Circle Thing: smooth video on your mini camcorder & iPhone
Circle Thing: smooth video on your mini camcorder & iPhone
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
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!
- Set up and balance in minutes – guaranteed!*
- Easy to pack and carry
- 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?
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!
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).
- 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)
(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
- Camera stage with 3-axis positioning
- Camera mount (1/4-20 threaded stud)
- Ring counterweight
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.)
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.
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.
$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: email@example.com.
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