For some time now, I have searched for a lightweight, affordable motion control system to add movement in my time-lapse videos. My previous works were created using only a tripod and camera. In my videos, it may appear like my camera is mounted to a motion control system, but this is an illusion created in post-production by what most like to call, ‘panning and zooming’.
Recently, I was made aware of a company called eMotimo from other time-lapse photographers in the field. eMotimo invented a device which offers repeatable, three-axis motion control. This device, known as the TB3, appeared very lightweight, seemed within my budget, and was produced locally in the US. While doing research on the TB3, I stumbled across a few reviews from Gunther Wegner & Phil Hart. Both seemed very happy with the TB3 and also showed examples of what they produced.
So I took the plunge, contacted the creator of eMotimo, Brian Burling, explained to him our lofty plans for 2014, and it’s been magic ever since. I have hinted for some time we have some crazy plans in the works and finding the right equipment was a giant step. In addition, I wanted the option to add motion to our videos and find a motion control system our participants can easily learn during our 5-day workshops.
Lightweight: For what this unique device can do, it weighs practically nothing. At 3 lbs 9 ounces, it is manageable and I believe well worth the slightly extra baggage. You can purchase the Anker battery which should get you a solid 4 hours in ‘power save’ mode on the TB3. However, the large battery weighs a bit.
Easy to use: Very intuitive and fun to set up. Yes, FUN. C’mon, you get to use a wii controller.
Crazy minimal set up time: My first sequence was set up in 5 minutes before glancing at the instructions.
3 axis capability: I quickly set up the TB3 on my dolly and am happy with the ease of use & results.
Repeatable motion: For my type of work, this feature is a major added bonus. I’ll definitely use this option in our next project.
Panorama Feature: No more guessing about how much overlap I need to calculate when creating panoramas. Just program the TB3, hit the start button, done.
Price: Again, for what this device can do, very comparable to anything out in the marketplace.
Customer Service: This subject is HUGE for me! Brian & Logan are the nicest guys to work with and 100% supportive of our mission. For example, after a week in the field with the TB3, Brian checked-in with me to make sure everything was working smooth. I had a single concern: one of the Anker batteries I received wouldn’t re-charge. No problem, they were happy to replace it. Brian was also kind enough to listen to my ideas and opinions I had during my initial use, to improve minor things on the TB3.
Hmmmm… not much.
Power: OK, I should have read the instructions more thoroughly. I admit it. On my first night out, the TB3 died after 30 minutes of use. After reading the instructions, I discovered its ‘power save’ mode, I was then able to capture two different, 3 axis scenes in a single night using the Battery / Charger / Cable.
I spoke with Brian about a few features I would like to see added to this device in the future. Most importantly is a 4 point move. Right now, I can program the TB3 to do 2 and 3 point moves for time-lapse. However, on my last night in the field, I found myself needing a 4 point move. If you have 8 feet of rail space, you can easily find yourself needing the camera to go in multiple directions, or possibly follow certain elements in your foreground. I am confident we will see this in a software update in the near future.
Want to learn how to use the TB3?
During our 5 Day Night Sky Photography Workshops, I’ll be instructing you how to use the eMotimo TB3 and other motion control systems. In addition, Brian has generously agreed to send us a few TB3’s for our participants to use during the workshop. Spaces are limited and filling up fast, so secure your space now!