Feb 14, 2010

DIY Animation Camera Stands

There's been some discussion on a DIY, have-it-at-home camera stand. Here are a couple of cool ideas, ranging from the super easy to the more involved.
But even better, please visit our full page of DIY animation camera stands HERE. (the link is also at the top of our page.)

This wood and c-clamp version, the simplest of all, could be a way to go for those that don't want to get too involved or spend a lot of money.

This stand is a bit more complex, but still easy to make. Think of using plastic PVC tubing as well, like Joel's plastic PVC multiplane stand!

J. E. Nystrom at ANIMATO has a long history of building his own animaiton stands, and they become very complex later on. However, here's an early version that doesn't look too hard at all, but would possibly involve a bit of welding. This one is different from the first two because it allows the camera height to be adjusted, which is a pretty valuable asset.

Here's a flexible web-cam stand, but limited in the weight it can carry, which is 8oz.

Daniel Caylor, an animation student, posted info from an animation book from the 1970's showing a hand-made super full-sized animation stand, like a mini-oxberry without the bells and whistles. He includes all the pages with detailed instructions. (shouting out a big thanks for posting the info!)

And then here's a video from someone that actually built it! There's the wood and plumbing pipe rostrum style animation system without the actual camera in place. This one looks like it would be a fun project!

And here's a heavy duty version, better suited to a 35mm camera, possibly. But, if you made the legs this short, you'd have to be working on your knees, or always bent over in some way, which isn't much fun at all.

So, if after all of these options, you still would rather just buy one, here are a couple of inexpensive alternatives.
The basic camera rostrum shown below is called a "copy stand"and is traditionally used for still photography, copying books, small objects, flat artwork, etc..

This one is from B&H Photo (NY), and only costs about $30.00 (not including shipping.) The down side would be that the column is round, which allows the camera mount to spin around sideways. And the movement up or down would really be limited to happening between shots as opposed to during a shot, because there's no controlled cranking system.

You could purchase this column alone, and make your own base. This is a big step up because it has a rectangular (no mount spin) and scaled column with a mount, camera fastener, geared hand crank, and is only about $340.00

These inexpensive lights and stand arms (essential) are the cheapest available that I could find, and look like they'd do the trick. A big plus is that they can use basic bulbs that you can get at a local store. Downside is that you would need some diffusion gels or tuff-spun to help break up the hot spots, since they don't have lenses and spot/flood controls. The image below shows how those arms and lights are attached to the base.

WARNING! The regular old clamp light may look like a real bargain... and it almost is, but these are notorious for the lamp shades falling off and the clamp being loose and slippery. But if this is all you can afford, then go for it because it's better than nothing! You can find these for $4-8.00 each at a local hardware store.

The next stage up would be this "Bencher" version, seen below, which has the square, scaled column, as well as built in lights. This clocks in at about $1,960.00.

Compare this heavy-duty, motorized table, registered scale column, motorized system at $4,640.00


  1. I'm trying to figure out a way to build my own salon stand, along the lines of this:


    I am shooting a claymation-type animation and am having a really hard time finding a salon stand to rent. any advice on making one would be much appreciated!!

    thanks much...

  2. ill probably just end up making my own

  3. I have been photographing my animations with a pile of books which my iPhone peered over. I photographed in a room with 2 lights; no extra lamps or anything. I could control the height of the camera by removing/ adding books. But now I'm just going to buy a proper rostrum

  4. I would like to chime in here. The two pictures of the stand made with slotted angle iron. I was the one who made that. The reason it was so short was because the room it was in had a low ceiling. And I worked with it by sitting in a chair. The platen was 24" inches from the floor. It was made that sturdy to hold a 16mm Mitchell camera with animation drive which is very heavy. Total cost of materials with bolts, nuts and angles came to around $50. The stand no longer exists since my declining health made me leave working with film. And considering film labs have mostly closed down and the cost of film has gone up I now work digitally with my art.

  5. Herb can i ask you, what is your setup for working digitally with your art? Are you scanning original tactile artwork as "cut-outs" and then using software to hing and animate them?