Panasonic HDC-TM900 & DaVinci Resolve Lite

From left to right (Panasonic HVX200, Canon EOS 1D Mark IV, Panasonic HDC-TM900)

Amazing results from the small consumer camera Panasonic HDC-TM900.

On my last trip to Romania I had full faith in the new TM900 and shot hundreds of stock footage clips in 1080/50p at 28 Mbits/s. This little camera is great if you have to travel light because you can shoot in high quality anywhere without drawing unnecessary attention. After reviewing my clips on the computer I’ve started to color grade them in DaVinci Resolve Lite and was positively surprised how far I can push the colors without them falling apart too much. I admit before importing the clips into DaVinci I’ve upconverted them through Cineform Neo HD to CF422 to make them editable - that’s an important part of my workflow. The newer version 8.1.1 of DaVinci Lite now includes unlimited CC nodes. With them you can throw in a bunch of PowerWindows, Layer Nodes and Qualifiers to make the picture really pop. Can’t wait to put my hands on a control surface.

These are my TM900 camera „Picture Adjust“ settings:
Sharpness -1 (depending on the scene content -3 or -1)
Colour 0 (don’t be fooled it looks vivid on the LCD)
Exposure -2 (the camera tends to overexpose too much)
WB Adjust 0 (I always do manual white balance)


Code For Motion Controlled Dolly

Finally, the code for the Motion Controlled Dolly (based on Arduino and Easydriver) is finished. It has now a super smooth acceleration and deceleration ramp.
A big thank you goes to Brian Schmalz from


You can download it here: Arduino Sketch ver.03
The schematics can be found in my old blog post here

Im using a modern hybrid stepper motor from Trinamic that is optimized for micro stepping. I’ve bought it for 29,- EUR from The code works out of the box with this motor: QSH4218-51-049 If you use a completely different motor you might have to change some values in the code. In worst case the motor will stall and you will not get a smooth motion.

DIY Portable Camera Crane


Inspired by Martin Roberts I’ve built my own version of a portable camera crane using a leg from an old tripod (SLIK 88N) that fits in a small leisure bag. The setup is really quick and easy, done in under one minute. It’s stiff enough to support a camera up to 1200 grams. For the center pivot Im using a swivel caster with ball bearing to get smooth motion. You can get them at any home depot. The cost for the parts were around 30 EUR. (I had already two old tripods sitting around in the garage.) The crane has a range of 1.40m (total length=2.10m). With the tripod fully extended I can go as high as 2.80m and in most situations this will be more than enough.


Caroline Eibl Fotografie Short Film

Short Film for Caroline Eibl

Done entirely on a Canon 1D Mark IV + DIY Dolly Slider
Special thanks to Andrei-Wiliam Baumgartner (LiquidCreativity) and Michael Stoian (BlackSheep Visuals).

AIR Dekanter

Shooting glass objects is not that easy. You have to produce strong lines along the edges of the object and also eliminate distracting reflections.
For this matter I’ve used Bright-Field and Dark-Field Lighting.

air decanterDecanter0255

DIY Lens Align Clone

Due to some backfocusing of my camera & lens combination I’ve decided to microadjust my AF lenses and searched for a good and fast solution. After trying different focus charts without success, found in various „DIY AF Microadjustment tutorials“ I’ve realized that it can’t work if your cameras CMOS sensor is not exactly parallel to the focus chart. Doing it by hand is nearly impossible to achieve constant results (at least for me).


I found only two commercial products. The Spyder LensCal and the LensAlign PRO. After reading some bad reviews about the Spyder LensCal and setting it up with it’s included bubble wouldn’t be accurate enough I’ve decided to take a look at the more professional LensAlign PRO that works by using the parallax principle. But for $180 I find it highly overpriced.

They now have also the LensAlign MkII for $80 but because I need it within 24 hours before my shoot I searched on and found a „DIY LensAlign Clone tutorial“. Based on that info I’ve built my own DIY LensAlign out of a white Forex Foam PVC sheet from homedepo that can be stored flat folded like the original one. It’s highly accurate and it will do the job. After some work in Illustrator I’ve printed the ruler and the focus chart on labels and fixed it to the parts. The center hole of the chart is covered by a piece of black tape.

For non-DIY’ers get the cheaper LensAlign MkII for $80 it’s really worth it! Take a look at the videos of the LensAlign Pro to see how the unit works: LensAlignPro_HowTo


Landsberg X-PRESS

landsberg x-press

American Football
April 30, 2011 - Landsberg X-PRESS vs. FELDKIRCHEN Lions
Facebook Gallery here

Arduino MocoSlider TimeLapse Unit

Just finished my new Motion Control Unit for the circular and linear tracking dolly. I’ve did the holes, buttons and engraving with my little cnc machine. The electronics fit perfectly in the case and everything is tidied up. A big thanks goes to Duncan Frazier for the arduino code. It contains a TimeLapse & Slider mode. The 9 pin SUB-D jack connects to the stepper motor of my dolly and the mini jack goes through an adapter cable to the Canon camera. Now I have to adjust the code for my stepper motor to work properly.


My DIY Fig Rig

Just like to show you my well balaced diy fig rig. Actually I’ve used the same parts and just modified my existing diy shoulder rig (took off the shoulder support and turned the grips 180°).


On the rods I can add my lightweight accessories like a Rode Mic and the Zoom H4 audio recorder. Using a Follow Focus would also be cool but it can’t be operated by the same person who is holding the fig rig.

Maybe a small servomotor (from model airplane) and a potentiometer that can be controlled with the thumb could work.

Skater Dolly + Arduino QUICKTEST

Here is a quick test with the Skater Dolly in action.

diy skater dolly motion control QUICKTEST from Daniel on Vimeo.

Arduino + EasyDriver + Stepper Motor
coding by Brian Schmalz

The speed ramping is not included yet and therefore the skater is stopping abruptly and shakes a little bit. But the other functions are working great.

Motor unit for skater dolly

Finally the house moving is complete and I had some time to continue the work on my “Motion Controlled Dolly”. I’ve designed a quick plate that sticks directly on top of the metal screws of the skater dolly. One little (but very strong) neodymium magnet holds the whole plate with stepper motor to the metal screw. On the motor side there is no magnet because this would affect the motor itself. I’ve also intentionally left out the grey plastic wheel on the stepper motor for you to see how the unit looks like when it’s assembled. The whole motor unit can be fixed and removed in 2 seconds from the dolly.


Now it’s time to power up this thing and do some tests.
Unfortunately Brian didn’t had time to finish the code yet, therefore the acceleration and deceleration ramp is not included. Hopefully he will have more time this year.