The point of contact between the cinematographer and camera in a remotely-controlled camera system is the control console. Its importance cannot be underestimated. The approach to control console design should be based not only upon steering the camera, but also upon the working environment encountered on stage, on location or in the air.
The question begs to be asked, “Would anyone consider buying a car from a automotive engineer who had never really driven a car”? The answer is obvious but in the motion picture world, the vast majority of remote/stabilized heads are designed by engineers with no cinema experience at all.
A few years ago an aerospace engineer questioned even the need for a custom designed control console. He thought everything could be handled with a laptop computer. “Why go to the expense?, he asked. This perception from designers who have little practical knowledge in the use of these systems has resulted in a series of console design shortcomings for both ground-based and aerial systems. Many control consoles have been simply “after thoughts”. Those of us who have found ourselves in highly stressed shooting environments know the features we would like to have.
The Oculus console design is based on decades of “hands-on” experience in the aerial film sector of the cinema industry. During that time many lessons were learned but simply put, “think fighter aircraft cockpit and you are almost there”.
For the Oculus console design, we augmented this experience by conducting in-depth interviews with the best ground-based operators in the industry. The result is a truly flexible and adaptive control system incorporating the best qualities of all operational environments with many of the advanced features found in an aerial system now present for ground-based operations.
Oculus Console Feature Shortlist:
1. Everything at your fingertips with dedicated tactile controls…knobs…switches and displays.
2. No menus needed to access and control 95% of normally used functions.
3. Numerous analogue and digital inputs available for various joysticks and control wheel configurations giving operators full choice of control devices.
4. Immediate scaling controls for operator inputs.
5. Infinitely variable control sensitivity to zoom focal length desensitizing feature.
6. Multiple programmable function buttons insuring future adaptability.
7. Dedicated user independent interface for various camera payloads.
8. Mil Spec Avionics grade backlit panel for night or studio ops.
9. Inbuilt dual displacement joysticks for pan/tilt , zoom and roll.
10. Connectors for optional joysticks, wheels and other control devices.
11. Console constructed of carbon fiber for RFI/EMI shielding as well as achieving a 6.5 lb weight.
Note: This overview only touches the surface of the features found in the Oculus console. The remainder will have to wait for the system reveal…and this is fast approaching.