A 3-in-1 motorized dolly including a cable, wheel and rail dolly that lets you create beautiful time lapses and live action videos.
Support this project here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1492262416/charlotte-a-modular-real-time-and-time-lapse-dolly
The Three Dollies
Charlotte Motion Control is a camera dolly system that allows photographers and filmmakers to expand their motion control capabilities. I wanted to make a modular dolly system that would be portable and versatile. The components can be configured to make three types of camera dollies: a cable dolly, a rail dolly and a wheeled dolly. Each of these have their own strengths. The cable dolly is amazing in its ability to take the camera through spaces that would otherwise be very difficult to move through. The rail dolly allows very precise stable shots on a platform that can be set up quickly. The wheeled dolly allows arced or straight shots over any smooth surface.
The cable dolly is really what inspired me to take on this project. Something about the idea of sending a camera alone through space and retrieving the images it captured along the way has always captivated me. The first videos I shot using home depot pulley wheels and a camcorder were shaky and noisy so I started incrementally making improvements. I eliminated noise and vibration by turning my own aluminum wheels on a lathe. I stabilized the camera platform by creating a twin cable arrangement that can be tensioned using a ratchet. I then added a motor and controller to capture both time-lapse and real-time film.
Motor and Controller
The brains and muscle of Charlotte are provided by a controller box and a stepper motor. To program the controller you enter in the total run time, total distance and number of exposures for your time lapse. The controller then calculates and displays the speed and shutter interval. The Charlotte controller brings a new level of precision to time-lapse. It combines motion control with shutter control. You can run test shots at a faster speed and make adjustments before you run the final shot. If you want to make a change to one of the parameters you can, and the others will be recalculated. The motor and controller can operate at very slow speeds for time-lapse and faster for real-time. This is one of the advantages of the stepper motor. While other dollies that use dc gear motors require you to switch between motors for time-lapse and real-time, the motor that’s included with the Charlotte dolly is capable of speeds from 0 to 40 ft per minute. This means you can reliably capture very slow things like plant growth and fast things like a person walking in the same package.
The dolly was built to be flexible so that it can be adapted to field conditions. Three sets of wheels are included which can be switched out to make the cable dolly, rail dolly and wheel dolly. The fasteners are all hand tightened to make field assembly easy. You never have to worry about forgetting the screwdriver. Another advantage of this system is that the dolly is very compact when it’s disassembled. The whole dolly can easily fit into a backpack.
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