by Adam Plowden | 13th July 2016
The Rollocam Hercules motorized slider stirred up quite a hype on Kickstarter when it was launched last year. But has it lived up to it? I got my Hercules a few months ago, and here are my impressions. The Rollocam Hercules – A Mini Motorized Slider The Rollocam Hercules is branded as ‘the worlds smallest motion control device’; it has a motor inside a metal tube that drives a wheel to make the device move. In terms of its features, it has various speed settings, stop motion control using magnetic sensors and a timelapse mode that moves the device in steps. It runs on a single AAA battery, and the motor device itself is no longer than a phone. I personally backed the Rollocam Hercules campaign as I thought it might work great as a ‘second-shooter’ for interviews, so that a wide shot can slowly move left and right without needing a bulky motorized slider like those from Kessler or Rhino Gear. Using motion in interviews can add something dynamic to your subject and scene. It makes for an interesting ‘go-to’ b-cam shot. But does the Hercules have the capability to compete against the other devices on the market? In my opinion, no. Here’s why. The Hercules has sat on my desk like an expensive paperweight since it arrived a few months ago. I was impressed with it’s functionality, and quickly mounted my iPhone to it and shoot some tests, but attaching a camera to it proved difficult. You’ve got to make sure the camera is balanced correctly or it will just tip over or the wheels won’t get enough contact with the surface. This was a big let down as I mostly shoot run and gun style, needing a quick setup. Having to fiddle with the Hercules to set it up correctly just took too much time. The menu system is confusing, but I’m sure with practice and repetition it would become second nature to scroll through the features, using only one button and corresponding flashing LED lights. The issue with this is scrolling past the settings you want to use, having to reset the device and start again. I backed the motorized slider package that also included the magnetic sensor and track, both of which are also fiddly and time-consuming to set up. The magnetic sensor works by placing a tiny magnet underneath the ‘O’ of the Rollocam logo on the device, which then starts the movement. When the Hercules reaches the second magnet, it reverses the movement back to the other magnet, going back and forth like a second shooter or motorized slider. While this is a very compact and cheap version of higher end products, it certainly doesn’t replace the need for one. The magnets are tiny, and will be easy to lose, but more importantly, you need to be really accurate with the positioning of the magnets to make the motion activate and reverse. The motorized slider track which was included in my package is very light but feels like it would bend easily. I tried attaching it to a tripod and using a magic arm to support the other end of the track, but this didn’t suffice to keep the track straight. It also increased my filming footprint: I might as well have used a slider. Of course, if you didn’t get the track option you could use the Hercules on a flat surface like the floor, pavement or table top. It has to be very smooth for uninterrupted movement, so iron out your table cloths or choose a surface that doesn’t have any bumps. I’m sure image stabilization will rectify some bumps, but larger ones will make it hard for the Hercules to roll over. In the below video shot on an iPhone, I used my laptop as a surface. Lastly, it is noisy when you mount a heavy camera on there and have it rolling at the highest speed. Probably not noticeable if you’ve got a good audio setup, but with just a camera or phone on there you can definitely pick up the motor noise with the camera’s internal microphone. So far, I have only shot a few test videos, mainly with the iPhone. I’m sure if you have time to set it up correctly your results and opinions would vary dramatically. For other applications like filming with a phone or action camera, I’m sure you’ll disagree with many of my comments, but for what I was expecting, the Rollocam Hercules didn’t live up to it, and this is very honest! We’re keen to hear your thoughts on the Hercules and see any videos or footage you have of it in use, so please drop us a comment in the section below!Read more
by Fabian Chaundy | 12th January 2016
The new Kessler TLS Slider combines rigidity, portability and a modular design into a professional time-lapse tool. Kessler certainly know a thing or two about tools for creating motion in your shots. Their track record include the mighty CineDrive motion control system, the CineSlider, the Pocket Dolly and, of course, their eponymous product: the Kessler Crane. So what is the new addition to their family of sliders all about? The new Kessler TLS is by no means the only motorized slider by the company. It is, however, designed specifically with professional time-lapse in mind and focuses on overcoming the challenges inherent to this kind of photography. It certainly looks like a very solid piece of gear, adhering to the 80/20 aluminium system for structural framing. There are buildings and cars made out of the stuff so we can hopefully expect no bowing or vibrating along the track. Rail lengths are available in either 3, 4, 5 or 6 feet, or 91 to 182cm for us metric folk. Alternatively, you can procure your own #1030 80/20 rail and knock 100 bucks off the final price. Ka-ching! The T-Rails along the rail allow for easy installation of quick-release plates or light-stand adaptors. This means you have completely moveable mounting points anywhere along the length of the slider, as opposed to fixed threaded holes at either end and in the middle. However, each of these mounting accessories will cost you extra. The Kessler TLS has small rubber feet for when used on the ground. Optional leg accessories come in the form of Outrigger Feet as well as 15mm Adjustable Legs. You can extend these with standard threaded 15mm rods, and can be used to create an incline for the cart. In short: plenty of options to handle the uneven terrain you might encounter during your shoots. The Kessler Second Shooter motion control system is the actual brains of the TLS. Thus, you will need the controller unit to program and operate the slider, and a proprietary MagPak battery to power the system. However, their Magnalink solution ensures both the controller and battery stay neatly in place. Other design features include the Kessler TLS motor being built into the cart, reducing the amount of loose cables. Additionally, the drive belt mechanism seems quite easy to install. The result? A sleek, elegant product that doesn’t look like it wants to kill you. (I’m looking at you, CineDrive…) The optional Second Shooter Pan and Tilt Head adds two more axis of programmable, repeatable motion to your slider shot. Kessler’s modular design idea goes down to the head itself, as the tilt and pan axis can be purchased and used individually. This allows for more practical transportation and a lighter, faster setup. Kessler’s kOS software allows for programming more complex 3-axis movement than with the controller unit alone. A “lite” but still very capable version is available for free download if you don’t want to pay for the full version. While the cost of getting a Kessler TLS up and running may seem quite high to some, it is actually not a lot more than many of the other available options out there that offer this level of professionalism. Granted, the cost of the rail, controller, head, mounting points, support and perhaps the app may seem a bit much. But don’t forget, you will be buying into the Kessler ecosystem, not just a standalone one-size-fits-all product. And as such, it certainly has a lot to offer for the professional time-lapse shooter. Check out the Kessler site for more information. We will post links to B&H as soon as the Kessler TLS becomes available. Do you shoot motion-controlled time-lapse? Do you think the result is worth the cost? Or will you stick to PVC pipe, a piece of string and a kitchen timer?Read more
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