Its development and use

Posts tagged “wilderness photography

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!

Advertisements

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.


Cradle Mountain from the slopes

 

 

We moved up the slope to get a view of the lake and mountain.  Carrying the track was possible in the thin scrub, we used pieces of dead wood and rocks to make the stand.

 


Cradle Mountain – Dove Lake

A trip to Cradle Mountain, one of Tasmania’s iconic tourist areas, provided another opportunity for documentary footage.  Dove Lake is in a glacial valley nestling at the foot of Cradle Mountain.  The day was still and sunny with cloud shadows chasing across the cirque. Perfect.


West Coast Tasmania fulldome panorama timelapse movie

A compilation of the movies taken from wilderness in Tasmania’s West Coast.

This is essentially raw 3.7k unprocessed footage used for preview purposes only. We have lots of ideas for Tasmanian content that we are developing.