Most of the live video projects I do includes a primary close-up camera tasked with following the key talent.
The skill involved in this is task is very simple. It just requires someone to be attentive, panning the camera side-to-side as the presenter moves around. It would be great to automate this basic motion.
Three companies have released products that do just that: SoloShot, JigaBot’s AIMe.
First onto the scene was SoloShot. It was designed for surfers to record their practice runs. As such, it works great outdoor, it’s water proof, and it has an incredible range. The technology it is built on is Xigbee wireless communication and GPS. You do not need to maintain line-of-sight with the marker armband. Unfortunately, it does not work indoors, and can’t do anything close range.
Soloshot has already released a second generation of the product, SoloShot2, which adds tilting and additional features like zooming and start/stop recording through a usb connection to the camera.
Swivl is also an automatic camera following device. It does pan and tilt. It uses a marker to sense what to follow. The marker requires line-of-sight. The improved second generation is being released in June 2014. It is being tailored to telepresence and time-lapse photographers.
This is very similar to Swivl, slightly more compact, and targeting “soccer moms” and GoPro users to allow these cameras to follow the action so you can be participate in the event. The marker requires line-of-sight. It can pan and tilt. Camera weight is more limited due to its compactness.
Possible Future Improvements:
I think the price point for these products is very appropriate: $200-400 considering what they do (and the limitations). Perhaps there is a market for a more professional device at a higher price which might include:
- Fluid movement
- Not require line-of-sight
- Multiple trackers allowing the “target” to be swapped
- Remote control for manual override
- Larger weight capacity for more significant cameras
There is already a market for remote pan-tilt-zoom cameras. How practical would it be great to integrate automatic tracking?