If you’ve ever watched one of those high production value YouTube videos and wondered how they’re able to get those smooth shots where the camera seems to be spinning around an object, you were probably looking at the product of an motorized camera motion system. There’s no question these rigs can produce visually striking shots, but their high cost usually keeps them out of the hands of us lowly hackers.
Unless of course you do like [Andy], and build your own. The latest version of this impressive rig features the ability to continuously rotate thanks to commercial 12-wire slip rings, with optical endstops so the machine can still be homed at the beginning of a move. An onboard Raspberry Pi and Arduino Uno are responsible for controlling the stepper motors, the configuration of which ends up being reminiscent of a standard 3D printer.
The software [Andy] has come up with lets him synchronize the camera rig with a small rotating platform he built, which allows for even more complex shots as demonstrated in the video below. It also supports a very slick MQTT-enabled remote controller that he built as a previous project, which makes taking direct control over the camera and monitoring its status much easier.
The rig consists of a series of 3D printed axes all joined together into a 6-axis motion rig. Additionally, actuators attached to the lens of the camera allow zoom and focus to be be controlled programmatically too. An Arduino runs the show, interpreting G-code and running the various axes, with a Raspberry Pi acting as a gateway to allow the rig to be commanded from PCs or smartphones.
Currently, control is largely manual, by entering G-code commands to move the rig in various ways. The rig can also have its motors temporarily disengaged by a button, allowing the camera to be aimed by hand, before holding the position. In this way, it acts as a highly versatile tripod. Future plans involve more automation if suitable open-source software can be found.
[Howard] started this project about a year ago by carrying out some targeted experiments. These would not only assess the suitability of components he gathered together from all directions, but also his own capacity in picking up enough knowledge on mechatronics to make the whole thing work. After making himself accustomed to stepper motors, Teensies and Arduinos, he converted an old moving-head disco light into a pan and tilt mount for the camera. A linear axis was added, and with more degrees of freedom, more sophisticated means of control became necessary.
For a workshop at the ECAL University of Art and Design in Switzerland, students were asked to come up with new unorthodox ways to capture video using a GoPro camera. The results are pretty awesome.
Lead by the Dutch designer [Roel Wouters], students in the Media & Interaction Design program worked together with Industrial Design students to create these fascinating camera rigs. From “the eye”, a water based stabilizing ball, to a silly bobble hat can be spun around the user, the results are super fun and unique to watch. The workshop was one week long and produced five different camera rigs as featured in the following video.