The Orbit is a single-axis robot arm that spins a camera around your head

Mar 17, 2021

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

The Orbit is a single-axis robot arm that spins a camera around your head

Mar 17, 2021

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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Well, this is pretty unique. A motion-controlled motorised orbiting camera rig. Developed by Josh Yeo of MAKE. ART. NOW. along with Axibo, the Marbl Orbit is a motion control rig that gets suspended from your ceiling to… well, spin a camera around you or whatever your subject is. And it can do it in realtime, slow motion or even timelapse.

The video above explains the goals of the product, who it’s targeted towards and what it attempts to achieve for them. Essentially, it’s a way to let you film yourself or a subject in a new and interesting way that doesn’t require a film crew. And it’s fairly affordable, too. It’s currently running on Kickstarter, with super early bird pledges starting at $799.

The Orbit is essentially a single-axis robot arm that spins around that central point. The ball you see hanging down from the centre is essentially your composition, exposure and focus target. You pop it in place, walk to your camera, position it and focus, then you can remove it and sit down in the centre so it spins around you.

$800 (minimum) might seem a little pricey for what it offers, and it might seem a little like a one-trick pony, but it does offer a lot of potential for some cool footage, especially if you’re stuck filming on your own.

YouTube video

The above video proves the concept very well. As long as your subject is always in that central spot, it’ll work at any distance from the centre, with any lens, even manual focus ones, because you won’t need autofocus at all. The camera will always be the same distance away from the subject. And according to the Kickstarter, it’s vibration-free, so you shouldn’t see any shakes on the camera and it offers silent movement at slower speeds.

As mentioned, in that video, though, the huge long prototype shown off is bigger than the one that’s available to order, although the one you can buy has a maximum “wingspan” of 84 inches – or 7 feet, a little over 2 metres. At its shortest, it’s just under half of that at 44 inches, and it offers continuous loop, timelapse, stop motion and various other shooting modes.

YouTube video

You’ll notice that it also has a built-in ring light, too, which is bicolour and dimmable. Depending on what you’re shooting, you likely want to add some other lighting, too, but it should create some nice separation on larger subjects, and potentially completely light smaller ones for things like product 360s and such.

There’s also an Orbit Pro kit, starting at $1,399 for super early birds which doesn’t require the ceiling mount and allows you to connect it to rails on light stands. It offers “20% more beef” for a more rugged construction with slightly longer arms, offering 88 inches of total length (4 inches longer than the studio model).

It’s designed to be controlled by an app, although it seems the app itself isn’t quite finished yet and has so far been used with a bunch of python scripts running on a laptop. But that’s what the Kickstarter’s for, to help fund the development of the app and get that first production run going.

Orbit’s a pretty cool looking device and quite different to the usual gimbals, sliders and dollies we usually see used by YouTubers and filmmakers and it’s already hammered its very modest $7,500 Kickstarter goal in just the first few hours after launch and currently sits at around $150,000.

If you want to find out more about Orbit or back it yourself, head on over to Kickstarter.

I don’t know that it’s something I’d need in my filmmaking arsenal, but it is definitely very interesting. Is this something you’d use?

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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One response to “The Orbit is a single-axis robot arm that spins a camera around your head”

  1. Joost Avatar
    Joost

    super cool!! But how often would you use it?