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Harley Finkelstein

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How a Hippy from Australia Reinvented the Camera Crane

Posted: 10/22/2013 11:02 am

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By Marcus McLeod, Boombandit

In 2009, I got a letter from Apple Corp. telling me I was no longer an Authorized Reseller and I was to "cease and desist" from calling myself such. Suddenly I was 55, unemployed and pretty well unemployable.

I'm a single parent with a wonderful daughter and I have a mortgage and debts and not much else; I hadn't finished high school and I had no training in anything of consequence - all I had was my life experiences and my wits.

At school I was the long-haired hippy kid who didn't fit in. I finished year 11 in 1973 and started work building geodesic domes and plastic membrane structures all over Australia. I did this for seven years and I learned all about platonic solids and three-dimensional geometry.

In 1981 I reinvented myself as a professional grip working in the Australian film industry. I owned a dolly and crane, which is the main tool-of-the-trade for a grip. The movie camera crane is based on a parallelogram with one restriction: the smaller vertical members are locked and can never tilt forward or back which a true parallelogram can. I watched that parallelogram/crane go up and down thousands of times and I always marvelled at how this simple mathematical object can produce such wonderful results.

The seed for the idea for my invention, the Boombandit camera crane, came to me in 1984. I saw a counter-balanced draughtsman's arm at a location we were filming in. I realized that the design of the arm would make a good camera crane. I looked at it for all of ten seconds.

In 1998 I reinvented myself again and started an Apple Mac sales/maintenance business which I have run for fifteen years. When Apple took away my ability to do business, I needed to reinvent myself yet again.

I needed to come up with an idea fast. I remembered the draughtsman arm that I saw 25 years earlier and I went into my workshop and created the prototype of the movie camera crane. The problem was that it was going to cost too much to develop. I realized that all I needed was a video camera on parallelogram. I could make it using tripod legs so it's collapsible and I could use a monopole to steady it.

Bang! My Eureka moment happened, I realized I had my answer. I made a prototype of the Boombandit in a few minutes. I was soon waving my iPhone around in the air on the end of a 2 x 1 pine parallelogram. I was able to combine the experiences of dome building and gripping and computers to make something that had never existed before.

My imagination went wild. I imagined how everyone would love my invention; how it would sell in the millions; how I would be rich for the first time in my life. I now know what Inventor's Fever is: the rush of endorphins that cloud your logical brain. I've seen people get in to debt and invest their hard-earned money into hare-brained schemes and refuse to listen to those who counseled caution and restraint. I've also seen inventors make fortunes. Luckily, I'm going to be one of the later inventors - well, I will be once I make my fortune.

I met someone recently who has had great success with his invention and who loves mine. He suggested that I try Shopify.com, as he does, for my web site. He told me how buyers can use their credit cards directly on your shop as opposed to other payment systems where you need to start an account before you can buy. By providing the credit card facility when they wanted to buy my product I would make more sales, he said. He also advised different ways to advertise the Boombandit. Now I am able to offer direct credit card sales and I'm getting more hits than ever before.

The Boombandit is now available to the world to buy. To buy in any way people want, at any time they want it. I'm now living the dream: I'm making a living selling my invention, all thanks to Shopify.com, and the humble parallelogram.

Here's the Boombandit in action:

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Marcus MeLeod worked as a leading-hand constructing geodesic domes in the 1970s. During the 1980s he worked around Australia as a freelance grip on feature films and music videos for bands like INXS and Crowded House. In the nineties he started an Apple reseller and Mac tech support business that he has run for 15 years.

By combining these unique experiences he conceived of the idea for, and designed, the Boombandit. Marcus worked with French designer Ray Rabanin on the concept and Ray designed the Boombandit parts in 3D and helped design the specialized injection molding dies.

Marcus is now dedicated to manufacturing and selling the Boombandit around the world.

 

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