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One of the questions I get asked a lot is – What equipment or tripod do I use to shoot video clips or Stop Motion from overhead?

I’m happy to share what I use now, but don’t believe you need lots of equipment to hold your camera/phone in place to shoot ‘top down’. When I first started out, I made do with what I had or improvised with my set up. Like, tipping my old tripod on an angle and securing it to the table in place. Taping my phone to a chair or table. Using a gorilla pod and hanging it from somewhere, or balancing a coat hanger on two broom handles and then shooting on the floor. Slowly over time I’ve purchased items, that have made it easier to shoot overhead.

Whether I’m shooting for my Day In The Life film or creating a Stop Motion, I use a combination of these items and then further down are more suggestions or set ups to try.

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What do I use now?

I have a tripod with a horizontal column, which pulls out at a right angle to attach my camera/phone to it, so it shoots looking down. The model I use is the Manfrotto 190, which also has legs that extend further out than a traditional tripod, so you don’t catch the legs in the edge of the frame. It’s great for some set ups, but if I want a wider shot, then it’s best to shoot on the floor.

If this Manfrotto model isn’t for you, search for other makes of tripod that have a horizontal column and legs that extend wider than a normal tripod. The Manfrotto 290 looks great and I’m sure there are many more!

For table shots, I use a C-Stand, which is really classed as a lighting stand. It’s a heavy bit of kit because it has to be able to support a DSLR, so it’s not for everyone, as it can’t be stored easily. I have it set up in my studio, so I don’t mind the space it takes up. You will need to buy an extra attachment to attach a camera or phone clamp – I use this Manfrotto camera mount (please check it’s suitable for the weight of your camera).

Also, use sandbags or something weighty to make sure the stand stays in place – I fill tote bags with large stones or tin cans!

I use a C-Stand for all my desk shots in my Day In The Life films, as it’s already set up there, but if I’m shooting in the kitchen and want a shot of what I’m making on the counter, I place the phone on a shelf in the cabinet above. Works a treat!

I’ve also been know to tape my phone or compact camera to the ceiling for the ultimate overhead shot (please do this safely).

What other ideas or alternative products are there?

I’ve been researching alternative ideas for shooting overhead that are budget friendly and easier to store.

If you’re just using your phone to shoot… These clamp on stands are great, one is like an angle-poise lamp OR one which bends in any direction. You can attach them to a table or suitable surface and move them into any position to shoot. Very handy!

Some of these include a phone attachment, or you might have to order one – I like this and this.

A great alternative to the C-Stand is a Mic Stand… suitable for phone and compact cameras.

This brilliant tutorial demos it… I’ve tried it out and it’s such a great idea!. I’ll be using this for set ups in different places in my house, so I don’t have to drag my C-Stand out.

Here are links to Mic Stand and the thread adapter needed for a phone mount.

Hopefully this gives you a starting point to work out what equipment you might need. Please share any more ideas you have. Have fun shooting overhead!

If you’d like inspiration and demonstrations to start creating your own Stop Motions straight away on your phone. Head over to register for the FREE lesson TODAY!

If you’d like more guidance to start making your own videos – check out MAKE VIDEOS – 30 DAYS OF CREATIVE FUN – my online course where I share everything you need to get started and inspiration to take you through the whole process and find the love of making videos!

  • Juliet
    Posted at 06:14h, 16 March Reply

    Hi Xanthe, what mic/earphone clicker are you using to take the photos?

    • xanthe
      Posted at 16:49h, 18 March Reply

      Hey Juliet, I use the original apple headphones. They work well. All the best,

  • candace krewer
    Posted at 19:51h, 25 December Reply

    I use an iPhone and am looking for a remote shutter release. Have you used one? I want more distant than using the headphone trick. Is there one you recommend?

  • Nadine
    Posted at 12:26h, 04 July Reply

    So, can I ask, is the monfrotto 190 good for a camera too?

    • xanthe
      Posted at 09:36h, 13 July Reply

      Yes, it’s great to use with a camera!

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