Motion Control

Motion Control means motion that is very accurately, computer controlled, using electrical motors. In the film and Television industry, this has come to mean a field of filming where the camera movement is controlled by a computer so that the motion of the camera, in the studio or on location, can be repeated again and again, for the generation of special effects. It is essentially a camera robot, but in the industry, these technical pieces of machinery are referred to using the more creative sounding term “motion control rigs”.


By being able to program and repeat the camera movement very accurately one can suddenly do a whole variety of special effects shots, that are either impossible to do without Motion Control or one can only do using a non-moving camera (known as “locking-off” the camera). But to achieve really natural and stunning looking shots one normally wants the camera to move during a take or follow a subject or some action, and that is why Motion Control is vital.


Take one of the simplest special effects shots one could try and do, such as a scene showing a man walking along a street and gradually disappearing into thin air as he walks. This is done by doing 2 takes. The first one contains the man walking in the street and the second one is just the street. Then during the editing process one starts with the man walking and then gradually mixes to the second take, where the man isn’t, so it appears the man has gradually vanished into thin air. This maybe simple to achieve if the camera never moves, but as soon as the camera is moving this shot is impossible without Motion Control as the 2 takes would never match in perspective and speed and so a mix would never “mix”. This would be just one of countless different types of shots requiring Motion Control.


One of the best know motion control system is called Bolt and its produced by Mark Roberts Motion Control


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Bolt Motion Control, highspeed arm by Mark Roberts