This guy built his own AI-powered robot camera operator to follow him around and you can too

Dec 19, 2022

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.

This guy built his own AI-powered robot camera operator to follow him around and you can too

Dec 19, 2022

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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James Bruton is one of the biggest names in robotics on YouTube. He’s made all kinds of crazy contraptions and robots that work on a seemingly endless number of mechanical and physics principles – not to mention a lot of electronics wizardry. In this video, he takes a look at the one problem that plagues YouTubers shooting videos on their own. Eliminating boring static camera shots.

So, he made a robot with a camera to move and follow the subject. Given James’ history, though, he doesn’t just stick a camera on a gimbal and use the app to track a subject like most of us might. Oh no, he builds one with a full AI vision system that’s on wheels. It can literally follow you around. It doesn’t just turn to look towards you from a fixed position. Is it overkill? Absolutely. Is it really freaking cool, though? You bet!

The 15-minute video goes quite in-depth into how the device works and does its thing. James’ shooting space is a little small for him to let it go wandering around while filming him all the time, but the amount of “smarts” he’s programmed into it is extremely impressive. It’s running an AI deep-learning model on a Jetson Nano in order to track where he is in the shot. It moves a pan-tilt-zoom camera gimbal (of his own design) and has a three-wheeled Omni wheel setup at its base.

This is a project that I think I’m just going to admire from afar and won’t be attempting to build myself – at least, not unless I find myself one day having a large studio space to let it run free in. But if you want to have a go at building one, James has put all of the cad and code available to download on GitHub.

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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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