Cinematography Mailing List - CML

Repeatable Pans

I am going to be shooting in the USA (primarily LA) and am looking to hire some sort of poor-mans memory head. The shot I need is a series of pans (4 or 5) which need to be replicated in speed at least. Repeatable start and end points would be an added bonus... but as the shoot does not have the biggest budget (its a doc)... just the matched speed would do.

While full moco would be out of limits any sort of portable motorized head would probably work? (the camera would be a digi-beta)

Any thoughts?


Brendan McGinty, DP, London

> looking to hire some sort of poor-mans memory head.

Of course, the first thought is Hot Gears with an Arri gear head. Works great. The only issue is that the memory is volatile. You lose the memorized info when you unplug the battery, so the memorized move only works while you stay in one location. They do have a laptop based system whereby you can save the move but then it gets pretty expensive.


Rod Williams
Motion Picture & HD Camera Assistant
Petaluma, California

Hot Gears on an Arri Head would be the cheapest. One 12 amp battery will power my console for at least 12 hours.

Steve Peterson,
LA 600 AC, owner of Lambda Hot Gears, Dynalens Rentals.

Try Joe Lewis at General Lift in L.A. ( )
He has a portable pan/tilt moco head that you can operate without a moco operator..

Jeff Platt
Motion Design
Electronics for the Entertainment Industry
Arizona based

I hear this kind of question posed often... the idea that "full moco would be out of limits" of a production, but a memory head would not be. I know what Arri Motion costs, I know what MoSys costs. I know what Aerohead costs. And Scorpio, and, well, blah, blah, blah.... I don't know what Hot Gears cost complete, including the cost of the head itself.

A motion control head with 3 axes of motion plus lens motors (5 axes total) including a tech/operator is in the range of $1500 to $2000 per day. Are the other systems so considerably less expensive than that to merit hanging the label of "...out of limits..." on Moco?

That said, having read the description that Brendan wrote, I would suggest you might be able to get away with a gear head, a metronome, and just some simple start/stop marks on the head. Manually operate the head to the rhythm of the metronome, starting and stopping at the proper marks. This can work very well on dolly moves, but the head can be a bit more twitchy. With the sketchy nature of the requirements Brendan described, it's hard to say...

Respectfully wondering...

Don Canfield
Gear+Rose Motion Control
New York

>I am going to be shooting in the USA (primarily LA) and am looking to >hire some sort of poor-mans memory head.

If your after the true poor-mans method I've had very good luck with the ultimate poor-mans memory head - its on my shoulders. May I suggest you try using your GG markings and marking the head up with map makers tape for stop/start, pan/tilt. In post you can stitch together multiple passes and layers easily with Illusion, or Fire, or whatever. With the auto lock and other tracking programs on today's post kit its a breeze.

Shoot a test, bring it to the post house, and they'll show you what they can do. They can add any speed or whip you desire as well. If you don't visit these places much I think your going to be very surprised. You'll end up with a fairly accurate quote from post for a finished composite, the test won't cost much, and you'll see it for yourself. It wouldn't surprise me if this method produces the finished shot significantly cheaper than motorized head rental bill alone. Good luck.

Phil 'just a cheapskate - doesn't own a post house' Savoie
Producer / Cameraman
BBC Natural History Unit

I would agree with Jeff that for LA, Joe Lewis at General Lift is the one to contact for this kind of thing.

But, Jeff, are you sure he will send out moco gear "techless"? I know it has been one of his goals, but you're looking for real trouble to try moco for the first time with no experience in a job that "must work". Joe is a friend of mine, but I've not asked him specifically about this particular issue.

Please help me learn more.....

Don Canfield
Gear+Rose Motion Control
New York

If what you really want is motion control, you might consider calling Joe Lewis at General Lift 310 414-0717. A quote for a simple pan/tilt set-up may not be that far off a repeatable head with an order of magnitude greater accuracy. He might also be able to refer you to another solution if he is too pricey for your budget, but he is a really helpful guy, Joe also has access to a head designed to do what you are asking for without being a full up programmed head - it might be just what you need.

For just matching speeds, the other financial extreme is the wonderful combination of a geared head and a metronome...provide the move is constant speed.

Disclosure - I have been a client of Joe's company at times and he and I have designed and built things together and he has even hired me to help develop a system once...but I would not recommend him if I did not think it was worth a phone call.

Mark Weingartner
LA based

>I am going to be shooting in the USA (primarily LA) and am looking to >hire some sort of poor-mans memory head.

Brendan what is the timeframe for this job ? I have a small "Multipurpose Intervalometer" box that I can program to do lot's of things .. We could make a stepper Motor mount for an Occonnor or Sachler head and simply attach a motor driving into the stick on lens gearing. I also have a a set of stepper motor's that will fit a worral head (you could rent the Worral Beast in America) That would also do the same thing from a laptop. I've often thought that a simple head to repeat in Stop Motion moves already created by the Mo-Sys or Ultihead would be useful and assumeing that the pan you want is not a whip pan then such a setup should be fine for your purposes ..

Justin Pentecost

Motion Control Geek London

First off, I have to acknowledge a vested interest. I'm a partner in the company that manufactures the system, but for repeatability, that is frame accurate, i.e. motion control, rather than mimic, a fundamental difference, try the Revolver system, ( You will find all the spec on the site. We believe it outperforms all the compteting systems, butI would say that! Anyway it fits in a flight case no bigger than a prime lens box and merely bolts onto exiting off-the-shelf gear, (Arri head, cameras & preston lens control.) It will work with 35mm, 16mm, HD & SD and can be rented via Louma in Paris or 186 in London. 186 would be only to happy for you to go and have a play.

There are no systems in USA currently, but because of its' size you can easily carry it with you as you travel and because the equipment it interfaces with require absolutely no modification, get the rest of the gear in US.

If you want to discuss this further please do not hesitate to contact me off list, (+33 6 23 78 56 25)

Ben Bannister

Benedict Bannister wrote :

>....It will work with 35mm, 16mm, HD & SD and can be rented via >Louma in Paris or 186 in London. 186 would be only to happy for you >to go and have a play....

Can you tell me/us the contact details for the elusive 186 in London please? (Google with 186 yields various restaurants and other ephemera.)


Dr. David Woods
Holcus Ltd.
16 John Street
Kingston Square
Hull HU2 8DH
East Yorkshire

Contact details for 186 & Louma respectively are:

Craig Game, (or Christian Malone MD) +44 208 4572430,

Karen or Nicolas Pollachi +33 1 48 13 25 60,

Ben Bannister
Director/ Camera

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