If you can wait until April 2015 when the overseas supply chain is established, you can get an Heirloom for $20. All other rewards are still made in the USA and still shipping in 2014.
The Heirloom is an updated version of the bean bag, a tried and true tool of photographers for as long as there have been cameras. It works very well with smartphones, point & shoots, and DSLRs. I created the Heirloom for people who want the stability of a tripod without having to carry one around everywhere they go. Many times photographers will avoid taking the time to set up their tripod and settle for a handheld shot instead, but as a result their pictures suffer. With the Heirloom, all you do it plop it down and setup is done. You don't miss any opportunities to get a great shot.
The Heirloom is made of only two parts -
Stem: The stem uses a standard 1/4 inch bolt to mount securely to any camera. You can mount phones to the Heirloom using an smartphone adapter such as the Glif. But you only see half of the stem in the video. The other half lives inside the bag and grips onto the beans to provide the bulk of the stability. No other product on the market does this! This is the magic that keeps your camera still. It works so well that you can tilt most cameras more than 45 degrees and the Heirloom will keep it still.
Body: The body is made out of a single piece of Cordura (similar to what backpacks are made of). I did this in order to use minimal fabric and to create as little friction as possible while turning the stem. The turning action is very smooth.
The Heirloom travels well. If you need the extra space in your suitcase, the zipper opens so you can empty the bag before you leave on a trip and fill it up again when you get to where you're going. Or you can simply leave it filled, and it only weighs about a pound. It doesn't take up much room in a backpack. You can fill it with whatever you want. I prefer small-ish beans (currently using navy beans).
I use it often to film myself playing guitar. It's really helpful to have a clear, steady video so I can review my technique. How will you use it? I'm excited to find out!
I have been working on the Heirloom for about 2 years, experimenting with different sizes, shapes, and materials. I've hit the sweet spot with size, durability, and weight so that it will support any camera size up to and including DSLR. The bag is made out of a single piece of durable, water resistant 1000 denier Cordura.
I started prototyping ideas for camera mounts in Sketchup and getting bags made in NYC's Garment District. The initially small camera mounts were cumbersome to turn and not very stable, so after I began increasing the size of the mounts and experimenting with various shapes, the whole thing started to resemble a piece of fruit. The Heirloom was starting to sprout!
With the help of multi-talented product designer Mike Knuepfel at Brooklyn Research, we refined the design into its current form. He was able to bring to life to what I could only see in my mind, help give the Heirloom its charming character, and make it ready for production. I couldn't have done this without him.
Our funding goal is a break-even number that includes the cost of the plastic molds, plastic parts, bags, packaging, and shipping of 1000 pieces. This is a small run made entirely in the USA.
Domestic manufacturers (and backup manufacturers) are already in place. At the end of the campaign, I essentially flip on the switch; molds start to get made, then the plastic stems, and red Heirloom bodies will be manufactured as quickly as they can be made. Then the Heirlooms are assembled, packaged and shipped to you.
Risks and challenges
I have made every effort to mitigate risk through diligent planning. My project would need to exceed 10x the funding goal before I need to alter the plan by scaling production to stay on schedule and meet demand. I have backup vendors in place in the event that current vendors exceed capacity.
The Heirloom is much more versatile than the Pod. It is appropriately sized for small cameras up to SLRs in a single shape and is extremely stable for all of them. Because the Heirloom is spherical you can get great tilt and angles that aren't possible with the Pod, and you can level your camera on non-level surfaces. Finally, to me the idea of turning the entire body or camera to attach it is akin to turning the lamp to screw in the lightbulb, so the Heirloom is more ergonomically correct.
EARLY BIRD: Get your very own Heirloom at an early bird price. You will be in the first group to receive their Heirlooms. Get it just in time for the harvest! Your name will also appear on the official Heirloom web site as a supporter. US shipping included.
EARLY BIRD: Limited edition yellow Heirloom. Sometimes tomatoes are yellow. Sometimes Heirlooms are yellow too! I am making 250 limited edition yellow Heirlooms. 100 of them are available at the early bird price. You will be in the first group to receive their Heirlooms. Get it just in time for the harvest! Your name will also appear on the official Heirloom web site as a supporter. US shipping included.
Limited edition yellow Heirloom: Sometimes tomatoes are yellow. Sometimes Heirlooms are yellow too! I am making 250 limited edition yellow Heirlooms 150 of them are available at the regular price. Your name will also appear on the official Heirloom web site as a supporter. US shipping included.