Shooting with Otto

Quiet on the set!


I had no illusions that building a system like this would be easy. Nor did I have any illusions that using a system like this would be easy either.

For the past week I have been trying to shoot with Otto and I have had some mixed success. Rather than spending weeks at a time, I have been trying to test it out with fast growing plants and flowers.

The first test went fairly well. From a robotics standpoint everything worked like a charm, but I failed to properly predict the behavior of the plant I was shooting,  Until I get into the hang of things, I plan to keep an extra camera trained on Otto so in case something goes wrong I have some visual data of what is going on.

Its kind of cool to watch I think. What you see above is 5 days of filming. Otto’s motion is fantastic, I could not be happier!

However I misjudged the plant. You will see below.

I still consider this a success, besides the fact that the timelape is nothing exciting to watch. I misjudged the speed that the plant would grow, to be honest im not even sure what it is. I have several packs of seeds of various herbs and not all of them are labeled.  I expected it to get larger in the end which is why the camera pulled out.

If you look at the 9 second mark on either video, you will see the camera jerks down just a tiny bit.  Otto’s routine was set to tilt up and it was going a bit too far.  Between frame intervals on the BCM i had stopped the program long enough to adjust the amount of tilt to reduce it because it was going to put the plant outside the frame. This sort of worked, the plant never leaves the frame but I should have immediately applied a keyframe at its current spot, then adjusted it. Since i did not the last keyframe was in a spot further back, meaning the new position of the camera was tilted up slightly more than the last frame, resulting in that little pop.

In general i was fairly pleased and setup for a new shoot using some lillies. I got everything setup, I have 2 shooting stations going, on the left is the main stage, and on the right is stage 2. There might be a stage 3 behind the main stage soon as well.


Above: Main on left, 2nd stage with the herb on the right


Above, Stage 2, using an eMotimo as a makeshift turntable. This will be a 4 axis setup with linear, pan, tilt, and focus when everything is finished. I am waiting on some connectors, in the meantime a simple rotation always looks great on camera


Above: Otto and the main stage with the Lillies

Thats where everything started to go to shit.

First the camera shut off on me.

Not sure why that happened, I suspect it is the power supply, if it happens again Ill buy one from canon for way too much money.

Started it up again,

Things were going along splendidly, but at one point after a nice thanksgiving meal at my parents house, I was worried I had misjudged the motion of a plant and felt i should try to correct. First things first, I applied keyframes at the current spot to ensure the camera could move back to the exact same location. Everything was working smoothly until Dragonframe stopped seeing the triggers from the BCM. (BCM = biolapse control module, this is the controller I use to coordinate the lighting for shooting, growing, day/night, and control heat/humidity)

After playing around with it I managed to completely botch up the shoot. No big deal, that is what this phase is all about.

Started it up again. This time i noticed that the Canon on Otto was being triggered by USB, and none of the other cameras were triggering from the external shutter control. Even today they still dont work, I had to rewire all the triggers to get around the problem.

And around that point I think I sort of drowned the lillies, the flowers stopped opening.

In the end though, I did not get anything particularly useful. I do have some quick clips though that give an interesting demonstration of the movements that I can get. They are pretty dynamic. Each routine was going to be about 15-20 seconds, and I keep running into issues.

This video is the results of the failed experiments, but with each failure I learned something new. So I’ll chalk it up as a success. I am shooting again right now with some new lillies and feel optimistic.


One thought on “Shooting with Otto”

  1. Pingback: more info

Leave a Reply