Ten Questions with Arthur Deptala about SCAMP
I wanted to find one Kickstarter campaign a month and talk to its creators to get some insight into what kind of innovations people are coming up with. Though I wanted to focus mostly on film/video projects, this first installment is about a product called SCAMP (Small Camera Platform), which is a handheld device for mounting small cameras. This is optimal for getting long, interesting shots while shooting on cameras from the Flip, to HDSLRs, to even camera phones. With only two days left in their Kickstarter campaign, check out their video:
1. What gave you the idea to create the SCAMP?
My partner Jonas and I came up with the idea for the scamp over lunch while watching some video he filmed on a small pocket video camera the Kodak Zi8. While the quality of the images looked good, the overall stability of the scenes left a lot to desire. We realized that with high definition image sensor technology getting better, smaller, and cheaper they are appearing in all kinds of devices from micro pocket cameras, to iPods, and even the latest phones. The problem we saw is that while video stability is not that big of an issue when shooting short clips of your family and friends. It does become a problem when you want to shoot longer scenes for a film project, or in a more production oriented environment. A lot of these cameras are awkward to use for long periods of time. They are essentially a brick with a camera lens. We wanted an ergonomic camera rig that we could mount a variety of cameras to and film comfortably with. We looked around and saw what was on the market, but it seemed either overly complicated or overly expensive. So being mechanical engineers with access to the necessary equipment we decided to build our own rig. After we built a couple demo units and shared them with our friends we decide to throw it up on Kickstarter.
2. What is special about the design of the SCAMP?
The SCAMP is special in part to its simplicity and the forethought that went into its design. Having worked on projects in the past dealing with industrial design and human factors we looked at the design of the SCAMP with ergonomics in mind. The camera rig consists of dual handles tilted at 15 degrees toward the user as well tilted 15 degrees out from the center. This allows the users hands and wrist to be positioned in a comfortable and natural position. The handles are then attached to a platform which has an inlayed rubber insert on top to protect the bottom of your camera. Your camera then mounts to the platform with a captured standard ¼-20 screw (which is an industry standard) allowing you to mount any camera which has a standard tripod mount. Other features of our design is the use of CNC machined anodized aircraft grade aluminum which gives the SCAMP a robust and professional feel. The sturdy construction makes the SCAMP a tool that stands the test of time and stay with you even as camera technology changes.
3. Where was the SCAMP made?
The SCAMP is made in a small workshop in San Diego that Jonas (Jonas Cochran, co-creator of SCAMP) and I share. The shop is our own personal industrial hack space that has equipment such as a bridge port mill, lathe, and small tool room CNC mill. This space is an outlet for us to tinker with and pursue a variety of projects and interests.
4. Where are you guys from?
I was born and raised in San Diego. Jonas was born in Washington D.C. and is a transplant to San Diego via Albuquerque, New Mexico.
5. What are your professional backgrounds?
Both Jonas and I are mechanical engineers that met ten years ago while working for the same medical device company. We both got laid off in 2005 due to the off shoring of manufacturing and the shut down of the facility we were working at. Since then we have consulted and worked together on projects for a variety of companies in the semi-conductor and medical device fields.
7. What are your most radical or dangerous moves using the SCAMP?
The SCAMP allows you to hold and shoot video in a variety of angles and positions. From up over your head looking down a crowd or out the window of a moving vehicle the possibilities are endless. One radical and dangerous market we had in mind for the SCAMP was extreme sports. We thought a stable filming platform and a pocket HD camera would be great for filming your buddies skateboarding, snowboarding, wakeboarding, skiing, BMX, motocross, and any other daredevil tom foolery you might be into.
8. How do you mount a cell phone? Is there a special attachment?
We have not produced a cell phone mount, but there are a few cell phone mounts on the market that allow a cell phone to mount on a tripod therefore it would allow them to mount on the SCAMP. One particular mount for the iPhone is called the GLIF, and it was the inspiration for us to launch on Kickstarter. The GLIF guys did a great job with the iPhone Tripod mount and it could easily mount to our device. Shout out to those guys.
9. Do you make designer or more upscale versions of the SCAMP?
Some of the added/designer features we are currently offering would be custom anodized colors for your SCAMP or custom engraving up to 9 characters. The quality of construction and design of the SCAMP is equivalent to, if not superior to, any camera rig currently on the market. Don’t let the low cost of the SCAMP deceive you. It is a robust and tough product made here in the United States. There will not be any outsourcing of production.
10. Can you tell us about any other products you’re developing?
We are looking at developing a range of low cost and high quality tools for the indie video market including other camera rigging, as well as lighting and sound tools. The SCAMP is just the beginning for us.
You can pre-order the SCAMP for $75.