Biolapse Virtual Studio Visit.

Hey everyone.

Normally while shooting I find myself with long periods where I cant do much but let the automation do its thing.  I thought it would be fun to grab footage for a virtual studio visit. This quickly became a LOT of footage, and I decided to break it down into a couple episodes.  This is Part 1, where I go over my Command Center.  I explain the setup, the various pieces of equipment I use, and spend some time going over the Dragonframe software.

Its pretty long at 19 minutes. If you are just looking for eye candy this would not be your video, but if you want to get a real view into what it is I have been putting together and how i control it, this is a good video. Next video will highlight the main stage and Otto’s hardware, and that will probably be followed by a shoot, start to finish.

Maybe building again?

Hi folks.

Wow its been over a month since my last post. I guess i just got caught up on things. A lot has happened. I turned 40, which was unexpected.  Been putting a lot of hours in at my day job, and filming some plants as well. I seem to have managed to get most of the bugs worked out on the System. I had two shoots where the Canon 6D shut off. Luckily it did not cause any real issues, but I’m not sure the best way to fix that issue just yet. It is not a timeout on the camera, something is happening. I had a cheap old Chinese ac power source which I had replaced with a genuine Canon power supply but the issue still happens. Everything is plugged into an UPS, shouldn’t see any power issues. I may have to build out some sort of a monitoring system.

Other than that, I’ve had several successful shoots but nothing that I can really show at this point.  I am thinking of picking up some flowers on my way home as the studio has been dark for a week now. I also have a live carnivorous plant set that is about ready for filming.

….another development..  we may actually have a new focusing system coming out. We are toying with a design that is intended to get rid of the elephant in the room that we all look past when discussing focusing systems for time-lapse photography, and that is lens tug.  I am fairly convinced this is why you almost never see focus pulls in timelapse. I have yet to find a camera lens mount that does not have some sort of play in it. That play translates out to a tug on the lens when shifting back and forth with lens motors. The design we are playing around with is extremely simple, lightweight, and would be a universal fit for (virtually) any lens, and actually mounts to the lens, not a 15mm rod, thereby eliminating lens tug.

I dont know how much effort I want to put into making/selling these things.  Between Chronos HD, Chronos Lite, and the Lens Apparatus we sold hundreds of systems through The Chronos Project. I love prototyping, I love inventing, but I’m not a fan of production and assembly, it eventually just turned into another job and became pretty tiring.  If we do bring them to market, they will not be sold with any control mechanism, so they would need to be used with control systems like emotimo or dynamic perception.  So Keep an eye on our social media on IG, Fb, and this website.  I dont think we will have an actual ordering system, but we will probably be happy to take email orders and paypal.

Thinking of building. A photographer has asked me the cost to build him something like Otto. Well, I have about 20k in equipment on this system, and hundreds of hours of labor. I don’t know a number i would feel good about putting out there, it would be a lot. Perhaps 60k, which is a LOT of money.  That has the gears in the head going about doing something new, something different.  You look at what the big names are doing… and it is all sort of the same stuff.  Here is the linear slide. Here is the Pan/Tilt or Here are a couple pieces that can be configured as a pan/tilt. Some of it is somewhat modular, but in a way of “these parts are designed to work in several orientations” but nothing that offers true freedom to design and build.  lets be honest, it always looks like the same thing right? The final result everyone looks towards is a linear slide, with pan/tilt and possible focus.  After playing around with Otto I have learned just how incredibly restrictive that template is.  With Otto I can literally float my camera in any direction, any orientation. While Otto is useless for remote locations and is not portable, when using it for the purposes in which it was designed it feels limitless in its capabilities.

I think I can capture that same freedom in something that is scale-able and affordable… and it probably wont look much like anything on the market.
As for the plants,  I hope to have some footage to display soon. I am also thinking about doing a series of dragonframe tutorials.

I have quite a bit of footage I have put together to do a virtual studio tour, but have not had the time to edit it together.

