How I film my overhead cookie decorating videos/tutorials
The first time I saw a video tutorial of cookie decorating on Instagram, I knew I wanted to film my own. Posting cookie decorating videos not only serve as tutorials for other cookiers, but civilians love them too! Folks find the flooding process very soothing, meaning you can also get some views and follows by using the #oddlysatisfying hashtag.
Ok, but HOW do you film nice overhead shots? After much googling, watching of youtube videography tutorials, and trial and error, I have an arsenal of filming tools that I'm pretty happy with right now. Here's all the equipment I currently use:
Though I do have a DSLR and have filmed the odd video with it, I typically just film with my smart phone. A lot of smart phones these days have great cameras and you just can't beat the convenience. I have Google Photos as well so my photos are automatically uploaded to the cloud so I can download to my computer easily for editing
When I started my cookie decorating tutorial journey, I already had a tripod so I focused on mounts and attachments to use in conjunction with my tripod. Also, every youtube video out there for how to film overhead food tutorials involves similar traditional tripod and camera equipment.
Perhaps a year into my journey, I learned about Arkon mounts. These are stands specifically made to go on a desk/countertop that have attachments to hold your phone, tablet or projector. As soon as I saw the price tag, I thought "nahhhhh, I can figure it out for cheaper." I was WRONG.
You see, even though the Arkon bases are heavy and sturdy and the phone and projector holders are well-crafted, the real secret as to why Arkon mounts are so great is the arms. The articulated arms, called mount shafts (tee-hee), allow you to position whatever you're holding at an infinite variety of angles and heights and has made my entire filming setup process so. much. less. finicky!!
Arkon actually has a section of filming mount packages designed for cookie and cake decorators. There's a chance that one of their pre-designed packages may be perfect for you, but I have a couple of customizations I've done on top of those that I'll share with you. I'll go over all of the components here so you know what to consider as you look through their product offerings:
The most popular base is the flat weighted base as shown in this package
They also offer a clamp base which is more secure but is a little less versatile, you need to film close to the edge of a table for it to work
Arkon has attachments for any device you may have and they're very sturdily built.
- Phone mount - these also double as pico projector holders if you have one of those. If you want to project with a pico projector AND film with your phone at the same time, you'll need 2 or you can buy the package that includes 2
- Tablet mounts (I think the use case here is to have a nice landing spot for your tablet if you're using it either to read a recipe/tutorial from or if you're projecting from tablet) Arkon sells a package that includes both a tablet mount and a phone/pico projector mount
- Camera/projector mount - this mount is compatible with cameras and with projectors including pico projectors but also other ones that don't fit in the phone mount, such as the Miroir M75 (my fave!)
If you need a little extra length in any of your mount arms, you can buy an extension
Putting it all together
Like I said, Arkon already has some packages available and if one of them suits all your needs, that's great! I myself bought one of them and added a couple of extras to be perfect for me. Here's what I have:
I started with the Pro Stand Phone or Camera Stand Weighted Base Version, this package has that nice weighted base which I use on my desktop and also even in my bedroom (nothing naughty, I just get the best daylight in there). The pole has a telescoping bit which allows for adjustable height. There are 3 arm segments and there's BOTH a phone holder and a projector holder which is great since my projector is to chunky to be held by a phone/pico holder.
This package is fantastic but the thing I wanted to customize above and beyond was to have a second articulated arm. That way I can adjust my phone and my projector independently so I can have tons of control for filming while projecting.
Before I share my customizations, it's worth noting that there is a package that includes 2 phone/pico mounts so it could be possible to project with a pico projector and film at the same time, HOWEVER the second mount does not have independent movement so you have to film and project at the same height always.
So, the bits I added were what was needed to make a second arm:
A clamp mount so I can secure my second arm to any height on the vertical rod:
An extension. The original kit has one 3-segment arm. I bought an additional segment to make two 2-segment arms instead.
And that's it! Altogether, my kit + customizations comes to roughly $125. I know it's pricey but if you can afford it or save for it, I really do think the quality is worth it. With my cheaper tripod adapters and extensions, I would have large complex setups that I would trip over and they required so much setup and adjusting and would be very precariously balanced. My custom Arkon mount setup is more compact, very sturdy and gets me exactly the results I need with some quick adjustments.
To be continued...
I will come back and add a bit more about the lighting setup I use and the video editing software I use but to be quite honest it is very late and I'm a bit wine drunk so I'll finish typing that up sooooon!