Video / Hands-on Review

Hands-On with the Simple-Interfaced Rhino Motion Slider Systems


With no exaggeration, the motion controller in Rhino's slider systems has the simplest and cleanest interface that I can remember ever using. The entire workflow follows suit, as well. When you turn on the controller, a blue-and-white OLED screen asks you to select a slider, and below that you see a short list of sliders, neatly organized in a vertical display. Turn the dial button to jump to the slider you're using (24", 42", etc.), and click it in to select your choice. On comes the next page, presenting you with another short list: Live Motion, Time Lapse, and Settings. Turn the dial and press it on one of these, and another short list appears where you can set the parameters for the selection.

No matter which option you select, you get a similar clean, short list. Everything in the options is in plain English, the parameters within them take seconds to set, and between them you can achieve manual motion-controlled slides at whatever speed you rotate the dial, custom-designated slides, looping slides, simple time lapses, and advanced time lapses.

Included among the available slider packages is an Arc unit, which adds a panning axis to your motion-controlled slides. Including motion-controlled slides in your work already raises production value to another level, but having a panning axis in addition to that adds a whole other dimension. You can set up a custom motion where the camera slides past a subject and at the same time pans to keep it in frame. This is great for highlighting a product in commercials, as well as for performing cinematic motions in movies. There are many ways you can set up your slider, including slanted on a tripod, so combining left/right motion with panning motion allows you to execute numerous cinematic moves.

The motion-controlled slides are near dead-silent when performed at a slow rate. Speeds range from 1-25. After passing around 10, you hear a static whisper sound, but slides are normally performed at below 10. Upon approaching 25, the motor produces a quiet whistling sound, but at such speeds you're shooting for slow-motion playback so audio is not an issue. You can check out audio tests on Rhino's website for a better idea.

When you select Live Motion from the three options in the controller, the next screen asks you to choose between "Turn Wheel to Slide" and "Create a Move," again in a vertical display. The first choice is for manually controlling motion with the dial. As you turn the dial, all you see on the screen is the speed of your turn in large digits. The latter option is for designating a custom slide. When you select the latter, you get to set in and out points in inches, duration in minutes and seconds (which also determines the speed), ramp distance (the point where the slide slows down and eases in), and whether to loop or not. The number of inches, minutes, or seconds is assignable directly to the right of the associated label, so everything is done within that same screen. And it's assignable by pressing on it with the dial and rotating the dial. Everything is done with the dial. In fact, the only other button besides the dial is the small power button next to it. Once everything is assigned and you scroll down to and select "Start," the next screen asks you if you're ready to calibrate. After you select "Yes," the slider carriage finds its position along the length of the slider based on your assignments—within about a second—and the slide begins.

The Time Lapse option works the same way. In Simple Time Lapse, you get a short list consisting of "Distance," "Direction," "Time" and "Ramp;" and Advanced Time Lapse is about three times as expanded, offering all the familiar options seen in other screens, such as in and out points and duration, plus also shutter speed, playback, interval, and number of shots.

Another available option is a flywheel. The flywheel is essentially just a 1-lb counterweight that provides you with a certain amount of resistance (also referred to as "inertia") that lets you achieve ease-in and ease-out motion when you're not using a motion controller. You can clearly see the difference in the slide when you attach the flywheel. Without it the slide is more free, whereas with it the slide begins and ends with a gradual movement, and it stays consistent in between.

The Rhino systems are belt-driven for motion-controlled and flywheel-controlled slides, but otherwise can be used without a belt to glide smoothly along the rails. They come in 24-48" lengths with carbon fiber and aluminum rail choices, with the aluminum rail option able to support rigs up to 50 pounds. There are 1/4"-20 and 3/8"-16 mounting holes on the bottom center and on the ends as well as a 3/8"-16 screw on the slider carriage. The legs are rosette-adjustable and feature index marks for aligning them equally, and the feet adjust into place when set down to find the optimal balance for the slider. International plug adapters are included with the motion controller and a secure carry case is included with every package.

The controller is designed as an elegant, solid block, and it offers a large and comfortable dial. It features a built-in battery that runs about 7 hours in operation, so it works long enough to leave the slider alone for almost any time-lapse shoot. When not using the controller, it can be held magnetically to the back of the motor so you don't have to look for a place to set it down. The controller connects to the motor via a robust Ethernet cable that runs about three and a half feet, and the motor rests on a small drive shaft (via a special nut) on the slider and secures tight with two thumbscrews that are already on the slider. This setup takes just a few seconds to do.

That’s the system overall. We'd love to hear about your experience with Rhino sliders or any thoughts you may have. Please feel free to share in the Comments section, below.

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Would you recommend this or a Syrp?  I do a lot of video so noise is an issue and timelapse photography.

Wish I could be as enthusiastic about Rhino. The slider itself is nice. But they kind of put the motion controller stuff out there and then forgot about it. No updates since it was released and you can't save moves, loses alll datat if left alone too long, etc. While other companies are forging forward with software updates Rhino is creating cell phone sliders. Really bad tech support. And on and on.

And the Arc piece is just barely useable. Even with a relatively light rig it's wobbly and barely usable. Can't pull focus and the only edit on the path is a full re-set. When I asked about whether my unit was faulty they replied (after about three days) that "no, the wobble is in the spec".  Kessler seems to be the company that is forging forward with their Second shooter system with fully editable keyframes, three axis options, etc. Lots of great accessories.  It's too bad as Rhino had a good start, nice brand image, etc. but no follow up for those early adopters.