The Genie – Camera Motion Controller
The Genie! A simple and extremely easy to use device used for motion control and image capture Time Lapse Photography and Videos made by Syrp company.
The key to Genie is that it can be used with any existing film equipment on tthe rehe market, including Tripods, Sliders, Jib Arms, cable cams, custom platforms or even your office chair!
Linear – 100cm / 25 Sec
Panning – 360 degrees / 8 Sec.
7 hours or more – run time – based on a time-lapse recording running for 7 hours straight on a horizontal track. Note: Battery life will vary according to other factors, such as how much weight is used on the device, whether it’s used in time lapse or video mode and whether the Genie is being used for incline movement. In video mode the battery will deplete quicker compared to the time-lapse.
Check out Genie Video review
When you turn your Genie on, holding the OK button for around 2 secs, you will get to Recording Mode menu.
Menu is simple, but yet it has many settings that you can change and adjust.
To turn off Genie you need to hold the OK button for 4-5 secs.
Although the menu is simple and easy to use, it would be very cool to see some extra options to make it even easier. To put link to Auto Start options in regular (simple) menu. Otherwise, I find it very simple and easy to use and navigate through.
Out of the box, Genie offers a couple of already made Presets, which you can edit, and save as your own or just make new Presets by your needs.
I love preset option – so easy to edit already made or make completely new presets. With presets you can spend more time for other things like framing, and gear, and less about controlling or movement of your camera. With already prepared Preset, and setup, you can run in seconds.
Time Lapse Mode
In TL mode, Genie triggers your camera and does all needed calculations for you; all you have to do is plan TL up front to get the best results.
Depending on your scenery, usually sliding is only visible and interesting when there is something closer and something more distant in the same frame, otherwise you will not get that movement effect you desire. Closer objects might stutter because of the simple reason; too big steps (distance) between shots.
Direct impact on smoothness is the movement distance that Camera makes between two shots.
Slide/Linear mode is used when you attach Rope Extension to Genie. There are different rope lengths from which you can pick. Genie fits on dolly, almost all tripods, and it has standard 3/8 thread for tripod heads.
There are two important things for using Genie on slider:
- Most important thing is to keep rope tension high, especially for incline.
- To secure position of your slider when you use tripod. (Genie with Camera and Lens attached is quite heavy, thus you need some counter balance, otherwise you could break your video head, or your whole setup could fall)
Common rule for Video is to set Shutter Speed to 2x fps or closest shutter speed your camera can do, and for Time-Lapse it depends how sharp you want your subject to be. If you want sharp waterfall, or any other fast movements, your shutter speed should be faster.
Explanation of movements between 2 frames
I use a Konova K2 1m slider, but the sliding area is somewhere around 85cm.
In my example I’ll take the sliding area of the whole slider to be same as the slider length 1000mm (1 meter).
D= distance = 1000 millimeters
FPS – frames per second for movie playing
PT – Play Time – how long will video be in post-production
Two parameters above directly impact distance between shots: pre-defined FPS and PT. Play time multiplied by frame rate will give you number of shots.
3 seconds play time = 3 x 30 = 90 shots, 90 shots for movement of 1 meter = 11.11 mm after each shot
5 seconds play time = 5 x 30 = 150 shots, 150 shots for 1 meter = 6.66 millimeters after each shot.
IT – Interval time is not important for distance but it could be important for Camera shake and for calculating ideal time-lapse, fast intervals could fill your buffer, thus impossible to make smooth timelapse.
|Play Time (PT)
|Number of shots
|Move between shots
Facts about Genie and Time-Lapse mode:
- More shots your Camera takes finer post process changes could be
- More shots it takes, smaller movements it does, less stutter
- More shots it takes, longer shooting time
- More shots it takes, you get scenery in slower motion (easy to speed up in post process)
- Interval doesn’t change number of shots
- Interval doesn’t affect moving effect and stuttering for close objects
- Fast interval could fill up your buffer (especially with RAW files) and thus skip some important shots
- Fast intervals, mean more shaking for moving and stopping
- Smaller movements Genie makes, less stuttering is visible in the final footage.
Example of TL – shadows
On above footage we see slow vs fast changes, shadows move slow and trees move unnatural cause of small breeze. Best solution would be to take time-lapse during very calm day, which is almost impossible on mountains.
Example of TL – clouds
Shadows move slow, movements are visible when you connect frames that are around 10-15 seconds apart. Clouds in most cases move 4-5 times faster, and you can see movement with bare eyes, thus interval is around 1-3 Sec between shots.
For changes to look slower on your footage you need to take faster intervals, more shots, meaning change would happen slower, or for the opposite effect, to speed up event, bigger intervals, change would happen faster, but you need to be careful on the fast side, not to go outside range, as you would get stuttering (missing movement, cause you had too long period between shots) and your object moved too much between frames.It is always safe to do more shots, and speed up your footage in post production!
