How to Make a Professional Camera Slider 100 DIY

In this video we're going to be making a super smooth camera slider, enabling you to get professional looking camera moves for just £30, which is about $45. Thanks to the roller system the slider remains locked to the rails at all angles - even using it upside down to get extremely low shots isn't a problem. It also features a hinge and counterweight system that makes using the slider at an angle extremely easy. Stick around to the end of the video if you'd like to see the incredible footage you can get with this, but for now let's get on with the build process. The first thing we'll tackle with this build is the slider's rails. These are going to be made out of standard copper pipes, which are easy to get hold of the world over. They need to have an outer diameter of 22mm so that they match the rollers we'll be using. If you're in the USA, using 3/4th inch pipe should be fine, as it has an outer diameter of roughly 22mm. I bought mine as a single 3 meter length, which I then sawed in half to give me two 1.5m rails. The lengths of the pipes obviously defines the slider's reach, and it can be scaled up to suit your needs. As copper piping usually becomes a bit grubby looking due to oxidisation the first thing we'll do is polish it up. To do this we'll first rub it down using metal polish until it becomes shiny. Now we can give it a wash with some soapy water, thoroughly wiping it down afterwards. The goal here is to remove the tiny black particles that are left over from the polishing, and ideally it needs to reach a point where the cloth doesn't get discoloured after wiping the copper with it. To stop the copper from oxidising again we need to apply some metal lacquer. Application can vary depending on the type, so do check the directions on the label for guidance. If you're using liquid lacquer like I am, I recommend that you give it two coats so that you can be sure that there are no gaps in your application. Once it's dry you should have something that looks like this. Snazzy. So for now we'll put these aside and begin working on the platforms. These can be cut out of 6mm thick MDF fibre board, as it's cheap and very rigid. The first thing we'll do is print off and cut out the PDF template that's in this video's description. This needs to then be stuck to a 12cm square piece of MDF using double sided tape. Now we can carefully drill through the marked holes. I recommend first using a 1mm bit to aid accuracy, following it up afterwards with a 4mm bit to expand them to the required 4mm diameter. The same can be done for the central hole, only this time it needs to be finished off with a 9mm drill bit instead. The next step is to use a coping saw to carefully cut along the outline. This is only for visual purposes, as it does look a bit more professional having curves versus being square. Once it's cut we can use some sand paper to smooth the curves. We'll need to make two of these end pieces, and a slightly larger central piece that's also included in the template. These can then be finished off by first sealing them with a bit of PVA and water, and then painting them black. Now that they're completed we can now prepare the copper pipes for drilling. As accuracy is key with this part of the build, we need to quickly construct a special marking tool. All we've got to do is get some scrap pieces of MDF and glue them together so that the front has a piece jutting out on top, and the back is supported by two small square layers. Once it's dried a knife can then be strapped on so that the blade hangs over the edge underneath the jutting out ledge. We can now place one of the copper pipes on a flat surface and secure it in place using some blu tac so that it cannot roll away. The marking tool can then be slid along so that the knife makes a line in the copper all the way from one end to the other. This line should be perfectly straight as any variations in the table surface should be significantly reduced thanks to the way the tool rests mostly on the pipe. The next step is to mark the points along this line where we need to drill holes for the platforms. As we'll be using end caps, we'll plug them in at this point and place one of the end platforms on top, flush with the end, so that we can see the line through the platform's 4mm holes. Now we can use a sharp point to make a small mark through them and on to the line. These marks can then be drilled through with a 1mm drill bit. This stage really requires as much accuracy as you can muster, which is why using such a small drill bit is very important. Each hole needs to go right through to the other side, as vertically as possible. The top holes can then be expanded by using progressively larger bits until they're 4mm wide. Once that's done the pipe can be flipped over to reveal where the first holes went all the way through. As you can see they're not perfectly in line, but that doesn't matter too much as these holes will function as once-off access holes. These also need to be expanded one size at a time but instead stopping at 4mm they need to be increased to a size that matches the head of the m4 screws we'll be using, which in my case is 7mm. Also note how the head of these screws is flat on the bottom - that's important as it will help with rigidity when they hold the pipes in place. So once these access holes have been cut we can push the screws all the way through with a magnetised Allen key so that they poke through the more accurate 4mm holes on the other side. Temporarily holding them in place with blutac is a good idea to prevent them from falling out again. These screws can then be pushed through the holes on the platform - it might be a bit of a squeeze but if you were careful with your markings earlier it shouldn't be too stiff. Now we need to get some M4 acorn nuts and accompanying washers and thread them onto the screws... and tightened up. It's important not to over tighten these as they'll end up biting into the MDF unless you used particularly wide washers. The same process needs to be repeated for the other rail, and after it's all tightened up the access holes can be plugged up with some rubber blanking grommets. Follow this pattern for the other platforms and that's the rails completed! Now we can start working on the slider itself, starting with the MDF pieces. Again it's just a case of printing off the template included in the description - cutting