This project was a student pitch project that I came on to because they were in need of a hardware designer. Our aim was to create a low-budget, motion-controlled robot that was capable of time-lapse photography and reproducing motions in three dimensions accurately (aka Motion Controlled Time Lapse or MoCoTiLa). Early tests involved using a micro-controller to trigger a camera’s shutter. This worked well for us at the beginning, but we soon found that we needed more control over the camera and decided to upgrade from a Canon EOS Rebel to a Canon 5D. Not only did this camera have the capability of much higher resolution images, it could also shoot video and relay preview videos back to a computer in real-time.
As the semester went along, we continued to develop various parts of the robot simultaneously. Tom Corbett, one of the team’s producers, and myself worked on finding the components we would need to make the robot work properly while Charles Daniel, our lead programmer, worked on controlling these parts from a computer.
At the summation of the semester, we did have a working model, albeit of prototype quality. Our machine was able to move along standard movie production track and repeat motions created through a custom web interface. Our biggest downfall was a lack of stability and resolution in the rotary joints. We also experienced environmental interference when filming outside. Our motors were simply not strong enough to withstand anything more than a light breeze.
More extensive documentation can be found on the MoCoTiLa Project’s Website.