Do you love those Tasty Videos with those awesome overhead shots? You ever wonder how they got those shots? Well, it’s not with a tripod. in this post I’m going to show you why you don’t need a tripod for Tasty Style Videos.
What Are Tasty Style Videos?
Oh you know the videos that have flooded your Facebook feed in the past year? They’re short, fast moving instructional cooking videos with disembodied hands putting something together. Most of the time they are set to a jaunty, upbeat soundtrack and they are almost always shot from directly above.
My Tripod Is Too Short. How Do They Get Those Shots From So High?
So let’s look at this Manfrotto tripod from B&H. It’s quite a nice tripod and even has a feature where you can make the center stalk go horizontal and use it to shoot things from above. This is called a 90º Center Column and it’s super handy when you need an overhead shot. This particular tripod can extend to 66.9 inches high (about 5 and a half feet). However when you start start using the 90º Center column you lose most of that height and camera is only about 40 inches high (3 and a half feet).
Now just as an example. Let’s go over to the Ikea dining section and look at the tables. Most are about 30-34 inches high leaving you with about 6-10 inches between you and your camera. That’s too close. Think about your set up. You have a single burner that’s a few inches high, a pot, your hands, and all the ingredients and cooking utensils. If you’re shooting with a 50mm lens, you will never get the full scene. Plus, you will have no space to actually do the demonstration.
You COULD make a set up on the floor and shoot and have your camera on your tripod above it. I, however, don’t like doing this because it’s such a strain on my back and it’s kind of unsanitary to cook on the floor. Yuck. It’s much easier on your back to work on a table top anyway.
So If I Don’t Want To Use A Tripod For A Tasty Style Video, What Do I Want?
This is a C-Stand. A C-Stand is a modular stand used to hold lights, reflectors, and, in this case cameras.
Why Is It Called A C-Stand?
That’s actually a good question. Back in the day, way back when, a C-Stand was used by filmmakers to hold a reflector that was 100 inches square. 100 = century and It became to be known as a Century Stand. Over time, it got shortened to C-Stand which is what we call it today.
Those Are Funny Legs. What’s The Deal With That?
A C-Stand is modular and you can get different sets of legs to put on it. This is a “Turtle Base”and it has a wide footing for stability. Other options can include wheels. The great thing about a C-Stand is that it folds up for easy storage.
Are They Sturdy Enough To Hold My Camera?
Absolutely. A C-Stand is, according the B&H product page, 19.75 pounds (9 KG). They’re engineered to hold heavy lights, so they’re sturdy enough for your DSLR. You could also weigh them down by placing a sandbag or other weight on the leg if you’re feeling paranoid.
So, Where Do I Put My Camera?
Hold on a sec. I’m getting there. This method requires 5 things and I’ll have a list for you at the bottom of this post with where to get them. First, you need a C-Stand (duh), a boom arm, 2 grip heads, and a spigot with 1/4″-20 male threads. OK I’ll explain that last thing in a second but it’s not as complicated as it sounds.
What’s A Boom Arm?
A Boom Arm is a rod that will let you extend your camera over your set. It measures at 40 inches long and has a grip head attached. 40″ is plenty of length to get your camera directly over set.
What’s A Grip Head?
A grip head, also called a knuckle, is what you will use to be mounting your camera onto your boom arm. A grip head has 2 knobs for tightening to make sure your stuff is firmly secured and not going anywhere. In the picture, the top part is what your boom arm will go through. the bottom part is what your camera will be mounted on. You could go with only needing one, but in this application I prefer two. They’re only 18 dollars, after all, and 1 comes with the C-Stand itself.
I Still Don’t Get Where The Camera Goes
Here’s the neat part! So you know how I mentioned that crazy weird thing called a spigot with 1/4″-20 Male Threads? Most people call it a stud and you see how it has screw threads on the top and bottom? Guess where that goes?
So every camera has a tripod mount screw hole. Normally you screw your tripod mounting plate into and put that plate on your tripod’s head. In this case, we’ll screw that stud directly into the camera. The stud has 2 different screw threads, one for smaller and one for larger cameras. If you have a DSLR you will most likely be using the finer screw threads.
So screw the stud into your camera, making sure it’s nice and snug. The other side is going to go into the large hole of the grip head. Twist the knob until it is loose enough to fit the stud. Then place your stud in and twist the knob until it’s snug.
You should have something that looks like this.
How Do I Get That Crazy Rig On The Stand?
Let’s set that aside for a second so I can show you how to mount the Boom Arm onto the C-Stand.
Here’s the top of a C-stand. You’ll be mounting your grip head onto this and you’ll be using the same large hole on your grip head as you did with stud.
You should have something that looks like this.
Next you’re going to attach the boom arm. Just loosen the knob and slide it into the other side of the grip head.
Just like this. Twist the knobs to make everything snug.
Now get your grip head with the camera and slide that onto the boom arm.
You have tons of camera movement with a knuckle on the boom arm. Most importantly, you can point it straight down for the overhead shot we want.
Can I See This In Use?
Now you see that a C-stand with a Boom Arm gives you plenty of reach over your table. You can keep the camera out of the way so you have plenty of room to work and won’t bump into it while filming. It can extend all the way to the ceiling if you need to accommodate your long lens and it’s definitely sturdy enough to hold a 2 pound DSLR. If I wanted to be safe, I’d put a sandbag on the grip head thats built into the boom arm just give it a counterweight so it doesn’t tip over.
Well there ya have it, kids. Below, I’ll give you links for where to buy exactly what you need for this set up. I guarantee you that it will cost a lot less then a high end tripod with a 90º center stalk.