Control Speeds …and the Oculus System

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Pan and Tilt speeds of remote heads and stabilized camera gimbals have always presented a challenge to designers.  Traditionally, these systems have been lacking in sufficient control speeds to adequately cover the fast-action found in many modern films and commercials.  The need for a large dynamic range of control speeds is  unique to the professional motion picture industry.  Notably, it is not a design requirement in aerospace or law enforcement air or ground surveillance systems.  Consequently,  today’s gimbal systems  simply cannot meet the challenge of high speed action shooting.

So what  pan and tilt rates  might be considered as “entry level” in this market area?  Experience based on 4 decades of gimbal/head use and design in the professional motion picture arena suggests that 100°/ sec would be a good figure.  Anything in the region of 45°/sec relegates a system used in the air for instance, to “scenics” or simple establishing shots.   Such a system would not be competitive in this field.

Control is not just about speed but is also about quality as defined by acceleration/deceleration, smoothness, lag, bounce and overshoot. Certainly when these aspects are considered, the maximum pan and tilt speeds claimed by some are found to be unusable in the real world.

When we started the design of Oculus, control speed as well as stabilization performance was foremost in our minds.  As with everything, sufficient power is needed to achieve a goal and more power should be held in reserve to handle unforeseen demands.  This is the case with Oculus.  It is probably the most powerful gimbal design in its class.


Oculus Control Speed Specifications
(Achieved) with equivalent mass and moment of full-bodied Arri Alexa with Angenieux 12:1 zoom

  • Pan and Tilt: 0 to 400° per second, de-rated to 200° per second.
  • Zero lag, bounce and overshoot even when maximum control rate is instantaneously removed. (Oculus employs several features to assist the operation at very high pan and tilt rates…more on this later).
  • System exhibits extreme smoothness of control at all speeds.
  • Pan and Tilt Acceleration: 200°/sec/sec
  • Roll: 180° per second.
  • Roll Acceleration: 180°/sec/sec

…………………More to Come….