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Form + Function = a different kind of camera stabilizer that converts to different shooting modes and sets up in minutes, guaranteed!

Form + Function = a different kind of camera stabilizer that converts to different shooting modes and sets up in minutes, guaranteed! Read More
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Funding Unsuccessful

This project's funding goal was not reached on November 28, 2012.

About this project

What it is

The Circle Thing Camera Stabilizer is a hand-held device that smooths out hand shake and camera vibration to produce jitter-free video when using lightweight video platforms such as smart phones, GoPro, and HD camcorders. The Circle Thing has a unique design that allows quick and super-easy balancing even when switching between cameras. It is easily reconfigured for a variety of advanced effects including low shots, sweeps and boom shots, yet is easy to pack and bring along wherever you go! 

Benefits
 
  • Set up and balance in minutes – guaranteed!*
  • Compact 
  • Lightweight 
  • Reconfigurable 
  • Easy to pack and carry 

Features

  • Designed for lightweight video platforms: iPhone/smart phone, Flip, GoPro, HD camcorders, lightweight DSLR, etc. 
  • 3-way adjustment 
  • Industry standard 1/4-20 tripod style camera mount (use your own iPhone /smartphone/GoPro adapter or add ours).

* I'm so confident that Circle Thing will be easy for anyone to set up that I'm willing to guarantee it:  if you cannot set up and balance your Circle Thing Camera Stabilizer in just a few minutes, you can return it for a full refund.

What it does

Like other camera stabilizers, the Circle Thing contains a counterweight which allows the mounted camera to be balanced about a low-friction pivot to which a handle is attached. The pivot isolates hand rotations (which cause camera shake) while the inertia of the balanced camera-counterweight system keeps the camera pointed in the same direction. A properly balanced Circle Thing Camera Stabilizer can be moved rapidly through an amazingly large range without disturbing the pointing of the camera. This produces a smooth flowing shot that has the appearance of the camera flying through space! Want shake-free videos on your smart phone? It's easy with Circle Thing!

Why is it a Circle Thing? 

OK. You get it. It's called Circle Thing because it's round.
 
Why is that important?
 
First, the circular form means nothing sticking out to snag and throw the camera off balance. The symmetrical profile also reduces the destabilizing effect of wind which can spin your rig out of frame. When you're in tight quarters, smooth equipment translates to smooth shots.
 
Second, the circle itself is a counterweight with a “virtual” center of gravity at its center. The camera, pivot and counterweight lie along a straight line without interfering with hand position. Why this matters is explained in great detail in the Technical section. For now it's enough to know that this design makes the Circle Thing Camera Stabilizer amazingly easy to balance! And, you can quickly change from one camera or lens combination to another because re-balancing is a breeze!
 
Finally, the circular form expands the range of effects you can produce. The Circle Thing Camera Stabilizer can be reconfigured on the fly as a “Fig Rig” (halo rig). You get two camera rigs for the price of one! While not a true camera stabilizer, a “Fig Rig” combines inertia, a two-handed grip, and central camera location to produce smoother videos and amazing special effects. With the optional boom kit the Circle Thing can also be used for stabilized crane shots and low-angle scenes to within inches of the ground.
 

Circle Thing can be configured to produce many different video effects and shooting positions. More details on how to use the various setups is available at CircleThing.com


Ready to use in minutes -- guaranteed! 

The real benefit of Circle Thing is that it is incredibly fast and easy to balance. This is the main reason I decided to develop my own design: others take too long to set up – some bloggers describe how it takes them days to set up their rigs! On many occasions I've wanted to switch cameras, so spending hours to balance properly is simply not an option. The Circle Thing Camera Stabilizer was designed from the start to set up and balance in minutes. After multiple design iterations, the Circle Thing Camera Stabilizer can now be balanced in just a few simple steps. In fact, setup is so quick it's guaranteed! If you find it takes more than a few minutes to balance your Circle Thing Camera Stabilizer, you can send it back for a full refund.

