What is the Wiral LITE?
The Wiral LITE is a cable cam system designed for videographers to capture steady footage from creative angles. It began as a Kickstarter campaign and achieved its funding goal in less than five minutes.
The system consists of a unit that rolls along a lightweight rope and is controlled by a remote control that communicates with the unit via radio signal at a range of 200 metres (650 feet).
Your camera attaches to the rolling unit and captures footage as it rolls along the cable at a pace of your choosing.
What cameras can you use with the Wiral LITE?
The Wiral LITE can be used with any camera, whether it’s a smartphone, action camera, mirrorless camera or DSLR, provided it is 3.3lb (1.5kg) or less in weight. But this accounts for most cameras.
Your camera will also need a quarter-inch screw thread on the bottom in order to attach to the Wiral unit. If your camera doesn’t (eg a smartphone or GoPro), you’ll need an appropriate mount for your device. Wiral sells these, or you can buy third-party mounts.
How fast can the Wiral LITE go?
The Wiral LITE can go as fast as 28mph or as slow as a snail’s crawl. What’s more, the Wiral allows you to set start and end points along the cable.
So when you’re filming at full speed you don’t need to worry about stopping in time to prevent a crash. The Wiral Lite unit is programmed to stop where you set your end point.
The end points, in my opinion, are the most important feature of the Wiral LITE and answer one of my big questions about the device before using it – namely, how do you prevent it from crashing into the wall when filming at speed.
The cable cam unit itself can accommodate a GoPro mount, smartphone mount or a traditional quarter-inch camera screw mount, making it very versatile.
The cable itself is 50 metres (164 feet) long, and there is also a 100m / 328-foot rope available as well. The ropes come in neutral grey or bright yellow. Grey is largely invisible during your shoots, while yellow is bright enough that people won’t walk into it.
The rope is also attached to what Wiral calls a Quick Reel (patent pending). This unit neatly dispenses the cable and allows you to lock it when the length is correct.
As for operating modes, there is a normal mode where you can go as fast or as slow as you want just by turning the wheel on the remote controller. You can lock in a particular speed, set a timelapse mode, which advances the cable cam unit at a steady, slow pace, a sports mode and more.
You also get a high-capacity battery and charger for powering the cable cam unit.
With Kickstarter, it’s always a bit of a gamble. Often enough, products never even get made. And when they do, sometimes you might be shocked at how much a developer skimped on materials and build (*cough* Yashica *cough*). I’m pleased to say, though, that the Wiral LITE really impresses hugely with its build quality.
Even down to its carrying case and the simple, visual instructions for setting it, the Wiral LITE design has been thought through down to the micro details. The cable cam unit is solid and robust. All the joints and wheels move as they should and feel like nothing is going to knock them out of shape.
When I held the cable cam unit in my hands for the first time, my fears of crashing the unit into the wall were allayed given how solid it felt.
Likewise, the cable and Quick Reel unit are equal in quality. The cable is thick, but lightweight, and maintains its tension very well thanks to a pair of adjustable straps and carabiner hooks at either end. The flaps on the straps are a little plasticky, but overall they keep the cable in place and don’t let it sag when the cable cam unit is placed on the line.
The Quick Reel is made of metal and thick plastic. A locking mechanism opens it and allows the reel to turn, feeding cable out in measured lengths that are easy to control. Winding it back up is equally simple.
The mounts are solid and don’t feel looks on the unit. I never worried about my cameras during the testing.
Overall, the team at Wiral spent a lot of time and money on the design of this unit, and it really shows.
Setting up the Wiral Lite is pretty straightforward, but if you do get stuck, there are superb instructions in the carrying case. First set the cable by clipping one end to a position and unravelling the Quick Reel to clip to the end position. Use the straps at the ends of the cable to adjust the tension. This process only takes a few minutes.
Next you need to place the cable cam unit on the rope. On top of the rolling unit is a small lever. Press this, and it allows you to place the cable over the main middle wheel. When you release the level, it locks the cable in place. Then just raise the arms on either end so that the two smaller wheels sit on top of the cable.
The centre wheel is connected a motor, and this formation helps propel the Wiral Lite along the cable. Again, this is all very easy to set up. From start to finish you can probably get your Wiral Lite unit set up to shoot with 10 to 15 minutes.
It’s worth noting that when setting up the cable you want it to be as flat, or parallel to the ground, as possible. The Wiral Lite can handle inclines of up to 30%, but beyond that it will struggle and possibly overheat. Downhill, of course, is fine.
In terms of ease of use, the Wiral Lite is very beginner-friendly. And it was nice being able to use a range of different cameras with it.
Footage filmed at various speeds was stable and professional-looking. You can see how it could be used for a wide variety of different needs.
One minor let-down is in the Timelapse mode. Because the cable cam unit uses stepping motors to propel the device, the frequency of steps creates a sort of pendulum motion which causes small vibrations in the unit. For most shots, you hardly notice this. However, when shooting at the snail’s pace of a timelapse, these micro movements become very noticeable.
Overall, though, I’ve found the Wiral LITE great fun to use. I could set up shots from angles I normally wouldn’t be able to achieve, and add a creative dimension to my videos.
I backed the Kickstarter campaign. And considering I spent $249 and got the rolling unit, the remote control, 50m rope and Quick Reel, two batteries and a charger, a ball head mount, GoPro mount, smartphone mount, carrying case and extra 100m cable, I feel that’s very good value for money.
I was genuinely impressed by the build quality when I took it out of the box and have had a lot of fun using it. I am a little disappointed about the movements during timelapses, as this is one of my main motivations for using the cable, but I might be able to rig something to minimise these.
On the whole, the Wiral LITE can be used both for professional purpose or for fun. It’s a solid unit, and one of the most interesting camera accessories launched in recent years.