How We Produced 360 Product Photography for Glock

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In this post we will talk briefly about a project we did for Glock USA a couple of years ago when we were chosen to produce 360 product photography of pretty much all of Glock’s handguns.. This was an interesting and unusual assignment to say the least!

For one thing, there was no question about photographing guns in our own small studio. We had to find a couple of better options in downtown Los Angeles and Anaheim where we could meet with Glock’s team flying all the way from Georgia and feel safe about photographing a small arsenal of firearms (Glock had to arrange with authorities for this first, of course).

Another challenge was to find a good way to photograph pistols of various sizes and weights in 360 degrees in a consistent manner and very quickly such that we could finish everything in 2-3 days.

On location - 360 product photo setup for Glock

On location – 360 product photography setup for Glock

So the first task was to build a test setup to make sure everything would work on location which we did about a month in advance. And since we didn’t have access to the guns, we asked Glock to send us just a few magazines that would represent the majority of the items we were about to photograph. That was good enough to devise a simple approach:

Each magazine had a sturdy plastic base plate at the bottom that also had tiny rails for the actual magazine to slide in and out (you can almost see the rails in this image below). This base plate was stiff enough for us to drill in two holes and then mount it via small bolts onto an aluminum sheet that served as the base for all guns.

Magazine base plate

Magazine base plate

This aluminum sheet was then itself attached to the turntable. We used the aluminum sheet such that we could easily drill wholes in it and then cut threads as well to firmly screw in the bolts which were coming out of the magazine plates. This was essential as some guns were small and others were quite long so the center of balance of the 360-degree rotation was different for various guns and extra holes had to be made quickly on site. We then wrapped the aluminum sheet with white tape to make sure there’s no glare and it could be easily removed during post production.

Plate assembly for balanced product rotation

Plate assembly for balanced product rotation

This worked very well as all we had to do for the majority of pistols was to slide in a new (empty!) magazine into the plastic magazine plate that was already screwed in to the aluminum sheet (and attached to the turntable) and then slide in the gun itself onto the magazine. That is until we had to change the magazine plate for a different model.

On location 2 - 360 product photo setup for Glock

On location 2 – 360 product photography setup for Glock

The only small issue that remained was that these guns were quite heavy so there was a tilt on the barrel end and some smaller guns had an angled grip bottom which we compensated using a combination of washers going through the bolts between the magazine plate and the aluminum sheet as you can see better in these images:

Angle compensation with washers 1

Angle compensation with washers 1

Angle compensation with washers 2

Angle compensation with washers 2

Everything had to be automated to make sure we finish the project on time so we used small Ortery PhotoCapture 360 as it was tough enough for all the items we photographed. The rest was pretty straightforward!

This Automated 360 Photography Turntable Was Made Out Of Recycled Parts

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Creative folks at N2Surplus of Roanoke, VA who specialize in selling new and used industrial parts online, shared a couple of cool pictures of their 360 product photography turntable they recently built for their ongoing photography projects.

The result of their creative thinking was this heavy-duty motorized turntable that was made out of recycled and dismantled parts they had available at their own warehouse.

360 DIY turntable for photography

Here is what it is made of:

• Turntable – bottom of a metal umbrella stand
• Box with motor – project / photography box out of a liquidation
• Plate with Casters – tray for a portable pump
• DC Permanent Magnet Motor
• DC Drive
• Speed Controller – off of a conveyor that they dismantled
• Wiring – off of the equipment they dismantled
• Outlet boxes & switches – off of the equipment they dismantled

360 DIY photography turtable

We hope this example will inspire others to build something similar. These custom-built 360 product photography turntables can be fine-tuned to your exact requirements, not to mention their low cost comparing to specialized equipment we sell here.

And if you need heavy-duty parts for your next project, visit N2Surplus at www.n2surplus.com

Interesting Ghost Mannequins for 360 Product Photography

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We just recently discovered this interesting video by ProCap studio in UK and what is particularly exciting is the ghost mannequin they show there. It’s attached to a sturdy rotating platform with 360 degree marks and a bubble level, so it seems to be designed specifically for 360 product photography. It’s the first time we see a mannequin like this in the wild and it makes perfect sense, so check it out!

Otherwise, it’s a pretty much our usual 360 product photography workflow when dealing with a manual turntable. Although if you are lucky to have two people working on a photography set, you can really forgo a remote shutter release they recommend in the video as you would be better off having one person sitting next to a computer tethered to your camera while the other dude (a “human motor” as we call it here) turns the table manually as shots get reviewed and approved.

And of course we hope to see this cool mannequin table automated sometime soon!

DIY Automatic 360 Product Photography Turntable By TinkerForge

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Here’s another example of creative ingenuity by folks at TinkerForge, Germany who applied their own DIY building “bricks” that they sell online and a cool idea, and turned it into a fully functional robotic 360 product photography turntable.

As you can see on their blog, the whole constructions is made of just a handful of DIY parts, including a stepper motor, of course, a rotary ball bearing (250kg rated!), two cutting boards and a couple of cool “bricks” manufactured by TinkerForge: Industrial Quad Relay Bricklet and Stepper Brick. All in all, this is a substantial saving compared to commercially produced professional tables that we have here.

Except for the challenge with the ball bearing attachment that ended up needing some clearance to work in conjunction with the hub and the motor, we call it a success! Hopefully some of our readers will get inspired by this design and will use TinkerForge’s cool “bricks” to create similar 360 product photography platforms.

You may also be interested in these DIY solutions that we have been collecting on this blog:

DIY 360 Product Photography Turntable with Magnetic Trigger
Another DIY 360 Photography Turntable
Computorized DIY Turntable For 360 Product Photography
Build your own DIY 360 Photography Turntable for under $40

Drones for 360 Object Photography of Large Items?

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You know one of the challenges with the 360 product photography of large objects such as cars, big machines, etc. is that you can’t really put them on a turntable (unless you have a lot of $$$, of course), and then moving with your camera around an object just sucks. Same with building huge fixed circular rails..

So it just occurred to us a couple of weeks ago.. why can’t we start using drones for this? Presumably, you can just fly a drone around a large item at a certain trajectory and capture rotational 360 images this way. Of course, it may not be as straightforward as one might think, but this should be doable.

Here’s for example a quick video we just stumbled upon showing a custom 3 axis gimbal attached to a drone designed for larger cameras. You can see how it works closer to the end of the video which we think is pretty smooth for what we’re doing here.

PS: DJI’s latest quadcopter seems to be built just for the task!
http://makezine.com/2014/11/19/dji-inspire-drone-demo/