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Header image for article Technical Applications for the Motion Impossible AGITO System

Technical Applications for the Motion Impossible AGITO System

AbelCine is constantly on the lookout for new technologies with the potential to truly enhance the creative process and production capabilities of our customers. One of the most exciting innovators in the realm of camera movement is Motion Impossible, and their AGITO robotic camera dolly system, which we are proud to support in the US market.

Motion Impossible describes the AGITO as a “modular dolly system”, which is quite the understatement when you break down the many possibilities of this innovative platform. Spend a few minutes with the AGITO and it becomes apparent that the system was created by a team of seasoned camera operators looking to change how we capture amazing footage.

At the heart of the system is the AGITO Core, which houses the communication and electronics array and power distribution system. At either end of the Core, you’ll find the modular drive ends, independently powered motor assemblies available in Sports or Trax wheel configurations. The drive ends can be swapped out in the field in minutes, enabling the operator to quickly change from a more traditional tracked dolly configuration to a free-roaming camera platform.

Motion Impossible AGITO

Up top, the AGITO platform allows for various camera mounting configurations, whether it’s a single gimbal like the ARRI SRH-360 or Shotover G1 for high-speed pursuits (utilizing Motion Impossible’s V-Con Pro vertical stabilizer), or adding the AGITO Tower for cinematic, jib-like camera movement and workflows. You can also mount two low-profile camera heads on modular Mitchell plates for extra coverage at live events or combine Mitchell plates and the Tower for added shot diversity. The system’s flexibility really shines here.

While the nomenclature of the Sports drive ends would indicate the AGITO in Sports mode will feel at home only on a soccer pitch (and it certainly does excel in that environment!), it’s important to understand that the shocks and wheels selection can be tailored for various payloads and types of terrain. From a muddy motocross track (utilizing the Monster Wheel tires), or a skating rink with the specialized Ice Wheels, or taking advantage of a smooth studio floor with the hard Dolly Wheels, the AGITO can be deployed and redeployed regardless of your shooting location.

AGITO

Much like a sports car, the tunable suspension allows the user to adapt the system to any road or surface condition they may encounter. Taking the electric vehicle analogy a step further, AGITO is much like the Tesla in that its batteries provide a lower center of gravity for great stability and handling. The AGITO Core’s low CG means it can execute seemingly impossible cornering maneuvers, even with a heavy camera payload.

While the 32mph top speed* of the AGITO Sports is impressive, the precision offered at low speeds means the AGITO feels equally at home on a shoot with subtle, intimate camera moves. Using the Formula 1 steering wheel-inspired Master Controller, the operator can set acceleration and deceleration curves to best suit payload and terrain conditions, and with a flick of a finger can switch between two-wheel, four-wheel, and crab steering modes. Each drive end is powered by independent motors, so in the unlikely event of one motor failing, you’re still able to operate on 2-wheel drive mode to finish the shoot.

AGITO Controller

With a small profile of roughly 38” x 25” (using Dolly or Multi-Terrain Wheels), the AGITO can perform in tight quarters where it would be impractical or impossible to fit a full-size studio dolly. Cramped NYC apartments or narrow hallways are no longer a challenge, allowing you to capture slow, beautiful tracking shots without having to cram the camera crew and dolly into a tiny space – (this also makes it easier to hide your crew from sight for more dynamic shots and long takes). The nimble nature of the AGITO means the same system can also execute high speed vehicle pursuits through small warehouses or alleys. Due to the versatility of the Sports configuration, it may no longer be necessary to bring in specialized vehicle platforms or even a traditional dolly for most shots.

Motion Impossible AGITO TRAX in Tower Mode

When paired with the appropriate suspension option, the V-Con Pro adds the vertical stabilization that gimbals are unable to achieve. Between the hydraulic dampener and eight iso mounts (available in hard and soft types), the V-Con Pro’s 6.6” of vertical travel provides a stable platform that complements virtually any gimbal for incredibly smooth camera movement.