 

Does the world really need another camera stabilizer? 

Does the world really need another camera stabilizer? In a word, yes! As a dad of three I am constantly behind the camera at numerous activities, from family gatherings and sports events to music and theater performances. I have a Samsung HD camera with 10X zoom (which I love!) but am often shooting at the maximum telephoto, which means maximum camera shake. Sometimes I need to be able to move around a lot, like when hiking steep mountain trails near our home or moving through a crowd. Other times, I'm hand-holding while recording a live performance from the audience. Have you ever tried to hold a camera steady for 20 minutes straight? I've tried monopods and other body-stabilized systems but have never been satisfied with the results. I only use lightweight cameras (the Samsung HD or my wife's iPhone), so have no need for a big, bulky DSLR-sized stabilizer. I wanted something compact and light enough to use in a theater seat or maneuver through a crowd, but still capable of a variety of shooting styles. 


Will Circle Thing work with my camera?

The Circle Thing Camera Stabilizer is designed for the lightweight video cameras like iPhone, Flip, GoPro and the small HD camcorders. Specifically, it can accommodate any camera weighing less than one pound (454 grams) having an industry standard 1/4-20 thread tripod mounting hole. Smartphones and some cameras like GoPro do not have a tripod mounting hole -- adapters are available for mounting to Circle Thing.  For an additional pledge, your reward will include your choice of GoPro tripod adapter or iStabilizer universal adapter which converts any phone to a tripod mount (even phones with bumpers and covers).

While not a complete list, the following are examples of cameras that can be used on the Circle Thing Camera Stabilizer:

  • iPhone 3, 4, 4S, 5 (with tripod adapter)
  • Smartphone (with tripod adapter) 
  • Samsung HD 
  • GoPro (with tripod adapter) 
  • Flip Video UltraHD 
  • Sony Handycam 
  • lightweight DSLR (1 pound or less)
  • etc...

(Based on published weight and specifications available from the camera manufacturers. Not all cameras listed have been tested on the Circle Thing at this time.)

A Circle Thing Version Just for You

Circle Thing Basic includes everything needed for shake-free hand-held movie making and halo rig:
  • Camera stage with 3-axis positioning 
  • Camera mount (1/4-20 threaded stud) 
  • Ring counterweight 
  • Gimbal 
  • Grip 

Circle Thing Deluxe adds two-handed grip capability.  Includes everything in the Basic kit PLUS:

  • A second grip 
  • Bridge plate for two-hand grip and offset tripod mounting

Circle Thing Complete adds jib (crane) shots and monopod capability.  Includes everything in the Deluxe kit PLUS:

  • Extendable Mono Pole which extends from 3 to 5.5 feet long for use as a monopod or crane/jib rig.  (If you wish, the jib can be counterweighted using standard 1 inch ID weights and clamps available from Walmart, etc. -- sold separately).  
  • Adjustable angle mount

Circle Thing Limited Edition has everything in the Circle Thing Complete version PLUS some extra special additions:

  • You choose the color!
  • Autographed in contrasting color Sharpie by the creator, Peter Homer (sure to be a collector's dream some day!)
  • Includes both camera adapters - no extra charge

How it works (simplified)

1) Mount your camera to the standard 1/4-20 threaded stage. 

2) Balance by turning the knobs to move camera up/down, left/right, and front-to-back. It only takes a few minutes – really! 

3) DONE. Ready to shoot your video! 

How it works (technical) 

A camera stabilizer works by using inertia to resist camera rotation, which is accentuated in the recorded scene as shakiness (side-to-side and/or up-down motions). By isolating the handle from the camera using a freely rotating gimbal, any rotation of the hand is not propagated to the camera. In order to function properly the combined system of weights (masses) defined by the camera and counterweights needs to be balanced exactly at the center of rotation of the gimbal. This way the camera continues to point in the same direction regardless of how the handle is rotated.

