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January 25, 2012

Low-Cost Video Tools on Kickstarter: $50 Follow Focus and $999 DSLR Helicopter

I've always thought Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, and other crowdfunding platforms are actually "best" suited for gadgets and technology products where you pre-buy something out of self-interest (as opposed to helping someone make something, as you did with me). Despite this, on Kickstarter Film & Video was the largest category in 2011, which is a testament to the generosity and connectivity of the filmmaking community. Here are a couple of filmmaking-friendly products for DSLRs on Kickstarter, both of which are looking to lower the price point for follow focuses and remote-control helicopters:

$50 Follow Focus

eye3 Aerial Photography Helicopter

UPDATE: the helicopter project has been canceled by Kickstarter. The creators aren't sure why; strange. Turns out the Helicopter was a photoshop of an already-existing $699 Xaircraft. Thanks Sebastian. Thankfully, the project was cancelled by Kickstarter before any money changed hands.

With the latter, just be careful not to do this:

All it cost to get that shot was one Sony FS100! (It was insured, but this is the peril of hiring a pilot whose qualifications might not check out).

Check out both products below if interested -- as you can see both of them have already made their goal, but with products a "goal" is more like a "preorder minimum."

[via The Verge]

Your Comment

23 Comments

Woah, that follow focus looks rad. Brilliance in simplicity! Bought.

I'm not sure about the hexacopter. I'd prefer an octocopter, and there are kits online for around $1k. Not sure what you get for the max $2500 over that, though. But what am I talking about... I'd be happy with either hahaha.

January 25, 2012

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Rev. Benjamin

As the owner/operator of a quadrocopter, I strongly suggest people start out with the $399 kit like this one- http://www.mikrokopter.us/shop/index.php?route=product/product&path=37&p...

They come with everything you need and have collapsable arms so it's built for crashing. It's difficult flying one even with 80+ hours of flight sim work so I'd use the gaui as a trainer model before flying/risking half your bank.

Although... flying the quadrocopter is one of the best feelings ever. Nothing else is as scary/risky/awesome.

My latest shots can be found here- http://vimeo.com/33313947

January 25, 2012

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Thats badass man...

That was shot with that $399 unit?

January 26, 2012

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Tom

Very cool Austin. I can see some canting in the footage as well - very slight. I'd like to see what you could do with an okto... you've clearly got the experience to fly one of these well now. Fun!

January 26, 2012

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Rev. Benjamin

Thanks! Is the okto more stable than my 6 propeller set up? I would guess so consisting thr additional props but aerial stabilization is a tricky game and I'm still tweaking/experimenting for the best results. Personally I think most of my shots so far look like crap quality-wise because I've been using 1600 iso and 4k shutter speed lol, going to lower both settings this weekend and see if it looks better.

January 26, 2012

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Nah, the Gaui can't lift more than a gopro but people have done pretty amazing stuff with that combo like the guy below-

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1uREWECw6_g

My helicopter is a droidworx AD-6, took a year to assemble and needed some help on the electronic front... I've had enough close calls to regret not getting a Gaui first before flying this monster. As Koo illustrates in the crash video, it's a risky game and even riskier without training on smaller models first.

January 26, 2012

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It's a $1000 helicopter with no controller - $1000, no batteries - $1000 for 6 that last 20 minutes each per charge and a charger - $500 plus plus plus.

January 26, 2012

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Julian

Here's a little something from our okto.

http://vimeo.com/34904489

I will also vouch for the need for practice and a skilled pilot, as I wouldn't have been able to get any of this otherwise. We have been through a few close calls, and it would be easy to lose the entire rig in one crash if you don't know what you're doing.

January 26, 2012

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Dustin,

That was great! If you don't mind me asking, what settings/camera did you use?

January 26, 2012

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Austin,
Thanks! We shot with a T2i because of the low weight and 60fps capabilities. The video is a mix of 24fps and 60fps, and other settings varied depending on the shot/light/etc. Usually between 320-640 shutter, f6.3-f11, and no more than 800 ISO.

January 26, 2012

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I'm using the 60D myself, really appreciate the info. Glad to see that I don't need insane amounts of shutter speed for good post-stablization. If you don't mind me asking what focal lengths did you shoot at? I've personally used 24mm up to 50mm.

January 27, 2012

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On this video, we only used post stabilization on 3 shots out of the whole thing. The 8 rotors keep it super smooth. Since we were being weight conscious and shooting at a high stop, I just used the 18-55mm kit lens, and hovered around 18-24mm.

January 27, 2012

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Any idea why the helicopter project was canceled?
"Funding Canceled
Funding for this project was canceled by the project creator 9 minutes ago."

January 26, 2012

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Martin

Wow.... strange. No, I have no idea!

January 26, 2012

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avatar
Ryan Koo
Founder
Writer/Director

Legal issues :/

It's pretty messed up because the project creator didn't even get a email from kickstarter or anything... you can read more about it on the comments page of the project. Something about the FAA not allowing unmanned aircraft at any height.

Didn't know that I was breaking the law lol but I'll keep breaking the law as long the beautiful footage comes in.

January 26, 2012

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Actually the law restricts commercial use of unmanned aircraft systems. You can fly any UAS as long as you don't get paid to do it. I'm sure kickstarter's legal team saw this as a hot potatoe and wanted to err on the side of caution.

January 26, 2012

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Sid

Sid thanks for the clarification but I'm still be breaking the law because I want to get paid to do aerial cinematography... is there a way to get a license for it or what?

January 27, 2012

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Woah... that sucks. Good find Martin. Dang.

January 26, 2012

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Rev. Benjamin

A friend of mine is also building an octocopter camera prototype with another friend of his, pretty cool project.
Funny story: their first octocopter crashed an Eos 550D right into some high-tech solar panel - good thing it was still in test phase and they only had the stock 18-50 lens on it...

It really is a demanding project, especially if you want to shoot high quality video with it (compared to just still photos). The camera movements have to be very smooth, vibration is a big problem, especially with dslrs, and also the thing needs to fly extremely smoothly and very stable.

January 26, 2012

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Heiko

That's a nifty looking follow focus. Will it work with the stock lens on a Sony FS100?

January 28, 2012

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John

I did some digging, it didn't actually get cancelled because of legal reasons. It was cancelled because the folks running the project were basically repackaging commercially available hexacopter components and marking up 300%.

You can operate a hexacopter commercially for aerial photography, the illegal part is the use of an autopilot, as in operating it as a UAV.

February 2, 2012

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February 2, 2012

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Oh wow. Mainstream media is now taking an interest in everyone's privacy.

http://www.usnews.com/news/features/news-video?freewheel=90080&sitesecti...

May 2, 2013

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Terence Kearns