Well, back to the grind! Ill try to get some more footage up soon 🙂


Squashing Bugs!

Hello everyone!

First off.  Happy Holidays! I hope everyone had a good one. Pretty good on my side. I spoiled the crap out of my kid. Legos. 3DS. Go Kart. Clothes, more toys.  The real winner this Christmas in my view was me. My parents went through painstaking details to put together 7 photo albums that include history of my family over 400 years. Some of the photos are over 100 years old!

Mom, Dad, I love you!

I had 6 days off for the holidays. A large amount of that time was spent debugging Otto. This of course means a lot of stepping up a stepstool, dropping something, stepping down, picking up, stepping up, dropping, stepping down, stepping up. Repeat 100x. I have learned quite a bit about patience.

I think I have been working on Otto for close to 4 months now. It has been a major endeavour. A lot of money. A lot of time. But things are finally starting to pay off. I had run a timelapse of a venus fly trap which really did not turn out well for many reasons. One of them was the movement. “Close enough” is not good enough. This rig i have built has the potential to do it perfectly every time. I just need the patience to work through the issues. For those who do not know me personally, I am a fixer. If something is broken, I fix it. I spent over 20 years in telecommunications fixing things. Everything from voice stuff, to IP stuff. DMS, 5ess, Sonus, Cisco, Juniper, Broadsoft, Adtrans, washer, dryer, electrical, automotive, toys, You name it. (well except relationships, I have never quite figured out women)

Troubleshooting is something I have become pretty good at. I had an instructor, Mr. Khuns, he taught me about a Short, and a Known Open while in technical training in the USAF. Everything in troubleshooting boils down to the Short, and the Known Open. That applies for anything you will ever troubleshoot.

So that was my week. Fixing Otto.

The Venus Fly Trap timelapse was a failure in terms of content, but a huge success in helping me understand what Otto’s shortcomings are.  I made some huge steps this past week, and i have just a little bit more to do before Otto will be in top shape.

Bear in mind, I am asking a LOT of this system.  all of the test videos are stop motion. none of them are real time. This means that 12 second clip took at least 30 minutes to gather the footage. The Elevator and Pan/Tilt system weight about 40lbs and extend about 4 feet. Coaxing moves that are less than 0.15mm… well.. lets just say im pretty please with myself.

Here is a video that shows some of the test footage with some voiceover that explains/shows what I was running into and what I did to resolve it. Warning, if you are not into the BTS of the technical side, this may be a bit dry.

The good news is I finally feel confidant that it is time to stop tweaking Otto and to start building sets for filming.

I have been working on an outline for a virtual studio visit. I think it may be a fun project, I hope to start shooting that next week. Subscribe! Also check me out on facebook and instagram on the side bars.

Always gotta be sumthin


Cant just have shit work. Always running into issues.

Om my third attempt for a timelapse in the last few days. Started on Dec 4th. Everything was setup and looking good.
Back to the BCM for timing. Everything was looking good. Checked on the progress last night when i got home from work, and of course the BCM shows 92 shots while Dragonframe only shows 50.

The 6D kept saying FULL.  Best I can tell, it is referring to the memory card, which is NOT in the camera. When tethered the image is sent directly to the PC

I continued to have problems until I removed the Canon N3 connector, after which everything seemed to clear up.

I still had some space available on the hard drive it is saving to.  Not sure why it was doing that. It is the first time I had run into the issue.

I am starting to think the USB connection from camera to laptop is problematic. I have a 6 foot Mini USB to USB, connected to two 10 foot USB extensions for a total of 26 feet. Turns out USB should be under 16 feet. So last night I ordered an Active USB extender which should boost the signal to get a better connection.

I am also wondering about the power supply. The one I am using is a 3rd party power cable. I did notice that the battery level on the camera starts out full, and eventually drops. I have not seen it drop lower than losing a single mark off the battery indicator, just to be on the safe side I managed to find a genuine Canon ACK-E6


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