Most camera stabilizers use a series of adjustable counterweights to balance the camera. This can result in a complex and fiddly process as moving one counterweight can throw off the balance about another axis, requiring adjustment of another counterweight, and so on. Circle Thing is different because it has a fixed counterweight and instead moves the camera up-down, front-to-back and side-to-side. Balancing Circle Thing is SIMPLE because there is only one moving weight.

To work properly a camera stabilizer must be balanced both statically (pendulum effect) & dynamically (coupled motion). Static balance means that with the pivot (handle) stationary, the camera will continue pointing in the same direction no matter which way you point it. It will not have any tendency to reorient on its own. Static balance is achieved by having the combination of weights in equilibrium about the pivot – like balancing a seesaw.

Dynamic balance is a bit harder to understand but is equally important (there's a good explanation here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=myVzdThnT-c ). It is possible to have static balance but still not be dynamically balanced. When that is the case, any side-to-side or up-down movement (translation) of the pivot will cause the system to rotate. A simple example of this effect is illustrated by a pendulum at rest.* If the pivot is suddenly moved to one side the pendulum will start to swing. We do not want our camera to start swinging when we move it sideways so it must be dynamically balanced in addition to statically balanced. Achieving dynamic balance is why it takes so long to get multi-counterweight stabilizers set up properly. There are many counterweight settings that provide static balance but that are not dynamically stable.

In contrast, Circle Thing is EASY to balance dynamically because it has just two weights (the camera and the counterweight) arranged with the pivot between them. When Circle Thing is statically balanced the pivot will lie on a straight line between the two weights, which is also dynamically balanced. Thus, dynamic balance is achieved automatically when you statically balance the system.

(*Technically speaking, a pendulum is only statically balanced at one orientation angle – when it is vertical.)

Why Kickstarter?

Originally I started out just trying to create a better camera stabilizer for my own use. Along the way I received a lot of interest and encouragement from others. Now I want to share Circle Thing with the world.  Many people suggested that I launch a Kickstarter campaign, so here we are!

What you see in the photos is the latest prototype of Circle Thing.  Funds raised through this campaign and pre-orders will be used to complete the production design, source vendors, buy tooling, and get manufacturing up and running (and cover Kickstarter's and Amazon's shares). I'll also be expanding the web site CircleThing.com to create a place to share tips and videos made with Circle Thing.

Progress to date and future plans

I've already built several prototypes and proven the basic design. All components for the prototypes were made by hand. If successful, funds raised through this campaign will be used to update the design for manufacturing, purchase fabrication equipment to produce higher quality parts, and locate suppliers for the purchased parts of Circle Thing. My goal is to source and produce Circle Thing locally and US-made to the maximum extent possible. With your help through this Kickstarter campaign I will be able to manufacture Circle Thing at a reasonable price.

Design configuration and components: Completed!

Build and test prototypes: Completed!

Develop solid models for 3D printed version: In Progress

Develop CircleThing.com web site: Launched!

Finalize production design, evaluate manufacturing partners, source part suppliers, and get quotes and turn around times: In progress

Fund first production run: This is where I need your help!

Start full production run: If successful this will start within a few days of funding

Deliver finished Circle Things and other rewards! A.S.A.P. after funding

What happens if we don't reach our goal

If we don't reach our goal then we receive nothing, no rewards will be sent, and you will not be charged. We must reach or exceed our goal or Circle Thing will not be made.

What happens if we go over our goal

That would be great for everyone! I am asking for the bare minimum amount of money needed to commercialize Circle Thing. If we exceed our goal then any extra funds will be used to create an even better and more comprehensive product. I may even be able to provide higher quality rewards and give back more to you.

Stretch Goals

If the campaign exceeds the minimum I will use any excess proceeds to further refine the Circle Thing design.  I have a few ideas for upgrading the design that I will post in an update if the campaign surpasses the $50,000 level.

