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MOTOR CONTROL & DRIVES repeatability, filmmakers could clone characters, replicate crowds of people and mix camera array setups with motion control footage to create scenes such as the iconic frozen-moment bullets scene from The Matrix. Scaled moves are another technique achieved with motion control. By filming a highly detailed model of a prop or set, and then magnifying the movement by a given ratio, filmmakers have been able to realise the tall spires of Hogwarts’ fictitious castle in Harry Potter and the diminutive height of hobbits and dwarves in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. CGI has been taken to a whole new level with motion control. Because the camera rig’s X, Y and Z axis can be pre-programmed, data can be imported to and from the CGI software, allowing pre-production control over camera angles and specific controlled moves. A further benefit is improved budget management - as more actions can be accurately pre planned. This rapid innovation and lowered cost helps to alleviate one of the key barriers that has traditionally impeded the transition of motion control to the TV and broadcast industry. With ever shrinking funds, producers are under pressure to make fiscal cuts, whilst being required to make even more compelling content. Diminishing advertising revenues however, can be attributed to more than just an economic recession. A wider cultural shift in our viewing habits is the result of the increased competition from digital and online content. Viewers, more connected to the tablet than the TV, have begun to demand more interactive content, preferring to tweet and comment whilst watching. The advent of services like YouTube Live have catalysed this growth, with viewers able to simultaneously post questions to live shows, whilst actively commenting on, and discussing, their thoughts with millions of likeminded individuals. The combined effect on the broadcast industry is a demand for more and better content, produced on lower and lower budgets. Here at Harmonic Drive, we have sought to support filmmakers in the challenges they face by developing reliable equipment with the ability to take a beating in the, often harsh, conditions in which it is used. A good example of this is in the BBC’s recent Frozen Planet series. Our compact servo actuators provided the gearing for a pan and tilt camera, which was used to film a six month tmi elapse in the Arctic. With rugged Viton seals, maintenance free lubrication and improved corrosion protection, the equipment was able to withstand the ferocious winds and bitterly cold, sub-zero temperatures. As TV programmers seek to commission content with a higher production quality, on a lower budget, the demand for portable equipment has increased. The use of gears in the broadcast industry may at first seem inconspicuous, but there is a lot more going on behind the lens than first meets the eye. Just as nature has used an elegant solution for the Issus, broadcasters must face the digital challenges ahead. Who will be around long enough to tell the story? Only time will tell, but it seems certain that those businesses able to deliver the advanced cinematography that is now demanded by both the movie industry and television will be best placed to achieve their objectives. www.electronics-eetimes.com Electronic Engineering Times Europe November 2014 43


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