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Setting Your Overhead Phone's Orientation

When using a mobile phone over a keyboard to film your hands playing, one common problem is getting the video orientation right. Suzanne needs to see a landscape view of your keyboard, bass to the left, treble to the right, just as you see it. In this article we'll take a look at how to achieve this every time.

When the phone is facing down (or up), it will be in its last known orientation, how it was before it was laid flat. Once laid on a table you can spin it around and orientation won't change.

The same goes when we place it over the keyboard. There is a likelihood the image will be sent the wrong way. It could be in portrait mode, meaning Suzanne or other callers will see something like this ...

PC monitor showing piano keyboard in portait, not the right way

Or perhaps it is in landscape mode, but upside down, in which case other callers will see something like this ...

PC monitor showing piano keyboard upside down, not the right way

We want to phone to behave in landscape mode, and send the image the correct way up. Get it right and it will appear something like this ...

PC monitor showing piano keyboard in landscape and the right way up, how it should be

Having the piano the correct way round obviously makes following your playing a lot easier.

While the principle is the same, the technique differs depending on whether you are usiung a light stand or a tripod.

Phone Orientation with Light Stands

If you are using a light stand (and why wouldn't you be?), when your initial image isn't the right way round, here's how to flip it.

mobile phone mounted over a piano keyboard
One
Turn rotation lock off and mount your phone over the keyboard.
mobile phone mounted over a piano keyboard and tilted away
Two
Loosen clamp and rotate the phone up so it faces away from you. Hold it there for a few seconds.
mobile phone mounted over a piano keyboard and tilted to face down over keys
Three
Rotate phone back down to face keyboard and tighten clamp.

Phone Orientation with Tripods

If you are using a camera tripod on top of your keyboard, or another type of stand that doesn't have a pole clamp you might not be able to rotate the phone away from you as shown above. In this case the same can be achieved by tilting the stand or tripod toward you.

tilt stand step 1 of 4
tilt stand step 2 of 4
tilt stand step 3 of 4
tilt stand step 4 of 4

Phone Orientation with Other Stands

If you cannot rotate the phone's clamp and your stand cannot be tipped forward, you can remove the phone from the stand, hold it as if it were mounted, then rotate it as you would with a light stand. Once the orientation is set, return the phone to the stand, being careful to keep the phone flat as you do so. If you are using a phone holder it is sometimes easier to remove the holder and keep the phone in it while you set the orientation.

Once you discover what works for your set-up it should be a quick and simple process.

nutshellIn a Nutshell
Once the phone is mounted properly over the keyboard, rotate it such that the camera faces away from you. Hold it there for a couple of seconds, then rotate it back.
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