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Review: eMotimo TB3 Programmable Pan-Tilt Head with Rhino Rails

Here we test eMotimo's TB3 3-axis motion control camera robot with the Rhino slider system for its usability, versatility, and reliability for live production.

Unless you are a timelapse enthusiast, you may not be familiar with eMotimo and their TB3. eMotimo is a San Francisco-based camera robotics company whose flagship product, the TB3, is a remotely controlled, programmable pan-tilt head that doubles as an intervalometer for timelapse shooting.

Recently, eMotimo teamed up with Rhino Camera Gear to add a third axis of motion with a set of 4’ rails that allows the TB3 to slide. Although pan-tilt remote heads are common in video production, encapsulating three axes in a compact and affordable package is not. Intrigued by eMotimo’s new offering, I set out to test the TB3 and Rhino rails to determine if they could be used effectively in live production situations.

Portability, Setup, and Usability

The TB3 with Rhino slider system is easy to add to your mobile production kit. Both components pack comfortably into two durable bags. Throw these over your shoulder, and you can get them to your location without much extra effort.

Setup is also quick. Instructions include an illustrated guide along with several videos available on eMotimo’s site. Once the system is set up and powered on, there are just a few controls to learn. The Nintendo Wii-like controller will feel familiar to most. The “C” and “Z” trigger buttons go forward and backward through the TB3 menu system. The joystick atop the controller operates the pan and tilt functions. Including third-axis motion into a move requires the operator to rotate the handheld controller from side to side. All of the motion controls have variable speeds which can be finessed like an accelerator pedal.

Pre-Programming the TB3

If live control of the head isn’t best for your production, you can choose to pre-program the TB3 with the desired movement. These moves can be produced with two points or three points. The menu system even allows for both static time and ramping both before and after a move to allow a seamless and steady shot.

While the recommended max weight on the TB3 is 8 pounds, Brian Burling, president and founder of eMotimo, told me that customers are even using this system with RED Digital Cinema cameras.

What Comes in the Kit

The kit I tested costs around $2,000. In addition to the TB3 and Rhino rails, the package includes a large external battery and a few other small accessories. For this price, you get a mostly unmanned motorized second camera angle that can easily be considered “set and forget.”

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