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Circle Thing throws a curve at the world of video stabilizing rigs

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November 2, 2012

Inventor Peter Homer with a prototype Circle Thing

Inventor Peter Homer with a prototype Circle Thing

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It’s kind of funny ... no sooner does technology allow high-definition video cameras to be shrunk to the size of a smartphone, than people start adding stabilizing rigs – essentially making the cameras bigger – in order to smooth out the shakes in hand-held footage. One of the latest such devices is the Circle Thing, which takes a unique approach to steadying up small video cameras.

Most stabilizers, such as the Steadicam Smoothee and its various imitators, incorporate a counter-weighted arm that curves down below the camera and the gimbal-mounted handle. On the Circle Thing, however, that arm is replaced with a counter-weighted hoop. According to its inventor, mechanical and aerospace engineer Peter Homer, this design offers several advantages.

First of all, because the counterweight, handle pivot and camera are all aligned, it is reportedly much easier to set the balance. On some other systems, the positions of the camera and the counterweight must be set just right, in order to keep the rig from tilting forward, backward, or to either side.

Its flat, curved profile is also said to make it less likely to get snagged on things while the user is walking, or to get caught and spun by the wind.

Some of the possible configurations for using the Circle Thing

Finally, it can be used in several different configurations. One of these is the steering wheel-like “Fig Rig” setup, where the camera is mounted inside of the hoop, which the user holds onto either side of. This configuration allows for some stability, but is intended more for incorporating swooping, wide movements into shots.

Other configurations are also possible, including one in which the device can be mounted on the end of an optional boom pole, for getting smooth crane-like footage.

Homer is currently raising production funds for the Circle Thing, on Kickstarter. A pledge of at least US$209 will get you a basic version of the rig, when and if the funding goal is met and manufacturing commences.

More information is available in the pitch video below.

Source: Circle Thing

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away.   All articles by Ben Coxworth
6 Comments

The cheapest and most portable stabilizer device I ever saw for a small camera is a strong string. You tie one end to the bolt that fits into attachment socket (1/4-10unc) and tie a loop big enough to slip the toe of your shoe into it. You put some slight tension on the string and the camera is satbilized. Works for most needs of point and shoot camera situations ans you can carry it in your pocket.

Ct
2nd November, 2012 @ 12:12 pm PDT

I think this idea is brilliant, but it seems to me that the most optimized and economical method for steadycam would be software post-processing. This project seems better fit for Make than Kickstarter. Sell the plans. $200+ is probably upwards of 25% of the price of the camera itself. It doesn't make sense for Kickstarter. More IndieGoGo...

I'm sure at least Adobe has a software solution, and there may be open source methods as well.

Stradric
2nd November, 2012 @ 12:50 pm PDT

CT - that's a handy trick for still shots, but useless for moving imagery. A rig for use in video (whether for smoother panning or general stabilization) requires it to be untethered.

The best cheap stabilizer by far is attaching your smartphone or gopro to a chickens head and carry the bird around with you. Keeping it from looking around on its own is another problem altogether!

Vince Pack
2nd November, 2012 @ 01:29 pm PDT

This concept looks a lot like the "Figg Rig" A camera stabilization rig invented by director Mike Figgis

Sat Nandlall
4th November, 2012 @ 07:31 am PST

VP- Yes, it is for mostly for stationary shots, but it does help with smothing panning side to side shots as the string does give under tension.

May want to use an owl instead of that chicken.

Ct
4th November, 2012 @ 09:49 am PST

@CT/ Vince Pack,

Er, how to you prevent the chicken/owl/ bird of choice from adding 'commentary' to your video?

bergamot69
5th November, 2012 @ 02:33 am PST
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