Pair kick-start time lapse

00:54, May 29 2012
The Genie from Syrp
THE GENIE: In action on a DIY cable cam 17 metres over a lake.

Time lapse photography is all the rage. Just look at any recent nature film, adventure film – heck, even the news often has a touch of time lapse to spice things up.

Sweeping clouds over snowy peaks, traffic moving like electrons, tides rising and falling like breath – it looks amazing.

Lots of camera systems will now natively shoot time lapse, but getting that amazing panning shot that blows your YouTubing mind was always the other side of too hard. Uber-complicated, extremely expensive dedicated time lapse rigs have been around for a while and are at the fingertips for Peter Jackson, National Geographic and the like. Unless you've got studio backing or deep pockets, these rigs are a pipe dream.

Ben Ryan and Chris Thomson
SMART WORK: Ben Ryan and Chris Thomson, of Queenstown, with the Genie.

Two young Kiwi inventors, film-makers and entrepreneurs saw this time lapse challenge as a huge opportunity. Why not take these over-engineered, over-priced and over-complicated setups and add to them a whole stack of innovative features and package it all in an easy-to-use unit. And best of all, combine them into a device that retails for less than a pro-quality tripod. Enter the Genie.

SYRP, the company behind the Genie, is a two-man band – Chris Thomson is a product designer with a background in making clever technological innovations into aesthetic and functional packages. Ben Ryan is a film-maker with an eye for energetic and iconic imagery.

When these guys came together on the time-lapse problem they decided the best thing to do was head into the shed and come up with the product they wanted, but nobody else was making.


ADAPTABLE: The Genie works with many types of cameras.

Almost a year to the day later the Genie was finished. Taking the functionality of the high-end time lapse rigs and combining them with a clean, simple to use design all for an affordable price was the goal and after 12 months of designing, testing, building and manufacturing, they did it.

So what does the Genie do? In simple terms, it's a box about the size of a beer can that attaches to your tripod and your camera attaches to the top of the Genie. You plug the Genie into your camera and it handles all the tricky in-camera settings for you, you then punch into the Genie what you are planning to shoot – there are pre-sets for stars, clouds, cityscapes and so on. You tell the Genie how long you want the finished shot to be, whether you want the camera to rotate while you are shooting and you are set to go. It can even drive itself on a dolly track (even a modified skateboard) to get long tracking time-lapse footage. Press start and let it do its thing.

If you've tried to calculate a time lapse, figure out what your camera setting should be or how long you should leave it filming before you are likely reaching for your credit card – you're not the only ones – in the last few weeks SYRP has raised almost US$370,000 (NZ$491,000) in investment capital via Kickstarter.

At its heart this is pure Kiwi ingenuity. Two guys who thought they could do something better, cheaper and more efficiently than what was already on the market. They went into the garage and came out with a world-class product. And the world has taken note. People are falling over themselves to get their hands on a Genie.

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Raising money to start a new business or finance a clever invention is the stumbling block that kills all sorts of great ideas before they have a chance to become reality.

Every great idea needs to connect with the right people to turn it from dream to reality - but how?

Kickstarter is a website that does just that. Got a good idea - create a Kickstarter campaign where you outline what you want to do and ask for investors.

Generally people pre-buy your product to be delivered on the first production run.

The catch is that if you don't reach your target goal of funding by the end of the campaign - all the investors get their money back and the idea guys go home with zip.

The SYRP guys knew that Kickstarter was the ideal place to raise some cash to finance The Genie. And they were right - really right.

They wanted to raise a hefty US$125,000 in six weeks. In five days they passed US$250,000 and as of last week, they'd been pledged almost US$370,000. Investment secured: this little Kiwi invention is about to fly.

Kickstarter raises funds for all sort of projects, including fashion, dance, comics, music and games.

Learn more and invest:

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