I saw jchorng's instructable before I started, and it was very inspiring. The booth looks awesome, but unfortunately for me (and probably many of you), a full size booth is just too impractical.
I had a few goals with this project.
-Durability - the booth is going to be used a lot, so it has to stand up to repeated use. No PVC pipe here.
-Professionalism - this booth doesn't have to look as great as the professionally-built booths out there, but it has to look presentable enough to fit in a classy wedding. Nothing fancy.
-Portable/Small - the booth has to be transported easily (in a sedan), and be setup & torn-down very quickly by one person. Again, no PVC, no heavy wood or metal frames, no assembly-needed.
-Self-contained - I did not want to have to connect a ton of equipment together for each event. Ideally there's a minimum of cables leaving the box, and the rest is all setup and ready inside.
-High Quality - This was used in a professional setting, so I needed high quality input & output. So that means no webcams. Also, I used a few printers (see the next step for discussion).
So our mission: build a smaller, table-top sized mini-photobooth. And here are the results:
Step 1: Materials, Tools, Equipment
- 4x8 sheet of MDF or plywood.
- Primer and paint.
- Wood filler (optional).
- Wood screws.
- Hinges for the back door.
For tools, you'll probably need:
- A saw (table saw :) or circular saw :( ).
- Optional hand-saw or jig-saw for the camera opening.
For the electronics, you'll need:
- Webcam or digital camera**.
- 19" LCD screen.
- USB Button***.
- DIY photobooth software
DISCLAIMER: I made the SeeMonkey Photobooth software for this booth, and I now sell it. There are alternatives out there (David Cline's software for Mac OS X users, or Photoboof). And if you're hardcore, you can write your own.
* Printers - I originally started using a Canon ip4500 inkjet printer. That worked well, but it's slow (0:45), the prints fade after time if left in the sun, and you have to cut the prints. But quality was decent, and it's very cheap (using non OEM inks/papers). I then used a Canon Selphy CP780 dye-sublimation printer. Dye-sub is so much better for prints (more durable, fade resistant, water resistant). The printer is slow (1:10), a little more pricey ($0.28 per print), only holds 18 sheets at a time (!), and has little tabs to tear off the top and bottom of each print, before you cut them in half. But for a cheap workhorse, this worked well. My last printer is a monster, a Sony UP-CR10L. It's fast (0:19), holds 200+ prints at a time, has great output, and is reliable. It's also $1000 (O_o). I'd recommend the sony expensive dye-sub, then the little selphy dye-sub, then just about any inkjet, in that order. Pick your budget, buy accordingly.
** Only certain digital cameras can be controlled via USB. You probably wont have one that works, you'll need to find one. You can either 1) buy a compatible DSLR $$$, or 2) find one of the compatible old powershots on craigslist/ebay (cheap, but you *must* find the right model camera).
*** We use a Griffin Powermate. They were discontinued for a while, but miraculously they've started selling again. I've no idea if they're here to stay, so buy a couple while you can. We've also used USB Panic Button, but those seem discontinued too. Our next booth will use a custom-made USB button, stay tuned to future updates...