Photography and 360 Video Robots

Photography and 360 Video Robots

A common application for our remote control robot platforms is for photography and recording video. It works well if you have a subject that you cannot get close to or if you just want a different perspective. We built a custom robot for National Geographic to photograph lions in the wild.

As 360 video becomes more popular, remote controlled robots are emerging as an ideal mount if the intent is for the video to move. This allows the videographer to be mostly, or entirely removed from the video.

Choosing a platform

For taking video, a smooth driving robot is critical. The best option is to use a 2WD robot as it does not have to skid to turn so turns are very smooth. Our 2WD IG42 Tube Mount platform has a soft rubber caster in the back. It is best on indoor surfaces and relatively flat and smooth outdoor surfaces. For best results, use 10" wheels. For any terrain that is rougher, you'll need a 4WD robot. Some options are listed below.

Some recommended platforms:

Vibration Reduction

In general, it is a good idea to mount your camera on a gimbal to reduce as much vibration as possible. We've used to come with more vibration, but a gimbal can reduce most of it. We've used a Gimbal Guru along with a Ricoh Theta S camera with excellent results.

For even smoother operation you can tune the motor controller's acceleration. You cannot do this with the Sabertooth RC motor controller, but you can with the other Sabertooth motor controllers. The best one to use is the Sabertooth 2x32. It has a micro USB port so you can program it and immediately test your changes without re-wiring it to the receiver. For more information, see the DEScribe Manual on Dimension Engineering's website

Adding a drive camera will allow the videographer to be in a separate room as the robot, so you cannot see her/him in the video. A simple way to do this is by mounting a camera like this one and a 900MHz Video Transmitter. Plug the receiver into any LCD screen and you have a video feed from the robot that you can use to navigate a room. If possible, mount the camera on the back of the robot so you can see the front wheels of the robot. This gives the best perspective for remote navigation.