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.

Arduino + EasyDriver = Motion Controlled Dolly

A couple of weeks ago I’ve decided to motorize my homemade SkaterDolly but I didn’t know how until I came across the Arduino microcontroller. It’s a great little microcontroller which can do when programmed correctly various useful tasks. It has been already used by the OpenMoco community with amazing results for motion control based time-lapse photography. Check it out it’s awesome!

Myself Im absolutely no programming guy at all therefore I asked for help in a couple of forums until I’ve met Brian Schmalz the designer of the EasyDriver stepper motor driver board. He was willing to do the programming for my retro “EasyDriver Handbox” cable remote control. He’s still working on the programming and I hope he finish it soon :-)

In the meantime, here are some pics of my homemade EasyDriver Handbox remote control + schematic.


This remote control allows me to move the SkaterDolly with the camera back and forth adjusting max speed and ramp for smooth camera motion. Also it makes it possible to save 2 positions and move back and forth between these saved positions. Furthermore by selecting a very low speed Im able to do time-lapse photography too with the SkaterDolly or any other dolly with a stepper motor connected to it. My whole project is Open Source and the code will be available for download here in this blog and on Brian’s page.

Simple Schematic:


Noise test with 1/3 ISO settings on Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III & 1D Mark IV

Do you use 1/3 ISO settings on your Canon EOS body? On the new 1D Mark IV you should because that means less noise!

After reading this very informative article at Northlight Images I took myself some shots with incremental ISO settings with the Canon 1Ds Mark III & 1D Mark IV side by side. The camera was set to manual, with a lens cap on and the viewfinder shutter closed...


My homemade skater dolly

My homemade skater dolly (thanks to DP Bill Hawkins for the inspiration)

The body and wheel cages were cnc-milled from thick plywood to allow mounting of heavy 35mm rigs. For the wheel holders and washers I used POM as material. I designed the scale in Illustrator and printed it on glossy paper. Afterwards they were fixed with screws to each acrylic disc...


My homemade rig for my Canon 1D Mark IV

Finally done my new camera rig!

I finished today my homemade camera rig - yeeessss!
Made from standard parts found in a bike shop and at the metal store. I’ve got the shoulder pad and the small rail (for holding a 7” TFT) from a very old video camera.
The design is easy and straight forward. It allows me to add several parts to the hand grips like a RODE Mic and a Zoom H4 audio recorder. At the end of the shoulder mount I will fix a rechargeable battery that acts as a counter balance and that will power the 7” TFT.
This design can of course also be used with the Canon 5D Mark II, 7D or 500D that have the movie function integrated. Feel free to use this design. If you have any questions let me know.