Food blogging has taken an interesting turn the last year or so and video has really exploded! Being a budget based site, I cringed when I researched the various equipment that is often necessary to create videos . . . and quickly figured out how to build my own “Studio”, lights included for about $100. Here’s how..
How to Build a Video Studio
I based this design off the size of my counter and height in which I needed to place my camera to get the best shot from overhead. After some initial testing, the dimensions that I decided on were 24″ deep by 44″ wide x 36″ high. This is a 3 sided studio, the front is open so that I can easily stand in front of it without having to stoop or sit on a floor, etc. This setup is helpful if you have small children or pets as you don’t have to worry about them knocking over a tripod!
Here’s what I Used:
(3) Utilitech Pro-strip 22″ Lights @ $22.98 each- (No longer avail at lowes)Use these instead
(3) F15T8 6500K Bulbs – $5.39 each (Walmart)
1/4″ 2’x4′ Luan Plywood $5.69 each (Lowes)
1″ x 4″ x 8′ Spruce $1.98 ea (4) ( Lowes )
6 Zip Ties (had them on hand)
Mainstays Lightweight White Fabric Shower Curtain Liner $3.96
Power Strip Plug, $5.96 (walmart)
Stanley 1.5″/38 Braces $3.63 for 4 ( Walmart )
PVC 1″x10′, $2.94 from Lowes
(2) PVC Elbow Joints 98¢ each ( Lowes )
Suffice it to say, we do a LOT of do it yourself projects so a lot of this stuff we already had on hand, like the PVC pipe and joints, an old power strip plug, wood screws, staples, zip ties, that sort of thing; But, for the sake of ensuring you can build one for a similar price, we looked up each item and included it’s current cost as of today 4/12/2017.
Cut the boards into (4) 36″, (4) 24″, (2) 42″ pieces.
The (4) 36″ pieces will be the legs. Notice that piece “B” is stapled on the MIDDLE OUTSIDE of the leg and piece “C” is stapled 3/4″ down on the TOP INSIDE of the legs.
“B”- boards are on the middle OUTSIDE because the lights will be affixed to these boards and you don’t want to lose 2″ of studio space by having them jut inwards.
The height of “B” is 15.5″- this was done intentionally so I could slide by Kitchenaid stand mixer underneath effortlessly without having to lift it.
“C” Boards are on the INSIDE for stability and to allow for the very top board to slide back and forth allowing better movement of the camera. This also provides a safety to prevent the board from slipping off and the camera from falling should you get overzealous while filming and move it too far.
D- These bottom and top pieces are for stability and are aligned INSIDE the back legs.
Hopefully, you found the 6500K light bulbs because you definitely DON’T want to use the hideous fluorescent bulbs that come with them. Once you’ve swapped out the bulbs, affix the lights to the inside of “B” boards on each side using zip ties or wood screws. Affix the third light to the top of “D”.
Cut the PVC Pipe into 3 pieces, attach the elbows and affix clips or zip ties to hold it into place.
The white fabric pictured is literally a dirt cheap mainstays brand fabric shower curtain and it’s absolutely perfect for diffusing light. I also tried muslin, cheesecloth, sheer curtains, sheer bed sheets and found them to be light blocking and found the coloring to be off (See photo below for example of bad lighting!)
Cut the shower curtain to the correct height and attach it to the PVC pipe. I used simple sewing pins to hold it in place because I sometimes swap out the curtain for a dark fabric to shoot photos. Also, there’s a pretty good chance that your curtain will acquire splatters now and then and you’ll want to remove it for washing.
Cut the top board, center the spot for the camera lens and drill out the hole (based on the size of your lens). Screw on the brackets, on on the bottom on each side and one on the top of each side to ensure the board cannot slip off when your camera is on it.
Using a couple of push pins I attached a leftover piece of the shower curtain fabric to the top (Camera) board to ensure that the light remains evenly diffused.
Place the piece of Luan (aka cheap thin plywood) on your counter (as a backdrop), if you prefer you can oil it or stain it, paint it, or simply varnish it first. On mine I have attached inexpensive stick on tiles to one side, then varnished the other side with a clear glaze so it’s washable.
When it’s not in use, it tucks nicely behind the couch where no one can see it.