Portable-Temporary Camera Platform

Approximate 4 minute read

Last week I posted step-by-step instructions on how to build a rock solid semi-permanent camera and/or operator platform out of wood. This week as promised, here are instructions on how to build a portable or temporary version of the same.

In last week’s blog post I included a lot of information explaining why camera and operator platforms should be a particular width, depth and height as well as how to mitigate camera shake.  Rather than reprint all that preliminary information here again, I recommend reading that post before continuing on to build a portable/temporary platform. Here is a link to last week’s post.

What unique features does the portable-temporary platform below have? The big difference between the semi-permanent platform described in the earlier post and this one is the platform described below can be assembled or disassembled easily, and folded-up for transportation or storage when not in use.

Here is a list of what you will need (per platform):

2″ x 4″ (1-1/2″ x 3-1/2″) x 48” (QTY 4)
2″ x 4″ (1-1/2″ x 3-1/2″) x 34-1/4” (QTY 12) assuming total platform height of 42”. If not, adjust as needed.
2″ x 4″ (1-1/2″ x 3-1/2″) x 22-1/4” (QTY 8)
3/4″ plywood 48” x 48” (QTY 1)
1″ x 3″ (3/4″ x 2-1/2″) x 53-7/16” (QTY 2) assuming total platform height of 42”. If not, adjust as needed.
1″ x 3″ (3/4″ x 2-1/2″) x 21-7/8” (QTY 4)
1″ x 3″ (3/4″ x 2-1/2″) x 19-1/4” (QTY 4)
1.5″ Wood screws (QTY 16)
2″ Wood screws (QTY 48)
1″ nails (QTY 8)
3.5” hinge (QTY 12)

STEP #1 Lay a 48” x 48” x ¾” thick plywood board out on your work table

STEP #2 along one side of the 48”x48” plywood, cut a 5” x 2” hole.  You may 1/2″ or 1/4″ round edge the hole if desired and sand smooth the edges if you wish as this hole is going to be where you will put your hand to carry the finished platform top when all is complete. The width of the hole should begin 5” from the edge and be centered along one of the 48” lengths (21-1/2” from each side).

STEP #3 Glue and screw using (4) 1-1/2” wood screws (2) 1″ x 3″ (3/4″ x 2-1/2″) x 21-7/8” long strapping pieces to the 48”x48” plywood (with the 2-1/2” side face down). Each 1”x3” should be 1-3/4” from the top edge and 1-3/4” from the side edge.  Leave a 1” gap at center in between the 1″x3″s.

STEP #4 Repeat step #3 for the bottom of the 48” x 48”.

STEP #5 Glue and screw using (8) 1-1/2” wood screws (4) 1″ x 3″ (3/4″ x 2-1/2″) x 19-1/4” long strapping to the 48”x48” plywood sides creating  right angles with the 1”x3” applied in steps #3 & #4. Each 1”x3” should be 1-3/4” from the side edge. Leave a 1” gap at center between the 1”x3”s.

We will now build removable/foldable legs for the platform. Dimensions given below assume the total platform height will be 42”. If you would like the platform to be taller or shorter, adjust accordingly. The removable/foldable legs will use a “parallels trestle” construction utilizing 2”x4”s as rails and stiles and 1”x3” strapping to support the longer parallels sections.  Two sides of the parallels-trestle legs will be identical, with the other two sides not matching the first two.  So, for sake of simplicity two sides will be referred to as north/south and the other two sides will be referred to as east/west.

STEP #6 North parallels trestle. Lay out on your work table (2) 2″ x 4″ (1-1/2″ x 3-1/2″) x 48” top and bottom as rails (3-1/2” side down) to be supported by (2) 2″ x 4″ (1-1/2″ x 3-1/2″) x 34-1/4” stiles (assuming you desire a total platform height of 42”). Drill pilot holes at 45 degree angles to secure the stiles to the rails at right angles.  Glue and screw together with (8) 2″ wood screws.  The total height will be 41-1/4” and the total width will be 48”

STEP #7 Using a 1″ x 3″ (3/4″ x 2-1/2″) x approximately 53-7/16” long (use a tape measure to confirm, and assuming a total platform height of 42”) miter cut the 1”x3” to fit in between the 2”x4” frame, securing two of the inside corners. Glue and nail.

STEP #8 repeat steps #6 and #7 creating now a South parallels trestle.

STEP #9 East parallels trestle A. Lay out on your work table (2) 2″ x 4″ (1-1/2″ x 3-1/2″) x 22-1/4” top and bottom rails (3-1/2” side down) to be supported by (2) 2″ x 4″ (1-1/2″ x 3-1/2″) x 34-1/4” stiles (assuming you desire a total platform height of 42”). Drill pilot holes at 45 degree angles to secure the stiles to the rails at right angles.  Glue and screw together with (8) 2″ wood screws.  The total height will be 41-1/4” and the total width will be 22-1/4”

STEP #10 repeat steps #9 THREE more times creating East parallels trestle B, West parallels trestle A & B.

STEP #11 lay two of the parallel trestles made in steps #9 and #10 side by side with a ½” gap in between. Using two 3.5” hinges, attach two parallel trestles to each other. The total width of the two parallel trestles should be 45”.

STEP #12 Repeat step #11 creating West A&B.

STEP #13 Using (8) more hinges, Hinge the top & bottom INSIDE of parallel trestle North to East, East to South, South to West and West to North. West and East will go inside North and South, so the entire parallel trestle frame when hinged and extended in show position will be 48” wide x 48” deep x 41-1/4” tall.

STEP #14 with the parallel trestles hinged together and extended for show, place the 48” x 48” platform on top of the parallel trestles (with the 1” x 3” strapping attached to the plywood facing downward).

STEP #15 Paint or carpet the plywood platform top as desired (the side without the 1×3 strapping). Attach (male) velcro to parallel trestle framing to allow fabric (felt or duvetyne, etc.) to skirt the parallel trestle legs.

STEP #16 Repeat all steps to create a second platform for the camera operator. Place the camera and operator platforms ½” to 1” apart so they are not touching.

STEP #17 If codes in your area or the height of the platform require a safety rail for the camera operator, Hollaender speed-rail (links available in the previous “DIY Semi-Permanent Camera Platform” blog post) offers all the parts and pieces needed to create a low profile but strong hand rail.

Tom D’Angelo has worked in television production and AVL corporate theater for the last thirty-eight years. He has been nominated for a Mid-Atlantic Emmy Award (Best Director category) and has been part of various teams that have been nominated and won national Emmy’s. As the Media Director at a megachurch in the 1980’s he developed a love for the Church and church performing and technical artists.

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