DEFINITION July 2022 - Newsletter


From Terminator’s T-1000 to the sentinels of The Matrix, machines often play arch-enemy in front of the camera. But behind it, they’re more helpful than Optimus Prime

WORDS. Phil Rhodes IMAGES. Various

A s electronics have exploded in potential, camera support gear that might once have been simply mechanical has moved into the realm of active robotics. Putting a camera in the right place is increasingly a collaboration between smart grips and smart machines. Perhaps the best example is Steadicam, which began life as a purely mechanical device and largely remained so, other than occasionally having gyroscopes strapped on (they’re not, contrary to popular misconception, part of the basic concept). Ever since microscopic gyros became possible, though, Steadicam-style designs have enjoyed everything from auto horizon levelling to the Arri Trinity model, combining gimbal and Steadicam stabilisation for a go-anywhere solution. The latest innovation from the brand is Volt, a servo-actuated gimbal that automates several of the trickier parts of operation. With

a Steadicam’s sled bottom-heavy, traditional designs would hold a level horizon until walked around a corner. At this point, the operator becomes responsible for correcting the tendency for the bottom end to swing out and disturb the horizon. Volt deals with this automatically, as well as allowing for maintenance of any desired pitch angle. Doing that without a Trinity-style gimbal clamped to the top end is a new and useful idea. Moving a camera smoothly through a scene is one thing; performing multiple takes with perfect repeatability is quite another. For a shot that needs to move a significant distance, a conventional robot arm just won’t do. A system such as Technodolly, offered in the UK by Sandstorm Films, does exactly that, and in a format that can reportedly deploy from a van in a couple of hours. Sandstorm’s set-up is a dolly- and-crane combination, capable of placing cameras up to 35kg


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