Remote Head for the Film Industry

Brief: To redesign a fully portable motion control “remote head” to an alternative manufacturing method in order to significantly reduce production costs.

We were approached by the client to rework an existing unit they had commissioned, as the original design (shown above) required a manufacturing method that was excessively expensive for the limited number of units intended.  We discussed the details at length with the client, before redeveloping the original concept to resolve the manufacturing method and then the subsequent changes that would bring before finalising a workable specification, which included:

1. Selection of a suitable manufacturing method to significantly reduce unit production costs.

2. Sealing to IP65 Standard.

3. Operating temperature range +50/-20 Celsius.

4. Loading limit of up to 70 Kgs

5. Strict dimensional limitations, to enable the unit to be securely stored in an existing case.

6. Strict mass limitation, of 25kgs to enable the unit and case to be carried on an aircraft as hold luggage.

The major change required the change of manufacturing method, initially the camera mount had been designed as an assembly of investment cast components which proved unsuitable in this application; requiring extensive machining/labour to finish as needed and excessive cost for the limited numbers required.  Having discussed the likely numbers of units required with the client it was decided to use machining as the principle method of manufacture, this required some major design changes from the components of the original camera mount.

Key components, like the main body (shown above) of the camera mount, needed to be structurally strong whilst being weight critical and dimensionally stable to precisely take  the bearing blocks for the horizontal and vertical sliders.  This conflict of requirements made use of a single component impractical as the machining required would be cost prohibitive, if even possible and an assembly of machined components too heavy.  Borrowing from a proven concept in aerospace, we approached the client with the idea to use a combination of composite sandwich panels together with machined components.

Analysis of the concept as a 3D model proved the idea to be the lightest option whilst giving the desired strength and the client agreed, despite being an unconventional solution.  Dimensional stability was addressed with the proposal to use a jig, holding the machined sections true whilst the resin cured.

It was decided early on that the first unit would be fully assembled (as shown below) prior to any finishing process, checking for any errors or misalignments whilst allowing the client to physically view the new design.  As well checking the fit and alignment of the many individual components it also gave us a chance to view cable clearance and fit as well as any final finishing, such as drilling rivet holes or making adjustments, before disassembling and finishing.

Having established the assembly worked mechanically, we broke down the unit and sent the parts away for shot blasting to remove any machine marks before hard anodising the individual components.  Reassembling the components into sub assemblies as they returned from anodising, we prepared the unit for an electrical engineer to install the electronics and complete the camera mount.

The picture below showing the final, finished assembly as presented to the client.