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 Why is this lame? 
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Joined: Wed Nov 11, 2009 10:45 am
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Location: Merritt Island, Florida, Estates Unitas
Post Why is this lame?
OK, this is not about a problem encountered while shooting on location, but it is a serious problem.

Given all the people asking for advice about building their own motion control rigs, and all the questions about "whats the difference between DC and stepper motors" or "how do I control my rigs motors"?

It seemed like a small, inexpensive version of Dragonframe's Arduino interface would be a useful tool. We thought that simplifying the wiring with a couple of plugs instead of a mad scientist ratsnest of wires was a good idea. Options that included pre-wired drivers and motors also seemed like a really useful kit. Its basically all the electronics done for you, so you can concentrate on the mechanical part of your build. If someone came along selling these things when I was starting out, i would have bought one. Am I the only person in the world who would want this?

And what about the eMotimo crowd? I looked through their forum and I see a lot of interest in focus and zoom control. Three motors is easy for eMotimo, so dolly, pan and tilt are usually what you'd control. To add focus, you need the focus motor and you need another controller to run it. Bundles which included focus and zoom motors, drivers, and the controller seemed like the perfect deal. Obviously what everyone wanted to buy if only someone would offer it for sale.

So what happened? How did we misunderstand the market so completely? What is wrong with this Kickstarter project, and what do you think we should make instead?

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/20 ... o?ref=live

I've been trying to sell focus/zoom motors for years, with limited success. Now that I'm trying to sell a controller, no one wants to buy it, but I get a bunch of emails from people interested in focus motors. No sales, just a bunch of questions from people who want us to adapt them to work with other controllers, or ramp aperture, or run nonlinear motion profiles under Dragonframe while being triggered from Promote bulb ramper. All one-off stuff they want at mass production prices.

So, what did we do wrong? Why does nobody want this? Is there something else we should be making instead? Should we send all this stuff to the metal recycling and tell the bank to please reposess our tools?


Mon Mar 24, 2014 5:37 am
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Post Re: Why is this lame?
One thing I learned about kickstand et is it is a lot of work. First you need to have a excellent presentation with everything on it. You have to amp people up, get them excited about it. You need not only shots of it, but be able to demonstrate solid results. They want to see what they can do to it and how easy it is to setup.
they want music, voiceovers, cutaways... you really gotta sell it and make them understand why they want to have it.
When we launched the lens apparatus I had to fight tooth and nail to get every last bit of publicity. I hit up dslrshooter, fstoppets, dslrcinematography, as many sites as i could. Most of them wouldnt even give me time of the day and wanted to be paid to broadcast the news. It is all about koney with them
Fstoppers was on that was happy to help without charging, same with planet5D.

Designing and inventing the product is only a small part. The video is EVERYTHING. You can always approach a filmmaker and budget in a payment into the minimum funding with the knowledge that they get paid if you succeed. That might get some amateurs interested to help, but sometimes amateur are pretty damn good.

There is nothing wrong with your idea and product, I'm interested in it myself for my biolapse project, and right now I'm600 miles from home on vacation, II'm actually on the way to antelope canyon right now :-) :-)

So while your product looks good, your marketing is not. You need to make it more exciting, show lots of solid results, get testamonials, etc. I would be happy to lend any assistance that I can to help, but if I were you I wouldlet this run so people know about it, and start working on a marketing reboot.

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Mon Mar 24, 2014 6:46 am
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Post Re: Why is this lame?
There is obviously a ton of thought put into your devices. To start I will say that for myself, there is no way you'll catch me lugging a laptop to a spot to setup a shot. I tried with GBTimelapse for bulb ramping, but eventually it came down to wasting battery and the fact that when my computer randomly rebooted, my entire shot was blown. Dragonframe is awesome for studio use, but the vast majority of us want plug and play products for in the field. An easy to navigate interface is always key. The one huge problem I always had with the mX2 was that it was way to much menu jumping to setup even a simple move.

