Camera Boom Assembly

Brief: Design and build a robotic jib crane camera rig for in the film industry.

Our client recognised the need for a camera mount system, with antonomous control, to make filming in particular situations easier with much greater flexibility and importantly; repeatable.  The array of readily available camera mounts and booms were close in function but with only manual control, lacked in performance.  Solitair was asked to design and build an automated system to the customers requirements using existing systems, such as the crane shown below, as a base point of reference.

In addition to being fully robotically controlled, the team also required the finished crane rig to have the following:

  • Arm length of 16 feet.
  • Range of movement:  Tilt +/- 60 degrees,  Pan 360 degree.
  • Maximum lifting capacity of 70 Kgs. (at full length).
  • Able to be erected and operated by a single person.
  • Capable of being used on both wide and narrow standard filming track.
  • Capable of fitting through a standard double door frame, when fully erected with camera mounted.

The combination of requirements posed some complex problems that required a different approach to readily available conventional crane rigs.  The first step involved working various concepts and refining them as necessary until the bulk of requirements were satisfied.  Meeting with the client to propose our concepts, certain elements were redefined as being critical/more or less important/not necessary as the project began to take shape and budgets and deadlines were established.  From this design review a concept was defined and agreed upon as the most suitable.

Updating the model from a concept to an assembly, as shown above, allowed us to graphically modify the 3D model to accurately portray a ‘real world’ item.  Focusing on material selection and construction methods gave us a key ability to accurately forecast weight budgets, ensuring that single sections could be carried by an individual technician, whilst giving detailed information for stress analysis to ensure the rig would not buckle under normal operation.  Presenting the model graphically, backed up with detailed stress analysis figures gave the client enormous confidence that the rig would meet their requirements before committing to the expense of construction and final testing.  Manufacturing timescales and budget plans were also established based on the individual piece part and assembly drawings of the components, allowing the client to manage the cost of the project efficiently.  With confidence in the presented work the client approved the construction of the rig and assembly began.

Solitair oversaw the complete construction of the mechanical assembly, getting the machined components actioned and the composite board routed for bending and undertook the assembly of the boom bonded assemblies.  Handling the manufacture of the project, allowed us to resolve any minor issues quickly, without delaying the overall project deadline, whilst being able to update the client routinely and with authority.  Maintaining the project timeline, the mechanical assembly (section shown below) was handed over to the client for electrical installation and finishing, as requested.