Connected Objects Imaging

Astro Core adds motion to your time-lapse videos

Motion control isn’t always so easy to achieve with cameras. Camera motion control accessories, after all, tend to be clunky and costly as well.

Astro Core is a motion control and time-lapse trigger for cameras that allows users to easily add motion to time-lapse videos. It can be programmed via an Android and iOS smartphone app using gestures. The Astro App can be used to record the user’s desired motion in mid-air, then send the recorded program to Astro Core and it will precisely mimic that person’s moves. It works with one Astro to create panning or tilting programs, or with two Astros to create simultaneous two-axis motion. It’s small enough to take anywhere, and runs on AA batteries.

Connected Objects Music

Point Motion motion-based MIDI controller gives your beats pyramid power

As technology advances, new and exciting ways to interact with the programs available continue to emerge. Music is no exception: at no other time in history has there been such a democratization of the art. Purists may deride the ease and apparent lack of skill needed to make music today, but the fact remains that anyone with a creative soul can express themselves without having to jump through hoops first.

A product further lowering and innovating the bar is the Point Motion, a camera-equipped device that tracks movements and gestures to allow for music control and creation. The open platform works with the built-in cameras in computers to recognize gestures and use those gestures to control or trigger over 1500 instrument and vocal effect. These gestures can be chosen from what’s pre-loaded or customized by a user, each of which can be used to trigger things like guitar pedals, piano chords, or DJ scratches.

Two applications are also available, too. PuppetMaster lets users create music freely and control acoustic effects, and Point Wellness integrates music into health and wellness practices. Any music created with Point Motion can be transferred via MIDI or OSC to major digital audio workstations like Logic or Ableton Live, and a companion iOS/Android app can offer remote control of Point Motion’s features. Point Motion is going for $175 and is expected to ship in August 2016 should its Indiegogo campaign raise $50,000 by July 2017.

Alternative forms of music interaction are becoming increasingly common, a promising trend for music aficionados everywhere who like to be experimental. Point Motion follows the trend and innovates with a Kinect-like interface, perfect for younger creatives, those who are health conscious and want to use it as an exercise aid, or for older people and their physical therapy needs. Music-wise, it’s similar to the Remidi T8 glove in that it’s a novel, but still practical, way to explore music creation — and more tools to do never hurt.


The might of Hercules makes it a mini motion control system for small cameras

There are already motion control systems on the market that provide photographers with motorized control of their cameras’ movements and the ability to shoot in time-lapse mode.

patent-claimedHercules is an affordable alternative — a patent-pending motion control camera system that works with smartphones, GoPro action cams and DSLR cameras up to 20 pounds. The device runs smoothly over flat surfaces, enabling it to work without a slider track. That allows users to get low-angle shots that aren’t limited by track length.

The device has a retail price of $150, but early bird backers can get one for $99 and it will start shipping to them in December. Its makers are looking to raise $25,000 by Nov. 27.

Alas, the Hercules is not mighty enough to conquer a lack of Bluetooth. There are likely many camera users who may find Hercules attractive given it comes in under the prices of other systems such as the fairly expensive, heavy and complex Axis360,


Axsy T-Set leaves photographers all set for camera motion control

Camera motion control accessories are often costly and clunky, relying on knobs and buttons to work. The Axsy T-Set from London-based Axsy is an affordable alternative that combines three devices in one and works in conjunction with a mobile app that lets users control their cameras via touch input on their smartphones.

The product will work with nearly any digital camera on the market. Axsy enables the user to control video, time lapse and stop motion effects. The Triaxis-set is made up of the Centric, Slide and three Spin smart motors. The Centric device, along with the Android and iOS app, serves as the brains of the product and uses a radio mesh network. It gets connected to a camera via USB or a standard shutter release cable. The T-Set’s Spin smart motor accessory and Slide work hand-in-hand to enable sliding, panning and tilting motions. The standard length of the Slide’s rails are 1 meter, but it’s extendable to any length with Axsy’s 50-cm extension rails.

Backers who pledge $230 will get one when it ships in July. Axsy is hoping to raise £35,000 (~$53,000) on Kickstarter.

