Project Otto session 9

Otto Works!

Some people have asked about “Otto”, its a nod to the Autopilot (Auto / Otto) on Wall-E, as it drops down from the ceiling and has a camera in the middle.  🙂

Other than running into a few minor issues with the camera power supply, everything has been going together quite well. Otto is about 98% complete and already fully functional for testing purposes.

I am still waiting on the heatsinks so I am limited to running the system about an hour at a time then shutting it off to cool down. Once the heatsinks get in that should clear that up. In the meantime I can just knock the power down a bit to the motors and that should keep them under 80c.

Here is my list of stuff left to do.

  1. Adjust the set screws on the geared motors
  2. Adjust for backlash with dragonframe
  3. Add heat sinks for the motors
  4. Replace the crappy motor on the 3d slider
  5. Run some electrical outlets along the top of the framework for lights and such.
  6. Attach the supports beneath the cable tracks
  7. Finish the limit switches
  8. Wire up the Emergency stop
  9. Fabricate the final brackets for the X axis.

I should be able to get most of this done tomorrow morning, except the heat sinks which I am still waiting for.  The new stepper should arrive today. So tomorrow all 8 degrees of movement should be functioning

Stuff I am considering…

  1. Add a second ballscrew and motor for the Y axis. I am not sure this is really needed yet though. It works fairly well as it is
  2. Getting that stupid spool machined out. The temp one seems to be working just fine though

So lets get past all this build talk nonsense and get into some testing!

This is the first test, and I am pretty excited about it.  The first couple seconds are what excite me the most. I moved in real close and nailed the focus dead on. Keep in mind, 60mm, F/16 that depth of field at close focus is less than a quarter of an inch. I absolutely LOVE how the footage looks too.

As the camera moves left up the leaf to the stalk then to the other leave it has a very gritty “Stop motion” feel to it. I need to play with the “shoot while move” capability of Dragonframe.

Towards the end of the video the last pitcher spends some time out of focus, I was going to try to correct this… Maybe i should explain a bit.

Dragonframe has some incredibly awesome features. Right now my rig is not moving too well with live speed. it CAN move at those speeds, but it starts making some bucking movements that reach the camera at some speeds. I have not had a chance to delve too deep into it, I assume it is due to the X axis brackets are still the temporary ones and I have not replaced those with thick 1/2 inch aluminum brackets. Also this may be the reason i add another ball screw on the Y axis.  At first I was a bit worried about this, because with live speeds you can preview the movement in real time without having to rap off 600 images off your camera.

For those who are not really that into this hobby who may for some reason be reading, shutter count on a camera is like the odometer off the car.  The ability to live preview the motion allows you to see the moves and focus targets without having to run it through the sequence and rap off a bunch of shutter actuations.  Without live view I was worried i would be putting 3-4x the number of shutter clicks as I proof moves before I start a 3 week timelapse.

Luckily Dragonframe also has the ability to take snapshots off the live view. So the shutter stays open, dragonframe will move each frame, pause for a moment then snag a image off the live view. Not only that, but you can scrub through the results and play it back instantly. The video above was gathered in about 15 minutes using this method. So only one shutter actuation was used to do the whole thing. This lets you preview the motion, then you can go in and move the camera to any spot in the timeline that concerns you and you can adjust the motion accordingly.  So while the live speeds dont work, I can have a full preview in about 10 minutes, and it looks fantastic! It is not full HD, but close to 720p I believe. Once the motion is exactly the way I want it, i can run the actual timelapse.

So getting back to the focus, after reviewing this footage I was going to correct the focus at the end, rerun the move, and throw this footage out. However, as I am still learning I ended up sending Otto direct back to the start position on accident and knocked the plant over, so that was that. It would have been very difficult to get the plant back in its original spot so I moved on.

I hate using this term, because I think it is thrown around way too much, but the fact is Dragonframe IS a GAME CHANGER for the way I do timelapse.  Combine it with a rig like this, and the possibilities are amazing. I feel completely recharged and inspired just off this first test.

When running this, i put my Panasonic GH4 on timelapse mode and filmed the move.

What I really like about this is the feel of ease and weightlessness the camera rig demonstrates.  Considering there is 40lbs of gear being moved around, this is impressive. You can see the focus ring shifting back and forth quite a bit 🙂

I wished i had managed to get some video of dragonframe itself and some of the features. There are so many more techniques to learn, so many more options and features. I played around with the DMX lighting a bit as well and it worked flawlessly. This will mean i can change and adjust light sources and color throughout a multi week timelapse.

I can also edit and change the move on the fly. If i am 1 week into filming and see something awesome about to happen, i can change the rest of the motion sequence on the fly to take the camera in a better direction to capture something of interest.

This stuff is amazing.

I am going to try to get as much stuff done as possible this weekend. Once the heat issue is taken care of it will be time to start filming non-stop.

This weekend I will do some more testing, I will try to put together a VLOG that shows more of this amazing software and its flexibility.



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