Tutorial: Take Your Time-Lapse Game to the Next Level with This $175 DIY Cable Cam Rig

DIY TimelapseGetting a high quality time-lapse doesn't have to be insanely expensive, especially if you're only moving your camera a short distance; set up your tripod in a desired location, slap on a slider and a motion control device and you're golden. But, covering longer distances in an area that is inhospitable to tripods can be a little more tricky -- and expensive. The folks at Syrp, however, want to show you how to build your own wooden DIY 2-axis Cable Cam rig that will let you pull off stellar time-lapse shots at a fraction of the cost.

If you're an avid time-lapse photographer/cinematographer, you're probably used to shelling out a pretty penny for gear (unless you're using a GoPro on an egg timer). Motion control units aren't cheap, though they're (usually) much less expensive than cable-suspended camera systems, which leads me to assume that there are quite a few time-lapsers out there looking for an inexpensive way to shoot distances that they're sliders can't afford them in places where their tripods can't go.

Syrp's tutorial isn't a quick and easy solution to this; it'll take some handiness on your part for sure, as well as the necessary tools for cutting, sawing, and drilling. However, it will save you a lot of money. Here's the list of items used in the tutorial, which will end up costing you somewhere in the vicinity of $175 depending on where you purchase everything. (If you're interested, you can even check out the receipt on Syrp's post!)

  • 4 x Patio door rollers
  • 5 x 3/8 -16" bolts
  • 1 x Clamp 1/8 set (2 pcs)
  • 1 pk washers (12 pcs each)
  • 1 x 25 pcs hex nuts
  • 4 pk ratchet tiedown set
  • 100 ft 1/16" wire cable
  • 24x18 acrylic sheet
  • 1 x pack 1 1/4" screws
  • 100m reel Syrp rope
  • 2"x4" (6ft)
  • 1"x2" (6ft)
  • 1"x3" (6ft)

To find out how to put it all together, check out Syrp's tutorial below:

In the tutorial, Syrp uses their leading motion control unit, the Genie, to pan the camera, as well as their own rope. If you already own a mo-co unit, be sure to adjust your measurements, namely in the acrylic linear plate, in order to accommodate it. But, if you're interested in getting your hands on a Genie, from now until June 15th Syrp is giving you an opportunity to compete to win one by tweeting photos of your own "Genie compatible DIY rig." For more info click here.

Do you have any advice on how to build a DIY cable cam system? Let us know in the comments below.

Link: DIY Cable Cam Tutorial -- Syrp

[via Filmmaker IQ]

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Your Comment


fucking awesome!!!!

June 9, 2014 at 3:21PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


Please be a bit more frugal with your #s, we're still in a recession here.

June 9, 2014 at 4:19PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


This post is very disingenuous as it's only $175 if you subtract $889 for the Genie.

June 9, 2014 at 4:04PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM

Filthy Punt

2 genies, yes i have 600 quid in my back pocket!!!!

June 9, 2014 at 4:07PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


Hey Guys, thanks for your comments; remember you can use this rig with 1 x Genie if you prefer to do super long cable cam moves along one axis (linear). Also consider that you can attach this to other gear you own as well including sliders, tripods (for panning) or any DIY rig. Point being that you are not just purchasing a cable cam rig here but a device that you can use on all sorts of different equipment either for time-lapse or real-time video. Thanks!

June 9, 2014 at 4:30PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


Nice work Syrp. Genie looks like a quality product, and these tips just help take it to another level.

June 9, 2014 at 5:28PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM

Ben Howling

Wow .. $175 and I can become the next Sergey Urusevsky ... unfortunately, before I can become Sergey Urusevsky, I'll need to become Bob Vila first ... and that's a no-go ...

June 9, 2014 at 7:49PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


it's better when you are yourself!!!!

June 10, 2014 at 2:44AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


*MoCo. Also, miniEngine studio and some steppers can replace the Genie modules. http://www.minie.airiclenz.com/

June 10, 2014 at 12:20AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


Thanks a lot for this!!! I actually just saw your Motion Sickness videos. Looks so rad. Are you going to sell your units at some point?

June 10, 2014 at 1:10PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


$175.....yeah, right. Not including $1800 for TWO Genie motion control units. So much for DIY.

June 12, 2014 at 8:43PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


I think that stop-shoot-move principle of making time-lapse videos is completely wrong. It's like making a dolly pan with frequent stops 24 times a second.

Smooth and good-looking video should have a motion blur, and the example in this article clearly shows how bad a video can look without one.

June 12, 2014 at 10:59PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM

Andrey Valentsov

A tad more editing wouldn't have gone a miss.. Nice result though

June 20, 2014 at 2:23PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM