I would like to make some short movie clips explaining how algorithms work. To do so, I would like to film how I write / scribble on the paper.

Are there tripods which support filming what is directly below the camera or should I tinker such a tripod myself? In case you recommend building it myself: How is this standard "mount" at the bottom of each digital camera called? (So that I can buy something to fixate the camera.)

(I have a Lumix DMC TZ41 digital camera. Do movie cameras have other "mounts" for tripods than digital cameras?)

Some online courses (Udacity, Coursera) make something similar / exactly what I would like to do. See Programming - CS101 - Udacity for example:

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  • Do you have an example of a video which does this ? Jan 7, 2016 at 10:08
  • Some online courses seem to make something similar. See youtube.com/watch?v=OBtIs_AVueY for example. I'll add this to the question in a second. Jan 7, 2016 at 10:14
  • That looks like the user is using a digital pen which is why there is an overlay. some people have used Glass or Perspex screens in front of them and use Whiteboard markers to write and wipe off. other option would be to make or look online for a rig which allows the camera to hang over your hand while you write Jan 7, 2016 at 10:52
  • The standard "mount" for consumer cameras is called "quarter twenty" aka 1/4-20. The slightly larger mount found on pro cameras is 3/8-16. Jan 7, 2016 at 11:28

3 Answers 3


There are a number of photo tripods that allow you to invert the center column. When inverted, the camera sits between all the legs and can be pointed down. Another tripod design has a center column that can also be shifted to a horizontal position. This allows greater flexibility in terms of distance from the subject (and it also means you only have to shoot between the front two legs, rather than inside all three).


Another option that is ideally suited for this is a digital enlarger mount or a digital overhead mount. Both of these are effectively the same thing and are designed to hold both a camera and lighting in an ideal manner for capturing a document placed on a flat surface. We used a setup like this for capturing note writing for distance education at my college when I worked in the distance education program.


I have a tripod that allows you to remove the tripod head from the top of the column and screw it into the base of the column where the counterweight is typically hung (to stabilise cameras in windy environments). It is a WeiFeng FT-6663A http://www.amazon.com/Aluminum-Digital-Professional-WeiFeng-FT-6663A/dp/B00974UXA2

Be aware that the legs of the tripod can cast shadows when you run the head inverted looking down.


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