Signs of the impending robot apocalypse: the Redrock Hālo

In the 2010’s, film and video announcements have gone a little stale: It’s usually more pixels, more frames, more stops, less (sometimes) money. But every now and then something that borders on sci-fi shows up and surprises us all.

That was certainly the case with the Redrock Micro Halo, a focus assist tool that appears to have dropped through a wormhole from the year 2025.

Hālo (that’s right, you need thhalo-3-1e little bar above the “a” to make it sound cooler) is based on lidar technology, something that the visual effects industry has been using for years to create digital scans of sets, typically at price points of tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars.

What Halo does is scan the set and identify objects, a.k.a. actors. It then allows you to select them via a touch screen and your camera’s focus will automatically lock onto them and follow them–even if they walk out of frame. Tap on another actor to pull a rack focus. Or perform the focus manually, using the feedback from the display. Or a mixture of manual and automatic.

What was on show at NAB 2015 was more of a technology preview than final shipping product, but the company quoted the ever ubiquitous product ship date of “later this year.”

So the question on everyone’s lips: What’s it cost? There’s a somewhat vague range quoted of $2,000 – $5,000. That range may be based on how much is included with the kit (i.e. just the Lidar unit, or the complete remote focus control solution), but even at the high end we’re looking at half the price of proposed competing systems.

And with an estimated rangehalo4 of over 100 feet, it’s likely to be useful for the majority of shoots. We’ll be sure to keep you updated on pricing and configuration as we get closer to seeing a shipping product.