About this project
STRECH GOAL #1 REACHED - 19mm ROD OPTION
STRECH GOAL #2 REACHED - ADD A LITTLE COLOR
NEW REWARD: CINE-STANDARD 32-pitch gear-drive version of the complete Lenzhound System. (See Update #4 for details)
Wireless Follow Focus
The Lenzhound, a super-affordable wireless follow focus system designed for independent filmmakers, consists of the handheld remote transmitter unit (RTX-1) and the motor/receiver unit (DB-1) which attaches to the user’s DSLR or video camera. The DB-1 lens motor is targeted towards DSLR and video cameras employing lenses with manual operation rings, but can be utilized with certain, heavier cinema lenses too. The system features open source, Arduino compatible firmware which enables a powerful array of user generated, optional settings. The Lenzhound System offers a flexible, wireless and user-friendly method of extending lens control to an assistant camera operator or “focus puller” enabling professional, cinematic filmmaking.
The Most Affordable Solution of its Kind
Indie filmmakers find it hard to afford the standby Hollywood-style wireless follow focus solutions and so we often go without. But it's an essential tool for next-level film making. So we began building our own - with the independent film makers' (usually rather thin) wallet in mind. Check what else is out there and you'll find the Lenzhound Wireless Lens Control System is extremely affordable and amazingly user friendly. It's also very flexible, lightweight and features open source code.
Plays Nicely with your Rig
Simply slide the DB-1 Motor Unit onto your camera's 15mm rod support system, slip on the lens belt, adjust tension and lock into place. (There's a stretch-goal for 19mm rods too.) Plug in the battery and with a flip of a switch, you're ready to go.
This system will work with virtually any DSLR lens with a manual lens ring on the market. (See our FAQ for lens compatibility)
DB-1 Motor/Receiver features:
- Anodized aluminum dogbone arm
- Works with industry standard 15mm iris rod systems
- Lightweight; just over 8 ounces (230 grams)
- Can drive any stepper motor up to 1.5A /phase (see Detachable Receiver stretch goal for more on additional motors)
- Flexible power requirements allowing it to work with battery systems beyond the included 12v battery pack
- Mini-USB port for firmware uploads
Compact and Wireless
The RTX-1 is a wireless remote control transmitter. Now your follow focus operator can give the camera operator some breathing room! It's compact, about the size of a smart phone, making it a comfortable fit in your hands for those production days that never seem to end. The remote itself uses a familiar industry follow focus knob design and range-marking disc; essential features for the assistant camera operator (AC) to reliably hit their marks on set.
RTX-1 Remote Controller features:
- Large, industry-style, primary focus knob
- 4 Preset Buttons to set and recall positions
- Tough composite and anodized aluminum case to withstand years of abuse
- Compact design measuring roughly 3 X 6 inches
- White distance marking disk for dry-erase or China marker
- Uses four AAA batteries, providing up to 80 hours of operation
- Mini-USB port for firmware upgrades and custom "Z-mode" programming beyond basic follow focus operation
More than just a Follow Focus
If you watched our video you might be asking, what is this User Defined "Z-Mode" they're talking about?
Well, we're independent filmmakers ourselves and we tend to think...independently. So we thought, why not allow the controller to be programmed to serve multiple functions and to be customized by the user. You can push the limits of the hardware and experiment on your own to create complex moves, adjust the speed profile curves or change the timing parameters allowing you, for example, to enable very slow, time-lapse type of functionality.
The open source nature of the firmware allows you to change the parameters in the default modes (Freerun and Playback) if you choose, but Z-mode is designed to enable access to that customization at the flip of a switch while preserving the default functionality of the other two modes. We'll be creating a Web and desktop application for both Mac and PC along with a code repository for defaults, upgrades and user-generated code. Don't worry, you won't have to be a code-head to use this feature.
We hope to foster a creative community and to closely work with our user-base. We really want the film makers that use this tool to be a part of helping make it better. We believe building a web based community around open source software and designs is a key way to do this.
While the DB-1 is a combined receiver/motor unit, the master plan with our larger stretch-goals entails having the receivers be detachable from the dogbone motor units. Our receiver units can operate with almost any stepper motor on the market, making it easy for you to run stepper motors with different power capabilities, or dedicated to different functions like camera jibs, sliders, aerial rigs or just about any other crazy camera movement you can imagine.
We thought it would be a good idea to show a little of the process of developing the current prototype system.
The Dogbone Shaped Arm
At first we were thinking of a rectangular case to mount on the camera rod system, but the more we fiddled and clamped motors on different types of supports, the more this dogbone shaped "Y" kept coming up.
As we narrowed down to certain motors, the shape of the dogbone arm is refined and married to the receiver box.
THE CONTROLLER REMOTE
Our first transmitter was just an attempt to stuff all the breadboard components into some sort of container. We had a hobby box on the shelf and we just started hacking and drilling. We finally got it to fit, but it wasn't pretty.
When we started thinking about the form of the controller we had requests from our favorite ACs to have a handle on the bottom and the "Paintbrush" was the result; A 3D printed, 2 piece unit with a battery cover. We love this design but it's a little too big and we decided that the injection molding would be cost prohibitive unless we really have enough demand to support it. If we reach our highest stretch goal we might revisit the paintbrush concept.
