Since you’ve purchased your camcorder every major family event has been recorded on videotape. You’ve captured Billy’s first step, Sally’s graduation, Jeffrey being sprung from prison.

Unfortunately, your family’s pre-video history is trapped in doomed-to-yellow stills. But-no longer. Now all you need to mobilize those still are the photo, a knack for nattation, and this videocrafted copy stand.

For about $20 in parts, a bit of labor, and some lighting fixtures, you can construct a video stand. The materials are available at most hardware stores, as are the clamp-on lights with aluminum shades and soft whire 15- or 25-watt bulbs you’ll need to light your way.

With your camcorder mounted on your copy stand and your TV monitor to view your results, simply adjust your focus (macro focus for wallet-sized photo) and lighting for each photo. The lights will probably have to be moved around to keep glare off the photos. Use your TV monitor to monitor the lighting.


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Record each picture for about 10 seconds, add background music and your own account of the events as they appear. You can even edit history by cropping offending relatives out of the picture.

In addition to taping photos, you can use your copy stand to record serial numbers of your gun collection, jewelry, and small valuables for insurance purposes.

Cogenerational Concoction

My father came up with the original design for this stand back in the ’40s. To adapt it to videomaking I replace the baseboard, crafted new brackets for the lights, and added an extension to the overhand pipe.

Start with one piece of three-quarter-inch plywood, 25 by 21 inches. Round off the corners with a sabre saw and sand lightly. Attach four rubber feet to the bottom side if you desire.

Fit one three-quarter-inch (inside diameter) T pipe over the outer diameter of a 30-inch-long, half-inch water pipe threaded on both ends. If the T pipe doesn’t fit, file or ream out the inside diameter of the threaded area until it does.

Drill a quarter-inch hole through the center back side of the T pipe and thread it for the five-sixteenth-inch loop-type set screw. This allows you to adjust the camcorder level and hold the unit securely in place.

Mount the 30-inch pipe to the plywood stand with a plumbers base plate, using four half-inch wood screws to hold it in place.

A 1.5 inch and a 4-inch piece of half-inch (inside diameter) pipe and barrel connector constructs the overhang pipe. You’ll be able to lengthen the overhang pipe later.

Mounting Concerns

Weld, at a right angle, an eighth-inch-thick by 3.5-inch-long by 2-inch-high steel mounting plate to the 4-inch piece of overhang pipe.

Drill holes in the plate to accommodate the quarter-inch to 20 by 1 inch camera mounting screw. This screw along with a wing nut and a spacer nut will mount the camcorder securely to the mounting plate.

A thin piece of rubber can be glued to this plate to pad the mounting surface and protect your camcorder.

Bend a piece of strap iron an eighth inch thick by 24 inches long by 1.5 inches wide in a vise so that each end forms a right angle. The center section should be 16 inches long with each end having a 2-inch-high lift and 2-inch-long mounting area.

Use four half-inch screws to mount this bracket to the wood base. Now you can mount or clamp on the lights.

Spray paint the copy stand with flat-black paint to cut down on glare. When the paint dries, you can have hour of fun capturing past generations with your camcorder. The best part is, they can’t run for cover when they see you coming.

Parts-for-Starts Checklist

  • three-quarter-inch plywood, 25 by 21 inches.
  • can of flat black spray paint
  • half-inch (I.D.) water pipe, 30 inches long, threaded at both ends
  • T fitting three-quater-inch (I.D.) pipe capable of sliding over O.D. of the 30-inch long pipe
  • five-sixteenth-inch loop-type set screw
  • 1.5- and 4-inch pieces of half-inch (I.D.) pipe with a barrel connector for the overhang pipe
  • base plate adaptable to the 30-inch-long pipe
  • strap iron one-eighth-inch thick by 24 inches long by 1.5 inches wide
  • four half-inch screws
  • mounting plate one-eighth-inch thick by 3.5 inches long by 2 inches high
  • one-quarter-inch by 20 by 1 inch long camera mounting screw
  • thin piece of rubber

For Picture Perfect Results

  • Some photos will curl up at the edges. Simply use a flat black tin, washers, of quarters to hold down the edges. Be sure to keep these weights out of the frame.
  • When adding narration, count to three before speaking or you’ll lose the intro while the camera’s gearing up. Seal the shoot room off from noise-even the hum of an air conditioner or the ticking of a clock can thoroughly ruin your audio.
  • Use a good quality tape for your master to ensure viewable copies.
  • Background music can be provided by a portable AM/FM audiocassette player. When pausing, be sure to stop camera and tape simultaneously. Match the music to the mood. I use the Mystic Moods orchestra for rainy day shots, vibrant concert pieces for Grand Canyon-type spectaculars, and Keystone Kops rinky-tink for silly photos.
  • When moving the camera up and down on the stand, do not lift by the camera itself. Raise and lower by the camera support pipe. Make sure the wing nut device is tight before releasing hold of the camera. Happy Shooting!
  • Dave hendricks, a professional photographer for United Press International, specializes in high-speed action photos. He has been a photo-videomaker for 10 years.

    The Videomaker Editors are dedicated to bringing you the information you need to produce and share better video.