In 2018, virtually each one in every of us has a digital camera that may movie HD and even 4K video. Movies may be uploaded to Youtube, Vimeo, Fb, or Instagram with the clicking of some buttons. What as soon as was reserved for filmmakers or TV productions with large budgets now could be accessible in every little thing from full-frame DSLRs to GoPros to the smartphone in your pocket.

So how do you make your movies stand out in a sea of cats flushing bathrooms and grandmas dancing the funky rooster? An entire accent section has grown to try to allow you to do exactly that. Exterior microphones, add-on large/tele lenses, and gyroscopic stabilizers can all polish up your footage and provides your movies a much more skilled really feel (even in the event you’re simply filming your child’s piano recital). However what if you would like one thing that may stand out much more? The Grip Gear Film Maker is likely to be what you’re searching for.

What’s it?

The Grip Gear Film Maker is a compact (claimed to be the world’s smallest) motorized movement management slider/dolly. It is aimed toward smartphone or GoPro photographers, however has a 750g/26ouncesweight restrict excessive sufficient for many mirrorless cameras and even just a few smaller DSLRs as nicely.

Having a device like a slider provides video-makers entry to a few of the most iconic pictures in cinematography

For these not acquainted, a motorized digital camera slider is a set of observe, single on this case, regularly double in bigger rigs, with a motor mount designed to permit a digital camera to be connected. The motor permits the digital camera to maneuver alongside the observe at very exact and constant speeds. Having a device like a slider provides video-makers entry to a few of the most iconic pictures in cinematography. Monitoring, dolly, and push-in pictures are a few of the foundations of scene constructing and emotional communication. Including them to your movies will make them stand out in a means that an add-on large angle lens by no means may.

In use

Setup for the Film Maker is pretty straightforward. The slider observe itself is a modular design that clamps along with every part of monitoring being about 12in/30.5cm lengthy. This each permits simpler transport and offers you the choice to buy further sections. The motor unit slides onto the rails and has a small ballhead with an ordinary tripod screw, and a spring-loaded smartphone holder can also be included.

Energy is provided by an inside rechargeable battery giving a claimed run time of as much as two hours. The battery’s micro-USB charging port additionally permits the usage of a USB battery pack for much longer run occasions. The observe has three pairs of adjustable toes that enable fundamental leveling on uneven floor. In addition they supply the power to wrap round one thing like a pipe or fencepost to permit the digital camera to maneuver vertically. Extra importantly, there are 1/4-20 and 5/Eight tripod mounts on the underside of the observe.

How does it work?

Whereas the rails and connecting/mount {hardware} are aluminum there may be unsurprisingly numerous plastic within the Film Maker’s development. You positively don’t really feel like you’re holding a excessive finish machine – however at $130, you additionally aren’t paying for one both. The little ballhead is of middling high quality and care must be taken when connecting the rails to ensure there isn’t a hole between the sections of plastic tooth. However general, development is simply nice for the supposed goal and price-point. The Film Maker additionally breaks down right into a surprisingly small bundle. Whereas packing for a household trip, I tossed every little thing into some additional house in my suitcase and took it together with no hassle.

Mounting is each a easy affair and a bit limiting. Whereas the adjustable toes do enable some tolerance for uneven floor and vertical mounting, they’re additionally not all that enormous or sturdy so that you received’t need to depend on them in case you are utilizing a digital camera on the prime of the Film Maker’s weight restrict.

The lightest journey tripod I had in my closet held the Film Maker fairly nicely

Maybe extra importantly, you’ll shortly discover that utilizing the toes just about locks you into low angle pictures. You’ll be without end dragging tables throughout the room or making an attempt to set the unit up on a automobile hood as a way to get your digital camera off the bottom. The reply to that is going to be the tripod mount. This provides you much more choices to search out the optimum peak and placement on your shot. And provided that the entire unit doesn’t weight that a lot and doesn’t work with heavy DSLRs, you don’t want a lot of a tripod in any respect. The lightest journey tripod I had in my closet held the Film Maker fairly nicely (assuming that you simply aren’t filming in a windstorm).

That stated, the design of the Film Maker’s tripod mount is considerably irritating. In an effort to supply each 1/Four and three/Eight tripod mounting choices, the mount is a 3/Eight thread with a 1/Four adapter nut screwed into it. This is able to be nice besides that for these of us utilizing commonplace 1/Four tripod screws (most everybody), which means there may be little or no floor space to forestall wobbles or twisting because the digital camera is on the far ends of the observe. I ended up utilizing gaffer tape or zip-ties sometimes to maintain every little thing regular. A greater design would have had the 1/Four screw go instantly into the Film Maker and embrace a 3/Eight adapter for individuals who need one. As is, I might most likely rig up a tripod plate with a 3/Eight screw if I have been going to be utilizing the Film Maker usually.

Controls for the Film Maker are fairly easy. Actually, there are solely 4 buttons: two that management beginning/stopping/route and two that enhance/lower the motor pace. There are 9 speeds to select from, the slowest being a VERY sluggish crawl and the quickest being reasonably fast. There’s even a useful information printed on the observe that tells you the way lengthy the motor will take to cross the entire observe at every pace. I would like to have seen just a few extra speeds on the “quick” finish and I’m not sure how many individuals will discover the slowest speeds to be helpful. Typically although, the pace vary works simply nice for many functions.

