Thursday, March 3, 2011

Construction Zone

I caught some sort of handyman bug last month and the studio became a bonafide construction site! I love the idea of building things, but I have to admit that up until a few weeks ago, I didn't even own a screwdriver. I've been meaning to make myself a larger workspace for the sand animation and while wandering through WalMart I saw this glass computer desk. That was the catalyst. At 40"x 24" it's the perfect size, pretty darn stable and the glass is thick and sturdy. I had originally thought I could use the keyboard tray to slide reference drawings under the glass, but I decided I needed to frost the glass to diffuse the light properly so I ended up taking it off. The $100 was well worth not having to figure out how to build a table and put a huge sheet of glass on top. CameraStand004 Once I got the table set up, I had to figure out how to get the light below and the camera above, so off to the local hardware store I went with my concept sketch and no idea where to start. The lady at the front counter sent me upstairs to consult with Max (aka MacGyver). He took one look at my sketch and got this twinkle of glee in his eye and off we went on a whirlwind around the hardware store collecting items.

CameraStand003 For the camera stand, I needed something that the camera could hang off above the table, but the support couldn't extend under the glass and into the camera's view. We tried electric conduit tube first, but it was too flimsy and the camera would wobble. We decided to go with 3 pieces of 1/2" galvanized steel tube (in the plumbing section).
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You can pretty much make any sort of shape with the connector pieces. It was definitely a preschool sort of exercise.

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This is called a flange, in case you didn't know.

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I got some scrap 2x4s from the lumberyard for the base of the stand and reinforced them with steel corners.

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And finally, for the camera mount, we got a piece of wood and bolted another steel corner on the edge. For my last camera stand, my dad had cut off the head of a 1/4” bolt and added nuts and a wingnut to screw into the thread on the bottom of the camera. Works great!

The light box was pretty simple. I bought a lamp kit from the hardware store and a circular light bulb. At some point I might replace this with something stronger, but it works great for now. Then I used white foam core to make a reflective box underneath the table.

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I taped some architectural drafting paper to the underside of the glass to provide some diffusion.

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Then draped another sheet of paper over the bulb to create more diffusion inside the box.

Putting it all together (hooray for power drills!) This is what it finally looked like once it was all attached. I used 2 C-clamps to secure the wooden frame to the table top so I wouldn’t risk knocking it out of alignment. stand

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And here it is all lit up and in use! Thanks to Max and Spencer who didn’t roll their eyes every time I walked in the door at Valley Lumber (and it was more than a few visits!) I made sure to bring them a big pile of chocolate ship cookies!

You can expect some new sandy work soon!

2 comments:

High Sierra Flyfisherman said...

Good work!
I assume you learned not to clamp down too tight on the table and break the glass. Also the tube light and diffuing material gives somewhat of an unnatural color temp to the light which I guess you figure you can deal with.

Other than that you learned lesson #1....the number of trips to the hardware store is proportionate to the square of the number of parts you need to complete the project.

Look forward to seeing your work.

Corrie Francis Parks said...

The great thing about shooting digital is that it's one click of a button to correct the white balance. so that give me a lot of flexibility with the lighting.

And yes, I clamped the C-clamps onto the metal frame, which is under the glass!

I think you should publish your formula. It's worth a scientific study :)