It helps independent film makers make better films and opens up endless options for capturing truly amazing shots.
The Genie is a simple, affordable, compact, and extremely easy to use device for adding motion control to timelapse photography + more. It's an all-in-one device used to combine image capture with motion control, capable of either panning or linear movement that’s commonly used in timelapse Photography. Simply attach your camera to the top of the Genie, plug it in, and program it to move and shoot to your desired needs. It helps independent film makers make better films and opens up endless options for capturing truly amazing shots.2. The Brief: Summarize the problem you set out to solve. What was the context for the project, and what was the challenge posed to you?
Compact, affordable, and easy to use are 3 statements you won't hear associated with film equipment, especially motion control gear. When we started this project if you wanted to combine motion with timelapse you would need a track, battery pack, controller, motor unit, bag full of cables, and a hefty instruction manual. The problem was that most independent film makers couldn't afford such an elaborate addition to their kit let alone have room in their camera bag or their car for that matter. In addition there was a massive gap between the technology out there and user interaction. Committing to an existing time-lapse rig meant you were locked into its limitations. Your 2m time lapse dolly had it's absolute limit of 2m of movement and that was it and if you need to take a panning timelapse then you need an additional rig. There was no thought put into how you would transport these rigs into the middle of nowhere to get your shots, or how to streamline the setup. If you can't take it anywhere then what's the point in having it? When we developed the Genie we wanted to find a way to bring timelapse photography to all independent film makers. We wanted a device that we could take with us anywhere and we wanted a device that filmers could pick up and start using simply and quickly. We also wanted the diversity to make any piece of existing film equipment already out there into a motorised device.3. The Intent: What point of view did you bring to the project, and were there additional criteria that you added to the brief?
We needed portability, simplicity, versatility, and all of this at an affordable price and high quality. The point of view we always focused on was how it was used. One of the key criteria was that it was so simple to use that you didn't know it was there. We needed to make a hi-tech product that bridged the gap between the film maker and the shots they were trying to catch seamlessly. By removing the complexity from set-up we hoped we would be able to make new filming techniques available to a much wider range of creatives. The intent was to 'design' a new way of capturing timelapses, rather than just 'engineer' a new piece of equipment. The motion of getting a camera from A to B needed to be combined with the overall creative process of the film maker using it.4. The Process: Describe the rigor that informed your project. (Research, ethnography, subject matter experts, materials exploration, technology, iteration, testing, etc., as applicable.) What stakeholder interests did you consider? (Audience, business, organization, labor, manufacturing, distribution, etc., as applicable)
We came at this project with virtually no money, no facilities, and big gaps in key expertise, especially electronics and software. So the process reflected this. Late nights working on it between taking on other work to pay to live, and an endless journey of learning. The creative process began in a shed with a lot of day dreaming of what we really wanted. We tried not to focus on what others were doing in this field. The early research we did came back with a wide mixture of products that we couldn't afford and probably wouldn't know how to use. Through sketching talking, thinking and more talking we developed our concept further. We defined the required hardware and how the user could interact with it. Through countless hours of trawling the internet talking to experts and watching youtube electronics and software engineering lectures, we got to a point that we could design a basic PCB with all of our key functions on it. We were also able to build and test basic software functions using an Arduino dev board. Mean while we designed the mechanical components needed to connect it all with the real world. Making small parts by hand to test out the ideas. From here we found a friend of a friend that cleaned up our PCB design and we built the very first Genie. Its been a very gung ho approach from the start, going balls deep with what ever spare cash we could scrape together to get parts made, and swapping favours for expertises when ever possible. We put all of our eggs in one basket with the first full prototype, going for as close to a production solution as we could. Very risky to do with no real back up testing, but luckily it worked! Now up and running we finally got a chance to test and really see what we could do with it. This gave us an enormous amount of feedback for further development as well as the proof of concept we needed to get extra funding to push onwards. We further refined that mechanical design for better manufacture whilst keeping in mind that we would only be able to afford to make a very small first production run (500-1000 units). This resulted in carefully selecting processes that had low set-up costs but still allowed us to ramp up to medium volume quantities. We got a huge boost of funding via kickstarter that confirmed we had support from film makers, and we could get some greater minds involved on software and electronics engineering. We also spent a lot of time working on our supply chain to make for a smooth as possible production and delivery. Our process was far from process like, but a vital necessity in our situation. We had lemons but we wanted orange juice.5. The Value: How does your project earn its keep in the world? What is its value? What is its impact? (Social, educational, economic, paradigm-shifting, sustainable, environmental, cultural, gladdening, etc.)
It makes better films. We started this project because we wanted to make better films and help other film makers do the same. We wanted to make it easier for all film-makers to get great shots. The Genie opens up options for shots that were previously not possible. It gives us a new way of seeing the world, and it gives creatives a new way of telling their story. It puts filming techniques previously reserved for national geographic and the discovery channel into the hands of freelancers, students, and anyone else that wants to capture video and tell their story. With its versatility we also open the doors to contribute to the DIY end of film. Any home made track, cable cam, jib arm etc. can be converted into a motion controlled device for capturing both timelapses as well as smooth video shots. The potential of how it will be used going endlessly beyond our own imagination, and hopefully it will find a way of getting the one shot that keeps a film-maker awake at night thinking about. The value is not in the product, but solely in the added ways that the user can capture there stories.