One factor value noting is that, in contrast to with higher-end sliders, there isn’t a choice to pan or tilt the digital camera whereas it’s working on the observe – it’s locked to no matter angle you set the ballhead at. On a Hollywood manufacturing, this is able to be a big limitation. However on a slider at this price-point, it may simply be forgiven.

With just some exceptions, the footage is mostly excellent

With just some exceptions, the footage is mostly excellent. Utilizing the identical digital camera, I’m undecided that you’d be capable to inform the distinction between a shot on the Film Maker vs one finished on a slider that was 3 times the value. However about these “exceptions” – the primary is that the digital camera’s microphone can decide up motor hum, particularly on the sooner speeds. The motor isn’t loud, nevertheless it isn’t silent both. The second is one thing I alluded to earlier: gaps within the plastic tooth. When assembling the rail sections, it’s essential to ensure that there aren’t any gaps the place the plastic tooth come collectively. If there’s a hole, you will notice a noticeable bump because the motor unit tries to crawl throughout it.

The ultimate exception isn’t the fault of the Film Maker in any respect, however it’s one thing that should be talked about provided that Grip Gear is positioning the Film Maker as a device for “cellular filmmakers”. When utilizing a tripod, gimbal, or different exterior stabilizer, your digital camera’s inside optical picture stabilization system should be turned off. If left on, it may introduce vibrations by itself simply because of the means that these methods function. The late Canon guru Chuck Westfall described the scenario like this:

“The IS mechanism operates by correcting shake. When there isn’t a shake, or when the extent of shake is beneath the brink of the system’s detection functionality, use of the IS function may very well *add* undesirable blur to the {photograph}, due to this fact you must shut it off on this scenario. Keep in mind that the IS lens group is generally locked into place. When the IS perform is lively, the IS lens group is unlocked so it may be moved by the electromagnetic coil surrounding the weather. When there’s not sufficient movement for the IS system to detect, the outcome can typically be a form of digital ‘suggestions loop,’ considerably analogous to the ringing noise of an audio suggestions loop we’re all accustomed to. Because of this, the IS lens group would possibly transfer whereas the lens is on a tripod, except the IS perform is switched off and the IS lens group is locked into place.”

That is unhealthy sufficient for nonetheless photos, however it’s much more noticeable when taking pictures video. Most mirrorless and even many compact and motion cameras supply the choice to show their OIS methods off. Nevertheless, this turns into extra tough for smartphones. Some Android telephones and software program seem to permit the consumer to show off OIS, however you will want to confirm this on your personal cellphone.

Far worse is the information for homeowners of iPhone fashions 7/8/X. So far as I’ve been capable of inform, there isn’t a strategy to disable OIS on an iPhone. This makes the Grip Gear Film Maker considerably irritating for tens of millions of cellphone homeowners. As I point out above, this isn’t Grip Gear’s fault and iPhones have the identical problem with gimbals, tripods and different stabilization gadgets. But it surely’s additionally an necessary problem that may’t be ignored.

Some Extras

There are just a few extras that give the Film Maker further performance. The primary is that the motor unit may be faraway from the observe and with the set up of an included mount, turns right into a motorized head for panoramic photos or time-lapse video. Whereas pretty fundamental, this works surprisingly nicely.

Sadly, on account of the usage of the motor to drive the digital camera rotation, it’s unimaginable to make use of the panoramic performance and the slider on the similar time. Whereas comprehensible, particularly at this value level, it’s sort of a bummer as a result of timelapse slider movies may be actually neat.

The second additional is one thing Grip Gear calls a Micro Dolly. It’s basically a small three-wheeled platform that makes use of the motor unit from the Film Maker for energy. It’s a small unit, and the wheels are made for clean terrain. Besides, in the suitable location you may get basically infinite dolly sort pictures.

Moreover, the 2 “steering” wheels can rotate permitting the Micro Dolly to run in varied dimension circles. I may see this being helpful for portrait, product and even distinctive timelapse movies.

What’s the underside line?

All informed, this can be a intelligent and cheap package that does what it claims to. You may get some distinctive video pictures which can be in contrast to what you see 500 occasions a day in your buddies’ social media posts.

Are you going to make large dolly pictures with two toes of observe or somewhat rolling cart on a desk? No, you aren’t. This isn’t for Hollywood movies, it’s for telephones and GoPros. It could make a enjoyable birthday/vacation present for somebody you already know who enjoys making brief movies for YouTube or Instagram. I may additionally see it being a simple means so as to add some fashion to movies for Kickstarter tasks or Etsy sellers.

Would I put it on the highest of my checklist of “most helpful video equipment”? No, most likely not. However is it within the working for “finest worth in a enjoyable video accent”? Completely.

What we preferred:

  • Worth
  • Distinctive pictures
  • Creativity

What we didn’t:

  • Subpar tripod mount
  • Weight limits
  • Weak ball mount
  • Interplay with cellphone OIS methods that may’t be turned off

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