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 Motorized Camera Dolly 

What do you think of this?
I definitely want one! 12%  12%  [ 3 ]
I would consider purchasing regardless of price. 0%  0%  [ 0 ]
I would consider purchasing but price is biggest concern. 64%  64%  [ 16 ]
I prefer building DIY equipment. 20%  20%  [ 5 ]
I would have no use for it. 4%  4%  [ 1 ]
Total votes : 25

 Motorized Camera Dolly 
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Joined: Mon Oct 18, 2010 8:19 pm
Posts: 1
Post Motorized Camera Dolly
I have been in the process of starting up a company which designs custom camera equipment and several months ago I was approached by a cinematographer who expressed interest in a time-lapse track and dolly system. Initially it was a one off device however there was some demand so I have been working on making a production version. I have been designing it ever since and I just completed a small video showing the design. I am looking for feedback on what I have done so far, so if you have any critiques or suggestions I would appreciate any input you may have.

My goal was to create a piece of equipment which was modular and not limited to a fixed track length. It is designed to be lightweight and portable for easy travel but also able to survive field use. The unit will be battery operated providing 8+ hours of continuous use and controlled with a microcontroller with a removable touchscreen interface. The program will allow for timelapse and smooth pan movements which use time, steps, distance, etc. as program variables. Initially only straight track is available, however the dolly is designed to work on a 2.5ft radius 90deg curve track section. It is designed to transition between straight and curved track sections for whatever track shape desired. It will have an accelerometer for track leveling and optical end sensors to automatically detect and end the program. It also has intervalometer and camera triggering circuitry built into the device. It will be completely self contained and USB updatable for future software versions.

Let me know if this is something you would consider purchasing and what you think it is worth. My main target audience are low budget filmmakers and production companies to complement DSLR cameras. Thanks for taking the time to look at what I have been working on!

Mon Oct 18, 2010 9:00 pm
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Joined: Tue Jul 08, 2008 12:36 pm
Posts: 1787
Location: Antarctica/California/New Zealand
Post Re: Motorized Camera Dolly
I really like that the cart is self-contained with no drive belt etc.
The only thing I can see it missing is the ability to go vertical. Perhaps an option for an extra set of wheels to clamp it to the track?
Looks pretty nice though.

Anthony Powell
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Mon Oct 18, 2010 9:17 pm
Post Re: Motorized Camera Dolly
Looks awesome! May I humbly suggest you explore openmoco as a control system. =) It'll save you a lot of programming development cost and potentially add to your customer base...

I'd have to agree with Antz on the cart though. Single axis gravity moves don't provide a lot of flexibility or creativity for the shooter.

Looking forward to seeing some real protos! :geek:

PS: 'modo' is a very well known 3d modeling and rendering software created by the original founders of LightWave... You might want to reconsider that trade name. ;)

Mon Oct 18, 2010 9:34 pm
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Joined: Sun Nov 07, 2010 1:24 am
Posts: 11
Location: Santa Barbara, CA, USA
Post Re: Motorized Camera Dolly
Ok, I reallllllllllly love this idea and the features you've listed so far. I love that the unit is self contained, for many reasons. I also love the idea of being able to do curved movements...and as for the shooting vertical thing, it looks like you could easily slap any head on there to suit those needs... im guessing that was already the idea.

So, I don't know if you have already thought of or are going to implement these ideas, but here are a few things that would entice me even further.

-an optional multi-axis motor controlled head that works in conjunction with the modo unit and it's built in controller

-the ability to quickly disengage the motor mechanism from the teeth on the rail so the user can easily use the system for hand powered dolly movements

-easily exchangable battery, so if we did indeed use up that 8 hours of battery, it would just come down to a quick swap to be up and running again.

-user friendly interface... easy to quickly navigate the menu system or however it will be to set up the shot and get it moving on the fly

- user definable and storable presets for different movement scenarios and

-advanced intervalometer options to control varying intervals between shots
- the ability to program the unit to do multiple movements in sequence, like for the unit to do one movement to the left, then immediately as that movement is finished, the unit then starts the second movement going back to the left to where it started
-some way of keeping the unit attached to the rail when doing steep incline movement

- the ability to mount on either tripods, or dedicated floor-level feet for low angle shooting. (with the floor-level feet, adjust anchor points to compensate for uneven unsmooth ground)

It looks like it's going to be amazing already but these are some things I'd also really love to see.

As for the price, it's hard to say without actually seeing the real deal and the overall quality of the finished product. I will say though, that keeping the price competitive would make a difference for me. I would most certainly be willing to budget for it if it turned out to be as nice as it looks like it very well could be. So yeah. Let's see this thing! I'm ready!


Sun Nov 07, 2010 1:50 am
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