Sunday, July 27, 2014

Motion Control Rig Part 1

Well, it's been 4 months and I still haven't finished the painting on the plant so we'll just move on for now. Today we'll take a look at the motion-control camera rig that I've been building slowly since February.

This system can be controlled with Dragonframe, the software that I will be using to capture my frames. It's the same software that was used to shoot the stopmotion features ParaNorman, Frankenweenie, and the forthcoming The Box Trolls. I will be able to program my camera movements so that each time I shoot a frame the camera will move to its next position automatically. This helps me spend more time focusing on animating my characters and not worrying about whether or not I remembered to move the camera during dynamic shots.

To start things off, here's a shot of my manual, one-axis wooden rig to get an idea of what I started with. Each turn of the knob would move the 2x4 wood block down the threaded rod. It works for what it is and I may still use it for various shots.

What really got this thing moving, so to speak, was the good fortune of being given two large format printers that were getting decommissioned. These were great for parts. They each had a set of 5 foot long steel rails, bushings, belts, gears, motors, and other random parts. 

My first inclination was to use one of the stands from a printer as a base that I could roll into position as needed. It would have both an X and Y axis, pan, and possibly a tilt function.

I soon realized that the lack of space in my garage wasn't going to be fun to contend with. So I got even more ambitious and decided to look up. I was going to build an overhead rigging system.

 I had already installed some hanging storage racks above so I figured I could use that to my advantage. They had some sway to them so the first step was to secure them to the wall to make them a more solid base. Next, I fastened some supports from some extra printer parts onto the rail system and set the whole thing on top of the rack.

More to come...