4/30/2013

Wedding Photo Booth - Forget Rentals

Homemade Wedding Photo Booth

This is Part 2 of my process of building a homemade photo booth for my wedding.  In case you missed it here's Part 1 - DIY - Homemade Photo Booth - For Wedding, where i cut and assembled all the PVC pipe and made a custom Start button out of an arcade push button.

Now before i begin, maybe just paying for a photo booth rental isn't such a bad idea.  This homemade photo boot was a lot of work, much more then i thought it would be.  I imagined it would just be putting together some PVC pipe, plug a camera into a laptop and done.  That wasn't exactly the case.


Photo Booth Rentals

 But throughout the entire process, several people have said,  "why don't you just rent a photo booth?"  I'm glad that i didn't cave in on my decision to build one.  The total cost was around $100 for all the parts (including an old Canon Camera, see part 1).  And all of the deals that people suggested on Groupon were around $200 for just a couple of hours.  So if you are willing to put in all the hard work, it's worth it.

So here's about where i left off.  Since the last post i did add a couple more support pipes, under the monitor shelf.  It's still pretty wobbly but should be fine.
photo booth pvc pipe, homemade photo booth for wedding

After i got to this point i made this list of things i still had to finish:
  • Curtains
  • Mounting brackets for the camera and button
  • Shelf layout for the monitor, laptop and printer
  • AC power supply for the camera
  • Make Tyvek bags for parts
  • Create all of the PSRemote screens
  • Create the print-out template
 Here's the view of the homemade photo booth from the back.  You can see how the shelf is supported.  I just drilled 6 holes in the board and used zip-ties.
make an easy photo booth for wedding, reception, how to


One thing i was worried about was curtains.  If i had to buy or make them, it might have doubled my cost.  Luckily i saved a bunch of money by having enough old curtains.  I used dark brown curtains as the backdrop behind where the people would stand.  These curtains would be visible in all the pictures taken.  Then i had to mix and match a few different styles as the side curtains. 
final finished photo booth with curtains, how to, build, make

Instead of creating a plan with all the dimensions and notes, i realized that a color coded plan would be much easier.  As you can see, in just a few seconds, anyone who wants to put the homemade photo booth together can look at this plan and see where all the pieces fit.  On the left it has the number of pieces, color and their length.  Then at the bottom it shows the number of connectors needed.
photo booth plan, color coded, plans, size, dimensions, how to, build, make


To put everything together it took me less than 15 minutes.  I created this time lapse video showing how to do it.  For the actual wedding reception i will probably use a rubber mallet to pound the pipes and fittings together, but for the test fit i just hand tightened them. 

Homemade Photo Booth - How To Build


The 15 minutes was just fitting the PVC pieces of the photo booth together, that does not include setting up all the electronics.  Running the cords for the laptop, monitor, button, lights, camera and power supply took another 15 minutes.  Also when i put it together at the reception i will have already threaded the curtains on the pipes.


Here are the curtains, shelf, brackets and Tyvek bags.  You can see that all of the PVC parts fit nicely in the bags i made.  
parts for photo booth, how to make, wedding reception, party


Tyvek is great for making things like this, because it's cheap and strong.  Before i've used Tyvek to make an Tyvek airfoil kite and super light-weight Tyvek backpack. I used just clear packaging tape to make the bags and it's holding up great.  This way all the parts are nicely organized and easier to store.

This is the view of the electronics that will be visible to everyone in the photo booth.  On the bottom is the start button i made.  Go back to Part 1 to see how i just soldered an arcade button to the left click of an old mouse.  In the middle is my old 19" monitor.  And at the top is the Canon SX100IS camera i had to buy for $30.   Again, i said in Part 1, that only certain Canon cameras work with PSRemote.  They have to be able to be controlled remotely and most newer cameras won't work.  You can't really see that there is also a power supply for the camera, that way i don't have to worry about changing dead batteries. 