As far as kickstarter goes, I have never done one. But I have followed a lot of the successful ones and what I have taken from those who are successful is that simplicity is a huge seller. The same way that I think a simple easy to navigate controller is key. The kickstarter itself should be clean and to the point. To many details can be a bad thing and scare someone away. What you can do is split up some of those details into easy to understand graphics or demo videos. The most important part of kickstarter is the video. When I see a new Timelapse system on kickstarter, I first watch the video, then I scroll to find out more about the controllers and its functions, capabilities, and most importantly (to me) what kind of motor they are using. Upon watching your kickstarter video, it is extremely clunky and has a horrendous intro graphic. If your selling a product for video/timelapse, we are going to look at your video as a representation of the amount of thought and time you put into your product. Instead, we think this was just rushed and you really wanted to make a quick buck on a seemingly growing market.

I know that is not the case for you, because you are one of the few people who still use this forum often and you area always on here to help people who have questions about MOCO. You may want to consider hiring someone to help create a friendlier video and possibly someone to take over the marketing side of things and redirect your target audience to a studio specific crowd such as stop motion or biolapse stuff.

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Mon Mar 24, 2014 8:22 am
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Post Re: Why is this lame?
I often wonder about kickstarter stuff a lot of it seems to take ages to get off the ground . Its ok making on or two things but mass production is a completely different thing . To make it cost effective you have to shift a lot of product which in turn requires quite a bit of investment . I think some people naively think they can do it all them selfs . Well you could if you were say making one a month while doing your normal job . But when that order comes in for 1500 units your stuck unless your already at the injection molding stage. Not even 3D printing can help it takes ages. Ok for prototyping but that's it . You will also need a huge amount of cheap labour to assemble it all. Just soldering sockets and plugs can take a life and it as to be perfect .
I make a bit of money out of my rigs but its for a very small target audience. I view myself as a tailor of fine suits and i build stuff to peoples needs. Perhaps you should consider this you obviously have years of knowledge . Is their anything natural history related you can tap into especially with your turtle history .
As for your Mini Df i was really impressed until i realized you had to attach drivers to your little box . If the drivers were in the little box i think you might be onto a winner.
But like i always say what do i know seldom leave my shed :D


Mon Mar 24, 2014 12:18 pm
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Post Re: Why is this lame?
My view ...... The market has and still is shifting. It was always a small market and the number of solutions out there have increased massively. That's the main problem. It's not the product .... it's to do with the complex market. There is really wide range of needs in the target audience and a really wide range of solutions on offer. Your concept of making it easy to pull together a multi axis system is a good one. I agree with what has been said though re the need to focus on the video sell. The simpler the sell and the more crisp the message/examples re what it delivers the better. Hope this helps.

John

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Mon Mar 24, 2014 1:25 pm
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Post Re: Why is this lame?
This is not a comment about your product in particular or in general, rather it is about Kickstarter projects in general.

My experience so far with Kickstarter has not been stellar. The first product, Timelapse+ shipped several months after its initial promise. It does work as advertised and the developer has been making efforts since to improve its capabilities.

My other experience is with Astro, a timelapse panning controller. 2 years after it was supposed to ship it seems to be perhaps ready to ship. I bought 2 as advertised and could have used them on my trip to New Zealand, my coast to coast trip of the US, my trip to Greece, the list goes on. I must say that it was oversold and not yet delivered and I missed many opportunities. I do understand the issues that the developers have had in producing their product and while I sympathise with them they perhaps should have shut down their project, issued refunds and after working out the bugs, relaunched. And all the time they have sat on my and many others people's money. And they suck at communications.

Kickstarter, while a great concept, has left me disappointed and I doubt that I will be too hasty to jump into another project too soon.

I would suggest that you ensure that your product is in a ready to ship next week status, that the promotional material is stellar, that you get good endorsements and that you steel yourself in case the market decides that your product is not wanted.

Best of luck otherwise.