THE CURRENT CONTROLLER
The RTX-1 Remote came about very quickly after we decided to move on from the paintbrush. We had been dabbling with all the parts and materials and we really knew what we were after. The biggest thing was allowing ourselves to make the focus knob a little smaller than our original concept. This made the form factor just fall into place.
What's Included with My Reward?
MAKE US WAG (REWARD #1)
We'll post a Thank You Tweet or Facebook shoutout while you get the warm fuzzies knowing you've just helped indie filmmaking become a little better.
LIL' TREAT (REWARD #2)
All the love from above plus you'll get a cool sticker!
RAW DB-1 (REWARD #3)
- DB-1 Receiver Motor Unit
- Drive Belt
- Latex Lens Band
- 12v 3800mA Re-chargeable Lithium Battery with cables/charger
STANDARD KIT (REWARDS #4 , #5, and #6)
- RTX-1 Single Channel Controller Unit
- DB-1 Receiver Motor Unit
- Drive Belt
- Latex Lens Band
- 12v 3800mA Re-chargeable Lithium Battery with cables/charger
1ST ASSEMBLY PROTOTYPE (REWARD #7)
Be one of the first individuals with a Lenzhound System. With this reward you'll be at the top of our list to get and help us field test one of the first five pre-production prototypes off the line, uniquely numbered and named.
-- STRETCH GOALS --
Our main funding goal is the minimum required to get the first Lenzhound Systems built and in user's hands. But we have a lot more in mind than just that. As we get additional pledges the following options and upgrades will happen:
19mm Rod Option ($55,000)
We'll add a 19mm ROD MOUNT DB-1 available as an optional reward wherever the 15mm is offered.
Add A Little Color ($72,000)
Add a little color to your life. We will offer a SELECTION OF COLORS to anodize the aluminum components of your Lenzhound Receiver and Controller.
If we reach this goal, we will do a survey to decide which colors to make available.
AND - Every controller's marking disc will have an optional GLOW-IN-THE-DARK BACKING!
Detachable Receiver/ CPU Upgrade ($145,000)
All receiver boxes will get a free upgrade option to make the receiver/driver box detachable from the dogbone arm and the addition of accessible motor terminals. This allows connection of different types and sizes of motor for alternate applications.
AND - We will upgrade the CPU in both the controller and receiver units allowing for the development of more complex functionality and increased performance. (may add 6 to 8 weeks of design/development time)
Multiple Channels ($250,000)
-- Production and Delivery --
During our Kickstarter funding campaign we'll be busy letting people know about it, monitoring the survey's and FAQs and generally keeping in touch with everyone. But even during the campaign, as soon as we know we're funded we'll put all our vendors and providers on alert and place orders as possible for testing of the production prototypes before manufacturing.
The production of the manufactured systems and fulfillment of rewards will happen in four phases.
Phase 1: Final Designs/verification - Before going to manufacturing we will undoubtedly have a few final design tweaks/iterations based on surveys, FAQs and other feedback during our funding phase. During this time our software development will commence and is slated to be up and running by the completion of phase 2 to be incorporated into our field tests with the pre-production prototype group. (4 to 6 weeks)
Based on our level of funding we will either go straight to pre-production prototypes from our hand made prototypes or we will incorporate the changes encompassed in our stretch goals.
Phase 2: Manufacturing - Circuit boards will be fabricated and assembled by a U.S.- based PCB fab-house to our specification using primarily surface-mount components. Hardware components will be CNC and manually manufactured/machined in the U.S. and locally plated/finished. (approximately 6 weeks for all manufacturing)
Phase 3: Assembly - Component manufactured pieces, i.e completed circuit boards, machined and finished hardware cases and motor arms, along with pre-made components such as the clamp-handles, potentiometers, motors and drive pulleys will be assembled by us and our helper elves at our facility in San Luis Obispo. We will batch the assemblies so that Earliest and Early Birds get priority completion. (4 to 6 weeks total for assembly)
Phase 4: Shipping and Delivery - As units are completed and quality checked they will be promptly packaged, including accessories, and shipped with Earliest Bird and Early Birds receiving first and second shipping, respectively. (one to two weeks depending on quantity of orders)
-- Your Help is Essential! --
You can help lead the way to a new era of better filmmaking. New DSLR's have made affordable, high quality film making possible where it wasn't before. Technology is revolutionizing independent filmmaking. We want to bring another valuable and affordable tool of the trade to this newly emerging market of filmmakers. We have prototypes that have been a lot of fun to use but now it's time to crank out the real deal. Now is your chance to be one of the first to join on on this journey.
Thank you for your pledges and support!
Risks and challenges
If we don't meet our goal, nobody gets to have fun with their Lenzhound System!
There could most certainly be some unknowns or technical obstacles to overcome when entering into manufacturing. We have created several possible roadmaps for ourselves, depending on the level of funding we receive, to ensure delivery time is as accurate as possible. We are experienced filmmakers, familiar with striving for a goal. We are veteran business owners, acquainted with cost estimates, deadlines, product delivery, and navigating uncharted waters. This is however, our first time manufacturing a technology product so we do ask for your patience through this process. We are very excited by the enabling potential that a crowd-source funding platform such as this provides and we will strive to exceed your expectations for the new Lenzhound System.
Thank you for joining us on this adventure.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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