The monitor just sits on the wood shelf and is held down with zip-ties.  For the camera and button i had to bend some aluminum to create custom brackets.  They just bolt into the PVC pipe.  The camera bracket was the trickiest, because it had to be just above the monitor and pointed slightly at a downward angle to get everyone in the picture.  I'm sure at the day of the reception that it will need some fine tuning.
homemade photo booth, button, camera, screen, build


This is what it looks like from where the people will be standing, obviously without the curtains.  At the top right and left you can see the lights i will be using.  They are just shop light with an opaque sheet to defuse the light.  And at the bottom you see the laptop and power strip.  
photo booth for wedding, how to make

Here's a close up of how i labeled all the PVC pipes.  I just wrote the lengths on them, since i have the plan that shows where all the pipes go.  There are only a couple of "special" pipes that have holes in them for the button and camera brackets.
all the parts for a photo booth, dimensions, sizes


And this is another picture that shows all of the part, not the electronics.  You can see that it's quite a bit.
all the parts and plans you need to build a photo booth for wedding


Now having said all that and taking all of those pictures, there's nothing better then a video.  So here is a complete explanation of the photo booth in action.  In the video i show it assembled, with curtains and go through the entire process of taking the pictures and having the PSRemote program print them out.

Photo Booth - DIY Homemade Instructions


 At the point that i made the video i was pretty much done except for two things, the background image layout and making sure the printer worked with small photo paper. 


Another one of the most time consuming parts of the DIY homemade photo booth process was creating the template images for PSRemote.  The program comes with some default .jpg files but for the wedding i wanted to make some custom ones.  Obviously i used our wedding colors, Tiffany Blue and Silver.  So here are the template images i created for PSRemote. 
psremote, ready.jpg, setup, screen, make 
"ready.jpg"

This is the first image that the person sees when they enter the photo booth. Also PSRemote puts a live window above the text.  If you watched the video you can see what i'm talking about.  I put the red button on the screen, to let people know to push the real arcade button to start.
PSRemote background.jpg, create, how to, make, template 
"background.jpg"

This is the background of what will be printed.  In the settings i decided to go with the 1 large image at the top left and 3 smaller images along the bottom.  You can see the image layout below.  
photo booth, 1.jpg, wedding colors, how to draw 
"1.jpg"

After the start button is pressed, this screen appears and it counts down as many seconds as you input into the settings.  I had ours set for 7 seconds.  It shows "Picture 1" to let the people know what picture is being taken.
second picture in photo booth 
"2.jpg"

The second screen with the countdown timer. 




how to create psremote photo booth settings, 3.jpg 
"3.jpg"

Third picture screen. 
last picture in sequence, psremote, spark booth 
"4.jpg"

 Fourth picture.  Also i put "Last One" on there to remind everyone.
photo booth screen shot settings, how to, make 
"processing.jpg"

This images appears after all the pictures have been taken.  PSRemote puts a progress bar on the screen to show when it's all done and ready to print. 




picture taking, photo booth, how to, setup screen 
"taking.jpg"

This image appears for just a split second as the picture is being taken.  I decided to use 2 smiley faces rather then the text "smile".  That way people wouldn't be distracted and look at the camera.  Also i put the smiley faces high because the camera is above the monitor.
photo booth error screen, camera not connected
"camera_not_connected.jpg"

This appears if the camera gets unplugged.  I probably should have put some additional information to connect the cord or something.




 In order to get the images setup correctly i measured where on the screen, certain things appear.  You can see from the image on the left, that the first image i made had the text in the wrong spot.  That black bar is where the progress bar is located, so i had to move everything up, as you can see from the image "processing.jpg" above.  The image on the right shows my progress at creating the "ready.jpg".  In the settings of PSRemote i put the live preview image all the way to the top of the screen (large black area) and put the count-down text below it (small black area). 

psremote, processing.jpg, progress bar, error
"processing.jpg"

This was my first attempt, you can see that i had to move the text from behind the progress bar. 
trying to create the setup screen images for psremote, spark booth, photo boof 
"ready.jpg"

Here's half way through creating the "ready.jpg" image.  Once i got the black boxes positioned it was just a process of getting the text to fit around them.
testing the photo booth settings, video, live, how to
"ready.jpg"
 

This is what it looks like while the program is running.  At first i left the live preview box where it was in the default.  But then i changed it to be larger and all the way at the top.



