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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Introducing the Ghost - DSLR/Video Camera Stabilizer

Introducing the Ghost- DSLR/ Video Camera Stabilizer
by Jesse Spaulding

The Ghost is a Robotic Camera Stabilizer for DSLR's, micro 4/3rds, Blackmagic, and Small Video Cameras.
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Camera stabilizing rigs have become more and more poplar as the video industry grows and people realize smooth video is essential for a professional product.
Steadicam rigs are one of the only products on the market that allow for these professional shots, but they are expensive and take years of operating to master. That is, until The Ghost. The Ghost is a robotic camera stabilizing rig programmed to stay level. This revolutionary camera rig couldn't make smooth filming any easier. It is very lightweight, durable, and so easy to use that even a child can operate it. It is primarily made out of carbon fiber to minimize weight and withstand the abuse of field use. The electronics are simple with two silent brushless motors and a pre-programmed control board. Just attach the battery, turn it on, and track your subject to get that cinematically smooth footage.

The Ghost requires only one operator. You also have the option to connect a receiver and transmitter for remote operation, or to include a second camera operator.
The Ghost supercedes old-fashined physics and eliminates human error from the equation. Let The Ghost do the work for you as it glides smoothly and effortlessly around. This allows the operator to be more creative in his or her shots.
A new revolution of robotic rigs has just materialized (so to speak).

The idea was developed from building a stable camera platform for my multi-rotored helicopter. I have been a professional aerial cinematographer for 3 years and I'm always striving to get the smoothest footage. I realized what I designed for use in the air, should also be applied to use on the ground. I put my steadicam in the closet and started using my aerial camera mount for filming on the ground. It was just easier and lighter. I am not physically built to be a steadicam operator, but because the Ghost is so light and designed for small and medium sized cameras, I can use it all day without becoming fatigued. You have the option to use two hands, so one arm won’t get too fatigued. Or, you can mount it to a steadicam vest and arm.
With the release of the new Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera, you don't need a huge, expensive camera and steadicam rig to film amazing shots. This is also the case with the new magic lantern firmware for the Canon 5D Mark III. Cameras are getting smaller and better, so The Ghost follows suit. It is designed to be your silent partner, shadowing your every intention and hardly being noticed.
The Ghost is Designed, Machined and Fabricated in our shop in Missoula, MT, USA

Despite The Ghost’s minimal dimensions, it supports cameras such as the Canon 5D Mark III, or Nikon D800. The system can support up to 3.5lbs. This is about equivalent to the Canon 5D Mark III with the 24-105mm Lens.

The Ghost Specifications

  • Weight: Approx. 39oz/ 1105 grams
  • Dimensions (W x H x D): Approx. 18 x 12.5 x 8 (450 x 320 x 200mm)
  • Startup time:Approx. 5 seconds
  • Runtime: Approx. 2.5 hours/battery

Carrying Capacity

  • Maximum Camera Dimensions (W x H x D)Approx. 7 x 8 x 8 in. (18 x 20 x 20 cm)
  • Camera Weight:  Up to 3.5lbs/ 1500

Battery Specs

  • Runtime: Approx. 2.5hrs
  • Weight: Approx. 5oz/ 141g
  • Dimensions (W x L x H)Approx. 2.5 x 4 x 1 in. (63 x 101 x 25mm)


  • Materials:Carbon Fiber Construction
  • Adjustable Axis:Fully adjustable in all 3 axis to achieve perfect balance
  • Firmware: Open Source
  • Motors: Rewound Brushless Motors
  • 100% designed and assembled in the USA

A Summary of the Process

  •  Construct 2-axis gimbal for mulirotored helicopter
  • Added 3rd axis (geared with servo) to aerial gimbal
  • Designed and Conceptualized a brushless gimbal
  • Manipulated aerial gimbal for ground steadicam use
  • Combined steadicam gimbal with electronic gimbal for first prototype
  • First Brushless Gimbal Prototype – mini gopro version
  • Tested different control boards and motors
  • Tested new, larger motors
  • Programed control board – tested new firmware and settings
  • Re-designed prototype for more adjustability
  • Tested new motors
  • First mini-ghost gimbal for up to 1 pound
  • Designed new gimbal parts for larger motors and larger camera
  • Constructed larger gimbal parts for SLR
  • Completed a fully functional prototype of “The Ghost” – up to 3.5lbs
  • Agreed upon naming the prototype "The Ghost”
  • Field Tested “The Ghost”
  • Re-did website including “The Ghost” and online store
  • Filmed/Edited Kickstarter Video
  • Designed Kickstarter
  • Launch Kickstarter
  • Continue Field Testing The Ghost
  • Develop 3rd Axis

First Complete Prototype of The Ghost

I designed a simple, stable platform to keep production costs down and make The Ghost affordable. It only has two axis of programmed stabilization, while the third axis is manual (smooth bearing). We will soon offer a 3rd axis of stabilization in an upgrade kit with more programmable features.
Our goal is to ship the kits before Christmas and the pre-assembled Ghosts in January. Assembling the Ghost takes some time, and we will send them off as soon as they are complete. If we finish the assembly early there’s a chance you could get The Ghost before Christmas!
The Ghosts will be shipped in the order pleadges are received.


We include a 4000mah battery with built in on/off switch and charger. But, if you would like an extra battery, please include an additional $60 in your pledge.
Purchase the cheese plate to mount any extras to The Ghost like a monitor, microphone, light, etc.

Coming Soon:

The pan axis currently operates manually with a ball bearing joint, however, a robotic 3rd axis will come soon. Some people may prefer a manual pan axis, so the robotic 3rd axis will be released as an extra in the near future. The robotic 3rd axis will allow for remote control pan movements and eliminate any unwanted sway.

The Ghost does not need a steadicam arm and vest, but we want to accommodate for those who want the option. With the adapter, The Ghost is easily mounted to a steadicam arm and vest to achieve the smoothest video and take the weight off of your arms.

Risks and challengesLearn about accountability on Kickstarter

I currently run a small production company and need YOUR help to mass produce the Ghost and keep the costs low for everyone. We have the suppliers lined up, but we need to place a bulk order. Everything will be made and assembled here in Missoula, Montana. We want this product made in the USA at an affordable cost, but we need your help to kickstart this project.
Be among the first to own and operate the Ghost. We'll use your generous pledges to place our first order with our suppliers and begin manufacturing. By donating to this kickstarter you will receive our products before anyone else and below retail value. We want to reward you for helping the project succeed.
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