You’re not a filmmaker; you’re a photographer. You deal in the moment; one image is all you need to tell a story. Filmmaking, you tell yourself, is another world – one that’s separate from yours.
Then, one day, you watch a timelapse and think: “I can do that – it’s just one exposure shot over and over again to convey the passage of time. How hard can it be?” So, you setup your tripod and camera, shoot a few hundred frames, and before long find yourself in a mystical world where reality is malleable and there you are: telling a story beyond one frame.
Now you’re hooked and it doesn’t take long for you to start wondering where to go next. A tripod and camera are nice, but motion is addictive. Sure, it maybe just the motion of a few clouds that gets you at first, but you want more. You want to create more interesting shots and take it to the next level.
Enter sliders, remotes, and motion control! Forget one shot to tell a story, you’ve gone over the edge now, and so has your budget! You thought lenses were expensive and heavy? Well, buckle up!!
Do a bit of digging and you’ll see motion control setups are all about modules. You have a slider, a motion control module, a timelapse module, and that’s just the beginning. Before long you’ll soon find yourself deciding what combination of gear you want: this slider, with that remote, with this motor, with this battery pack and at this or that length (this is not to mention accessories like ND filters and all the big bags you’ll need!). It’s not hard to spend $1500 – $3000 on a motion control setup.
I don’t want to say modularization is wrong. It’s not, in fact there’s flexibility in being able to assemble a rig to meet your needs. All I’m saying is it can get real expensive real quick.
In looking over the state of timelapse, the question Syrp asked was this: what if you could have a programmable remote and motion control unit for under $900? The question wasn’t rhetorical – Syrp put together a kickstarter campaign and delivered just that with the Genie. I want to give the Genie a full-on review in the near future, so for now, trust me when I say it’s a pretty cool. HDR: it does it; Bulb ramping, yep it’s got that; the ability to create pre-programmed sequences: sure. It’s claim to fame though is its ability to pull itself along any cable. Checkout the video:
The Genie is a great, but what was missing though was the slider. Syrp initially left the slider to you, but recently came out with their vision of what one should be with the Magic Carpet.
Syrp’s vision is this: the Magic Carpet is designed for the Genie – to complete the product line, but it’s also open to allow you to use the slider with your existing gear.
The industrial design of the Magic Carpet is fantastic. Here’s just a few examples of nice touches:
- Syrp incorporated a pulley system so you can add counterweights to the track allowing you to create rising or descending track shots easily
- The carriage has a quick release mechanism allowing for quick changes from a 1/4 “ to a 3/8” pin
- The carriage also has a tension adjustment to make sure it’s nice and taut on the track
- The end caps have legs with twist-out leveling adjustments
- The tracks have distance markings on the side so you can calculate the distance you want the carriage to move (you’ll use this a lot when working with the Genie)
Syrp’s video does a good job of breaking the features down. Check it out :
My Sample Footage
The above video is what Genie says it can do. But what can it really do? Here’s a short clip is shot with the Magic Caroet at blue hour.
The Magic Carpet comes as either a 2.6’ track or a 5.2’ track. You can just buy the track, but you’ll really want to spring for the kit with the carriage and the end caps. I’m not sure why you’d want the track itself, so let’s break down the kit options.
The 2.6’ track kit is about $300 on B&H
The 5.2’ track kit is just under $370 on B&H
The combo kit with both tracks, one carriage, and end caps set will set you back a little under $490 on B&H
Both tracks will support just over 15 lbs (15.4 to be exact)
Using it: Rigidity
I didn’t have any issue with rigidity with my setup on flat ground using the legs for stability. My typical setup, by the way, is a 5DMKII mounted on top of the Genie usually with the Sigma 35 1.4 DG HSM A lens or the Canon 24-105 f/4L.
The carriage, by the way is fantastic. It’s buttery smooth and taut. It glides through easily.
I did see some flex on either end of t he short track when mounted on a tripod using only the center mounting hole. Fortunately, all the tracks have 1/4″ and 3/8″ mounting holes on both ends of the track.
While I prefer the shorter track for portability, I often go to the longer track as it allows me to get a good amount of stability while using only one tripod (you can angle the track by setting the tripod height and just letting the other end of the track sit on the ground.) It’s all a tradeoff: carry around a long track and a big tripod or a short track and two smaller tripods (if you want to work on the extreme edges of the track). There’s no ‘right answer’. It just depends on your shoot.
Should you buy it
I’m a sucker for elegant design and the Magic Carpet is beautifully designed. Syrp puts a lot of thought and effort into industrial design and it shows. Yes, you will have some flex on the shorter track, but it is quite portable and a offers a good mid-point between rigidity and weight. Combined with the Genie, it’s a great slider to own. If you spring for the combo kit, you’re looking at under $500 that, in return, will give you a good range of timelapse options.