The product seems promising and should prove appealing to many photographers. It compares favorably to more traditional camera accessories such as the Axis360 from Cinetics and costs much less.

Input Video Games

Echo shoots to kill traditional first-person gaming controllers

The Premise. All the buzz of the Oculus Rift has made a giant wave in the gaming community. The games themselves may be growing more and more lifelike and advanced, but the controller interface remains largely the same. With VR headsets and omnidirectional headsets comes the need for a controller that is as immersive for action as those peripherals are for vision and movement.

The Product. Echo is a PC and Linux-compatible wireless controller designed for first-person shooters that offers unparalleled immersion. The housing for the control is a modified real firearm, not unlike high-quality airsoft rifles. With extra buttons and an added joystick, players can use the Echo as a stand-alone device for movement, in addition to realistic aiming, firing, and reloading. Fire modes can be changed from single shot to automatic, and reloading is accomplished by ejecting and reattaching the gun’s magazine.

The Pitch. The video pitch for the Echo is all about high drama, with an intense musical background and plenty of action in some of today’s hottest first-person shooter titles. The rest of the campaign’s coverage can be a little technically dense in terms of explaining the functionality of the device, but the passion and excitement of the Echo Solutions team in the attached videos is easy to understand upon seeing the controller in action. They company’s funding goal is $100,000 to bring the controller into production, but multiple stretch goals are available, opening the door for MacOS support, force feedback and peripheral add-ons, and eventually console support at $150,000.

The Perks. A product designed for elite gamers, the Echo controller is available starting at $400 pledges. Functionally, there are no upgrades available, but in terms of style points, backers can get a custom camouflage on their Echo for $700, and a personal engraving with weapon case for $1,000. The Echo supply drop will reach the battlefield in November.

The Potential.  Shooter fanatics have to be salivating at the look of this controller, especially with the suggestion that if this peripheral can reach production, gamers will have a choice of their favorite gun models to choose from. Devices like these are almost always a case of novelty more than competitive control, but it would make watching e-sports that much more exciting to see a team of players running on treadmill controls and using the steadiness of their own arms to pull off their professional-grade shots.

Imaging Video

Cinetics strikes again with Axis360 modular motion control camera mount

editors-choiceThe Premise. With the right equipment and a combination of talent and practice, taking a beautiful photograph can become a true passion. Doing more with a camera however requires access to the kinds of utilities and professional-grade equipment that is uncommon and expensive. Even those who have truly great vision and artistic sensibilities can find it difficult to make their ideas into reality without the right tools.

The Product. Cinetics, makers of the previously Kickstartered CineMoco and CineSkates, has another unique tool for photographers everywhere: The Axis360. Designed to help automate panning, tilting, and sliding for photographers and keep shots steady even over long periods of time, the Axis360 acts almost like a construction set toy for a camera. The base tripod is designed to shoot panoramic scenes with variable speeds, but with more Axis360s and modular components, the same camera/product combo can also tilt vertically or even slide along a 32-inch track over time. These pieces can be combined in nearly any sensible fashion to capture the perfect video or series of photos.

The Pitch. With a series of technical and inspiring shots, Cinetics shows off the kind of product that a camera equipped with the Axis360 can provide. Showing off their experience in successful Kickstarter campaigns, the materials for the Axis360 are comprehensive, visually explaining how the different parts interact, and what illustrating just what each tier provides. A how-to video is also provided that shows how the control is used to set up the product to move in just the right way. Cinetics needs $75,000 to bring the Axis360 to market, complete with all of its specialized components.

The Perks. The basic, panning tripod Axis360 model will launch in May 2014 and is available to those who contribute $395 or more. Being able to use the tilting or sliding functions requires additional modular components, which are gradually offered at higher tiers. The $1,495 tier comes with enough Axis360 modules and all of the available add-ons to allow photographers to make full use of the equipment.

The Potential. Based on Cinetics’s past history with crowdfunding, it’s a safe bet that photographers and videographers will be eager to get their hands on the Axis360. It may be a little much to expect to see it on the average store shelf with standard equipment, but the modular features make it essential for those that are truly passionate about professional quality time-lapse photography or video to order these once they become available.