This autonomous boat shoots stabilised hyperlapse from the water
Hyperlapse has become increasingly popular over the last couple of years, especially as gimbals and drones capable of shooting such sequences have become more prolific. But one area where we haven’t seen a lot of hyperlapse is on the water.
Well, Daniel Riley over at rctestflight realised his autonomous boats were slow and accurate enough that they just might work for something like this. So, he refined his design, stuck a gimbal and a camera on top, and the results are pretty awesome.
The Hyperlapse boat represents the third version of Daniel’s autonomous boats. This latest version is a flat-bottomed boat built almost completely from lightweight insulation foam. This helped to ensure it stayed buoyant, but it also presented some problems when it came to balancing, with it becoming rather front-heavy at full throttle – which just got worse after the gimbal and camera was added.
The design of the hull in this boat is very inefficient, which was ok by Daniel, as he wanted the boat to move quite slowly anyway. His goal is hyperlapse, after all, not realtime footage speeding through the water. But even going slow, you can’t control the bobbing motion of the water. This is where the gimbal came in, to keep the camera level, regardless of how the boat happened to be bouncing.
But the gimbal presented a whole other set of issues, which Daniel describes as the most challenging part of this project. In the end, he couldn’t completely solve his problem, even with help from one of the developers of the software that powers the gimbal. But he did manage to find something of a workaround.
It’s a very cool project. I wonder if it might be better suited to using something like an Insta360 ONE X for FlowState stabilisation rather than an action camera with a motorised gimbal – unless he can find one that spins a full 360° to counter the rotation of the boat.
I’d be interested to see if others have a go at something like this. It’d be cool to see this idea develop and see what footage people might be able to create with a more evolved waterborne hyperlapse system.
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.