Hercules! Hercules! The Little Big Dolly

I have tried several motion control (MoCo) devices: Ikea kitchen timer, Spinpod, and Panoramic Rotator. Unfortunately, these previous devices are all limited to basic rotation. That is why I decided to back the Kickstarter for Rollocam Hercules.

The Rollocam Hercules and all its contents.

The Hercules consists of two primary parts: the mechanical tube and the wheels. Many more accessories are available. I got the rotatable model and optional larger wheels.

The biggest selling point was the ability to do straight and arc movements. One thing to be aware of is that with the rotatable wheels, it can be difficult to obtain a truly straight movement. It is nearly impossible to get the wheels completely straight and always veer off in longer movements. They sell a track that may help with such movements but that defeats the purpose of a portable dolly for me. In a pinch, I set it on my laptop when no smooth surface is available. They also sell an accessory to use it as a panoramic rotator but I can bend the wheels enough to do the same thing albeit with a larger turning radius.

The Hercules with my custom phone mount and tilt head, deployed and collapsed down.

Once again, these Kickstarter gadgets tries to be too slick by reducing all the controls down to one button. This requires you to remember what all the LEDs mean and to cycle through a series of options to get the settings you want. I do not understand the appeal of the one button design. What they really need slide switches so you can leave it on your favorite setting even after powering off.

Power is another issue. One AAA battery powers the device but that battery will drain if left in the device. Rollocam knew about the issue but chose to ignore it yet made time for a stretch goal of magnets to reverse directions. While the magnets seems like a cool feature, I have yet to need it in practice and I would have prefer they fix a known problem before adding new features.

Annoying non-standard threads.

Lastly, their campaign shows a user whipping out the two pieces from a shirt pocket and start shooting immediately. In practice, it is more complicated than that. Although assembling the two pieces is easy, you need to add either a phone mount or a cheese plate if you intend to use a larger camera so it can be balanced. Rated for 10lbs, I seen the body flex with less than half that weight. More infuriating is that the screw size is close to but not the same 1/4″-20 standard used in photographic equipment. Those daring can easily rethread it with a tap and die set. I managed to rethread it with ease making it more compatible and slightly lower profile.

While I may be critical, it is only because I see so much potential in this device. This is the one I would carry on a shoot for the unexpected because of all the possible movements I can get out of one device. Despite the shortfalls, the Hercules has earned a space in my bag.

Sample footage shot with the Rollocam Hercules:

A test of the Rollocam Hercules dolly capturing timelapses of chores around the house. I intentionally left the footage raw and unedited to show the movement straight out of the camera. Some of the shakiness can be smooth out in post production. The dolly does easily move off course or stop if the surface it is on is not completely smooth. You will notice in the yard and garage shot the dolly stray off especially when it hit the crack in the concrete.

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