one out.  We look forward to seeing what you create with your new overhead video smartphone holder!


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