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July 31, 2020 8 Comments

My name is Brian Burling – I am the founder of eMotimo.

A recent Kessler product launch was brought to our attention by our users and fans - most of them have had experience with our spectrum ST4 for years. Their responses were nearly universal - Kessler just brazenly ripped off the eMotimo spectrum ST4.

To me, I would say their product was heavily influenced by our ST4. To others that don’t know our brand, their new product may just look like something new in motion control. The truth is, it doesn’t really matter. Most users don’t care and shouldn’t have to care. Designs get better. . . faster, cheaper. This is capitalism. The consumer wins in the end.

When there isn’t competition, vendors get lazy, make bigger margins, and innovation stagnates.  Consumers lose.That is why we have rules against monopolies and a majority believe that a mostly free market economy can spur innovation.

So yes, all vendors have influences, and Kessler along with countless other vendors have  absolutely had an influence on what eMotimo has made. We don’t create ideas in a vacuum and the “original” idea is pretty tough to come by these days.

As a hardware manufacturer, we expect to get copied, imitated, and ripped off, just not typically from the midwest or in the US at large.

Why would some users think this is a rip off?  Let’s take a look a bit deeper:

Kessler’s new head similarities to the eMotimo spectrum ST4

  1. Nodal or L Design - yes and of course eMotimo didn’t invent this
  2. Has the brains and muliaxes controller built in to the Pan/Tilt head
  3. The external motor FIZ connectors are low and on the right surface of the base 
  4. It has a Vmount/Gold Mount plate option for power on the vertical tilt arm surface with internally wired power
  5. It has a screen on the bottom surface of its base for user feedback
  6. It has 4 or 8 way control stick to drive menus and navigation on the screen
  7. Uses an Arca Compatible Clamp with a front facing lock knob on the tilt axis
  8. Uses a pan arca plate attached to the pan axis for attachment to sliders and tripods
  9. Camera support system is a two part with a one way dovetail on the vertical surface and a two part dovetail on the horizontal surface

Each one of these characteristics has really important reasons for being here and eMotimo could write pages on the why and how we made our choices. Individually, these elements aren’t unique, but when you add them all up, there is no other product on the market that has chosen to build a head in this way. The combination of choices and form is obvious and striking, which is why I think that so many people who know eMotimo products have the visceral response that they do.

Words really won’t do it justice. The challenge I put to any user, blogger, or publication that wants to understand this more and our user’s perspective is to do a side by side image comparison of their product to the current eMotimo ST4 and any other product on the market. We’d love to put one together ourselves, and we will if Kessler allows us to use their images, but that is wishful thinking at best.
Addition 8/4/2020 - Cinema 5D who recently changed their name to CineD posted a good side by side. We also updated our header image as a user told us in the comments below that this appeared deceptive.

So either: 

  1. Kessler sat down and took those combinations of design elements intentionally from the ST4 and just wasn’t creative enough to mask it with a unique form. 
  2. Kessler independently ran a form study, mood board, user tests, and spent a ton of time figuring out why all the elements should be where they are and why they should be there and came up with the same concepts eMotimo did.

Both paths are totally legal. Kessler is not infringing on patents or trademarks, or IP, or copyright of eMotimo. Also, to be completely clear, Kessler didn’t just reverse engineer our stuff and put our electronics in. They use their own motor drives, processors, and build their own firmwares.

So why are we even talking about this if this isn’t illegal? Our users are angry, upset, and have been emailing and calling in to express their discontent. They deserved a concise response from us and our take on the situation.

Final Thoughts

We continue to recognize that our small design team not only has great ideas, but great execution, and this is a hard combo to beat. The spectrum ST4 has been out for years, has proven reliability in the harshest climates on the planet and is relied upon as a production workhorse by some of the highest level production.

Time will tell if Kessler hits their mark and fulfills all of their promises, or if this is just a big swing and attempt to catch up on features and usability. 

In this industry, eMotimo needs to be nimble and adapt well. We can’t sit on our butts either and having competition makes us better. Our products aren’t perfect and there is always room for improvement.