Rewards

$9+ One Small Step – My everlasting gratitude, name recognition as a founding supporter on our web site, and a very cool Circle Thing sticker that will impress your friends.

$29+ One Giant Leap – All of the above PLUS the Circle Thing T-shirt (men's and women's sizes available). Show your support!

$199+ Inner Circle (limited 50) – be a beta tester! Receive a high quality 3D printed version in time for holiday gift giving, participate in product naming, and get a free upgrade to the production version when available. Add $20 for iStabilizer universal iPhone/smartphone adapter. Add $10 for GoPro adapter.

$209+ The First Hundred (limited 100) – get a discount and first-in-line priority for the production version of Circle Thing Basic (add $40 for Circle Thing Deluxe, add $80 for Circle Thing Complete). Add $20 for iStabilizer universal iPhone/smartphone adapter. Add $10 for GoPro adapter.

$219+ Circle Thing Basic – ring stabilizer with adjustable stage, gimbal and grip.  Add $20 for iStabilizer universal iPhone/smartphone adapter. Add $10 for GoPro adapter.

$259+ Circle Thing Deluxe – everything in Circle Thing Basic PLUS a second handle and bridge kit for tripod mounting. Add $20 for iStabilizer universal iPhone/smartphone adapter. Add $10 for GoPro adapter.

$299+ Circle Thing Complete – everything in Circle Thing Deluxe PLUS extendable Mono Pole and universal connector. Add $20 for iStabilizer universal iPhone/smartphone adapter. Add $10 for GoPro adapter.

$799+ Circle Thing Limited Edition (limited to 10) – everything in Circle Thing Complete, painted in color of your choice and signed by the creator. Smartphone and GoPro adapters are included.

$4,999+ Circle Thing Angel (limited to 6) – all of the Circle Thing Limited Edition rewards (shipping is included) PLUS spend a day with the creator!  Includes transportation from anywhere in the continental US to Southwest Harbor, Maine; 2 nights accommodations; a tour of the “factory” and surrounding Acadia National Park; and a Maine lobster dinner.

Risks and challenges

Prototypes have been built and tested and the functional design of Circle Thing has already been proven. What you see in the photos above is the prototype -- the final design will be slightly different (and cooler looking). The biggest challenge moving forward will be completing the final designs and tooling and ramping up production. One aspect will be choosing a manufacturing process -- I am currently looking at the newer precision 3D printing (additive manufacturing) as well as more conventional methods like injection molding for producing parts.

Although I plan to complete this project (if funded) as a private individual, I have previously started several companies. Since 2007 I have worked at Flagsuit LLC, developing space suit hardware for NASA and commercial space flight companies. Throughout my engineering career I have designed many products that were manufactured by others or by my company. I have received eleven utility patents, and my designs have won awards from General Electric, Innocentive.com and NASA.

Thanks for reading all the way through! You get extra points for being a Circle Thing trooper (or just curious). If I still haven't answered your questions you can contact me through the campaign page or direct an email to: info@circlething.com.

Cheers!
Peter

Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

FAQ

  • I'm glad some of you have brought that up because I have not been clear enough about how balancing Circle Thing works.

    The counterweight (circle) and pivot are in fixed relationship while the camera is the adjustable weight for balancing in all three axes. The movable stage has left-right, front-back and up-down adjustment. Each axis is independently adjustable. The goal is to align the camera's center of gravity horizontally with the counterweight and pivot, then adjust the camera's height to achieve balance vertically about the pivot. When properly balanced the camera, pivot and ring's center of gravity will lie on a straight line. Vertical balance can be fine tuned to one's preference (more or less tendency to remain upright).

    Last updated:

Support this project

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $9 or more About $9 USD

    One Small Step – My everlasting gratitude, name recognition as a founding supporter on our web site, and a very cool Circle Thing sticker that will impress your friends.

