Does the world really need another gimbal stabilizer? Many would argue no, but the engineers from Seattle-based startup BeeWorks beg to differ.
It’s been roughly a year and half since MōVi took the filmmaking world by storm. In the period that followed, startup company after startup company emerged sporting their own variations on the motorized gimbal. A select few of these stabilizers were top notch and offered solid performance, while countless others were bulky, cheaply manufactured, and sadly ineffective. Ultimately, it made the camera stabilization marketplace feel unbearably saturated, even annoyingly so.
However, despite the wonderful advances in stabilization technology over the past year, it would be silly to argue that there’s no room for improvement. Enter BeeWorks, a Seattle-based technology startup. With their backgrounds in mechanical/aerospace engineering and electronics design, BeeWorks co-founders Matt Nuffort and Adam Behringer set out to build an evolutionary gimbal stabilizer from the ground up, and used their unique backgrounds to create a one-of-a-kind product. Here’s the Kickstarter video for the very first stabilizer from BeeWorks, the BW-05:
There are a few things that really set the BeeWorks stabilizer apart from the competition. First and foremost is the weight. At just over four pounds, the BeeWorks is the lightest gimbal stabilizer in its class. Anybody who has spent long hours using other stabilizers like the DJI Ronin — which comes in at nearly 10 pounds — knows that operating them can take its toll on your arms very quickly. With aircraft-grade aluminum construction, the BeeWorks is built to be as light as possible while still maintaining the standard five point weight capacity, which is perfect for smaller cameras like the A7s, GH4, and BMPCC.
Another really interesting feature of the BeeWorks stabilizer is the kinetic remote system, which uses remote motion sensors to control the panning, tilting, and rolling of the camera when it is mounted to the baseplate. Check out the kinetic remote in action here:
The kinetic remote system looks like it provides an incredibly tactile way to control the camera when it’s not in your hands, and if it works accurately with little lag, it will be a far preferable option for remotely controlling motion than RC controllers with joysticks.
Ultimately, the BeeWorks stabilizer isn’t really revolutionary, but it is most certainly evolutionary. The BeeWorks team has taken the feedback and criticisms of filmmakers about our current generation of gimbal stabilizers, and they’ve used their engineering know-how to craft a product that fixes many of those concerns. However, at $2740 for a basic package and a discounted full package including the kinetic remote at $4000, the BeeWorks is not an inexpensive proposition by any means.
Capture dynamic and steady shots from new perspectives with the BeeWorks 5 camera stabilization and control system.
The BeeWorks 5 is a camera stabilization and control system that allows you to get dynamic and steady shots from new perspectives. It will create cinematic shots whether it is handheld, mounted to vehicles, or controlled remotely.
The BeeWorks 5 is lightweight, sturdy, easy-to-use, and excels at producing smooth handheld shots, even while navigating stairs or difficult terrain. It is not only a great handheld stabilizer, though…
The Kinetic Remote captures your movements and transmits that information to the BeeWorks 5, which matches your movements in real-time. While the technology is cutting edge, the effect is old school —You feel like you are holding the camera in your hands, even when the camera is across the room.
Machining our stabilizer entirely from aerospace-grade aluminum, as opposed to the more typical carbon fiber tube construction, afforded us more design freedom. We asked ourselves first what it should look like and how it should function, then designed a system to meet that aesthetic and functionality. As a result, the BeeWorks 5 is lighter and more compact than competing stabilizers. It also packs into a single carry-on case, including the stand and Kinetic Remote.
Balancing the BeeWorks 5 is easy. The most common adjustment, made when changing lenses, is as simple as a button press. Adjustable components are colored silver and require no tools. While filming our demo reel, we found that lens changes typically take 10-15 seconds to balance, while camera changes take 30-60 seconds.
We obsessed over hundreds of details to make the BeeWorks 5 the lightest stabilizer in its class.
Weight also affects performance. A lighter system means the motors and battery do not need to work as hard to position the camera.
We have a team of filmmakers advising us on the features they most want to see in our products. A common theme for every product is portability. Most stabilizers fit in a case, but what about the stand? What about the remote control system and the battery charger? With the BeeWorks 5, the entire system fits in a single FAA-regulation carry-on case.
All cables and electronics are built into the body of the BeeWorks 5. The gimbal itself has nine circuit boards discretely hidden from view. Internal cables and electronics avoid the potential of snagging them on other equipment and make the system more weather resistant, not to mention that you can be proud to use the BeeWorks 5 at a wedding, fashion show, or red carpet event.
All adjustment points are colored silver. The stabilizer has an asymmetric design to offset motor weight, making it inherently more balanced and reducing adjustment points. The most common adjustment is a push button. The result is a stabilizer that is easy and quick to balance.
All adjustment points also have a back-up safety system. Should you forget to tighten a thumb-screw, you do not need to worry that your camera will end up on the ground. We have you covered.
The Kinetic Remote mounts to the handlebar when the stabilizer is on the stand. It makes it easy to capture cinematic camera moves when the camera is not in your hands.
