Yunickrich: of Tripods and Quadropodes

Celebrity Quadropod, Illy, was spotted canoodling with an unnamed startfish today. "No Photos please!" he shouted as the paparazzi drove by.

My thanks to Nick Hilligoss, Dick (Yuji) Kaneshiro, and Richard Van Der Male, and all those that teach me and watch me learn.

same test clip only shown at 1/2 speed (funky compression at start)

This is my second test of Dick Yuji Kaneshiro's brilliant Smoomoo camera mover. And Smoomoo is a dream! And Surprise! Reader eFriend from Australia!, Rich Van Der Male, saw Mike's urging for me to get a decent Manfrotto tripod head to trick out the camera slide for swival, pans, and tilts, found one he didn't need, and SENT IT TO ME as his endowment for the arts!! I guess he's well endowed. So, now it's Smoomoo with more movement, one might even say it's now a "Smoomoomoo".

I'm going to say this nonchalantly at first; I adapted the Manfrotto tripod head to mount securely to the aluminum Smoomoo platform. That statement doesn't tell you that I did this without the know-how or ability to have done it! I thought of how to do it myself and used hardware, nuts and bolts that I already had here! That's crazy! I used a steel flange, various washers, nuts, I even hacked off the length of the right diameter bolt so it could be used. Is this how things get done? Cool.

This Made in Italy Manfrotto baby is so luxuriously smooth riding on the glide track. It's not a geared head but I plan to keep testing to see if I can get the look I want with it. Rich, that was an incredibly generous and kind thing to have done. I thank you for it. I'm very grateful.

As I am to Yuji for coming over to build a copy of this fantastic camera mover. And to the brilliant Nick Hilligoss for making the two Quadropodes that could only have been made after his many years of experience animating. They are the perfect scale, the perfect amount of detail, the perfect posable armature. The eyes stay in their latex lids perfectly, the tiedowns hold perfectly firm. Plus their concept for the underwater scene is well, perfect. I can't thank Mr. Nick enough for sending these to use.

I loved my quick test animating today. I was thrilled to start playing with the technology of it, begin to understand that there's a rhythm to doing it, and most of all glad to see that I love doing it. Yep, I'm stone cold solid hooked.


  1. Anonymous7:30 AM

    Hi Shelley!
    Your tests are getting smoother. I did not see much bouncing in the latest tests. Looking good!


  2. How cool is that? I am so impressed!

  3. Great to see some character animation and camera movement! YAY!

  4. Anonymous8:27 PM

    Hey, you HAVE thanked me enough, by actually giving Illy a bit of a workout! And a name. They were just Quad1 (metal block) and Quad2 (wood block) when they left here. (You might want to keep the amphetamines out of his reach though, he seemed a touch speedy in that test!)

    Looks like a good solid tripod head for static camera shots. It lets you aim the camera while its sitting on your smoomoo. Any tripod that locks securely into position will be great for the majority of shots where you don't pan or tilt during the shot. You'll get a lot of use out of it.

    But. The thing about geared heads is, they break down the movement into small, measurable increments. That is what you will need when you want to animate a pan or tilt as well as the tracking movement.
    Smooth, fluid-head action is not really much help with animation, it's for live action. So nice as this head is, it does not quite take the place of a geared head. Not that it's impossible to animate camera moves without one, but it makes it smoother and easier and lets you focus more on the character. So don't think you stopped us nagging that easily!

  5. Thank you, Folks.

    So, Nick, I take it the geared head is in no way comparable to moving the non-geared head, even with incremental measures done quite precisely?

    RE: speediness, the Vimeo clip was at 24 frames per second and the Blogger clip at 12. Shot on every movement of Illy (metal block). (second Quad (wood block) named, Gaus)


    More planned.

  6. Anonymous12:12 AM

    Hey Shelley,
    I'm bit jealous of you smoomoo tripod. I really think of building on for myself as far as I've got all my tools back. Amazing!

  7. Awesome!!! Life in Halfland!!!! And camera movement!!! Smoo Moo doo!!! (See if you can figure THAT one out!!)

    Nick, I gave her exactly the same speech about the geared hear (several times actually) - but I think this move suits the Halfland aesthetic. Especially considering Smoomoo itself is entirely hand-powered, with no cranks or threaded rods or anything.

  8. For precision moves using a non-geared tripod head... *theoretically* ought to be able to get reasonably accurate results by making a cardboard disk with increments marked around the edges. (The cardboard disk needs to sit at the base of the head, attached in such a way that it will not move when the camera turns.)

