The Syrp Genie is an amazingly simple device that allows you to create smooth and powerful movement in your time lapse sequences.
Time-lapse sequences can turn good images into awesome video sequences with a surreal effect of traveling through time. They are used in every genre of film and TV today. In some ways, they have been overused. As such, it can be tough to produce static camera time-lapse sequences that are compelling.
One way to create stand out time-lapse footage is to introduce camera movement, which is just what the Syrp Genie allows you to do.
The Genie can perform simple pan movements and more complex slider/dolly movements, as well as some crazy cable cam movements. In addition to time-lapse shots, the Genie can also be used for traditional video shots for very precise slides, dollies, pans and tilts.
The Genie ships with as a large brain unit with a panning base and a sliding base. It also includes nearly 10-feet of rope for the sliding base and 2 slider mounts for attaching it to virtually any slider. An included multi-voltage charger makes a world traveler-ready device with plug adapters for virtually every country’s standard.
The Genie itself supports heavy loads up to 44 pounds, so your tripod or slider will likely be a weaker point in the link than the Genie.
In addition to the basic Genie kit, you can also purchase a dedicated slider from Syrp that works very well with the Genie. It has built-in anchors for the sliding unit’s rope and a locking carriage that keeps it in place during travel.
I used both a cheap slider and Syrp’s Magic Carpet dedicated slider during my test of the Genie. Both worked exceptionally well with the Genie; however, it was clear that Syrp’s slider was a quicker and more efficient setup than a third-party slider.
The Syrp Magic Carpet is a very smooth slider to operate manually as well. The end caps have adjustable quick release legs to aid with mounting on uneven surfaces. At just under $300, it is priced well for comparable slider products.
The Genie is very intuitive to operate. While I suggest spending some time reading the manual and on Syrp’s website to learn the nuanced ins and outs of the Genie, the menu system is very logical to jump into and start shooting.
Setting up a basic time-lapse or video shot is pretty straightforward. You can start with a built-in preset or customize your own shooting parameters based on how many shots you want, how far the Genie will travel and what the interval periods between shots will be.
Using a custom cable for your particular camera allows the Genie to communicate directly with your camera to capture a shot at each interval. In my case, I tested the Genie with the Nikon D5500 and used this $20 cable to connect the two.
The communication between the Syrp Genie and the D5500 was seamless. Even with a more entry-level camera like the D5500, you can add the Syrp Genie and get very impressive results without a whole lot of effort.
One thing you will notice about the Genie is that it is heavy. At 5.7 pounds, it is a hefty addition to your camera bag. The battery provides a massively long runtime though, so the weight is probably worth the trade-off. I never shot more than a few hours at a time with the Genie; however, Syrp rates the runtime at up to 12 hours, which I can believe based on the remaining battery I had left after all of my shoots.
Aside from the basic linear and panning motions, you can also do more complex shots with bulb ramping and even create custom cable cams. It also has the ability to do HDR time-lapse shots, which allows you to set a number of bracketed exposures for the camera to capture at each interval of the Genie’s movement.
You can even set the Genie on a timer to auto-start at a certain time based on the parameters that you have preset. Imagine if you wanted to shoot from a hotel window or balcony at dusk but you don’t want to have to wait around in your room. You can set the Genie to start shooting while you are out for dinner.
I had just a few outings with the Syrp Genie but it left me wanting more time with it. I think it is a ground-breaking device for bring high-end production value at a reasonable price.
If the Genie’s $800-ish asking price is too much for you though, Syrp just announced the Genie Mini, which allows you to perform panning motions with just a tripod. The Genie Mini was introduced for $250. Additionally, the Genie Mini can be used in tandem with the original Genie to add panning movement to a linear movement for some even more complex motion effects in your time-lapse shoots.
If you like shooting time-lapse sequences and you want to bring a higher production value to your shoots, the Syrp Genie is an essential piece of equipment.
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