We all love those really tight panning or arcing shots that move slowly across the subject’s face to show that one tear that’s falling as they speak.
But what we don’t love is the time, talent, and effort it takes to set up a track and then slowly and steadily move the camera across the plane.
Prior to NAB, I got a call from a buddy of mine, Dana Smith, telling me that he has a product that is amazing, it’s bluetooth, controlled with an app, fits in your pocket, and will give you that buttery smooth look. I thought he was insane (verdict is still out) but we met at NAB and he showed me the Rollo Cam H2.
It does fit in your pocket. When the Rollo Cam is collapsed it is 6 inches long and about 4 inches wide. It weighs as close to nothing as I have seen in camera equipment. The max load on the camera is 5 lbs so it will handle most DSLRs with a small lense or a smaller DSLR with a larger lens.
Here’s how it works. After you charge the Rollo Cam with the provided USB cable, connect to the app. The direction the Rollo Cam H2 travels is 100% up to you and your creativity. The two wings are adjustable to a huge variety of angles. The center wheel is the drive wheel so all movement moves away from the center wheel. It took me some time to get used to that because I could not wrap my mind around the geometry of that (personal problem more than product problem).
The app is really easy to use and straightforward with the controls. Top of the interface has continuous, time lapse, and stop motion. The continuous is pretty simple to understand - the Rollo Cam will move on a continuous path right or left at the speed and distance you want. You can also have the Rollo Cam move both directions (think pendulum) with the Traverse setting. The great thing about traverse is that you can also add “dwell” time which is the amount of time the Rollo Cam will stay at the end of the motion.
Time Lapse and Stop Motion are where the Rollo Cam steps up the game tremendously. Also included with the Rollo Cam H2 is a cable to connect to your camera to trigger the shutter. So not only will you be able to control speed, distance, and angle of motion but Rollo Cam H2 will trigger your camera so you can make time lapse of stop motion animations.
I have used the Rollo Cam H2 with my Canon T5i, 70D, and a GoPro Hero 6. I chose this group because of the weight and the distribution of that weight for each camera. All worked the same. There was no struggle for the Rollo Cam even with the 70D and a 55-300mm lens. The speed was the same as with the GoPro.
There are some pitfalls with the Rollo Cam H2. These may be self inflicted on my part but I don’t think I pushed too hard. I found that there are some limitations on the setup when it comes to the camera height and the positioning of the “arms.” You have to be careful that you don’t throw the balance of the Rollo Cam H2 off to the point that the camera falls. Now it’s not going to fall far in most cases but it is more than enough to give you a startle. Another thing to watch for is the fact that only the center wheel is a drive wheel so if your balance is not toward that wheel, the performance is diminished because the drive wheel can get no traction. The only other issue I have with the H2 is the height. Even with a ball mount for the camera, the camera is about 1 to 2 inches too lower than I want it to be so my example of seeing somone’s eyes will be difficult to set up.
The strengths of the H2 greatly outnumber the weaknesses though. First the price. For around $300, you have a remote control table top slider that fits in your pocket. The slider can easily be adjusted to go straight or arc around something. The battery lasts a long time. I have used the slider for the better part of 4 to 5 hours with full loads on it and it works steadily.