360 Videos Get a Move On with Indy Mogul’s $650 Remote Controlled Camera Dolly

by Jamie Feltham • July 8th, 2016

We’ve already shown you a VR headset made out of crackers, but what about a 360 camera dolly made out of a wheelchair?

That’s what the team at Indy Mogul has tackled with the latest installment in its ‘Erik Builds the Movies’ series in which the YouTube star makes DIY filmmaking equipment. The aim behind this particular project was to create a device that would allow content creators to move their camera without exposing an elaborate setup that holds it all in place. As Erik points out in the video, there are professional options for this type of equipment, but they’re costly. It turns out you can reduce that price significantly if you can find some pretty specific spare parts lying around. What you’re about to see could all be put together for $650.

Namely, this rig consists of a motorized wheelchair (most importantly found in an alley) and RC airplane parts along with some other elements. First off the chair was gutted down to its essential components. With the motor still working, batteries recharged, and remote control installed, a new frame was bashed together to support the camera. The camera itself was a Samsung Gear 360, which is about as affordable as panoramic cameras get right now at $299 (not included in the $650), though still not available for purchase in the US. You could use just about any camera that fits the rig, though.

The final step was to implement a smaller camera on the bottom of the rig. This allows whoever’s driving the device to hide nearby to avoid being in the shot, but still see where they were going with the help of a display. The result, named ‘Aggy’, was a setup that the team could then drive around the Indy Mogul workshop, with Erik giving you a full 360 degree tour below. Bring the video up on your smartphone and you can watch it in VR with the help of a Google Cardboard device.

The gear can move up to 3 mph and the motors used are a quiet solution that won’t hum over whatever you’re recording.

So there you go; you don’t need to spend tens of thousands getting ready to shoot your VR movie. As the video states, though, Erik himself is a trained builder, and it’s not a great idea to attempt this stuff yourself if you don’t know what you’re doing. Find someone that does.

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