Motion control for video production

Nick Baker teaching motion control in the Makerspace

If you’ve seen the opening credits of the television series House of Cards, you’re familiar with the stunning visuals that can be produced with motion control systems. This equipment, which precisely controls the motion of a camera, can cost millions of dollars in Hollywood. But with an understanding of the technique and some tools from the MHC Makerspace, students can produce similar results at a fraction of the cost.

The students of Film Studies 210: Video Production met with their Library, Information and Technology Services (LITS) Liaison, Nick Baker, in fall 2015 to explore how motion control can be used for photography and videography. Baker brought some of his own work to discuss, including a very large format image that was created with an automated camera mount. Using hardware produced in the Makerspace, the students controlled a camera’s actions remotely and brainstormed ways to use the technique in their own work.

“Whether or not you use a system like this in your final project, you’ll be able to recognize this technique when you see it in the future,” said Bernadine Mellis, Five College Senior Lecturer in Film and Video Production.

The hands-on experience and examples gave the students a lot to think about. Discussing camera settings like aperture and shutter speed as well as the nuances of open source computer hardware primed the class to think robustly and critically about the media they consume and produce.

If you would like to learn more about using technology to support your teaching goals, please contact your LITS Liaison.