Hey, Eric here with 30 by 40 Design Workshop,today we’re gonna do a quick video on my overhead sketching setup, a lot of people have beenasking: what do I use? how do I set it up? I thought I’d take you to the other side ofthe lens and show you a couple of really simple ways I use to do this. Okay so this is kind of my preferred setuphere. DSLR: this is the 70d I also have the 6D mark2 – then it’s a tripod and this is the Manfrotto 055 this has a center column which moves upand cantilevers out and that allows me to position the camera directly over the worksurface. Now this has a video head on it the videohead allows me to tilt the camera up and down but you don’t need something certainly thisfancy though.


The important thing with this is getting thecamera directly over the work surface and you want the plane of the camera’s sensorto be parallel with the work surface here and the reason for that is if you were totilt this camera out of vertical plane here it ends up skewing the work surface. You can see – as you’re recording – this isactually upside down, so when I get this into post, into Final Cut Pro, I’m going to endup rotating this 180 degrees so it looks like it’s right side up if you skew the cameralike this it skews the work plane of the work surface and then when I rotate it 180 degreesit looks like it’s upside down it looks awkward it’s difficult to watch. Now one of the other reasons why I like usinga DSLR is because I can put a lens on here – a zoom lens – that allows me to change theframing of this. This column here allows me to bring the camerafar enough away from the legs that I can capture a fairly large work surface.


If you only have access to a small tripod,like this, oftentimes you’ll get these tripods free with a – with a camera purchase and youwant to mount your camera in here you’re gonna need to find a way to tilt the back leg upso you can position your camera like this so that it’s not capturing the front two legshere. Having the center column is nice because itallows you to counterweight and counterbalance this so that your camera can be very far awayfrom these legs and it gives you a lot of working room. The other components of the tripod that makethis work you can see I have a bungee cord here and if I didn’t have that bungee cordyou can see how the center column and the weight of the DSLR just basically unweightsthe entire tripod so all this does is keeps it from tipping over and I have a chair therewith a backpack that has some stone samples in it so it’s acting as a counterweight. That allows me to move this camera very farforward and I don’t have to worry about the field of view here.


Changing the field of view with a zoom lensis really nice it allows you to focus and recompose and also it helps with the diversityof shots that you can get because you can get real tight shots and real wide shots ofyour work surface here. Okay so the next component here is a light. This is the Aputure 120D this is a daylightbalanced single source LED light this is paired with the Light Dome that is creating thislarge diffuse light element here which is nicely illuminating this work surface. When you’re thinking about lighting you wantto think about the direction of light and also the hand with which you’re sketching. So being a right-handed person ideally thislight would be coming from this side I want you to be able to see it that’s why I’ve positionedit here.


If you’re left-handed this is a great directionbecause it illuminates your work surface without casting a lot of shadows on to what you’reactually drawing. It may actually be counterintuitive but youactually do want some level of shadow on the drawing. If you were to completely diffusely lightthis work surface so that there were no shadows it’s actually gonna appear unnatural. So you want to evenly illuminate the surfacebut you also want to have some directionality to that light. If you don’t have access to a light like thisand this is a pretty expensive light, you can just position your desk near a windowor a door. So natural daylight is the best light sourceyou can possibly find but it can be difficult to control that if you have bright directsunlight and the shadows are very harsh you get a very contrasty look. So what’s nice is being able to have somediffusion membrane you can actually hang a piece of paper up in front of that if thebright sunlight is too much or you can control it in some other way with some Mylar, sheeting,or something like that.


Okay next we’re gonna talk about work surfacehere. This is one of my all-time favorite work surfacesthis is the self-healing cutting mat made by Alvin. It’s got two colors there’s a green side toit which I don’t use very often and the black side here. I think one of the best cases for choosingthis cutting mat as a surface is it helps you to align the field of view with your camera’ssensor so having these gridlines allows you to tilt and turn and make sure that you’reperpendicular to the field of view in your lens. Think about contrast when you’re choosinga background. With the Kraft paper I really like the blackthe black also works well with white or cream-colored sketch paper there’s also natural wood surfacesand textures, there’s melamine, MDF, there’s MDO, there are veneer plywoods,


There aretile samples, there’s the concrete floor, which I absolutely love. Neutral surfaces that provide contrast toyour sketching media are really the best that you can find. So this setup is probably the top of the linesetup. You have an expensive tripod, you have anexpensive DSLR, you have an expensive lens, you have an expensive daylight balanced LEDlight, but you don’t need all this gear to record an overhead sketching video of yourself. Let’s look at another option. So the less expensive alternative. Now this is a friction arm.


Now I use this for recording things abovemy drafting table here so I have my computer set up here but this is also a great placefor me to just sit and sketch and also I can record my computer screen if I tilt it theright way. So you can see, right here, this is a frictionarm that’s mounted to the loft framing member and I’ll show you how I did that in a minute. So the difference here is we have to use amuch lighter weight setup to work with the friction arm. The friction arm is essentially a floppy articulatingset of joints: there’s a joint here, here, and here, and there’s a c-clamp on one end. You have the ability to take the c-clamp offwhich exposes this threaded screw here and this can be screwed into a threaded nut whichI’ve then drilled into the framing members up here. Now that threaded nut can be drilled intoHomasote,


It can be drilled into wood paneling, it can be drilled into a 2×4, that you justsort of prop up somewhere, so it’s really versatile. But the way this friction arm works is thatthere’s a crank here and when you crank down on this it locks all of the articulating jointsfor moving. The c-clamp allows you to mount these frictionarms almost anywhere. So you can see here I used the C clamp justto mount to the tip of a microphone boom that I picked up on Amazon these boom arms areabout 15 dollars each, I’ll put all the links in the cards for all of these materials. Pair that with the friction arm and a mountfor your smartphone and you have a really simple quick effective way of recording yourprocess. Interesting thing about the friction arm isthat allows you to get into places and capture perspectives that you wouldn’t be able tocapture with the DSLR because the DSLR is so bulky.


They make larger friction arms but none solarge as to hold say a full frame 6D Mark 2 – like I’m recording on here. So really these are geared toward sort ofsmartphones and smaller sensor cameras. But they actually work fine just for documentingyour work in a real basic fashion. So these are inexpensive enough that you cangrab three or four of them and position them all around. And chances are you probably haven’t evennoticed them in the studio. I have one on the opposite loft, I have onehere and then I have one on a light stand which just allows me to mount a whole seriesof cameras and capture process, that’s what’s cool about these that you know just poppingyour cell phone in one and hitting record is so easy now that really there is no excusenot to record and document your process.


Alright so I hope this video was helpful Ihope you found something here that you can take and go make things with. Gear is not important at all, it is what youdo with the stuff you have on hand. So please go out there and make things andwe’ll see you again next time. Cheers my friends!


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