A while ago I put together some plans for a motion control system for time-lapse camera movement. I designed it to mainly use off the shelf components, with the exception of a number of laser cut acrylic plates. It worked reasonably well, and has become popular with other Time-lapse makers who have used the plans to make their own. Here are some pictures of my first pan/tilt head shown with a 400D.
Since I posted the plans a couple of people have taken them and made their own versions, some use aluminium to allow the rig to hold heavier cameras, here are some pictures of their rigs:
If you would like to read more about these projects follow these links:
In the last few months I have been developing a second version of the motion control head. Here are some key differences and features of the new head.
- It is considerably more rigid than the last incarnation, being designed to hold larger cine style cameras such as the RED.
- Also, it has a much finer angular resolution, allowing smoother acceleration and slower pans.
- Through-axis cable routing now allows multiple rotations per axis without tangling control cables.
- Additional quick releases allow the head to be rapidly reconfigured and disassembled.
- The use of the arca-swiss angle plate allows fast repositioning of the camera to achieve perfect balance or to line up the nodal point of the lens with the axis centres. Additionally other arca-swiss plates and accessories can be used with the head to achieve unique effects.
- Rather than using a worm gearing system I am now using a planetary gear and belt drive arrangement. This allows the drives to be positioned within the axes saving space. Backlash is managed through an adjustable belt tensioning system, and through backlash compensation within the control unit. The new unit also makes use of the ubiquitous gt2 gear type, which is heavily used in the 3d printing world and can therefore be acquired very cheaply.
- While the previous version was completed almost entirely using hand tools and a laser cutter, the new version makes more use of milling and turning machines. Although this makes it more difficult for DIY makers to reproduce I took care to ensure that all the components can be made with fairly basic manual machines. Perhaps if there is interest I could get quotes to have some of the custom parts machined and make kits, there are only 6 different custom components required to get a bare bones system working. I used only manual machines to make the prototype, machining all of the custom parts myself.
- Finally I have designed the unit to allow the posibility of switching the stepper motors over to DC servo drives. At the moment I am researching different control options, but with servo drives (not hobby servos!) quieter and faster operation of the head should be achievable.
Here are some renders showing the inner workings of the unit, along with a picture of the prototype before anodising. I am currently working on the electronic portion of the project and should be able to test the head out fairly soon. Any questions, just comment!
The above model is interactive, click and drag to orbit around the pan tilt head.
Here is a first quick test of a multipass real time shot, the two different takes are overlapped and the difference is overlaid in white. This shows any slight differences between the two captured videos. As you can see, the shot to shot repeatability is very good, there are some small differences but I believe these are due to a lack of frame syncing and also the poor tripod I currently have. Either way the unit is easily accurate enough for all compositing and motion matching needs.