and drilling it accordingly - and expanding the holes to the measurements displayed next to them. The top two holes need to be joined together so that the bolt can slide back and forth freely when calibrating the fit later. It's a bit messy doing this with a drill, so you may want to clean it up afterwards using a file. These pieces can then be painted black. As I mentioned earlier, the sliding platform is designed to hinge so that the camera always remains level, so we'll now work on the mechanism that enables this functionality. The first thing we'll need are 8 small right angle brackets, 4 of which need to be positioned and screwed to the base platform like so. The other four can be screwed to the top platform, but offset slightly so that they stiffly slide against the initial four. Now we need to get two screws and plenty of accompanying washers. Each screw needs to be inserted through the brackets, and the washers stuffed in between. These need to be packed as tightly packed as possible as they spread the friction between all four brackets, effectively locking it when squeezed from both ends. To keep the screw in place, we'll use some super glue under its head, temporarily holding it in place with a nut whilst it dries. Later these hinges can be locked by hand when required using wing nuts. Now it's time to add the rollers, which are actually pulley bearings intended for use with ropes. As these can be a bit tricky to find, I have placed international purchasing links in the description. These rollers fit almost perfectly against the 22mm copper pipe, and are the key for this entire build, allowing for the slider to operate at all angles reliably - including being upside down. To attach them to the MDF we'll need some M8 screws and washers. First we can push a screw through the central bearing, and then add multiple washers until they protrude out of the top. They can now be threaded through the holes on the base, and secured in place using first a washer and then an M8 acorn dome nut. As you can see, the elongated holes we made earlier allow for two of the rollers to slide freely back and forth. This allows us to calibrate the slider to work smoothly without being too tight. We can now slide the whole unit onto the rails and adjust the rollers so that they fit perfectly between the pipes. Ideally, they need to be ever so slightly loose as this allows for maximum fluidity. Once you're happy with the positioning the nuts can be tightened up securely. Now we can make a buffer to prevent it from rolling off the rails. To do this we'll first insert a long M4 bolt through the remaining hole on the slider base, and secure it with a nut. As you can see, this screw glides just above the platforms, so we can now carefully drill a hole in the centre of each end platform for an m4 screw and acorn nut to act as the buffer. With the slider now almost complete, the last job is to make a counterweight system to allow the camera to be balanced when the slider is used at an angle. To allow the cord to slide smoothly over the edge, we need to make a roller using a little plastic pulley wheel. We'll start by making a gap for it by drilling into the end platform, just in from the outer edge, using a saw to then open it out. Technically this should be done earlier in the build before the platform is painted, but I hadn't decided on the pulley system at that point which is why it was left until this stage. Thankfully, using a black marker was all that was needed to blend it in. As these small plastic pulleys often have tabs on the side, the first thing to do is saw it off. A thin rod, which in my case was an old drill bit, can now be inserted into the wheel, followed up by two washers on either side. Now we need to get a knife and gouge out a little channel on each side of this gap, just wide enough for the rod to be forced in to. A little bit of clear-drying glue should be all that's needed to keep it from ever coming loose. It is perhaps a little crude, but it does work well. Now an eye screw can be screwed in just in front of it to keep the chord in alignment. The cord can then be secured into a loop at both ends. When in use, one can be hooked over the screw underneath the slider, and the other can be attached to a counterweight, keeping the whole thing in balance allowing for very smooth camera moves even with very steep gradients. The very last step is to get some 1/4" to 3/8" adapters, but before screwing them into the remaining hole on each platform, the holes need to be countersunk slightly to allow the heads to be flush with the surround. Once screwed in these little adapters allow the slider to be used with standard tripods. Now it's time to mount a camera. I recommend using a tripod head for this, as it allows for more complex camera moves. The one I'm using is a low-cost fluid head, a link to which you can find in the description. As it has a standard tripod mount on the bottom, it's just a case of securing it in place using a 1/4" bolt. And with that, the slider is now complete! Not only does it look good, but it works well too, especially when you consider how much it cost to make. So before we try this out I'd just like to give a quick shoutout to the sponsor on this video who are very fittingly a stock video footage company called Video Blocks. Not only do they offer stock footage but also background plates and after effects templates for things like titles. Now if you've done any kind of video editing before even if you're a hobbyist you'll find what they offer incredibly useful, and the best part about it is they're currently offering you guys 50% off if you sign up using the link in the description. That means you get an entire year's access to their whole library for just $49, which even for hobbyists is incredible value. So again, do check them out and a huge thanks to them for sponsoring this video. Right, now, let's give this a and take it outside to see what kind of camera moves we can get. So that's it for this video. I hope you enjoyed it, and I hope you found the project interesting because it was quite a challenge to design but I think it's turned out pretty well. Don't forget to hit that like button if you did enjoy it, and if you haven't already - definitely consider subscribing because everyone who subscribes is a huge bonus for the channel and keeps me doing these projects, so thanks if you do subscribe. Other than that, I'll see you next time. Bye!