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Product Shots, Table Top, Food Photography—It’s All Smooth Sailing With Motion Control.

This year, my annual Black Friday purchase was motion control modules for my Edelkrone slider.

Okay, I know what you’re probably thinking—what the heck are motion control modules? And for that matter, what the heck is an Edelkrone slider?

A slider is a T-shaped camera support with rails and rollers that lets me move a camera smoothly from side to side. It’s how I shoot panning product shots, or reveal shots of building exteriors, or parallax shots with out-of-focus foreground elements.

The slider adds motion and visual interest to shots that would otherwise be static (and boring).

There’s just one problem. Sliding the camera by hand, you can get little starts and stops, or inconsistent speeds. It’s hard to shoot slow, steady motion on every take.

Alfred Hitchcock practically invented the rules of visual storytelling

Robotics To the Rescue

That’s what motion control modules are for. They’re small robotic motors that attach to the slider, and control camera movement with perfect precision.

I have two motion modules so far—one that pans the camera back and forth, and another that moves the entire camera along the slider.

There’s even an iPhone app that controls it all, so I can program complex camera moves.

And here’s the best part—I can shoot every sequence with smooth, consistent speed. No starts and stops. No jitters or jerks.

And really, who wants to work with a bunch of jerks?

Great For Interviews

Another good way to use motion control is interviews. I typically run two cameras for on-camera interviews, so I have two different angles to edit.

With the new motion control modules, I can loop the sequence, so the camera moves back and forth continuously.

That way, there’s no distracting starts and stops. Just smooth, consistent motion for the length of the interview.

Precise Motion Control

The iPhone app for these modules. is also impressive. It uses bluetooth to pair the modules together, so I can control them both at the same time.

I can literally set exact camera angles and positions, and create sequences to move from one to the other.

Once set, the slider will replicate the same moves again and again with absolute precision. So I don’t have to worry about moving the camera by hand, and can focus 100% on watching the monitor. 

One of Hitchcock's best rules of visual storytelling was about how to frame each shot

So will I be using my new motion control modules every time I pull out my slider? Probably not.

They’re a great tool to have in certain situations, like food photography and product shots. But they also take a while to set up and program—time I don’t need to spend for simple B Roll shots.

Still, there are many creative possibilities. I’m looking forward to exploring what they can do.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Harry Hayes is the owner and executive producer at Content Puppy Productions. Before starting his business, he spent 20+ years as an advertising writer and creative director.

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