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Here we go guys with a brand new blog, this time we are presenting a new motion control system from a community member named Michael Ziganek. He told us he’s searching for a motion control solution on a budget, and at some point, he thought to build the perfect robot for himself, and why not, for other filmmakers out there.
He’s recently gone to IBC 2022 to officially present his robot and software solution to amazing feedback from everyone, so we thought to share with you a Q&A based on the common questions he received out there. We’re also happy to inform all videographers and filmmakers with small cameras out there about this solution.
Mike, congratulations on the idea and the execution! You did it! So, let us know what is LOKI!
LOKI is our new 6-axis camera robot system targeted for smaller studios or individuals who want to take motion control to the next level for their tabletop productions.
What is different at LOKI compared to the larger camera robots and what’s the maximum payload of LOKI?
Well, first of course it’s size and range, the maximum payload and the price tag of course. Beside that you can pretty much do everything with LOKI what a larger system can also do.
LOKI can handle a camera rig payload of a maximum of 3kg. Depending on the type of move or speed it can also handle a bit more but should not exceed 3.5kg
What kind of camera can I use with LOKI?
All DSLR cameras, high-speed cameras like the Chronos 2.1, RED Komodo, Blackmagic cameras, and Phantom VEO with a light lens. Basically all camera rigs which are not more than 3kg.
What is the range of the LOKI robot arm and how fast can LOKI move?
LOKI has a reach diameter of 1.186mm and depending on the camera mount position it can go as high as 1.7m or low as 0.65m
The system has a maximum speed at the camera of 4.2m/s with a joint move. Depending on the move type and path it will be slower than that. It’s fast enough to capture drop follow or pouring shots.
Let’s talk about a key point about this robot: Repeatability. Can you repeat moves for VFX shots and is it accurate enough?
Yes, of course, this is one of the main use cases for robots. LOKI can repeat a move with an accuracy of 0.05mm. You can create, save, load and edit as many projects (moves) as you need within ZM STUDIO software.
The other main point is the software, the user experience…How difficult is it to program a move with LOKI?
It’s very easy and intuitive – you set up your camera for keyframes by moving the robot with the game controller or using the display touchscreen buttons and add as many keyframes you want to the timeline in our ZM STUDIO software. Then you select how to move between keyframes and adjust the timing. That’s it – if you have ever used a video editing software like Adobe PR or AE you will learn it in 5 minutes.
Can I export 3D camera information of a move?
Yes, once you have set up your move you can export the 3D camera data including FIZ to a standard file format. With that, you can animate your camera in your 3D program in post and add background plates or objects.
Can the system also export 3D information in real-time?
Currently not, but with our December 2022 software update we will add Unreal Engine 5 Live Link – with that, you can use LOKI on your virtual production setup and render your background in real time based on the camera and FIZ positions.
How do I control focus with LOKI?
The system comes with one follow focus motor which is also controlled on the ZM STUDIO timeline with keyframes. Optional you can add 1 or 2 more motors for full FIZ (Focus/Iris/Zoom) support.
I can see some vibrations of the camera when the robot moves, is this a problem?
No, it’s not a problem. Depending on the used lens, the actual move path, and positions you will see more or less vibrations of the robot (aka Jerk). We are providing software settings in ZM STUDIO to reduce them, but it’s not possible to 100% eliminate them.
You can use camera/lenses with IS and/or fix the image in post very easily with stabilization. Even when you do a multi-pass VFX shot the resulting moves with post stabilization will line up almost pixel perfect matching frame by frame for every single pass.
The range of the system is ok for tabletop, but do you plan to extend it in future?
Yes, for Q1/2023 we plan to release an additional track system for LOKI. It is motorized, and programmable with keyframes on the timeline in ZM STUDIO software and it will come in 1.5m segments which can be put together for longer tracks. This is then the 7th axis of the robot.
Can I easily transport LOKI on set for shooting? How heavy is it?
The LOKI robot arm and its base are 78kg, if you need to transport it in a smaller vehicle you could also take the arm from the base by removing a side cover and the 4 bolts. The arm and the base can be carried by 1-2 persons. The system just plugs into a standard wall power outlet – 110-240V 50/60Hz, so it works worldwide.
Have you developed the robot arm yourself and how reliable is it?
We work together with a robotics manufacturer here in Germany and we use their adapted industrial robot arm which is built for a 24/7 operation in factory automation. We are adding all components needed for the camera setup and of course our ZM STUDIO software, with some special modifications of the robot firmware to support our use cases.
Where are you located and where is the system manufactured?
We are based in the south of Germany about 1 hour south of Stuttgart and 95% of the parts are designed and manufactured in Germany.
What happens if a system breaks down and how do you support your customers?
As a German company, we provide 24 months of warranty of course. In the case of problems, we offer online and telephone support and will find solutions for all problems. Since the robot is built for a 24/7 operation in a factory environment, we do not expect any service work in a normal studio operation as a camera robot for many years.
This all sounds too good! How much will the system cost?
The complete system has an MSRP of EUR 26.990 (+ tax and shipping), all parts as listed on our website included, and a perpetual software license for ZM STUDIO – no additional costs like subscriptions or annual license packages.
Until September 30, 2022, we are offering the complete system for our pre order for EUR 22.490 (+ tax and shipping) – all these systems will be dispatched at the end of October 2022 and we ship worldwide (depending on export regulations).
So, guys, we are at the end of this blog, thank you so much Michael for sharing with the community your awesome project, and hope you guys loved it!
We are already cooking the new piece, so stay tuned and subscribe to be sure to not miss the next one! Have a great day on our channels.