If you are trying to use the program, you'll know that the files must be named exactly like this in order for them to show up properly.  For complete details, just go to the PSRemote website.  They actually have pretty good support for setting up the program.  They need it though, since it's so difficult to get right.

Another thing i discovered that it's important to get the images exactly the correct size.  For example, the monitor i was using was 1280x1024 and that's why these images are all that size.  If it's off by just 1 pixel, eg 1279x1024, then it will put a message on the screen saying the images is not the correct size.  It's a little blurry, but here's what that warning looks like.  As you can see i was off by 1 pixel for the width and 3 for the height.
psremote, error, stop, warning, image size, dimension


psremote settings, photobooth settings, profile, load, save 
Here's the final settings i used, i saved them as my profile.  I changed the text to just say the actual number as a count down.  I figured the less text the better.
page print out layout, settings, dimensions, 4 picture format

And this is the settings for the actual print out.  Here's where you decide on the size and location of the images it prints. 

For the actual size of the paper that will be printed, i decided to use 1/2 of an 8.5x11 sheet.  That way i could just buy standard photo printer paper and cut it in half.  It would be a cheap and easy way to get the right size.  Here's what the printer settings looked like, highlighted in blue is the paper size. 
page size, paper dimensions, photo booth, printer setup, psremote, photo boof, spark booth

 This is the final result.  It shows the order and orientation of each photo.  The sizes and location of the squares are determined by the picture above.  For example the red square (image 1) is 100 pixels from the top and 100 pixels from the left with a height of 1700.  You only have to put one of the dimensions, height or width.  
page setup, print, printer, layout, format, photo booth, photobooth

This whole process of resizing the images so that it looks right took about an hour and resulted in 5 or 6 pages of bad test pages printed off.  But finally i got everything to look the way i wanted.

And that was about it.  Once i got all of this done i created that second video above.  I hope everything goes well for the wedding.  It's one thing for me to test it out a couple of times in the living room, but it's another thing entirely to have 200 people in there for 8 hours.  I think i should have a test run to see what might go wrong.  I mainly concerned about the printer jamming, but it could be anything.

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EDIT:   UPDATE

The photo booth ended up being a great success at the wedding.  It didn't break down physically or software wise.  Tons of people used it and everyone said it was a great idea.  This is an example of the final print out that people received.
photo booth template wedding print out photobooth psremote

Like i said earlier, it printed on half of an 8.5x11 (standard) sheet of paper.  I didn't use photo paper, it was too thick for the printer.  I ended up using a semi glossy version of standard printer paper.  The laser printer i used had no problems printing on it and it was a lot cheaper than the heavier printer paper.

Lots of people have asked questions on what printer i used.  And i have to say that a Laser printer is a must.  Those cheap HP 5002's or whatever would probably not be able to handle the heavy amount of printing necessary.  The laser printer i used was an old one from work that they didn't need and didn't want to buy the expensive $30 toner cartridge.  But the printer was constantly going all throughout the night without a hitch, where as a cheaper printer might have frozen up.

3 comments:

Lea Medders said...

So my fiancé and I are going to build a photo booth for our wedding as well. Did you have any issues with it at the wedding? My main concern with issues is the printer as well, just wondering if anything else came up.

Lea Medders said...

Did you have any issues come up with the photo booth at the wedding?

Dave Wirth said...

No everything worked great.

At first it had the little glitch in the program where it was losing connection to the camera part way through taking the 4 pictures, but luckily that went away and it started working fine.

I did have someone keeping an eye on the printer and booth during the wedding. Once or maybe twice he had to restart it and change the paper.

One thing that i think was important was that i was using a really good, high capacity, LASER printer. Not a cheap ink jet.

By the end of the night, after about 400 pictures and 100 print outs, it did start screwing up and not printing. I doubt that an HP inkjet would have lasted that long.

Also i did end up finishing the template with our names and got it to print out in the 4 areas we wanted. I never showed the finished product here or on the youtube video i made.