Have you ever seen one of those fun overhead food cooking videos by Tasty and wondered how you could make one for your food blog too?
While photographs can show your readers a glimpse of each step in your recipe, it’s not quite the same as being able to see someone making the recipe in action.
I’ve been wanting to film Tasty style overhead videos for my blog for quite a while, but I always thought they would be very difficult to make.
However, recently my son Peter (who knows a lot more about cameras and video production than I do!) helped me make my first overhead video.
It came out wonderfully and once we had all the right equipment in place, it was actually a lot easier to make than I expected.
In this post, I’m going to share with you exactly how we did it. Well, actually, I asked Peter to detail everything we did so you can make Tasty style videos for your food blog too.
So, take it away, Peter. 😊
Hi, there! Peter here. Excited to put this guide together for you today.
I’m going to show you the exact equipment we use and the steps we take to create our overhead recipe videos.
I realize a lot of us are under budget and time constraints, so I’ll keep that in mind. (All Amazon links are affiliate links.)
Let’s dive in.
Step #1 – Choose your camera
The camera I use for video is the Canon EOS 70D Digital SLR Camera. I’ve had this camera for several years. It’s an excellent camera for still shots but a really superb camera for shooting video. It runs about $850.00 on Amazon.
Canon has upgraded to the EOS 80D. It’s a little bit pricier than the 70D but has more features. You can compare the two and see which one you like better.
Of course, if money were no option I’d love to have a full-frame Canon EOS 5D. But we do the best with what we have. I’ve heard that Sony has some good options for video, but since I haven’t used them I can’t really comment on them.
When shooting videos, I use the kit lens that came with the camera. It’s an EF-S 18-55mm f3.5 – 5.6 with image stabilization.
When shooting overhead cooking videos I have the lens zoomed all the way out.
Step #2 – Camera settings
Okay, the settings I use are pretty standard. I use these for all our overhead cooking videos.
These video settings all are manual:
Shutter speed 60
24 frames per second
I shoot video with image stabilization on, and the results have been good.
Step #3 – Assemble your overhead rig
Because you’re going to be shooting an overhead video, you can’t solely use a traditional tripod. For an effective video, the camera has to extend directly over the pan.
That means that you’ll need to have an overhead rig that can stand on your counter and over your stove or cooktop.
If money is no option, then you can purchase a rig like this one. I can’t guarantee how it works though.
We wanted to save money so I made our own rig. Here is the video tutorial I used. It’s really clear and easy to follow. Seriously, even if you’re the least bit mechanical, you can make this.
Our Home Depot had all the necessary parts. It took about 2 hours to complete the whole project. My mom was amazed when it was finished. It really does its job well.
If you want to build your own rig, there are a couple of extra things you’ll need:
- A tripod
- An extra ball head – This will connect your camera to the rig arm and allow your camera to swivel to the position you want.
- Counter weights (I didn’t use the suggested washers from the video as counterweights.)
The finished rig looks like this.
As you can see in my photo, instead of using washers as our counter weights, I use two 1-¼ lb. weights, which equals 2-½ lbs. And then just to give the rig more stability, I add one more 1-¼ lb. weight to the bottom hook of the tripod. These are the weights we use.
(When we’re not filming my mom uses the weights on her dumbbells. So they kind of serve a dual purpose. LOL.)
I found that using 2-½ lbs. as a counterweight to the 70D was just the right amount of weight to prevent the rig from tipping over.
Step #4 – Set up your lighting
Okay, all food bloggers know that lighting is probably the most important part of getting good looking shots of your creation.
While natural light is great (if you can get it) for still shots, video requires a constant non-variable light source. So I shoot all of our videos with artificial light.
For the majority of my shoots, I use two lighting sources. For one source, we use one of those cheap reflector lamps you see at Home Depot. It’s at the right side of the picture below. It’s attached to an old tripod stand we had. LOL. As I said, we try to save money wherever we can.
Here’s a link for the lamp at Amazon. I prefer the ones at Home Depot because they have a wire protector around the rim in case it tips over. Yes, that has happened. And thank the Lord we had that wire protector on the lamp.