Motion Impossible AGITO on Soccer Pitch

When you add the AGITO Tower to your build, you transform the system to one that rivals most traditional scissor-lift or center-column studio dollies. Because of the stability offered by the Sports drive ends and your gimbal, in many situations you may not need to lay down dolly track at all. This enables rapid set ups and changes, especially when compared to a traditional dolly where the track needs to be shimmed and leveled, burning minutes for minor framing adjustments. The Tower has a stroke of 27.5” (70cm), providing movement similar to traditional dolly’s. The Tower’s height is controlled by two foot -pedals connected to the Master Controller (Motion Impossible is already developing prototypes of a simple hand controller upgrade that can be attached to the Master Controller, should the operator need to remain mobile).

Motion Impossible AGITO - Tower

In Trax configuration, the operation of an AGITO is nearly identical to a traditional dolly. The dolly grip is responsible for dolly push/pull and jib (Tower) movement, while the camera operator utilizes a remote head of choice, and the AC pulls focus. Despite AGITO being an entirely new platform, the expertise and finesse these roles bring to a production are still absolutely relevant, albeit translated to a slightly different workflow. In a world of COVID restrictions and safe production policies, this means each role can maintain social distancing from each other (and talent) for even the most intimate shots.

Motion Impossible AGITO - TRAX

With regard to mobility, the AGITO Core and Master Controller both have slot-in transceivers for the RF communication link. Standard frequency ranges include 869Mhz for EU markets, 900Mhz for North America, Australia, and New Zealand, and 2.4Ghz for worldwide use. The RF modules are also available in custom frequency bands for those that have licensed spectrum and can work with third party RF solutions, such as those from Silvus Technologies. The RF Modules support channel hopping for maximum resiliency in RF congested areas, and the AGITO has been shown to operate up to several hundred feet (line of sight) in normal conditions. Safety is paramount, and the system will automatically stop if it loses communication with the Master Controller, plus the system can be brought to a safe stop with the E-Stop buttons located on the dolly Core, Master Controller, or wired elsewhere in the system (for example, if you have a dedicated safety officer).

Motion Impossible AGITO - TRAX

If necessary, a single operator can control the entire AGITO system in Trax configuration. Four foot-pedals control dolly forward, reverse, tower up, and tower down, allowing the operator to keep their hands focused on camera gimbal control. Using the encoded Trax drive wheels, you can program track length, and relative position will be displayed on the Master Controller for full operator confidence. The Mag-Stop sensors act as an additional layer of safety, as they can be positioned at both ends of your run. The system will automatically stop when it detects an end point. Motion Impossible’s decision to utilize magnets rather than optical sensors is a result of practical, real-world experience with glitter, confetti, or other reflective surfaces during a live performance resulting in a false positive stop command. You may already be familiar with MLB’s Speed Cam, which utilizes an AGITO Trax and Shotover G1 head.

AGITO TRAX in Tower Mode

Unlike traditional camera dollies weighing hundreds of pounds, the AGITO is designed for travel, with the modular system easily packing into multiple flight-ready cases. The largest rolling hard case weighs just under 70lb when full, and the base Sports or Trax kit requires as few as three cases, while the Complete system uses six cases (not including your gimbal or camera package). Each 99Wh AGITO battery is approved for carry-on luggage.

While the AGITO already offers an impressive array of features and capabilities, the team at Motion Impossible are working on a long list of future performance enhancements, upgrades, and accessories to further expand the system’s potential. From its conception, AGITO was intended to anticipate and evolve with your production challenges, and as such, all of the roadmap technologies we can discuss today are designed to work and build upon the existing core. Once a user invests in an AGITO, the system will continue to improve as Motion Impossible adds new features and capabilities.

Motion Impossible AGITO - SHOTOVER

From physical control updates to new drive end options, the AGITO will continue to expand on its innovation of camera movement. Some interface updates include the previously mentioned hand controller upgrade for the Master Controller to more easily adjust Tower height on the move; additionally, enhanced connectivity options are in the works, such as mesh networking for increased range and operation of multiple AGITO units on the same network, as well as a planned firmware update that will enable ethernet-based remote monitoring.

AbelCine and Motion Impossible are excited to bring you the next generation of camera movement. Stay tuned for updates on the platform, plus announcements around the upcoming AGITO Academy courses. To see more behind the scenes footage of AGITO in action, check out Motion Impossible's Vimeo page

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*32mph top speed requires Agito Volt (tba) and advanced training.

Jeff Lee
Director of Education, AbelCine

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