Mon Mar 24, 2014 3:27 pm
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Post Re: Why is this lame?
Niche market, with little money in it.
How many people get paid to do this?
Probably not a lot compared to, well anything...

Plus, I think the more gear you need to accomplish something the less likely it is someone will do it.
I built my own focus motor last year? Tested it to work with DF. I've never used it yet.

If there was basically an eMotimo with everything built in (5 axis) then maybe I would.

You have lots of really good posts and ideas and stuff, sorry it didn't work :(


Tue Mar 25, 2014 9:37 am
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Joined: Wed Nov 11, 2009 10:45 am
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Location: Merritt Island, Florida, Estates Unitas
Post Re: Why is this lame?
Thanks for your valuable feedback. Obviously we dropped the ball on the marketing video. I never realized how atypical my perception of Kickstarter projects was. I actually thought some of the super-polished videos were kind of cheezy, especially for stuff being made by a couple of guys trying to start a business in their garage. Everything Roger said about Kickstarter projects is true, and it hurts everyone trying to use the site. Throughout the process we had this running joke that the successful Kickstarter project is an empty box with a snappy commercial for it and a list of promises about what the box would do if only we got a lot of money to finance the design and build whatever goes inside the box. Then delays get added to the delivery date until the work gets done. Basically "put all your time into the commercial and worry about the product if it sells". Too much polish made me suspicious. We put all of our time into making the product and testing it to make sure it actually worked as advertised. Then we put together a quick video explaining what it does. Boy did I ever get that one wrong! Thanks for the honest advice.

I was laughing at this commercial for Konova radial slider.



Its a pretty cool trolley. The video does not say one word about the product or anything else. Questions about trivial details such as "is the motor included?" or "do the marks by the turning wheel indicate the radius of the circle it will make, or just arbitrary marking showing how many degrees the wheel is from straight?" go unanswered. By the end of the video, I strangely found that I wanted one. Maybe I should stop laughing and get cheezy myself.

Chris and D1 make some very relevant comments about manufacturing which we probably should have covered in more detail. To us, its just a matter of responsibility to have these contingencies covered before offering stuff for sale. Its easy where I live, and with the friends I know. I live by Cape Canaveral. A third of the people still living here are underemployed former machinists and NASA ground support staff. I have friends who hire temp help for soldering and assembly all the time. At times I was one of those hired, or who just came in and helped out. There is an oversupply of skilled help available here. When we said we'd love to hire more people if we needed to produce more product, we weren't talking about putting an ad in the paper or recruiting the kid that mows the lawn. From the comments, i can see how someone would get that impression. Similar comments should be made about parts production. If we need more parts than can be 3-D printed, we can CNC mill them or cut injection molds depending on how many we need. In either case, the quality of the parts increases as the required number increases. We never made an attempt to set ourselves apart from the crowd in this respect, and we definitely should.

Scotchtape, The all in one MOCO you mentioned has been the subject of many, many drawings over the past year. The project even has a name, "the full montie". It is designed to fit into a Pelican 1510 case which fits under an airline seat or in the overhead bin. The plan is for it to pan, tilt, roll, dolly, focus and zoom. If miniDF is not a viable product, the montie definitely is not. It has to cost a lot more than an eMotimo, even if the stage one dolly it rides on is not included in the price (obviously). It has to be made for an SL1 or other small camera or it won't fit in the case. So its not for the high end customers and too expensive for beginners. More like a one-off i make for myself before our machines get repossessed.

Thank you all for taking the time to share your advice with us. I hope we can improve our chances by incorporating as much of it as possible into this project or whatever comes next.


