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Old August 10th, 2004, 08:42 AM   #1
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DIY Steadycam: Mechanics vs. Electronics?

I've been looking at some interesting 2-wheel robot designs, where they solve the balancing problem electronically. Facinating stuff... I wish my electronics knowledge & skills extended beyond following simple plans & soldering a few components together. As I understand, using a couple of electronic gyros and accelerometers, and control circuits to drive servo motors, it would be possible to stabilize the camera support platform. The gyros, servos, and some other components are readily available from RC shops.

Has this been tried already? I mean, does anyone know why it won't work? :D
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Old August 10th, 2004, 03:39 PM   #2
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The difference between making a machine that won't fall over and making a visually stable camera platform is technically a world of difference.

I do believe price is why stabilized camera platforms for use in aircraft are still gyro stabilized.
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Old October 20th, 2004, 03:42 PM   #3
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here is something you may be interested in...IMAX Stabilizer!

http://www.peaceriverstudios.com/14_gyro/gpmain.html
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Old October 20th, 2004, 04:19 PM   #4
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I've worked with many kinds of camera stabilizers, including both gyro and motion sensing systems. Various folks have been hard at work for years trying to adapt this technology to body-mounted stabilizers with limited success; gyros are heavy, and motion-sensing servo systems are just becoming practical for the type of demands inherent in body-mounting (LOTS of number-crunching). The first actually working system is about to go into production; it is a third-axis (roll) control system that allows a Steadicam operator to rotate the post laterally so they can go from high to low mode continously in the shot, as well as keeping the horizon level all the time. It has taken years and millions in R&D, is still in beta phase and costs $25,000 (this being just the third axis stabilizer, which still needs to be mounted on a conventional Steadicam-type system).

The big issues regarding active stabilizers used with Steadicam versus vehicle mounted camera platforms is that weight is a major issue; components are measured in ounces, not pounds. Meanwhile, strength, reliability and power concerns remain priorities. It's a tough compromise.
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Old October 20th, 2004, 06:57 PM   #5
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Can't afford 3-ring laser gyros, eh?
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Old October 20th, 2004, 08:58 PM   #6
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Only if they are mounted on the backs of sharks.
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Old October 21st, 2004, 10:43 AM   #7
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<<<-- Originally posted by Charles Papert : Only if they are mounted on the backs of sharks. -->>>

Sounds like I have a project for the weekend.
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Old October 24th, 2004, 02:51 AM   #8
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Gyros and Stabilizers

I just had the opportunity to shoot with, fly, and work as an engineer on the Skycam system. I was working for ESPN Sunday Night Football as part of the Skycam team. Amazing experience.

This rig moves at 30 mph in an x-y-z field of movement. I know where the camere is within 1/100th of an inch at any time. The whole system is HD.

As far as the stabilizers go, they are active servo motors and belt drives on the x-y axis's. The Crossbow accelerometer/ gyro units are about $25,000 each. It takes 6 pentium 4 computers, all talking via Highspeed fiberoptics, to control this system. Also 2 operators, 1 for camera pan and tilt, 1 to position the platform. Also an engineer on the field and 5-6 additional crew on game day.

Each system runs around $500,000.

This system was patented by Garrett brown some 17 years ago. I had the privilage of hearing him speak to a small group of 15 of us on his techniques and ideas on shooting action scenes and live sports. What angles work best, camera moves, etc.

Great experience.

Bottom line.... this stuff ain't cheap.... but it looks great on film.

David
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Old October 24th, 2004, 06:42 PM   #9
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Good for you, David! I spent a couple of weeks operating Skycam for the '96 Olympics; it was certainly more buggy than it is now but still a lot of fun. It's funny, I had Skycam in mind during the development of this thread but had forgotten too much of the technology involved to speak on it accurately; thanks for filling that in! Glad you got to spend time with Garrett, he's the man, huh?
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Old October 24th, 2004, 07:32 PM   #10
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Garrett

Yes... he is.... an amazing visionary, inventor, and a pretty decent guy.

BTW, I'll be in LA for the next 3 weeks working as a Special Effects Coordinator and Second Unit Director on a film. I have 2 products that are in the prototype stage that I would like your opinion on and if you wouldn't mind, maybe you would like to beta test them if you have time.

If you drop me an e-mail with a contact number, I'll call you when I get into town. I'll have some time this week because we are in pre-production.

Regards,

David Mesloh
408-202-2214
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