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What Are Motion Control Cameras?

A motion control camera is a robotic arm with a camera attached to the end that movies the camera around in a pixel-accurate way. The robotic arm can be programmed to move and change the camera setting before you say action. Its getting the camera exactly where you want it every time.

What that means is that camera moves can be repeated the same way an infinite number of times. Here are some expiations of what a motion control camera can do.

The popular motion control cameras are BOLT and MILO but there are smaller rigs like the Kessler Large format Motion Control PRO and iFootage Motion Control S1A3.

Repeated moves

The best-known thing to uses them for is Repeat Moves and is the basis for all motion control. A good quality motion control rig can repeat any camera movement with extreme accuracy, countless times. Once a camera can repeat the movement a wide range of effects can be done. One of the simplest effects is making elements appear or disappear. This is done by filming an empty room and then filming again with the motion control camera but this time with an actor or some furniture in the room. You can then take the 2 shots and easily cut between them and make it appear that the furniture or actor is appearing or disappearing, all while the camera is moving.

You can also have a slow-motion object move next to a normal speed object or when doing stop motion have the camera move exactly where you want it, repeatably.

Controlled Moves

These rigs can move the camera any way you want and can change your camera settings to a mid-shot. This gives DoPs a high level of control over the movement of the camera, notably in tight spaces where pulling focus might not be possible.

This is especially good for product shots or commercial use, such as a car or a drink. You have very precise moments of the products.

Another use of controlled moves is when using odd lenses or macro lenses. If you’re shooting with a macro lens, very close to an object, all camera movements become greatly magnified and It becomes very hard to move a camera by hand without the shot looking unsteady, wobbly, or shakey, a motion control camera rig can solve this.

CGI Export and CGI Import

Data can be imported and exported to some camera control rigs. Meaning that If you have a 3D set or element in your shot, your camera can move to keep it and your actor in the frame.

Also, the opposite is true, you can send data from your shoot to an application and match the CGI to your actor.

Music Video Effects and Audio Synchronization

These types of systems are great for music videos because they offer unique movement and effects. Also, the movement of the camera can be synchronized to the audio of the song giving you more creative options.

Final Thoughts

These motion control camera rigs can be a little pricy, costing a few thousand a days to rent. However, some sound stages offer a large discount if you can find one that already has a motion control rig at their location.

There are smaller portable rigs like the “Kessler Large format Motion Control PRO” but are much more limited than the BOLT or MILO rigs.

The reason to use one of these is to get precise, fluid, perfect movements, using one of these rigs adds a ton of production value to your project.

To use a motion control camera try contacting the people at "EQUIP" in Tokyo. But for the cheapest RED camera rentals in Tokyo hit up Temple Studios Japan. Also the instagram has some cool videos that show off what motion control cameras can do.

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