We wanted to design a system that feels like using a camera. Want to pan to the left while tilting up? We think you should…pan to the left and tilt up. It should feel like cinematography, not an arcade game.
The Kinetic Remote has a position sensor that captures your position and movements and transmits those to the stabilizer, which then matches your movements. It uses the same handlebar as the stabilizer, so you can easily switch between a handheld mode and the Kinetic Remote without extra gear.
The video from your camera can be transmitted wirelessly back to the Kinetic Remote system via the Paralinx Arrow Plus (sold separately) so that you can see what you are filming.
The Kinetic Remote has a simple interface. Hold down a button when you want the camera to match your moves. When you take your finger off the button, the camera stays in its current position. There is also a sensitivity knob. Twist it to the left, and the camera feels lightweight and responsive. Twist it to the right, and the camera responds more subtly, as if it is a heavier camera —perfect for those epic, slow moving shots.
The versatile BeeWorks 5 stand is more than a secure place to rest or balance the stabilizer. The stand also functions as a means to mount your stabilizer to almost any surface.
The BeeWorks 5 contains state-of-the-art electronics. We custom designed many of the printed circuit boards ourselves and manufacture them in Seattle. For the past year, we have manufactured the gimbal controller boards for companies with some of the most respected and successful stabilizers on the market.
There are two position sensors in the stabilizer and one in the Kinetic Remote. Each position sensor has a 3-axis gyroscope and a 3-axis accelerometer. The system uses all of these sensors to know where the camera is at all times and to understand your intentions as to where the camera should be pointed.
We have an advanced cable system, custom made for BeeWorks in the USA, that internally routes signals and power throughout the BeeWorks 5. USB Power is available on the camera platform and can power a Paralinx Arrow+ video transmitter or can be used to power a camera or other accessories.
We also have internal HDMI routing for video monitoring. You can plug your camera HDMI output into the camera platform on the BeeWorks 5, then connect your video monitor or recorder to a HDMI-D socket on the handlebar. This feature enables you to use a Sony A7s camera, for example, along with an Atomos Shogun Recorder to preview and record 4K footage. There are no long cables dangling between the monitor and the camera.
Both the stabilizer and the Kinetic Remote have Bluetooth built in to communicate with your computer or mobile device. Bluetooth is used mainly for configuration presently, but we have some exciting ideas for how the BeeWorks 5 can work with your computing devices in the future.
There are three microprocessors in the BeeWorks 5 system, including a powerful ARM Cortex-M4. They currently do a lot of math, but they also offer some exciting possibilities for the future.
For effective remote control, you need to see what your camera sees in high definition without delay. After researching numerous wireless video systems, we were happy to discover the Paralinx Arrow Plus system. We liked it so much, we designed an adaptor on the BeeWorks 5 so that it will connect easily and discreetly.
Please note that the Paralinx Arrow Plus system is sold separately.
Our Kinetic Remote communicates with the BeeWorks 5 over a 2.4 GHz wireless serial signal. Rather than relying on a typical RC system, our communications protocol can support more advanced and precise bi-directional communications. Our wireless system also is built with futuristic applications in mind.
OUT OF BOX EXPERIENCE
Order the complete kit, and the BeeWorks 5 will arrive fully assembled in a case that meets the FAA’s definition of a carry-on. Everything you need to get started filming fits in the case. Pull out the stand and assemble it with a single 1/4”-20 thumb screw. Place the BeeWorks 5 on the stand with or without the handlebar attached. Attaching the handlebar requires only four thumb screws.
When the camera is balanced on the stand, turn on the stabilizer. The BeeWorks 5 will ship with factory-installed settings that will work well for most camera/lens combinations. If you need to tune the stabilizer for your specific combination, the auto-tune function works well. Simply connect to the stabilizer via Bluetooth from your phone or computer and select auto-tune.
CHANGING CAMERAS / LENSES
In most cases, changing lenses is as simple as adjusting the camera plate forward and back to find the new balance point for the new lens. This adjustment typically takes less than ten seconds. If the difference in lenses is dramatic, you may need to adjust the tuning. The auto-tune function makes it easy to adjust settings in minutes.
Changing the camera may require more adjustments to balance the new configuration, but these adjustments should take less than two minutes. The most common adjustments for camera changes are forward/back, up/down, left/right. We will post a video in Updates to demonstrate these adjustment points.
Adam Behringer and Matt Nuffort founded BeeWorks in Seattle. Adam’s experience with software, electronics, and the performing arts, coupled with Matt’s experience as a mechanical and aerospace engineer, product designer and flight instructor, create a synergy uniquely suited to develop products for artists that harness software and hardware technology. Our career experience ranges from multiple start-ups to Fortune 500 companies and military service.
We aspire to make useful and creative tools for artists that are powered by the latest technological advances.
We already have a portfolio of products planned. The BeeWorks 5 is at the heart of these products. As you move and control cameras in creative new ways, a steady shot is paramount.