I have been using the Kessler Shuttle Pod for almost a year and it works very well as a portable dolly solution. I use the system to get dynamic camera moves either by sliding the carriage down the track by hand or under the power of the ElektraDRIVE motors. I shot a video blog on the original Shuttle Pod demonstrating how it works and you can see it by clicking here.
The new version 2 Shuttle Pod is very similar to the original with a few new improvements. The basic operation of the dolly system is the same, but the biggest improvement is the addition of Keeper/Grabber wheels. These wheels ride under the track to keep the carriage on the rails, even when shooting at extreme angles, vertical or upside down!
The design of the camera mounting plate has changed a bit. You can now remove the round Kessler Cheese plate and easily add a 100mm bowl adapter to use professional fluid pan and tilt heads on the carriage as you operate your dolly. I like to use the Cheese plate to mount a Manfrotto 143 articulating magic arm for on-the-fly adjusting of camera position on the Shuttle Pod.
If you already own the first version of the Shuttle Pod, don’t worry! Many of the improvements listed here can be used on your older model. You can add Keeper wheels to the existing V1 Shuttle Pod wheel assembly. The only thing you cannot use is the 100mm tripod head bowl insert. The original surface plate on the Shuttle Pod is different.
The Shuttle Pod can take a lot of weight and can support a very heavy fully kitted out cinema rig when running on a level track. If you choose to try some creative dolly moves, like straight up a tree, I recommend using a light weight camera. The motors are very powerful, but when the system is vertical, the belt tends to skip a few teeth under the weight of the camera. Keep in mind that the Shuttle Pod was designed as a dolly, not a crane! But it is cool that you can use it to ascend high into the branches with a 5dmk2.
Another improvement with the version 2 system is the proprietary rail track that the Shuttle Pod travels. The original Shuttle Pod required that you already owned a Kessler Crane. You would use the crane truss as the track. Now, a Shuttle Pod specific track is available and you can connect as many four foot pieces together as you want for an epic dolly move. It is important to support the track every 12 feet to avoid sag and bounce. You can use the “H” cross support brackets inline over the span and use tripods or feet at each end.
If you own a Kessler Crane v2 or v3, you can use your truss with the new Shuttle Pod, including the grabber/keeper wheel kits. No need to buy more track unless you want the new slimmer proprietary rail design.
The new Shuttle Pod track now has the option to be supported by optional outrigger legs. These legs are portable and fold up when not in use. They give you 18 inches of height and they can be adjusted without tools in the field to level the track on rough terrain. The outriggers also have mounting holes on the bottom of the plates so you can support them with tripods, instead of using the built in legs.
Kessler is making end cap plates that are similar to the outrigger feet so that if you just want to use tripods, you can support the track as high as your tripod can go. You will not have to carry the extra weight of the outriggers. These tripod end caps will be ready soon.
The system is modular and works with the Kessler Oracle controller and ElektraDRIVE motors. I use a series 500 motor and the Kessler SmartLapse software installed in the Oracle to get some amazingly long motion controlled timelapse moves. In addition to timelapses, you can use the record and playback feature in the Oracle to do basic motion capture using the new Shuttle Pod.
For more information on the Shuttle Pod V2 and to order the system, please click on my affiliate banner below:
If you were wondering, the last composted shot in the video tutorial above was taken using six repeated Shuttle Pod moves. I recorded a move using the Oracle controller as a 5Dmk2 climbed a tree and returned to the base of the tree. It only took about five minutes to capture all six shots with my friends. The edit was easy and all I had to do was match up the first motion frame and decide what layer of video I wanted people to see! You should try it!