To begin what are the goals of this project?
- Inexpensive (as much as I’d love to get a MrMoCo rig I just can’t)
- Wide range of movement
- Programmable; Move-shoot-move, Play-back and Real-time controls
- Self-contained Modular/lightweight/portable
I hesitate to put a number down because it’d be laughable and embarrassing, but suffice to say I have very little budget, so I’m looking for the best solution for the least cash.
When you look for cheap video gear on ebay you’re sure to find Proaim. Its not all bad, it works until it doesn’t. They offer some motorized tilt/pan heads, realtime only control, so I’d need a remote operator, or I’d still need to buy/make a ‘brain’ for it.
So, it may be great for long crane shots, but for this project its just too expensive…
Wide range of movement
How many axes of motion?
Ideally six; Dolly (back/forward left/right), Pan, Tilt, Jib/Crane, Jib/rotate
Yes. I want it all. I need to try and keep myself in scope for this project. My current Cambot has 7 axes of motion and may be just a bit too complicated for a programmable version; Dolly forward, incremental forward, incremental track to side, crane up, jib rotate, pan, tilt
There seem to be a few schools of thought surrounding this, there are the hobby-type time lapse/video; pan/tilt units, pan/tilt slider, and then there are the ‘pro’ solutions which can drive more channels but frequently connect to a computer; Ditogear evolution, MrMoco, etc. These can become monster rigs, and definitely not as portable, but can be capable of any possible moment.
For example MrMoCo’s Animoko;
C-MOCO is a german developed motion control system based on an industrial robotics arm.
It features a record and playback model for repeated motions along 7 axis, as well as embedding camera tracking data into R3D files for use in 3D and compositing applications. This is exactly what I want, but the fact that there is no price on their website tells me ‘if you have to ask, you can’t afford it.’
It seems like the biggest limitation for this is the ‘brain’; how many channels can I simultaneously control?
Looking at “brains” to control a MoCo rig, so far these have looked like the best options;
Basic Motion Controller Bundle $480
This is a kit for converting a slider into a MOCo unit. It only controls a single axis and is primarily intended for time-lapse. Like many, its max speed is controlled be swapping motors into place, using the gearing of the motor to speed it up or slow it down.
They also offer the SMART controller. $706
This offers the same single axis, but also allows for more control, live mode, ramping of speed, stop-motion, limit switches, etc.
Timelapse Camera Slider Motion Controller $225
This is the brain behind many time lapse rigs, it controls a single-axis for slider movements and also can be made to hook up to a telescope head for pan/tilt movements
Sadly there was an update done to the model of telescope head typically used, but the best ones are available from this site
elektraDRIVE BUNDLE PACKAGE with ORACLE Controller $1,314.95 $1k(controller only)
This can control two axis, so either a slider or a P/T head. It appears to be set up for very complicated programming, ramping motions, real-time/timelapse/stop motion, all that you’d expect.
Ditogear evolution $976.47
Ditogear really has an exciting product here. With up to 6-axis control, bezier controls for the ramping and motions, wifi enabled. It runs on android devices, with an IOS version expected in 2013.
Ditogear has also been collaborating a lot with this next one…
Dragonframe software $295
IOTA controller $750
It seems there may be no option for live playback since this is a software solution primarily for stop-motion, but through their IOTA (2-axis) controller or with an arduino (up to 8-axis) you can interface with stepper motors for motion control. The interface seems really slick, with bezier ramping and many axis of potential control. Additionally, and this part is very cool to me, they have created an interface allowing for the control of DMX lighting, so that while being able to control your camera’s move you can also have animated/programmed lighting. (I’ll be writing another post about lighting later)
eMotimo TB3 $750
Programmable for video and stop-mo, and self contained, supports Pan and Tilt plus outputs to control a third axis. It is also firmware updatable with open source architecture and a community.
Slick, transportable and self-contained, the CineMoco dolly/slider presents a good option for a single axis of motion. It is programmable for Video/timelapse/Stopmotion. However it is $425 for the Dolly, and does not appear to have a supported way to control/program additional axis of movement. I did a bit of research though, and it sounds like they plan to allow for daisy chaining, and the developer of it says it can support up to 32 axis
Ideally this is something that can be easily broken down and brought on set, or out to a location to shoot background plates.
The best in the ‘modularity’ category, and something I’d love to model off of is CamBlock For their brain they use a pocketPC running custom software.
But at $10k for three axis movement its out of my league.
This group of makers/hackers using the arduino have come up with some great open-source solutions, and appear very helpful, and many solutions have come from here, including the MX2;
I’m sure there are a lot of people online doing similar home-made rigs, but John is one who’s designs have stood out to me;His design for a pan/tilt head using stepper motors and pre-assembled gearing is pretty inspiring
Gini Slider $350
This slider looks very good, especially for the price; Modular and expandable. I could definitely see hooking up a motor and belt to it very easily;
In addition to having a wide selection of stepper motors, DC motors and real-time controlers, servo city also offers a couple pan/tilt heads. They look very well made and sturdy, but the price is a bit high for something which would still need a ‘brain’.
For realtime and playback they even have self-contained servo driver/controllers;
I’d hoped gathering these notes would provide me with a clear winner, but I’m still deep in the brainstorming phase. I’m tempted to start with the Gini slider to go with my current rig and piece together a modular arrangement, then work on finding a way to motorize it with Phigets and ServoCity motors, or one of the more expensive kits from ditogear or Kessler ($629).
But deep down I realize the brain should be the starting point. The best brain sounds like it’d be an arduino-based custom one, since the majority of the open source ones appear to be that way, and there looks like some good firmware starting points at Open Moco but not being an engineer or skilled programmer I’m hesitant to try and do that part my self. As far as prefabricated, the best ones seem to be the dito gear evolution with its nearly $1000 price tag, the more affordable Cine Moco, which would be great and self contained, but most useful if I can confirm that it’ll support more than one axis of motion, or the eMotimo with it’s three axes and integrated pan/tilt, but I’m a little discouraged by the the non-nodal pan and need to separate the camera from the current rig.
Continued here; https://bradisdrab.wordpress.com/2013/04/13/cambot_pt3/