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DC Motors & Encoders Power Wireless Camera Controller

Robust, high-efficiency brushed motors in a quiet, high torque package for the motion picture industry

Cinematography is a key element of film—not just lighting and choice of lens, but the many shadings of focus, zoom, and iris that can turn a simple scene into something extraordinary. Many aspects of lens adjustment are art, but some have become science courtesy of motorized lens-adjustment systems from Preston Cinema Systems (Santa Monica, CA). Leveraging compact, high-torque, acoustically quiet motors provided by MICROMO, Preston systems have become the de facto standard in the industry.

Preston Cinema provided the solution: the FI+Z, a family of wireless lens-adjustment systems that allow camera assistants to remotely fine-tune focus, iris, and zoom. Using a hand control, camera assistants can precisely adjust the lens of a camera that’s 5 ft away—or sitting 50 ft. in the air on a crane. First introduced in 1995, the systems rapidly appeared on nearly every set, with “the Preston” becoming industry slang for a wireless lens control unit.

The accurate, repeatable performance of digital motors is part of what makes the FI+Z so successful. To ensure effective feedback, the Preston group specified 512-line magnetic encoders that offered other advantages. “One of the things MICROMO provides is a very good integrated magnetic encoder solution,” says Preston, “They’re very small and lightweight and really help us package the motor in as small a volume as possible.”
In 2007, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awarded Howard Preston and Mirko Kovacevic of Preston Cinema a Scientific and Engineering Oscar for their development of the FI+Z and its contributions to the motion picture industry. Preston continues to advance, with MICROMO as its motion provider. Preston says, “MICROMO has been a notably good partner to work with.”


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