    The bigger the disk's diameter, the smaller the moves you'll be able to measure. The trick, I suppose, is how to secure a long and rigid pointer to the tripod head.

    My first thought about a pointer would be to use some brass K&S rod... Use a dremel to sharpen one end to a point. Drill a hole in a little block of wood, and epoxy the other end into the hole. The little wood block can then get attached to the tripod head.

    Epoxy glue would be a permanent attachment, hot-glue a semi-permanent solution.

    ...Just thinking out loud.

  9. Hi Jessica! (the German (?) stop motion animation student studying in Bristol, England, not the Jessica Marie who will be acting in the life action sequences of Halfland soon. hee) Go for it!!! Do you need a link to a distributer of the 80/20 aluminum in the UK, or do you already know where to get the stuff to make one? Good luck! It's really an awesome design. AND FAST!

    Hi Mikeeee! I can't figure out Smoo moo doo?! Smooth mover doer?

    Any hoo, not saying I won't also buy a geared head for animation and use The Richmiester's for the live action scenes. Just asking because not having felt or seen one, I can't grasp/understand the difference it makes that's all. At $200-300 it may be worth getting one to see fer meselfs.

    Hey--it's also possible that the Halfland visual style would be served by the less smoo quality as you suggest it may. I'll know more soon.

    LIFE IN HALFLAND!!! w00t!

  10. Thank you, SVEN!!! Worth a Halfland try!!!

    You are always a wealth of helpful ideas and know how! What would we all do without our Sven?! Nothing.

  11. Wow I was so excited to see that animation Shelley
    great fun to watch and nice tracking with the Yuji smooth mover.

    Halfland is happening!


  12. Awww, thanks, Mark! Keep me honest! I gotta make a big Halfland progress push now. Keep watching. I helps so much to know you are out there I can't begin to tell you!

    Thank you!

  13. Smoo Moo Doo = Smooth Move Dude! ;)

    Let me put it this way... the difference between using a geared vs non-geared head is similar to the difference between sliding a camera along the table by hand, with no guides whatsoever, and using a Smoomoo. Though that's hard to say really, because I don't know quite how that type of head moves. It's put together exactly like the geared Manfrotto head, just without the gears. So I imagine you can get a good friction-fit tightness on each joint and then just nudge it in whatever direction you want until you feel it budge ever so slightly. The problem would be if you nudge/budge too hard, trying to get it back to the right position. The framegrabber would help with that of course. Plus the strategy I mentioned in email of making each successive joint slightly less tight than the one before, going from the bottom up, so it's tensioned like a puppet. That way when you're trying to nudge the topmost joint you don't need to worry about the bottom one suddenly giving way.

  14. Anonymous12:46 PM

    Well, I don't have alot of advice about the geared heads, as I only use one of those cheaper less geared ones, still good. Its quite old, and I bought it from some from a local camera/photo shop.

    ANYWAY, that fish thingimajig looks great! (Super work Nick!!) and I like the animation of the tentacles. Its good that you have got the camera pan in there too. I would love a tool like that, but first I need bigger hands to make it. ;)

    And, does the Quadropode watch the X Factor?


    (Posting from another computer and I haven't logged in...)

  15. Yaaay, You got it! I hope it gives you as many hassle free days of operation as it did me. Sorry I haven't dropped in here... busy getting things done before D Day.

    And although your clip is a little fast (I want to see mooooore! slower! Nicks character is awesomness) it's definitely smoother than blue-tak ;)

    With a gauge (like the brass thingo mentioned) it'll suffice for your tests and so forth until you get a geared head for the actual shoot (which you MUST do for a project like this). For live action you may want to rig a longer arm for the middle handle which would give you infinitely better control of the camera on a non-fluid head like this one.

  16. Thank you for the description, Mike! I get it! yay.

    Hi Seamus, thanks! I don't know what the X Factor is, but maybe Illy the celebrity 4Pode does!

    Thank you thank you, Rich. It's an awesome piece of equipment! If you too are advising a geared head for animation--then it's unanimous!

    Got the silver box sort-of working so in "Female Finances" that means I just saved $250! (or the price of a geared head!) when I'm ready to go for it.

  17. so EXCITEING to see animation!


  18. Thanks, Justin!!!

    Maybe when I get going for reals I can watch you animating--better--ever consider making a little video of you pushing pupp? That would be the Ultimate.


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