If you’ve ever seen the film Baraka, then you’ll know just how magical motion-controlled time-lapse cinematography can be. For the uninitiated, the process involves taking a motion picture camera that’s capable of shooting time-lapse footage, then mounting it on a rig that slowly pans, tilts or even dollies the camera, as it’s shooting that footage. While such motion-control equipment has traditionally only been available to deep-pocketed professionals, California-based Alpine Labs wants to make it more accessible – that’s why it’s developing the Radian, an affordable motion-control mount for DSLRs or smartphones.

The device itself basically just looks like a little wheel of cheese, with a threaded mounting stud sticking out of the top. It also has a threaded hole in the bottom, allowing it to be mounted either horizontally (for panning) or vertically (for tilting) on a tripod, with a camera or smartphone in turn mounted on it – for horizontal shots, it can even just be placed on a flat surface, sans tripod.

Using a free custom iPhone or Android smartphone app, users start by calculating the parameters of their pan or tilt, including its span, duration, start/stop times, and the number of frames shot within it. The camera can be panned or tilted at different speeds within the move, and – if it’s a Canon – its iris can be slowly opened or closed to compensate for things like a setting or rising sun.

Once everything is decided upon, the move is loaded from the smartphone into the Radian, via an included cable. Once the onscreen start button is pressed, the phone can be disconnected and turned off or used for something else (or mounted on the Radian, if it’s also being used as the camera).

Another cable runs from the Radian to the camera, triggering it to shoot frames at the appointed times. The device has its own rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack, although it can also be run off an external power source – a good idea, if it’s going to left on for 24 hours or more at a time. It can reportedly pan cameras weighing up to 15 pounds (7 kg), while its weight limit for tilting sits at somewhere over four pounds (1.8 kg).

Alpine is currently raising funds on Kickstarter, to fund commercial production of the Radian. If the funding goal is met, the first 150 backers will receive a device of their own for US$125. Although all of those pledge packages have already all been taken, subsequent backers can still secure a Radian for $150.

Another Kickstarter-based motion control device, the Genie, is expected to sell for $999 – although it includes its own programming interface and built-in sensors.

Footage shot using the Radian can be seen in the pitch video below.

Source: Alpine Labs