Longer the shutter speed, more connected movements look alike, you get that “ghosting”, compared to fast shutter where you get sharp subjects and quirky movements.
Example of TimeLapse that stutterers (on purpose made time-lapse, with bigger distance between frames):
Genie Time-Lapse without stutter:
(if you do see stuttering on this video, it is cause of hardware, youtube, or any other cause, on mine PC and video youtube manager it was perfectly smooth)
When you have close objects to the camera, stuttering can occur on smaller gaps between frames.
Basically everything mentioned above works here as well. The only difference is that you have different kind of movement. In video mode, Genie at maximum power can spin 360 degrees in 6 seconds, while on horizontal sliding it would take a minimum of 15-20 seconds to move 1 meter. Movements in Rotation mode should be slower, to avoid quirks and stuttering, and you don’t want your head to hurt.Note:No matter what I tell you here, you will have to play with settings to get the best footage for your scenery. Best advice would be to practice before you do the real thing.
In video mode, you don’t have to plug in your Genie into the Camera.
Starting video is simple and possible in couple of button clicks. Genie starts right after you click the button to start it. Let’s say we started video, and want Genie to start sliding on our slider, thing is that we need to touch Genie, push the button and thus shake whole rig. It is fastest to discard first couple of seconds of every single video and time-lapse, or better solution would be to postpone start of the video, Genie has Auto start menu, where you can pick Countdown or exact Date and Time when you want Genie to start, how many times to repeat movement, what to do after it’s done.
The best way to do video with Genie is to use timer on your camera with Magic Lantern or internal/external intervalometer and use Genie Auto-start setting to start moving couple of seconds after your camera starts recording.
Syrp made Genie more as a time-lapse device, so with Video you need to be really patient and know what you want and how to make it. When we talk about video, “less is more”, less stuff goes on the Genie, less shaking and smoother footage would be. The quality of your video depends on couple factors:
- Most important is rope tension, higher tension, less stuttering there will be
- Surface on which your Genie rides (slider, dolly, some custom platform …)
- Weight mounted on the Genie (ball or video fluid heads, camera, grip,lens,…), less is better
- The speed of the movement, faster means more visible shaking, start and stop are the most shaky parts, so you should use Ease In/Out option.
- Other factors: wind, shaking, walking on the same surface as your setup, touching the camera or Genie, rope shaking, …
Ideas for Genie usage:
I bet nobody thought of this, even people at Syrp, but Genie is more than Time-lapse + Video device. You can use Genie as a turntable for plant growth time-lapses, or for any 360° product photography or videography, just make your own DIY plate with screw mount that Genie has (3/8), and Genie will turn that plate on top of which you can put any device, plant and shoot time-lapse or video, while Genie turns “table” plate.
Genie can be mounted on gliding platform that can go over the canyon, between trees, between buildings etc. You can buy cheap Quadcopter Carbon frame and use it as Genie platform, to glide Genie on bigger heights between trees, over rivers, or buildings, etc. Whole setup is not so light, as Genie + Camera can weight more than 13lbs ~ 6kg. The tension of the cable/rope + wind would play a huge role in the whole setup.
Just imagine time-lape over river, no Quadcopter or any flying RC device could make those time-lapses.
Genie ProsNote: Genie is heavy and you should be careful with vertical slides, not to damage your slider – Konova K2 managed to survive vertical slides without issues.
Why I didn’t put ‘heavy’ under Cons ? Because I believe that power is in the motor, which is very strong and heavy.
Most common issues with video footages are Judder/Stuttering/Flicker
If you are into video, it is almost certain that you got to one of this issues, that are so common.
Easiest to explain judder would be as the motion stutter that happens from the telecine pull-down process when transferring film to video, or in modern days, I would say when your source and output frame rates don’t match. For After Effects go to your footage, click right click then Interpret Footage-> Main -> And enter same frame rate as source, after that make sure that you export your video with same frame rate.Most common mistake is thinking that you see Judder, but in fact you have stutter.
In short, as I already explained it above. Happens when frame rate is too low in video, or in time-lapses, when there is too big gap between two neighbor frames, objects pass some distance in between, feels like they jumped.
Cause are either too low frame rate or ambient light frequency that doesn’t match your frame rate. Best examples are shooting under 50Hz light with 30fps, or shooting with 24-25fps under 60Hz light source.
Price of The Genie
Genie cost around $900, but you basically get more than one device for price of one. With amazing support, firmware upgrades, build quality, I see Genie as long term investment. Make stunning video footage’s that will impress all viewers. If you already own Genie, please share your work with us.
I was always wondering how they made those sliding time-lapses, and Genie is the best answer to it. Genie is a truly amazing device that can help you make unbelievable video footage (timelapse or video). With extensions, build quality, easy of use, mounting options (versatility), the possibilities are endless with Genie.
Search for more videos made by use of Genie, and I bet you would be impressed just like I was.