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    6 backers
  2. Select this reward

    Pledge $29 or more About $29 USD

    One Giant Leap – All of the above PLUS the Circle Thing T-shirt (men's and women's sizes available). Wear your support on you sleeve!

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    4 backers
  3. Select this reward

    Pledge $199 or more About $199 USD

    Inner Circle – be a beta tester! Receive a high quality 3D printed version of Circle Thing in time for holiday gift giving. Participate in product naming and get a free upgrade to the production version when it ships. Extra special recognition on the web site. Oh, and a really cool Circle Thing sticker too! Add $20 to include an iStabilizer universal iPhone/ smartphone adapter. Add $10 to add a GoPro adapter.

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    Limited 7 backers
  4. Select this reward

    Pledge $209 or more About $209 USD

    The First Hundred – get first-in-line priority for the production version of Circle Thing Basic (add $40 for Circle Thing Deluxe, add $80 for Circle Thing Complete), special recognition on the web site, and the soon-to-be-a-collectible Circle Thing sticker. Add $20 and we'll include an iStabilizer universal iPhone/ smartphone adapter. Add $10 to include a GoPro adapter.

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    Limited 1 backer
  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $219 or more About $219 USD

    Circle Thing Basic – You'll get the ring stabilizer with 3-axis adjustable camera stage, gimbal and grip. Everything you need for smooth hand-held videos, and a Circle Thing sticker too! Add $20 and we'll include an iStabilizer universal iPhone/ smartphone adapter. Add $10 to include a GoPro adapter.

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    2 backers
  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $259 or more About $259 USD

    Circle Thing Deluxe – upgrade to add two-handed shooting and mounting to your tripod or monopod. Comes with everything in Circle Thing Basic PLUS a second grip and bridge/extender plate. Add $20 for iStabilizer universal iPhone/ smartphone adapter. Add $10 for GoPro adapter.

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    1 backer
  7. Select this reward

    Pledge $299 or more About $299 USD

    Circle Thing Complete – all the accessories needed to make full use of Circle Thing's many possibilities! Includes everything in Circle Thing Deluxe PLUS the extendable Mono Pole and universal connector for low and high crane shots and monopod support. Add $20 for an iStabilizer universal iPhone/ smartphone adapter. Add $10 for a GoPro adapter.

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    6 backers
  8. Select this reward

    Pledge $799 or more About $799 USD

    Circle Thing Limited Edition – special backer recognition on the Circle Thing web site PLUS everything included in the Circle Thing Complete reward, painted in a color of your choice and signed by the creator. iStabilizer and GoPro adapters, T-shirt and stickers are included!

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    Limited 0 backers
  9. Select this reward

    Pledge $4,999 or more About $4,999 USD

    Circle Thing Angel – special backer status and all of the Circle Thing Limited Edition rewards (shipping included) PLUS spend a day with the creator!  Includes transportation from anywhere in the continental US to Southwest Harbor on Mount Desert Island, Maine, and 2 nights accommodations. I will take you on a tour of the “factory” and surrounding Acadia National Park; and treat you to a traditional Maine lobster dinner!

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    Limited 0 backers
  10. Select this reward

    Pledge $9,999 or more About $9,999 USD

    One Lucky Couple -- Share Circle Thing with a friend! For supporting this project you'll receive extra special backer status on the web site and get all of the Circle Thing Limited Edition rewards (shipping included), 2 T-shirts and stickers PLUS spend a day with the creator! Includes transportation from anywhere in the continental US to Southwest Harbor, Maine, and 1 week accommodations for two. You'll tour the “factory," spend the day on a personalized tour of surrounding Acadia National Park; be treated to a traditional Maine lobster dinner, and have the rest of the week to explore on your own. Discover the many great places to use your Circle Thing around Mount Desert Island on the bold, beautiful coast of Maine!

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    Limited 0 backers

Funding period

- (29 days)