The bulb for the lamp is a 45 watt, 6500K pure white fluorescent daylight balanced bulb.
Of course, if you want something a little more professional-looking, you can go with this type of lights.
As you can see in the picture below, I use a box light that gives me a soft light to fill in the shadows on the front of the subject.
This one is a Lowell ego light. Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s available anymore. These lights might be a good substitute.
This is what one of these shoots generally looks like.
As you can see the rig is precariously close to the edge of the countertop. Adding more weight to the tripod makes it more difficult for it to fall or tip over. Thankfully, that hasn’t happened.
The overhead rig is hands-free once I turn the camera on to start recording. So during a shoot, I usually hold the box light while my mom, The Chef, does her magic whipping together the tasty recipe on the stove.
However, if you are working alone and don’t have anyone to help you hold a box light, you can erect a light on a stand in the same position. It should look something like this:
I’ve used these lights for years and they work fine so there is no reason for me to upgrade right now.
But if you are starting from scratch, then you might start with a lighting kit like this one. These are LED. As I haven’t used LED lights, I’m not sure of how well they work. But one big positive is that being LED they won’t heat up like fluorescent bulbs.
Step #5 – Create your storyboard
When you’re making a food video, you’re often going to be dealing with flames, knives, and hot pans. Things don’t always go as planned, and, if you have someone assisting you, it’s important that everyone is on the same page and knows exactly what to do.
Without a clear understanding of what shots you want to take and where the lights and camera should go, you might injure yourself in the confusion or you might ruin the whole video and have to start over. For example, let’s say you’re adding an ingredient to a sauce. You can only take the shot once because you can only add a small amount of the ingredient to the sauce.
That’s why I strongly recommend creating a storyboard and planning out your video beforehand.
The storyboard doesn’t have to be elaborate: just a numbered list of every shot you’re planning to take. Having this list will also make sure that you don’t accidentally forget to record a shot and then need to re-make the recipe the next day. Yes, that’s happened to us.
Print out your storyboard on a piece of paper and use it as a guide while you film.
Don’t forget you can always use in your video some of those beautiful still shots you have of your creation.
Step #6 – Edit your film
Once you’ve finished recording your delicious recipe, it’s time to edit your film. You can edit out any footage that’s unnecessary (like when the steak catches on fire) and even speed up footage so you don’t bore your viewers (if only the water boiled that fast in real life).
So after I’ve finished filming all the required shots, I edit the video using Final Cut Pro X. Final Cut is an excellent video editing software available for Mac users. If you don’t want to invest in Final Cut, you can download iMovie for free. It should be able to handle most of the editing that you’ll need to do for your video.
If you’re not a Mac user, then I suggest you check out Adobe Premiere Pro or Sony Vegas. I’ve heard great things about these programs, but I haven’t personally used them and am not familiar with editing videos on a Windows operating system.
If you are looking for free editing software for Windows, then these are some options that I have heard good things about: Blender, Lightworks, DeVinci Resolve. Again, I haven’t tested these programs personally so make sure to research which one will be best for you.
Use Handbrake to reduce your file sizes.
HandBrake is a free program that actually reduces the file size of your videos. Keeping your video files small will make your editing job a whole lot easier since smaller files render faster than large ones. Smaller video files are also easier to transport and store on your devices.
Lights, camera, action!
By following the steps in this guide, you’ll soon be making your own amazing overhead videos. Your readers will now be better able to make your recipes because they’ll see each step in action.
I hope you found this guide helpful! If you have any questions, be sure to leave them in the comments or shoot me an email and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.
If you enjoyed this post, you might like to see some of our latest cooking videos using our rig:
Seasoned Cauliflower Rice (partly shot with the overhead rig and partly with the camera on a tripod.)
Slow Cooker Braised Short Ribs (partly shot with the overhead rig and partly with the hand-held video camera.)
Keto Tenderloin Crispy Bites (using the rig over the stove and moved to a counter shot, too.)
Salmon Cakes (using the rig over the stove and on the counter next to the stove.)
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