A couple of days ago I tried to figure out the inner workings of the newly announced Edelkrone Jib Plus. Now, at NAB 2016, Seb met with Edelkrone’s CEO Kadir Köymen to find out how (and if) it actually works – and it does indeed! How the Edelkrone Jib Plus works As Kadir walks us through the inner workings of the different modules of the Jib Plus, it becomes very clear that first and foremost a lot of programming went into this device. The real magic happens inside the sensor module with sits between the tripod and your jib arm of choice. The module senses the movement of your given jib whether it is panning or tilting (or both, of course) and feeds the computer within to do its calculations. The system needs to see the target of choice from at least two different perspectives manually, then it triangulates the information and calculates a smooth curve for each and every in-between point in space. Some serious reverse kinematic calculations are going on! With only two points in space, the system will learn to point the camera at the given target no matter where you swing the jib manually. The best thing is that you can put the system on any jib, it will do all the tracking and focusing for you. You just need to operate the jib as you like and the camera will follow your target and holds it in frame. Focus probably will need more than two points; you teach the system as you go to refocus manually via the controller module. The resulting focus curve is being used for all stored targets shot with that same lens. So basically, we’re talking about an automatic target tracking system for jibs. According to Kadir, it is long going project—and it is almost finished. Please note, it’s still in a pretty advanced prototype state, but it will be ready in three months from now. Pricing of the Jib Plus The pricing has not been decided as of yet, but it definitely won’t be under $1,000 (or $2,000, even) as Kadir only smiles and says “I don’t know.” We have to wait a little longer, I assume. It’s really nice to see how a company can be so innovative and fresh like Edelkrone. Kadir tells us this is because they think differently: We don’t concentrate on the products, we just concentrate on the problems. All-in-all it sounds like a neat approach to come up with fresh and innovative products. Chapeau! Learn all about the new Jib Plus in our previous article and on the Edelkrone website.Read more
At NAB 2015, Sony didn’t have any big camera news – the FS7 had their US premiere but it has already been in the market for a while since it was introduced about 6 months ago. However, we discovered something really interesting, an easy oversight, when Sony’s Bill Drummond was giving us a walk-through at their booth: the Sony X180, a semi-shoulder camcorder similar to the dated EX3, features an extremely intriguing feature that we have never seen in another camera before: It’s a unique kind of combination of an electronically controlled fader ND that automatically adjusts to the exposure set by the aperture that can be adjusted manually. The effect is an image that seemingly keeps the same exposure but the depth of field changes as the aperture is adjusted. This kind of combination is something we haven’t seen before in a camera and it allows creators to make shots that we truly haven’t seen before. For now, this is only in the X180 camera but we can clearly see this being implemented into future Sony cameras down the line. How and if this can be integrated into interchangeable lens cameras remains to be seen though.Read more
A few weeks ago we stumbled across a company called NextLevelAerialFilming, a company producing interesting looking auto pilot software for drones. Before we had a chance to gather all relevant information for a blog post, they’ve managed to release a Kickstarter campaign with their own autonomous drone and smash their target by over 10 times. A competitive company has also pulled through the ranks of crowd sourced funding, releasing a similar automatic drone system also reaching their goal. So, what are autonomous drones? Simply put, they are automatic flying devices. Think a DJI Phantom minus the remote control. An autonomous drone will use GPS to track its subject; no further application is necessary, the drone will fly itself. First we’ll look at how the Hexo+ works, which is the first product produced by originally named company – NextLevelAerialFilming. The Hexo+ is a 6-blade drone with 2-axis gimbal compatible with the GoPro 3+. Using GPS it tracks the relation between the drone and your smartphone, and using the smartphone’s app you can alter the framing of your shot via altitude and distance. Set your device up with the app, place your smartphone in your pocket and go. The Hexo+ has a battery life of around 15 minutes, and a top speed of up to 70 km/h – 45 mph. One aspect that may spring immediately to mind is safety. The Hexo+ features “Fail-safe software features and six propellers mean a safe landing in case of a problem”. A little vague and this doesn’t cover collision with other objects, I asked the question to Hexo+ creators and this was their response: “Safety is our first concern and priority. From all of our tests, it shows Next Level Aerial Filming device improve(s) reliability and safety from drones and I truly believe using computing to fly drone is much better than piloting it yourself. Part of the team are experts in embedded aeronautical software….. everything we develop is safe. We implement lots of failsafe scenarios to maximize safety. We have not yet looked at obstacle avoidance, but this is something which we plan to do in the roadmap.” So for the mean time, whilst the software is optimised for safe flying it does not cater for obstacles, so keep these devices well clear of areas where collisions could occur. There’s a host of different rewards packages on the Hexo+ Kickstarter page, $999 will get you the drone, 2D gimbal, app and GoPro Hero 3+ Black Edition. The next autonomous drone to be mentioned is the also successfully funded Kickstarter AirDog. AirDog works in the similar way to Hexo+ using GPS to track the subject, however perhaps in a less graceful manner the AirDog requires the AirLeash remote in order to work. It also utilizes a 2-axis gimbal compatible with the GoPro Hero 3+. The AirLeash is a waterproof remote that you attach to you person (wrist, pocket helmet); the AirDog shares GPS information with this remote. You can also make flight adjustments via the button pad. AirDog has justified the use of a remote over sole smartphone use (like the Hexo+). They state that the GPS signal in their remote is stronger and more reliable, and claims it’s also a much better form factor for extreme sports, with specific reference to the fact that it’s waterproof. AirDog does have its own dedicated app also, so further adjustments can be made here. They also provide a selection of flight modes to cater for certain situations. To name a few these include the drone position relative to its subject and magnet north, circulating continually around its subject, and simply tracking behind the subject at your required altitude and distance. As filmmakers, the autonomous drone maybe a frightening prospect; you have no control over your shot as it is happening. However these are not necessarily targeted directly at filmmakers, the immediate target audience are the subjects themselves. There is autonomous hardware and software available for filmmakers, offering more control, albeit at a much more expensive cost. We could see a lot less GoPros on the ends of poles and helmets, and more cameras trailing extreme sports enthusiasts 10 feet behind in the sky. The success of both these Kickstarters is just a glimpse of the potential demand in this market. Both have reached their goal with relatively little time pledged. Hexo+ has been particularly successful, pledging $50,000 and currently sitting at a little under $550,000.Read more
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