Its development and use

Posts tagged “timelapse

New time and motion movies

Here are some shorts done with this setup (none have any glitches, but they might show the occasional jerk with internet download or a slower graphics card).

The latest Hurley Dolly is great – it’s easy, rugged, and reliable, and folds away into a backpack for getting where we want to go.

LILLIES

GARDEN – RISING SHOT

PINE SHRUB

MACRO FLOWER

MACRO FLOWER DEFLICKERED

Compare this with the previous video.  Using GBDeflicker, the video has been made smoother.  Good program.

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FINALLY … HURLEY DOLLY 9.1

So after all this effort I finally built the present one which seems to just work: Hurley Dolly 9.1.

By this time I have done a lot of design and building, tested and scrapped a lot of ideas, and done a lot of web research.  I knew about the guys at Dynamic Perception, with their OpenMoco based dolly system (www.dynamicperception.com) and (www.openmoco.org).

Pete bought a Dynamic Perception setup, and I bought their Arduino shield to build one myself.  It works really well, and is very clever.  The quality of their board and the detail in their engineering is superb. If you want really good stuff, go to them.  Best I’ve seen without costing very large dollars.

However, a couple of things didn’t quite suit us with the Dynamic Perception gear. The track is only 6ft, and is made of specialised aluminium section which you can’t get in Australia (or if you can it’s probably very expensive). This track isn’t long enough for distant shots, though they are selling a 6ft extension now.   However, I’m looking for something which is adaptable so we can use onsite meaterial if necessary (like a ladder).  And, oddly enough, it’s too clever.  The problem is the wide range of settings in their menu-driven interface, and the large number of things it will do. As I said before, people get tired, hungry and cold and make mistakes.  The simpler and more rugged this gear is the better – what I’m after is knobs and switches.

But if we are doing dolly-timelapse in controlled environments, Dynamic Perception’s gear is the way to go – and I reckon we will use it too.  But we want to sling this stuff in a backpack and take off into the bush with the camera – and still get superb footage.  So I continued the original design route concentrating on a simpler approach.

What I really liked about the Dynamic Perception setup was their drive mechanism.  It’s a heavily geared 12v DC motor with a toothed pulley and guide wheels.  They have also started selling 12ft belts.  So when I was recently in USA I bought the motor and belt and made some electronics to drive the motor and trigger the camera.  Put an internal battery in the box, rigged a tensioning system for the belt, strapped on the old skateboard wheels, and here we go.  A big plus is that this will also work with nylon cord – wrap some around the pulley wheel and tension it right, and it works just as well (not so good uphill though).

Success!


Things that didn’t work

It took a year to develop the latest camera dolly.  A year of making mistakes, having ideas, building stuff and moving on.

I don’t mind this process – I spent 7 years doing scientific research and the only way to progress is to be wrong.  But you have to be wrong in the right way – you have to understand why you’re wrong and what you need to do next time.  If you don’t understand that, then you’re doing things more or less at random.  So everything I did wrong, I made sure I understood why before designing something else.  The internet helped a lot – there you can look at other peoples ideas, and, most valuably, look at what they did that failed so you don’t have to do it.  Saves heaps of time.

The way to be more successful is to make more mistakes.

Here’s some ideas that were simply daft in the first place, or failed for some other unforseen reason.

GRANDMA’S ELECTRIC CART

Grandma’s electric cart worked surprisingly well – but was far too fast for the dolly shots.  Nevertheless, for straight movies it looks like a good one.  However you do need a granny who is helpful, plus cart – I realise that all 3 are not necessarily available to everyone.

GOLF BUGGY REMODELLED

The golf cart not only looks silly, it doesn’t work either – too fast and too bumpy.  I then geared it down by 1/5 and put another motor on it, but it was still bumpy.  However worth bearing in mind that these golf carts have huge pulling power – they will take a pretty weighty load of golf clubs up hill, and are very well engineered.  Lots of them around – these were scrap for $5 each.

