Building the Studio. Part 1.

So yes. I am building a studio.

But first, here is a pic of Rocket. He is an awesome dog.

Now back to the post.

For the last 4 years I have been filming in a small 11×12 room, and really had to work to maximize the space. I have Otto, which takes up the middle of the room, quite a few shelves, and even room for a 2nd shooting station. However, I am limited in the size and shape that I can film.  There is a new project I have been contracted to film, and while I am not going to discuss any of the details of the project, it does require capability to shoot larger scale.

My tiny 11×12 foot studio. Way too small! I need more space!


So here I am scrambling my butt off trying to get all much ducks lined up to be shooting on time. 🙂

The Property

My house is located at the end of a cul-de-sac, and I have a rather large side yard. Large enough to accommodate a 20x30ft structure. I spoke with several contractors and found one I liked, and we are in the process of the build.  This size of building requires a monolithic foundation, and in preparation of that I have my work cut out for me, luckily I have friends who don’t mind lending me a hand with things.

Aerial drone shot of my property. Huge weird shaped yard. This was taken last October.

I had to get rid of a large boxelder tree, an old yet very large doghouse, lots of scraps and junk. I had quite a bit of railroad ties that used to frame out the tree and sandbox, and lots of rebar to dig out.  I don’t have a lot of photos of the “before” as it was always a bit of an eye sore but these photos looks especially bad. Fact is, I just don’t have enough time to deal with it.  Its pretty much just me, my son is just now getting old enough to help out.  I am a single dad with a full time job and not enough time. My property is about 1/3 acre, and the side has always looked like shit.  Obviously I don’t live in an HOA 😉

I have always sort of hated having such a large yard, but now I am really glad this area is here. Once the shed is in I plan to put down weed fabric all around the back and fence line and dump mulch on it, making this area a maintenance free area so when working on the yard I can focus on a much smaller area.

Here is my gross side yard before much of the work started. It looks especially bad in this image because of some shrubs I cut down. It never looked awesome, but this is particularly ugly.

After a lot of blood sweat and tears this weekend this is how it looks now.

Tree cut down, just finished grinding down the stump. Hard work but it will be well worth it.

It actually looks better than the photo, I spend some time cleaning up a lot of the junk back there too. Tree, doghouse, railroad ties, junk, all gone 🙂

New Robots. 

Yes! I am making new robots. Three of them actually.  This is a design I had been wanting to do for quite some time but I just don’t have the room in my basement studio to house them. I have them modeled out in 3D, and I am fairly confidant they will provide excellent performance.  I am not quite ready to share any images just yet. They are unlike anything on the market and designed for filming plants, nothing else. They will be somewhat portable, where as Otto was built into the room.

Otto was sort of modeled off a scaffold crane. I wanted something that would be able to drop the camera in anywhere within a shooting envelope and have full 360 degree motion capability. As I have used Otto over the last couple of years I have been kicking around a design that would provide about 90% the ability that Otto provides, but also allows a much more flexible shooting envelope.  Otto just cant handle tall plants. Much anything over 2 feet becomes very problematic.

The new robots will have the ability to put the camera about a foot from the ground to 7 feet in the air. They will be able to slide the camera left and right about 2.5 feet, and move forwards and backwards 15 feet on the long track. They will also have Pan/Tilt/Focus and probably 3D stereoscopic shooting, and even have a spare channel to control a rotary table or animate a prop if desired.

I know, that sort of weird right? Well they are being purpose built for plants. I have found that left and right is just not nearly as important as up and down.

They are not cranes.  I had started to build a crane and it posed a LOT of design challenges, and in the end my design will be much easier to build and be able to accomplish all the same work.

As for Otto, it will remain in my basement studio until 2019. Once Otto moves it will be in for some re-design work as well. The elevator/gantry system was build as a compromise in order to fit it in the room. I will have much higher ceilings in the studio, meaning I can go with another approach for the vertical axis.  I also plan to lengthen the travel on the X axis from 5 feet to 9 feet. 🙂

That’s about it for now. Ill keep the updates going for the progress as things develop.

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