Motion Impossible’s Agito dolly has liberated itself from physical tracks, achieving controlled, repeatable movement through magnetic strips.
Although the Agito dolly has been around for a while, its potential to appeal to all sides of the industry has, for some, been checked by adapting to physical tracks. Of course, Agito can free-roam as any radio-controlled vehicle can, but a way to move it without physically being on a track, but with complete control, is the next level.
At the NAB this week, the company will show MAGTRAX on the Vū booth. Vū is one of North America’s fastest-growing virtual studio networks for the film, video, and advertising industries. It has aligned with Motion Impossible to provide this new type of dolly movement on their virtual sets.
You can see the appeal. They could pre-embed magnetic tracks into their floors (or lay new tracks) to give Agito’s gimbaled cameras perfectly scripted shots, which can be repeated several times. The cameras are tracked through the game engine, and the whole scene is virtually automated—you need the actors to hit their marks.
MAGTRAX in Use
The track can be curved, and Agito can move onto other strips when a specific camera movement is needed. The Agito will autonomously follow each path while freeing up the control for camera movement.
Rob Drewett, CEO of Motion Impossible, commented:
MAGTRAX allows autonomous steering, enabling the operator to use foot pedals for left and right, up and down like working on track.
– Rob Drewett, CEO of Motion Impossible
So, you’ll get autonomous steering, leaving the operator to concentrate on the shot with the features onboard Agito, which have been refined over the years. Third-party gimbals are available to resemble Steadicam shots, with the difference being that MAGTRAX follows a pre-determined shape or shooting curve. It’s ultimately repeatable, which for genres like advertising is nearly essential.
Speed is automatically adjusted depending on the arc of the magnetic strip, and magnetic markers offer collision detection and automatic e-stop. An electronic dolly was always going to cause some concern on a film set for health and safety reasons. For instance, presenting an automated override system should help with that.
A configurable front and rear lighting system for pre-production and production state awareness supplement these measures. Supposedly, different colored lights will shine when action is called, or a set-up state is active.
Motion Impossible describes the set-up for MAGTRAX as “quick and easy” for a single person who makes live broadcast events another market for the new technology. Because the magnetic strips work under carpets, you can see non-broadcast markets interested in such an automated capture system.
Future of MAGTRAX
The software side of MAGTRAX is showing for the first time at NAB. Future iterations will widen out the features like geofencing for safety, waypoint markers, and funneling for faster speeds.
There’s been a substantial investment by Vū in Motion Impossible’s R&D, which will integrate the camera tracking and real-time rendering for actors to perform even in remote sets—probably other Vū virtual studios.
Rob Drewett described MAGTRAX as a landmark for the company’s Agito platform:
The development of MAGTRAX marks a key milestone for the operability of the Agito and brings the dolly to a whole new level. Our R&D team has taken on board the feedback from our users to put together a revolutionary solution that will transform productions, from broadcast to live events to film.
– Rob Drewett, CEO of Motion Impossible
While CEO of Vū, Tim Moore states,
Vū is thrilled to partner with Motion Impossible on the U.S. launch of Agito MAGTRAX. The use of Motion Impossible’s innovative camera motion technology allows for complete control, precision, and ease of use within a virtual production environment.
– Tim Moore, CEO of Vū
The official U.S. launch of the state-of-the-art technology will occur at the 2022 NAB Show, where attendees will have the opportunity to experience MAGTRAX’s system at the Vū booth and at several strategic events at Vū Vegas, the latest studio addition to the Vū Virtual Studio Network.
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Cover image via Motion Impossible.