If you are looking for motion control and don’t know the eMotimo brand,  you should. We don’t shout as loud as larger vendors, but eMotimo is a leader in motion control, and truly builds innovative tools. We make great stuff in San Diego, CA, have great customer support, and will continue to innovate and drive where this industry is going. 

We have some awesome announcements and updates for our flagship product, the ST4,  in the next few months that will show off where eMotimo and the industry is going next!

Sign up for our mailing list at the bottom of the page to stay tuned:


8 Responses

Stan
Stan

August 04, 2020

I purchased a Kessler slider when I wanted to “upgrade” to motion control. I had the Syrup Genie to go along with it. Both were ok together, but never felt intuitive. Sold it all for a loss and invested in the ST4. I’ve never looked back. I had an issue with the ST4 but Brian and the eMotimo team took care of everything. I have no interest in chasing the latest and “greatest.” I couldn’t be any happier with my ST4.

Keep rock’n it!

Aaron
Aaron

August 04, 2020

The image in the header of this post is highly deceptive. It is a blurred out version of your OWN product with a red line added. I’m not getting into the middle of this argument but your visuals are misleading into how much of a “copy” another product is. You are creating a false representation of similarity and that would make me question your own integrity.

Adam
Adam

August 03, 2020

I’ve shouted from the rooftops on all Kessler posts on websites and social media that they blatantly ripped your design off. Been using your ST4 for years and am absolutely in love with it.

Tish McFadden
Tish McFadden

August 03, 2020

You ROCK eMotimo! Thank you, Brian, for your informed views and vision. You are a true leader in this business. An honor to know you! Tish

Mike Husar
Mike Husar

August 03, 2020

Thank you for the explanation and I have really enjoyed your products and above all your customer support. You are top notch and this letter confirms that. I will be a customer for life keep up the good work. As I tell my staff we can not make our business decisions on what our competitors do we have to do what is best for the longevity of our company. You truly follow that same logic and will be successful because of it

Veeral
Veeral

August 03, 2020

Hey Brian,
Isn’t imitation the greatest form of flattery? Even though I am not an Emotimo customer, your motion control device has been on my shopping list ever since I came across you late last year. Especially your integration with Dana Dolly and MYT Works. I am definitely getting your product once I am in a position to do so and looking forward to what else you have in the pipeline.

Veeral – future Emotimo customer

marc
marc

August 03, 2020

I find it odd that people are upset or giving you a hard time because another manufacturer builds a similar piece of kit. Did frreefly systems receive grief when DJI released the ronin? You guys are doing great things Brian, I’m sure that any backlash you may have received is nothing short of Trump derangement syndrome.

Gavin Greenwalt
Gavin Greenwalt

August 03, 2020

“we could write pages on why we made the choices we did”.

But do you need to?

1) Nodal Moco heads are old as time
2) We integrated the electronics because Moore’s law says everything can fit now and nobody likes external cables whenever possible.
3) We put power and data cables on the right… because that’s where every camera puts their data cables.
4) We put the battery mount on the vertical left surface because after looking at an L head for 2 seconds we noticed that it’s the only place a battery plate could possibly fit.
5) We put the screen on the horizontal surface instead of the narrow vertical surface because nobody likes tall thin screens where every other word gets spl-it in h-Alf du-e to l-ine bre-aks.
6) We have a 4 axis control button… like literally every other device with a compact screen on earth has.
7-8) We went with a quick adjust sliding dovetail… like every other steadicam, Panorama Head, Gimbal, stabilizer or device that needs balancing.

A Canon DSLR and a Nikon DSLR also look nearly identical. Not really because anyone lacks innovation but because the only sane place to put an LCD is the back of a DSLR. The human thumb is generally on the back so it makes sense to put one of those nifty 4 or 8 way directional pads that everything not-a-touchscreen has. The lens mount should be on the front, people like to take pictures forward. The mirror means the viewfinder has to be in line with the lens so it’s going to be in the middle, and it either can be the top or bottom, so why put it on the bottom. The battery and memory cards can go on the right or left side. (Canon putting them on the bottom though is daft and as soon as you put a camera on a tripod, obviously a terrible idea to every user).

Kessler appears to have looked at motion control Nodal mounts and put things in all of the same obvious places every L Nodal head would put them.

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