So I upped my timelapse skills by adding motion with a Dynamic Perception Stage One slider and an Emotimo TB3 3-axis tilt/pan and slide head. I have been working with it for some weeks. To start with the conclusion: this gear delivers great results! Love it! In this blogpost I want to share my experiences with this setup so far, mainly focussing on the things that could be improved. I assume you have some basic understanding of this gear.
The Stage One
The main reason I chose the Stage One is because it is easy to transport. Disassembled it is so small and light you can even take it as hand luggage on planes. Or keep it assembled and carry it in a (gun)case, I use a simple nylon bag.
If you are concerned about the joint in the middle of the slider, don’t worry. The carriage won’t wobble. However, beware of the Quick snap system. Really tighten this thing or the motor might wobble.
One thing I did not like is the fact that the Stage One motor won’t push the camera 90° vertically upwards. Vertically downwards is possible but it it can’t push it upwards, I doubt if it will hold. That’s a shame since it’s such a cinematic camera move. I’m thinking about adding a pulley and counterweight. Mimicking a dolly move is essentially what sliders are all about. The Stage One maximum angle is, depending on the load, about 40°.
This simple robotic head does what it is designed to do. Easy to use with great results, what more can I say? Well, the simplicity also makes it slow to program. If only I could recall/adjust start and stop points. As you can see in this shot, I litteraly ‘missed the boat’ because I was still moving the TB3 to set the in and out points. In this shot you will also notice the hiccups caused by the loose bolt on the Stage One.
The TB3 with it’s funky bluetooth remote is just screaming ‘Where’s the app?’. Would be a great new feature for the TB4. Another improvement would be to put the tilt motor next to the camera instead of underneath. That way the camera sensor would remain in the middle of the tilt/pan movement, eliminating any unwanted perspective changes to the shot. Ehrm .. the Dynamic Perception Stage R will be exactly that ..
Something I miss on both the TB3 and Stage One is a ‘end’ warning. Right now, they both grind their gears if you reach the end of the slider or tilt the head to much. On the TB3 you can actually rip a cable if you pan too far. Easy to avoid but with a million things happening on location, easy to overlook as well.
The Triopo tripods and heads
To carry the Stage One, TB3 and camera, I got a Triopo GX-1127 carbon fiber tripod, a Triopo MT-3228X8C alu tripod and 3 Triopo KJ-1 ballheads with quick releases. The good: its cheap, lightweight, folds small and is strong enough. The bad: it’s not professional quality and you will run into limitations and annoyances on each and every feature. Tripods like these are nice for hiking and traveling but for day-to-day work I prefer tank-build tripods like the Manfrotto 028 or 058.
The Triopo KJ-1 ballheads can carry 6kg and that is theoretically enough to cary this setup. But they can break from the added stress when adjusting the height / angle on one of the tripods. So don’t adjust the tripods with gear on them! Another option I am looking into is to ditch the ballheads and use video or 3-way heads. These will prevent tipping the rig while allowing height/angle adjustments.
The Stage One comes with a small 2.1 Ah battery. It’s bad quality and underpowered, use it as backup only. My main source of power is a 3-in-1 17Ah lead-acid car battery with a build-in jumpstarter, light, air compressor and .. three 12v DC outputs! This 60 euro, ugly box will push the rig all day. It comes with a simple charger but I use an Optimate charger to maintain the battery. With a bit of hacking you can remove the jumpstart cables. It’s not light but the handle on top makes it easy to carry. The durability of this box still needs to be proven but for now this is a great addition to my setup.
But .. is there any use in cinematography for an air compressor? How about an inflatable slider? A bottle-rocket gopro? Or an air pressure gimbal-stabilizer?