Wed Mar 26, 2014 6:57 am
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Post Re: Why is this lame?
sciencelooker - that last video is unwatchable, I had to stop before I hit the 1 minute mark. Not good marketing IMHO

timt

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Wed Mar 26, 2014 9:26 am
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Post Re: Why is this lame?
The two guys in the garage tying to make something might seem cheesy, but if it is accurate, the it is accurate. Kyle and i are still very much 2 guys in garages making things, nothing cheesy about it, it is a very honest and direct approach. We could have portrayed it otherwise, but then we would have been lying. We both have full time day jobs. I work in VoIP engineering during the day. The Chronos Project is still very much a side gig for me, i doubt i will ever go full time because i have a very good job that pays very well with a full bennefits package plus 401k, and i have financial responsibilities where i couldnt move to chronos full time unless we increased our output at least 10 fold. On the other hand, output is increasing all the time. we have had orders in the pipe non stop for over a year now. it takes most of my free time, but i love doing it. I would see us hiring somebody before either of us put in our two weeks.

We have something we have been working on for a while now, the Lens Apparatus was just a small project to see how kickstarter worked so if we went the kickstarter route with the other project we wouldnt be shellshocked by the process. From day 1 i expected we would fund for about 30k +/-, sure enough 45 days after we launched the campaign we funded for 29,500 because one of the backers dropped out. We put a low funding minimum on there because i wanted to see how i worked from cradle to grave, i didn't want to miss that opportunity because i ended up being 5k short of funing a 20k gal.. The time to learn that stuff is not when you have 600,000 of other peoples money in your pocket. it was a learning experience, first and foremost is how much you have to fight for every last penny. You can NOT just throw it up there and kick back and wait for the money to roll in, you have to be broadcasting you message 24/7 and seek every single method of advertising possible. All 45 days were work, but i learned a TON, we got about 70 of our systems in the hands of film makers, and we shipped every single pledge reward on time with zero delays. not a lot of people can claim that.

the beauty of something like kickstarter is it allows you to get the funds so you don't have to beseech a single large financial backer who will always want a percentage of your business, and a say in how you run it. Take sharktank for example. they might give you money, but they now own part of your company and they ARE your boss. Kickstarter allows you to bypass that, seeking directly to the consumers. with 3d printing, you can bypass the super expensive injection molding process for the prototypes, it makes the ability to get your product out (and to retain all control of it) in a way that was not possible 10 years ago.

I have to agree with roger on some areas. That sucks about timelapse++, i was skeptical from day 1 about some capabilities because it claimed that it could ramp nikon cameras, which we all know is not an easy task. And without some sort of bulb supervision, your accuracy may be hit and miss. I hoped Astro would have worked out better. I dont know how they managed to get in that position, 2 years later and nothing (or very little) shipped?... dang..

But no, i don't think you need to have everything packaged and ready to ship next week. Kickstarter is not really a good way to build pre-sales, everyone expects a hefty discount for pledging, (at least 20-30% off retail). plus 10% right off the top goes to Kickstarter and Amazon. It is however, a way to get the funding to get the expensive shit done like injection molding ffor the two guys in the garage.

Of course you dont have to go that guys/garage thing, but what you really need to do is show proven results. Show the focus pulls, show the zooms, so tracking, show how the system is setup, show what a full build rig looks like. If people dont understand how it goes together they are going to be hesitant to use it. I had 3 other photographers with pre-production lens apparatuses using it in the real world for about 2 months before we launched out kickstarter campaign, so we would know it worked as expected on a myriad of equipment, they also provided us with quite a few of the focus pulls to use in the video.
I look at a lot of projects and just want to get down to brass tax, show me the results, ill show you some money, i want to see the meat and potatoes, and having that garnished in a high quality presentation will only increase my cconfidance.

but no, you cannot simply say here is a box, i promise it will do this and that, and have a successful kickstarter. At least, i have yet to see a successful kickstarter that worked out that way.

the proof is on the bottle right? :)

My recommendation, find some guys who work with DF, see iff they would be interested in test driving it, get some reviews, some testimonials, but most importantly, get some solid footage demonstrating real world results. Dont just show the focus and zoom rings move, show an actual focus pull itself.

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Wed Mar 26, 2014 1:07 pm
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