We test a prototype of the Wiral LITE, a portable cablecam currently on Kickstarter. With an attractive price and ease-of-use, could this be the cable cam you’ve been waiting for?
On 17th October 2017, Wiralcam launched a Kickstarter campaign
for its first product, the very portable and lightweight cablecam device called Wiral LITE. Since then, it has been a very successful crowdfunding campaign, already reaching over 800% of its funding goal. We have received a prototype of Wiral LITE at the cinema5D office, and I had few days to test it.
The first thing I need to clarify is that the product I received is just a prototype, so please keep this in mind when reading this article.
In the case we received there was a Wiral LITE cablecam unit with a 1/4″ screw on the bottom, a tiny ball-head, a battery with a charger, a remote control, a 1/4″ screw GoPro
mount, 50m of rope and an attachment strap. The rope is particularly interesting as it’s housed in what Wiralcam calls Quick Reel™, a plastic device that enables very quick and comfortable use.
Wiral LITE with a Zhiyun Smooth Q gimbal and Samsung Galaxy S7
I really like how easy and fast it was to setup the rope, attach the device and start shooting. After finding the desired spot with the right attachment points, it only took me about 5 minutes to attach the rope, tighten it and have the Wiral LITE cablecam ready to shoot.
You can use the Wiral LITE’s on trees (even quite thick ones), poles or various other attachment points. The only problem I found when mounting it outside is that I needed to think of how to mount it high enough. I either had to climb a tree or have some kind of ladder at hand in order to mount it high enough to get some good shots.
The next thing I learned while shooting with it was the importance of keeping the rope tight – this is important as it adds to the stability of the clips. Fortunately, the included strap helps to stretch the rope properly, making the whole thing quite a quick process.
Now, due to its lightweight and single-rope design, the Wiral LITE is quite sensitive to wind gusts, as this caused the whole device to swing, resulting in footage that was not very stable. In my video I didn’t use any stabilizing software, so you can see that there are parts of the clips that are a bit shaky. Using a small gimbal yielded much better results: I only had a Zhiyun Smooth Q at hand, so I included one clip with it as well.
I was curious if such a small device could carry a slightly heavier camera, so I mounted my Panasonic GH5 with a Panasonic 12-35mm F2.8 lens, totalling at around 1000g. Surprisingly, it worked quite well.The Wiralcam Kickstarter campaign puts the maximum payload at 1,5 kg, but keep in mind that a heavier camera will drain the Wiral LITE’s battery faster. On the other hand, one of the advantages of having a heavier setup on the rope is that it becomes less sensitive to wind force, and therefore the footage is not so shaky.
Another thing that surprised me was the maximum speed of the Wiral LITE. It can go really fast! According to the manufacturer, it can reach up to 28 mph (45 kph). On the other hand, I found the slowest speed (in “normal” mode) was still a little too fast, although I think that is something that could be fixed in the final product.
One of the nicest features on the Wiral LITE is being able to set end points on both ends of the rope. This is a clever way of making sure the device will not crash against a tree at the end of the line. It worked well for me and just needed a single click of a button on the remote control. I just had to make sure not to create those endpoints too close to the actual end as they are not exactly accurate: the device can still go a bit further, up to 20 cm depending on the speed setting. So definitely make sure to leave some space at the end of the rope when creating endpoints.
I also tested the time lapse mode with the Panasonic GH5, but due to excessive swinging, I was unable to use the footage since the Wiral LITE was too shaky. I would probably need to carry out more tests with the time lapse mode with different setups to fully evaluate it. The speeds for time lapse mode were OK.
Wiral LITE Pros (In no particular order)
- Lightweight and easy to install even on thick trees
- Long cable – 50m (or even 100m)
- Can even carry heavier payloads up to 3.3 lbs (1.5 kg)
- It can be very fast
- You can set end points on both ends to avoid crashing against the mounting points
Wiral LITE Cons (In no particular order)
- It swing excessively under certain circumstances, causing the footage to require further stabilization
- Not suitable for very windy conditions
- Slowest “normal mode” speed is still a bit too fast
- It is not possible to control the camera’s movement while shooting
The Wiral LITE is good for places where drones can’t go. This could be either a drone-restricted area or very tight spaces, such as a dense forest. It has its limitations, of course: it is not possible to control the camera’s angle during filming, it only goes in one line (obviously) and it is not as stable as a drone. I think it is still a very interesting and portable piece of equipment, especially given its price. It is not a high-end tool for professionals, but is more at consumers or prosumers who want to give a new angle to their shots as it is very easy to use.
To find out more about Wiral LITE, visit Wiralcam’s Instagram or Facebook, or go directly to their Kickstarter campaign where they also have more detailed specifications of the product.