GARAGE-DOOR-OPENER DRIVE

This one worked pretty well, and was robust, if a little big, but was too fast.  It’s made from a garage door opener motor and gearbox, printer paper roller, and the ubiquitous skateboard wheels (which have several grades, depending on the number of bearings in them: betcha didn’t know that).  It gave a really stable image, and I might revisit it one day.  Incidentally the idea of having lots of wheels on castors is to avoid jerks in the camera if there is any bump in the track.  It pretty well removes the effect of little ones (ie 1mm or so).

STEPPER MOTOR DRIVE

This was a clever one, pity it didn’t work, but the idea is right.  It’s a stepper motor and driver with a belt drive to 16 wheels on the tracks.  Worked well, was robust if a bit heavy, and was adaptable to any size of track (very important for what we’re doing – we want to be able to use anything that comes along if need be).

There were two problems – it wouldn’t go uphill, only on the level – the wheels slipped on the tracks.  And the belt, which was a rubber ‘O’ ring, stretched and slipped.  I could have got a better drive belt, but it was obvious it wasn’t going to work anyway so I scrapped it.  Lot of work though.

TRACK IDEAS

I also experimented with long track.  Ordinary black poly pipe just doesn’t work – too soft, too bendy and too hard to control.

Then I tried this green stuff. What I found out was you need support all the way, which means it has to go on the ground, or be made of something solid (like the steel section we used in Antarctica).  This is thick walled high pressure water pipe, pretty stiff but it still sagged between the sleepers.  It would work, but at the cost of a lot of infrastructure.  The ladder and beam arrangement of the West Coast trip illustrates this – we needed a 4WD to cart it around.

So what we’re going to end up with in the track department is probably a ultra-lightweight custom-made foldable track.  Either from thin steel and electrical conduit, or from a cheap light ladder.  The advantage of this is it will fold up and go on the back of a pack.  In theory.

The other advantage is that if for some reason we can’t take it with us (on a plane for instance) we can use a ladder from the location, or corrugated iron, pine studs etc.


Moving on

The Hurley Dolly had proved itself in many situations.  However, it was time to re-visit the mechanism, which, though rugged, was too heavy for easy transport off-track.

The aim was to produce a lightweight driver, which ideally would operate from a small battery, be simple to use, and fit in a backpack.

The demanding requirements of Fulldome Panorama 20 megapixel photography meant there was no room for a sloppy mechanism – it had to be very smooth indeed.  And reliable.

Operating under difficult conditions meant the controls had to be very simple.  I have built a lot of gadgets for remote areas, and one thing which you can rely on is – you can’t rely on the gear.  If it’s complicated, someone will stuff it up.  If it’s cumbersome, it will get dropped.  If it’s sophisticated, it will break.  People get tired, cold and hungry.  They make mistakes.  Just getting to some of these places is a huge effort, and, when it’s raining and people are tired, they want to concentrate on doing what they came for, not fiddling with equipment.

The gear has to be simple – preferably using bits and pieces easily to hand.  If you can’t fix it on the spot – your effort it wasted. And, though I take enough bits to mend anything common, there’s always something that’s missing.

Generally I have 3 ways of doing everything – so I have 3 options for power, 3 computers, 3 leads etc etc.  Chances are you won’t use them all.  If you do, you’re grateful, if you don’t, well, you’re lucky.  There’s no point in taking the kitchen sink, but you need backups.  I learned this lesson once and for all when I was flying in remote areas – my pilot was a fussy bugger who always filled the planes tanks everywhere he could, taking another half hour or so over it.  For a couple of years we flew around the Kimberly and landed back home with heaps of fuel.  I took the piss out of him for this.  Until one day we flew down to a tiny airstrip a long way away, and found the bloke on the runway up to his knees in water.  We turned round and flew home – with enough fuel in the tanks to land.  I shut up after that.


Julia Tarn

Julia Tarn is a small pool near the road which provided an opportunity for a more intimate view.


Cradle Mountain bad weather

You can see the weather getting worse. We packed up and left – 20 minutes later we were in cold windy cloud.


Dove Lake fulldome panorama