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How To Add Dimension To Product Videos By Shooting From Directly Overhead

Shooting top-down video is a great way to showcase a product and its features. YouTuber Miguel Quiles creates many videos this way to showcase gear on the Alpha Universe YouTube Channel. In this video, Quiles shares a behind-the-scenes look at his setup for shooting successful top down product videos. Watch and read below, and for more videos like this one, visit the Alpha Universe YouTube Channel.

Product Preview – In This Article You'll Find:
-Sony Alpha 7 IV
-Sony 20-70mm f/4 G

Creator and YouTuber Miguel Quiles shares his full gear setup for top down product shoots and offers his tips for creating better product footage.

Camera & Lens Combo

For this setup Quiles uses the Sony Alpha 7 IV, which he says is an absolute beast for shooting in 4K. “It’s a full frame camera. I’m shooting in 4K, 24 frames per second, and it looks fantastic. 4K video is definitely the way that I like to deliver my videos.” Still, Quiles says there are times when he will actually deliver an HD video, but he still records it in 4K so he has more usable video to work with in case he wants to crop or punch in on anything.

Quiles chooses to pair the Sony 20-70mm f/4 G lens with the camera, and says it’s a fantastic lens for this type of videography. Not only is it wide enough to get a really nice wide shot of the entire table of products, but he can also zoom in. He also notes how no matter what focal length he decides to leave the zoom at, the lens doesn’t extend. Other lenses when you put them in this top down setup tend to creep out to a different focal length, but Quiles says not with this one.

Studio Enclosure & Lighting

Another very important part of his setup is the entire studio enclosure surrounding the product. Quiles has two V-flats from V-Flat World that have both a black and white side. He uses the black sides to enclose the table. “And what that is doing is keeping the light from bouncing that much,” he explains. “If I’m using the white side there would just be light bouncing everywhere so I really want to control the light.”

The main light that Quiles includes in his setup is the Nanlite 720 - a very powerful LED light that is softened by going through a Nanlite Parabolic Softbox. “It’s pretty big, and it has two layers of diffusion which is going to give a really nice, soft light. Which means the shadows that it’s creating are going to be a little bit diffused which is really nice for this top down style of video.” 

Quiles says that you could just stick with these two layers of diffusion and it will do perfectly fine, but he’s found that to get those really soft shadows he likes, he adds an additional layer of diffusion. “This is a Westcott 4x6 scrim, and I’ve actually got another panel of diffusion here and this is essentially a triple-diffused light source,” he explains. “So it’s a nice, big broad soft light. It’s going to give a little bit more of a natural light type of vibe to your top down shots.”

While you could use that one main light and call it a day, Quiles also likes to add some additional light for more control over the shadows. Just above where he sits to shoot these videos, he has another Nanlite 720 LED light, but he has it set up a little differently than the main one. “I’ve got it with a strip box,” he says. “And the strip box is basically just acting as a fill light. So if in certain videos, the product is casting a dark shadow, then I can actually fill in those shadow areas using this additional LED light. So if you’re into lighting ratios and things like that, I basically have the main light at full power so it’s at 100%. And then this back light right now is only at 7.8% so I’ve got it quite a bit lower in power because all I’m using this for is to fill in the shadows for this product that I’m actually going to be highlighting for this video.”

Top-Down Table Rig & Table Top Items

There are many different ways you could rig your camera above your table, but Quiles uses the same roller stands that he would use when he’s doing his photography work. The difference is at the end of the roller stand, he has a tripod mount rigged to the end of a boom arm made by Kupo. You can add weights to the end of the stand if you want an extra layer of security, but Quiles says it’s all pretty sturdy without. It makes it a really simple way to have your camera above the table, and you’re able to adjust the arm if you want to move anything. “But again because I have that 20-70mm lens on that camera, if I want to go wider, I don’t have to actually adjust that stand at all. I could just basically adjust the focal length on the lens and we could be good to go.”

One of the very important accessories that Quiles says he needs on the actual table top is a monitor so he can see what he’s looking at. While he’s showing off the product on camera, he can watch what it looks like on this monitor in real time and ensure he has everything properly framed. Beyond the monitor, there are a few other things he always likes to have on the table just to make the process a little easier.

For the surface of the table itself, Quiles uses Duo Boards from V-Flat World. These boards are two-sided and help to add a really nice texture to the background of your product. He also likes to have some other accessories on the table to add a little more to the video, even if he’s highlighting a single product. In this video he also includes a Color Checker Pro, a Sony Mavipak, SD cards, and a Sony Cybershot camera. “These things are not really necessary but they’re here just to add a little bit of visual interest to this video. You do have this textured surface, which would be perfectly fine to do this type of video, but if you want to do something a little bit different and just add a little something special to the video, it’s cool to add these little things to again, just spice up the video.” To wrap things up, Quiles shares one more crucial accessory for top down videography that you may not have thought about: an airblower to keep dust and dirt off the table and product.

See more videos like this one on the Alpha Universe YouTube Channel.


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